"DEAR AGH" (November/December, 1997)

From: Scott R.
Date: Tue, 30 Dec 1997
Subject: It's Been Fun

  • It's been fun going over your Lynx info. I was at Atari during that period as a tech writer and editor. In fact, I wrote most of the Lynx docs. Even after I left Atari, I freelanced for them, mostly writing the docs for Lynx games.

  • Does this make me a part of history? Probably not. But, I made one contribution that might have been more significant. After a stern lecture and several threats about how important it all was, they sent me to Epyx to pick up the first three units that were brought into the Sunnyvale headquarters. And, a bit more trivial, the illustrator used me as a hand model for the diagram on the first lynx machines.

  • Anyway, your site was like a quick flashback to those days.

    Keita Replies:

  • Thanks for sharing your experience with everyone! We need more former Atari employees like Scott to give us the scoop of how things were in Sunnyvale.


    From: Steve G.
    Date: Mon, 22 Dec 1997
    Subject: Lost games......

  • Having recently discovered your site I thought I should mail you about lost Atari games, some of which myself and various collegues of the time were working on and othes in development at the time.

  • I did freelance work for Atari UK from '88 to '91, working on a slew of titles:

  • Contagion for XE (60% finished, and slipped out as freeware when contracts were terminated)

  • Z Force, horizontal scrolling shooter, canned when the XE line was terminated.

  • Paintz for the ST line, kinda pipe mania meets Bonanza Brothers.
  • Also for an independent developer at the same time:

    Shadow of the Beast (conversion from the Psygnosis Amiga original), 50% complete for XE.

  • Barbarian, by Psygnosis for XE (initial work only)

  • Menace, Psygnosis again for XE (demo only)

  • Paperboy, Last Ninja II and Pacland demos on XE

  • I did some programming, the majority of artwork and the producing on all these titles, which was never an easy job with the Atari goofball management!

  • I've been trawling my loft for samples of the data without any luck - it would be good to get some of this stuff into the eyes of the wider Atari community.

  • Whilst at Atari I also saw loads of stuff which never made it:

    XE Winter Games (packaging and ROM)
    2600 Black Lamp (100% finished)
    2600/7800 and XE UFO (based on the Gerry Anderson series of the late 60's)
    The full version of Dracula for the Lynx (the released game is only half of the product, but Atari cut back on ROM space.......)

    Keep up the cool pages, and the memory alive..

    AGH Note:

  • Steve is currently scouring his living quarters in search of lost Atari works. We'll let you know if he uncovers any interesting artifacts!


    From: Hershberg
    Date: Sun, 28 Dec 1997
    Subject: Jaguar

  • Is Arena Football game available for Jaguar?

    Les Replies:

  • Oh yeah, it's available at major video game retailers everywhere, didn't you notice? .... Just kidding! The game was cancelled a long time ago (along with a plethora of other Jag titles) and will never see the light of day.


    From: Jim
    Date: Tue, 16 Dec 1997
    Subject: Atari Lynx

  • Have been trying to call Atari's 800 number to order games for Atari Lynx. However, number is constantly busy. Is it possible to order online, or is there more than one number to call? Any information you could provide would be greatly appreciated.

    Keita Replies:

  • There are several online dealers who sell Lynx Games. A few that we would recommend are:

  • Bits 'O Fun
  • Telegames
  • Video Game Liquidators


    From: M. Newton-John
    Date: Fri, 12 Dec 1997
    Subject: News bits

  • I am a first time visitor, through a link from B&C Computervisions. Just to nit pick, I do have a couple things to point out.

  • First, the "paper" with the headline that the Tramiels ran Atari into the ground seems a little childish, if not untrue, to an extent. Remember, if it were not for the Tramiels, Warner would have been content to liquidate Atari Inc. (Atari Corp came after the Tramiel acquisition) when Atari hemorraged half a billion dollars in 1983. (And you wonder how Apple stays in business...) In addition, it was Nintendo, and their licensing policies that killed Atari, they could not make versions of the hottest games at the time, and Atari lost the lawsuit that was brought against Nintendo.

