"DEAR AGH" (January/February, 2000)

Subject: Donkey Kong
From: Kurt N.

I wanted to know about the original Donkey Kong. Actually, I like it better than the new versions. Will the old versions (DK/DKJr./DKIII) ever be available on systems such as PlayStation or N64 or Dreamcast?

You're not the only one who likes the classic DK games better than the contemporary ones. Anyhow, you're out of luck. Nintendo holds the rights to DK, of course, and hasn't released the classic ones since the NES days (Donkey Kong Classics.) Of course, the NES version was missing a screen, which sucked big time.

On the plus side, the Game Boy version of DK is quite enjoyable. It includes the first four screens along with a ton of new ones. Of course, it's not in full color, and the screen is tiny, but it's not a bad substitute if you're looking for some Donkey Kong fix.

Subject: 1984 Atari Video Game Championship Finalist
From: Mike S.

Dear Ed. I saw your site listed in the latest issue of Wired (March 2000). Browsing through your site, I noticed your reference to Quadrun, and it being exceptionally rare. I won a trip to the 1984 LA Olympics playing Quadrun. I was the first place winner with that game. Competing in LA, I came in 2nd place with all the cartridges put together. I won an Atari 800XL computer with my efforts on Gravitar. I still have all three cartridges, Quadrun, Gravitar, and Battlezone. I bought Quadrun and Gravitar with my own money, which was significant for me at the time since I was 15 at the time. However, when I made the finals Atari sent me a free copy of Battlezone to practice with. Unfortunately, I don't have the box and I may not have the instructions, although they could be around somewhere, but I do have all the cartridges. Any idea on how much these are worth? I doubt if I'd want to part with them because that trip was one of the most memorable events of my childhood.

Gravitar was always my favorite in the series.

BTW - I believe I also have my old, original Atari Age magazines. They aren't in the best shape, but I believe they are all there. I joined when it first started and I received Issue 1 through whatever the final one was.

Hey, very cool story! I remember when having high score in a game was a bigger bragging point than the size of one's.. err, never mind :) Suffice it to say that it was a more innocent and fun time for all of us!

As for your cartridges -- among the lot, Quadrun is by far the most rare and one of the hardest to find carts in all of 2600 collecting. Definitely hold onto it, if just for sentimental reasons. Gravitar was later released by Atari, but with a different box and cart label. The one you have is often referred to as the "silver label Gravitar" which was only available via the Atari Club (just like Quadrun and Crazy Climber). It's not as rare as Quadrun, but definitely high on the list of many veteran collectors. Battlezone was sold in stores, so the fact that you don't have the instructions is no big loss. The game is quite easy to find (and relatively cheap, too.)
- Keita

Subject: Classic Game Enthusiast
From: Jeff H.

Hi Keita,

I've read a few of your articles in Digital Press and wanted to thank you, Joe, and all the enthusiast/writers who have really touched a melancholy nerve in those of us who grew up in the late seventies and early eighties. I was on the AtariHQ site, read your bio, and found out you were local.

I'm going to try and make it to the CGE2K this year. But it seems like most of the action is in New Jersey.

Is there any formal or informal group of like minded enthusiasts in the Bay Area? I'd appreciate any information you could provide

Thanks for the kind words, Jeff. Actually, I lived in NY for about five years, and helped form thee NAVA (North Atlantic Videogame Enthusiasts) club over in the NY/NJ/PA/CT area. However, the Northern California scene actually beat us to the punch by forming BAVE (Bay Area Videogame Enthusiasts) a few short months before we did. In addition, I'd hazard a guess to say that the number of classic gamers/collectors is as large -- if not larger -- in the SF/SJ/OAK area than anywhere else in the country.

Unfortunately, the status of BAVE is very much up in the air. There hasn't been a single meeting since late 1998, and the regular members seem to have gone their own way. In comparison, NAVA has stayed strong, with an ever-expanding number of users joining the mix.

Since I live in NoCal now, anyone who wants to hang out and chat it up about games, contact me anytime!

Subject: Grandma Stella... Where Is She?
From: George R.

