It’s easy to contain Atari nostalgia in a memory of charming simplicity. The 2600 and 5200 served as building blocks (no pun intended) for the lush and vibrant gaming worlds we take for granted today, and when we look back at that generation the graphics, sound, and gameplay seem like a natural “step one” to what we’ve got now and where the industry continues to go. This 1983 in-house Atari promo about the state of the company and its plans for the next few years serve as a reminder of the excitement of that moment, a time where this level of development was truly pushing the envelope. When you consider the industry crash that was right around the corner and Nintendo’s subsequent rise from the ashes with a whole new approach and a clear “step two” in home gaming technology, this video becomes a unique snapshot of the end of an era.
The video celebrates Atari’s technological progress in its new batch of games but also acknowledges the huge gap between home gaming and coin-op machines. Rolling through an array of the latest games, the narrator sometimes seems to forget that he’s talking to employees and has a little bit of fun with the script. The game description for Xevious is read in an alien’s voice, for example. It also places a lot of emphasis on licensed titles being a significant part of the company’s future. Bugs Bunny, Road Runner, and the Muppets are showcased, and the footage is pretty impressive. Oh, and Krull. Is Krull a licensed property? Probably not.
The narrator also does a Cookie Monster impression that’s a full dad-level-cringe.
The whole video has the feel of a nerdy labor of love aimed at viewers whom the creators truly wanted to feel like they were a part of something exciting. And they were. It’s not a polished video and there’s some definite dry spots here and there but it seems genuine, and that goes a really long way.
Here it is.