  • Great page by the way, I'm surprised there were things even I did not know about Atari. I was there from the very beginning. And to think I had an Atari 815 within my grasp...

    Les Replies:

  • The newspaper pic on our News Briefs page may seem distasteful to some, but we think it's humorous and appropriate.

  • As for the Tramiels, yes, they purchased Atari. So what? We aren't exactly going out and praising Warner Atari either, but the Tramiels did nothing but take advantage of its employees, users and the media. They constantly blundered what chances they had in the marketplace and they have only themselves to blame. Sure, the lack of a deep cash reserve may have contributed some, but remember that Nintendo wasn't exactly a behemouth back in the mid-to-late 1980s yet either.

  • Nintendo's licensing practices have almost zero effect, in our opinion. Nobody wanted to make games for the 7800 anyways. And the lawsuit you speak of is between Atari Games (Tengen) and Nintendo, not Atari Corp. If you're talking about the Atari Corp. lawsuit alleging predatory business practices on Nintendo's part, again, NO third party would've made 7800 titles anyways and the system was a dead duck even before Tramiel decided to release it in 1987.
  • Thanks for the compliments. We know that we can't possibly please everyone who visits our page, but nobody can fault us for lack of effort.


    From: J. Schmidt
    Date: Sun, 7 Dec 1997
    Subject: Question

  • Please answer a trivia question my friends and I have been pondering over and would love to know the answer.

  • Asteroids the arcade game and for the 2600. Which came out first and please when was it exactly. My guess is the arcade game came out first in 1980 then 1 year later after it was a smash the game for the 2600. Please let me know if I'm right or wrong.

    John Replies:

  • Asteroids came out first as a coin-op in 1980. The 2600 version followed roughly a year later. Looks like you won. Now can we have half of your bet earnings? :)


    From: Roland P.
    Date: Tue, 2 Dec 1997
    Subject: Lynx Developments

  • Hello editor of the nice atarihq page!

  • Do you know about the Redeye?

  • It's an infrared equipment to send comlynx signals with infrared light. I have finally managed (It took a very looooong time) to make something like this. I have finished the prototypes about a week ago and I am now improving them. You can see the prototypes very soon at http://huizen.nhkanaal.nl/~lynx (not updated yet!).

  • I hope to hear comments about what you think about it (the redeye).

    John Replies:

  • That's great news, all of us will be pulling for you and are eager to see the finished product when it's complete! Please keep us updated on your progress.


    From: Karl H.
    Date: Sat, 29 Nov 1997
    Subject: Activision and Atari

  • How can Activision acquire "Atari Corp" which is now part of JTS?

    Les Replies:

  • I don't see why not. JTS owns the Atari name along with all of Atari Corp's trademarks, copyrights and patents.


    From: Kevin Williams
    Date: Mon, 17 Nov 1997
    Subject: Laser Disk Blasting!

  • Dear Sirs,

  • Just read your page on 'The Fall and Rise of Laserdisc Arcade Games', interesting and thought provoking. As a video arcade archivist I am interested in all retrospectives on this media. I agree with your comments but would also like to add some personal observations.

  • The 1991 Sega 'Hologram-Time Traveler' cabinet, and following Data East conversion kit were worthy of mention as an attempt to try and take video laser disk into a reliable area with the Sony DX system, (later to be adopted as platform of choice by ALG).

  • The short period of success that ALG and Nova achieved with laser games, (COPS and Mad Dog) proved to be populist for the market and game sales, if not restrictive of content quality. Copy-cat cowboy films created by an Italian arcade distributor (with actual cast from past spaghetti Westerns) was also an interesting, if not financially successful period.

  • What strikes me most about laser-disks is that all they offered were a way to access better 'non-real-time' data/graphics than was available through technology. Today games such as 'Area 51' offer the same feature using a hard drive rather than a optical equivalent.