Hello Atari HQ staff, What do you think of a search for the oldest surviving original VCS, a poll of your site users to find 'the Grandmother of all Stellas'. I found a VCS at a thrift store, the tag says Sunnyvale, and other items lead me to believe it's at least 22 years old. How 'bout it? And how can one find out the age of their unit (hey folks, this is Atari history here, right?). Regards from an old VCS lover from the 80s.

Hey, that's a pretty cool idea! How 'bout it, folks? Would you like a contest with a prize going to the owner of the lowest serial number 2600? Let us know, we could throw in a cool prize if we go for it.

As for the age of the unit, you can crack open the unit and see the date on the motherboard, and some units also have manufacturing dates on the backside of the machine. Depends on what flavor 2600 you have.

Subject: Tron On Home Consoles?
From: Jennifer T.

Hi. My name is Jennifer and I LOVE your site! It brought back many fond memories of my youth when I played Atari and Intellivision with my brothers. Anyhow, on to the question.

I absolutely loved the arcade game TRON. I know that there were various home Tron games put out by Mattel/M-Network for the Intellivision and Atari 2600, but was wondering why nobody came out with a home version of the Bally/Midway classic. Ditto for Discs of Tron. Given how it was a popular game, I would've figured that someone would have brought it home.

Appreciate any reply since it's been bugging me for years!

That's a very good question Jennifer. There could be a host of reasons for this. The first might have been legal. Perhaps Bally did not obtain home sublicense rights from Disney when the licensed the franchise for arcades. Or perhaps Bally was asking for too much dough to home publishers, and Mattel thought they'd get off cheaper by only having to license just the name and not the coin-op game as well (otherwise that would be two expensive licensed rolled into one.) And perhaps Mattel believed they could pull off a decent version of the game that didn't copy the arcade game.

Or it just could've been that nobody was confident about the ability to port a decent version of the game on a home system. Tron was very advanced for its time, both graphically and in terms of audio. It also featured both a trigger joystick and a spinwheel for control, which may have been an issue when trying to do a home translation. Of course, that didn't stop companies like Parker Brothers from trying to do a decent port of a game such as Atari's coin-op Star Wars, which was light years ahead of its time. Ditto for Zaxxon (at least on 2600, anyways.)

Subject: Food Fight, Xevious
From: Chris P.

Do you have any idea if Food Fight and/or Xevious will be re-released for, say, PlayStation?

I have some good news and bad news for you. First, the bad news: Food Fight is not available on any modern console. Good news: Xevious exists for PlayStation in not one, but two different flavors. The original arcade Xevious can be found in Namco Museum Volume 2, while a jazzed-up, 3D version is available and it's called "Xevious 3D+G." Both are excellent.

Subject: New Atari 2600 Game
From: Alex G

Hi, I'm developing a new Atari 2600 game. I would like to know how I could submit it to be featured on your new developments section.

The game (untitled) is a Tetris clone. It features 1 or 2 players and height/level adjustment. It's about 80% complete, I just have to redo the title screen (ran out of room) and do some play testing.

I am hoping to release 500 cartridges with color label and perhaps a manual. I already have 300 cartridges just need another 200 combats at a reasonable price :)

Thanks, and I hope to hear from you.

Sure, no problem! Alex has since sent me a ROM of the finished version of Z-Blocks (final name), and we'll have a write-up about it very shortly. Stay tuned for info on how to get the game on cartridge.

Subject: Oh my GOD!
From: Todd J.

I've been buying ALL the brand new Atari Jaguar games as they come out -- Worms, Towers II, Phase Zero, Protector, Breakout 2000, and so forth.

But I've been reading everywhere that there was a game called Air Cars.... I can't seem to find it anywhere!!! Did I miss this one? Will I ever be able to buy it? Or was it never released! It's almost a mission to get every single game they ever made for the Jaguar.. in the original box.

Ouch! It seems like you've missed out on that one, my friend. It was released in very limited quantities by ICD (makers of the Catbox peripheral for Jaguar) and has been out of production for quite some time. I'd be surprised if more than 200 copies were ever made. Your best bet is to try and get one through eBay, as I know of no online dealer that still offers it for sale, at any price.

Subject: Sick
From: Batboy

That game is totally sick the game called X-MAN.

That's exactly what Universal Gamex wanted people to think about X-Man. Guess they succeeded!

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