1. Space Shuttle: A Journey Into Space – This 1983 Atari 2600 and 5200 title is pretty serious business. It’s a flight-sim program for the Space Shuttle that might be the deepest title released for these Atari systems.
Space Shuttle: A Journey into Space tasked players with piloting the shuttle to a satellite, docking, and returning home, requiring them to use not just the joystick but the switches on the console itself as command inputs. If you could successfully dock four times and return with a certain amount of fuel left you could send a photograph to Activision and receive a Patch for your achievement.
The marketing was gorgeous – all of the box art and design of these stands above the already-high bar set for videogame box art of the time:
As you could guess, this game wasn’t for the normal Atari customer. It stands as less of a nostalgic gameplay experience and more of a testament to what the Atari was capable of. Not bad!
Here’s some gameplay – it’s gorgeous and serene, not an easy thing to pull off in those days! The serenity is probably a necessity, given how many hours of frustration you’d probably rack up with this thing!
2. Street Hawk – What if Michael Knight had a motorcycle? That’s what ABC dared to ask in 1985 when they unveiled thirteen episodes of Street Hawk, an automotive-action-crime-drama.
It’s about what you’d expect: guy with law enforcement background and a penchant for dirt bike riding gets recruited into top-secret agency and is trusted with super-smart bike to take down bad guys. Not Knight Rider at all, right? I mean, it’s not a car, it’s a motorcycle!
Jessie Mach, the protagonist (get it?), has to keep his identity a secret because reasons, so there’s a Batman component to this as well. Audiences didn’t take to well to the series, and it died after only 13 episodes.
There’s an upside to all of this – Tangerine Dream did the intro. And the intro is actually pretty great. The narrator sounds like The Simpsons parodying an eighties action show intro voice.
3. Happy Days Coloring Book – As inappropriate as the Dune coloring book was, it was far, far more interesting than this. Thanks to Plaid Stallions, here’s the Happy Days Coloring and Activity Book. Hit the link for more, but these are my favorites . There’s really nothing happening in any of these pages.
4. 1970s Kool-Aid Commercial – I’m no purist, but this is NOT the Kool-Aid Man I know. Those legs? It looks like some local shrub dressed up like the Kool-Aid Man for a kid’s birthday party.
5. Ford Van Ad – I have a hard time believing people were ever this cool.