  • Anyway thanks again for this interesting coverage.

    Keita Replies:

  • Thanks for your sharing your insights with all of us. For those of you unfamiliar with Mr. Williams' background, he is a well-renowned freelance feature writer for the amusement trade in Europe, (his full time work is in the LBE and VR business). Along with his regular column in Amusement Business Europe (www.ab-europe.co.uk/abe) he has a regular 'Blast From The Past' feature covering what happened 10 and 20 years ago in arcade development.


    From: The MorbidGuy
    Date: Thu, 20 Nov 1997
    Subject: Atari Coinops... that never made it (past beta)

  • I'm sure you know about Atari coin-ops that never made it past beta-testing in local arcades (such as Marble Madness II, Danger Express, and some others). Now, I've got a question about another one...

  • Some years ago (round 86 or 87 or so) there was an Atari coin-op which featured (if I remember correctly) gameplay in which you flew a ship, avoiding falling columns and shooting at things. It had a Star-Wars-style flight yoke and pedals. If I remember correctly, the one I saw (located at Blossom Hill Golfland, San Jose, CA) was a cockpit cabinet.

  • Do you guys have any info on this? (note: The title of the game had two words, if I remember correctly).

    Keita Replies:

  • Wow, you really got us stumped on this one! A flight game around '86-87 with a Star Wars-style control panel..... hmmmm. If it was around 1984, there's a possibility that it could've been The Last Starfighter (based on the sci-fi movie of the same name). But none of us can think of any other Atari game, beta or otherwise, that fit your description. Consider yourself fortunate that you live in an area where games get beta tested. And if anyone out there has a clue as to what said game might be, by all means drop us a line!


    From: Scott Prive
    Date: Mon, 17 Nov 1997
    Subject: Atari, etc.

  • I stumbled across your page from an emulator page from www.emulation.net. ANYWAYS, great site!

  • I saw the blurb about that limited game for the 2600, Okie Dokie. My question is, where does one get development tools to create one of these (VCS in general, and the Supercharger)?

  • How does one go about actually burning a cartridge/eprom for the VCS?

  • If you could point me to some resources on the net, I would be grateful. I used to program the XL computers for kicks, and would love to make a VCS cart or other format.

  • Next question - where are the links? I know there are a million Atari sites out there that, well, are kind of static and lame... but there are others with some valuable content. I might have overlooked this somewhere on your site, if I did please excuse me. For example, you could provide a link to the Digital Antic Project (www.atarimagazines.com). I am volunteering some time to OCR & HTML a few issues of Antic for the site.

  • Know of any Ethernet cards (using the RJ 'wide phone plug') for the ST? :) After playing with some ST and XL emulators, I'm digging out the old systems, and I'd love to get some use out of them...

    Again, thanks for the effort! Atari still rules..

    Keita Replies:

  • Nick Bensema's 2600 Programming Page should be your first destination if you're looking to make a 2600 game. There are also links to other programming resources, such as Bob Colbert's Page (Creator of Okie Dokie) as well as the Stella Mailing List. Nick's page is located at:

  • Well, we DO have a very small link page. You can find it on the AGH main page. The link to it isn't that visible so I don't blame you for missing it. Since the aim of AGH is not to be a link resource, we've decided just to link the very best pages (in our opinion.) For the definitive link page dealing with Atari and classic video games, your best bet is to check out Lee Seitz's Classic Video Games Nexus.

  • You can try contacting Best Electronics, B&C Computervisions or Toad Computers for all your Atari ST needs. They should be able to supply you with anything dealing with the ST computers.


    From: NghtimeBrd@*.com
    Date: Sat, 15 Nov 1997
    Subject: How recent?

  • How recent is the information on this site? I'm curious because I and a friend of mine own Jaguars repectively and have been wondering if we could order games now that Atari no longer exists. I had heard that Telegames was releasing some games to be sold through mail-order for both the Jag and JagCD? Could you possibly give me some assistance in this matter?

    Les Replies:

  • This site is updated as frequently as humanly possible. Check out the Telegames web page at www.telegames.com.
    And yes, they are still trickling out some Jaguar software.


    From: Sergio A.
    Date: Fri, 14 Nov 1997
    Subject: My Atari is gone...

    Dear AGH,

  • It was Christmas, 88. I was really eager to open my presents as any normal kid would. I open some, some books, some really cool games, and other stuff. But then my Dad brings out this Really big box. I rapidly opened it, it was a microwave box. I looked at him and he smiled. I opened the box and inside, mixed with confetti and paper was the box of an Atari with 8 games. It was the joy of my life! I was never so happy. I got about 4 sesame street games( big bird, earnie, cookie monster and the grouch), and Galaga, Joust, Q-bert and Pac man, if I recall correctly. For years i spent endless hours playing, new games like Jungle Hunt, Chopter, Centipede, Desert Falcon, Donkey Kong, Summer Olympics then making a very nice collection of 32 games.

  • But one spring, my family moved to our home country Peru. And my mom sold my Atari and all my games. Now I am 14. I have a Super Nintendo and I am soon going to get a N64. But i still crave my Atari games. Is there any way to get the old games back? I can't remember the kind of system i had, but it was rectangular, black and a bit flat. I had two different controlers. One was kind of rubber, narrow, the buttons on the side and a tall joystick with a big black head. The other was red and black, kind of like a soup bowl. With a thin red joystick. And the games came in cartridges about the size of a small disc(a bit thinner)

  • Please tell me if it is still possible to find this wonderful system, and all the games. I would like to have a list of all the games you had. Please!!!!!!!!!!! I REALLY NEED THIS. OR i believe I will have to kill myself (j/k) And where i can find them. And especially if you still sell them. . .please please please.

    A very big Atari fan, player, and admirer.

    John Replies:

  • Thanks for sharing the wonderful story with us, we enjoyed reading it.

  • We do have some Atari games for sale or trade. However, if you live in Argentina, you would have a PAL television (the US uses NTSC) so the screen would be black and white if you tried to use an NTSC game machine on your TV. So if you're in Peru, it might be best for you to try and find games there. (It might be hard, but try checking every video store, flea market and thrift store!)


    From: D. Collins
    Date: Thu, 13 Nov 1997
    Subject: Save the Whales and CVS Gameline

  • In your description of Save the Wales for the Atari 2600, you mention that it was reportedly available via the CVS Gameline system, but that nobody had confirmed that they had actually played the game via Gameline. I can confirm that this game was available through the CVS system, and that I played it. I can't say I remember much of anything about Save the Wales, though -- my memory fades. Sorry. I'm really confident that I did play it though, since, in order to keep track of my CVS expenses, I wrote down each game I downloaded, and it's in my notes. So at least I can verify that much. And at the time I rated it a "2" on a scale from 1 to 10, so I thought it stunk.

  • The Gameline was way ahead of its time. The ideas it promised on, but never quite delivered, were one of the more important reasons I'm in the computer industry today. I didn't realize the CVS president went on to found America Online. (Maybe AOL's not so bad after all... :-)

  • If you have any Gameline questions, I can try to recall a little more about it. It was a lot of fun, I remember that. On your birthday you could download all the games you wanted for free. My notes show I tried out 21 games on my birthday :-) hehehe....

    Keita Replies:

  • Excellent e-mail! Thanks for sharing your insight with us about Save The Whales. Although it's still unfortunate that nobody really know how it plays, at least you have given us a confirmation regarding the fact that it WAS downloadable for play. It makes sense that you thought it was a horrible game. Otherwise, Spectravision probably would have released it as a cartridge for the 2600.

  • It's amazing how much video games have influenced many people, not only in spirit but also in employment choices. Playing with video games really heightened the interest of many in computers, technology, engineering and programming. And for that, many of us are indebted to the contributions of companies such as CVC and Atari. (You spelled CVC as "CVS", btw. The latter is a drug store chain) AOL is a success story but it still does stink .


    From: Steve W.
    Date: Tue, 04 Nov 1997
    Subject: Great page - new info

    Hi Atari Gaming Headquarters,

  • I Worked for Atari in the UK, and visited the US division a couple of times.

  • Marketing were keen on putting out a soccer game, it a more popular sport in England! But there were bugs in the game, so we looked at the game, to correct the bugs, and we sent it back to the US. I enjoyed the game, but that was the last I ever heard of it. But then that sort of thing happend often at Atari. You would work on a game and you would never know what happened to it. Just the way things were, FUN!!

  • Another game I wrote, a cricket game for the 400/800, was a real smart one. If you know the Atari 400/800, you know that you can split the screen horizontally at any place to have two (or more) screen resolutions, using a DLI. Well the cricket had used the DLI, but I made it split the screen vertically. But again it was never released. Don't ask me why, I think sometimes panic had set in. ;-))

  • Some of the other things I worked on were the Xevious program conversion under the Atarisoft label for the Apple II and the PC, as well as other titles, from Pole Position to Ms. Pac-Man to Defender, with everything between.. So i had to play the coin-ops till i dropped (shame, but some one had to do it ). Most got released, some again not. Lots of other fun stories, so we'll chat again another time.

    PS. -- What is the Namco Museum CD?

    PPS. -- there were alot of people who suffered under Tram, not only the users. But that's yet another story.

    Keita Replies:

  • Thanks for for sharing your experience with the company. The soccer game you mentioned for the 8-bit -- was it a different game than Soccer (RealSports Soccer) for the Atari 800/5200? Atari did release the game, at least in the US. I was wondering if the game you worked on was a different one.

  • Interesting about the Cricket game. That's great how you managed to split the screen vertically. If you happen to still have the code for the game, I'm sure lots of Atari enthusiasts would love to check out your creation. :)

  • The Namco Museum CD is available for the Playstation (and soon to be available on PC, from what I've heard.. it's out for PC in Japan already). It's a compilation disc with some of their classic arcade hits such as Xevious, Rally-X, Bosconian, Pac-Man, Galaga and others. There are 5 CD sets in total. But Namco is said to be readying a release of all 5 CDs, along with a bonus CD, in one package.

  • Thanks again for your insight. It's always nice to from ex-employees and hear about their stories, good and bad. And thanks for the kind words about AGH.


    From: Lawrence L.
    Date: Sun, 02 Nov 1997
    Subject: Excellent Site!

  • Your site is extremely well done, definitely one of the best for classic games, period. I really appreciate being able to get news on new products and never-before seen items. I did find something that was not listed on your site:

  • Under the M-Network/Mattel header, the game Super Challenge Football is not listed.

  • I know that this section is still under construction, and I'm not trying to nitpick. I appreciate the hard work that you put into your site.

    Les Replies:

  • Thanks for pointing out our mistake. And no, that's not being nitpicky... we encourage everyone to pick out needles in a haystack for us if they're up to doing it! With AGH growing by leaps and bounds, it is becoming almost impossible to keep it free from mistakes.


    From: D. Hillegas
    Date: Sat, 01 Nov 1997
    Subject: Atari 5100

  • Wow! Where the heck did you guys find that 5100 on your page???.

  • It's great that you have pictures of it on your site, but how small is it really? Man, I'd LOVE to hold one in my hands at least once in my life.

    Keita Replies:

  • The 5100 was to become a slimmed-down, cheaper version of the 5200. Console redesigns are nothing new, as the 2600, Intellivision, Genesis and even the 3DO have had changes made for the sake of cost reduction. The 5100 is extremely small compared to the 5200. Of course, the 5200 is quite a hulking beast, so that's not saying much. If you'd like to hold one in your hands, come on down to New York anytime.
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