Atari VCS: The OG Returns!

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The year was 1977 when the era of “The Gamer” came to be. The Atari 2600 was released and it entertained households as the first stand-alone video-game console that popularized the idea of game cartridges, giving the struggling video-game industry a means to produce real revenue from an existing machine. This console was the mother of all consoles and gee-golly are we glad it is coming BACK with the Atari VCS console. Although we are all excited to know what this new machine will bring us, lets not forget what they have already brought to us humble gamers.

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The history behind this console is just amazing – I mean this console created heroes and many classic characters, like Donkey Kong, Q-Bert and Dig-Dug. It was also the first main-stream console to release interchangeable game-cartridges, since before all the games had to be programmed manually into computers before being able to play them (which was a pain in the ass). Innovator Jerry Lawson created the game cartridge for a console that lived in the shadow of the Atari and died out (The Fairchild Channel F). Considering he had a great product in a failing company, Lawson instead founded his own company named Videosoft where he would write software for the Atari company, and would later be recognized as a pioneer in the video-game industry.

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Over the years, Atari developed new consoles (the 5200, the 7200, the Jaguar and the Lynx), however other companies came in and took over the industry, Nintendo being the only left standing from those days. Eventually, the Atari company died out, and stopped producing main-stream hardware. We never expected them to make a comeback… but boy are we glad they are!

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The release date for this new addition to Video Game history is said to be released to the press sometime this April. The developers have promised that this console will not only give new video-game consumers a chance to experience their original classics, but will also come with a variety of new indie games to be released exclusively for the Atari VCS.

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“Every person at Atari and every partner involved with the new platform is just as fanatical about the brand and its heritage as our biggest fans are… With the Atari VCS name, we know how important it is to get everything completely right, and that’s why we briefly paused an imminent launch late last year. It was a difficult decision with the countdown underway, but we weren’t willing to go forward with even one thing out of alignment. We hope that despite the delay, Atari’s fans appreciate our extreme attention to detail and are as excited about the Atari VCS as we are.”

-Michael Arzt

Atari Connected Devices Chief Operating Officer

 

Fun Fact

I hope this brief historical journey of the Atari has inspired you in some way. You know, Ed Fries (former VP of game publishing at Microsoft) was once inspired by learning about the Atari’s history. He read Racing the Beam: The Atari Video Computer System and felt inspired to create an old-school Atari version of Halo called Halo 2600 an Atari game, complete with cartridge and all. Now wouldn’t you want to play that on the new Atari VCS!?

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Comix Zone

General Info:

Comix Zone is a 1995arcade-style beat ’em upvideo game, originally released as a Sega Genesis exclusive. An unusual feature of the game is that it is set within the panels of a comic book with dialogue rendered within talk bubbles and sprites and backgrounds possessing the bright colours and dynamic drawing style favoured by superhero comics. This style had been used in video games previously, but Comix Zone stretched the idea to such an extent that Sega applied for and were granted a patent for a “Videogame system for creating a simulated comic book game

Comix Zone is an action platformer in which players control Sketch as he progresses through panels of his comic book, hoping to reach the end and escape before his own creations finish him off. Each level consists of two pages and secrets are discovered by shredding the paper and revealing items. Along with standard attacks such as punching, kicking and jump attacks, Sketch can store up to three items in his inventory to help him overcome obstacles. Along with weapons such as bombs and knives which can also be used to destroy obstacles, Sketch can pick up iced tea to restore his health, and a fist that transforms Sketch into Super Sketch, dealing a powerful attack on all screen enemies. His pet rat Roadkill can discover hidden items and access areas that are too dangerous for Sketch to reach.

Sketch can also tear off the backdrop into a paper plane to throw at enemies, but this costs health and can also hurt Sketch if he’s not careful. In order to progress through the pages, Sketch will often have to either successfully solve a puzzle, or defeat all the enemies within that panel. Arrows will then appear, allowing Sketch to jump to another panel, with some areas offering multiple routes.

Sketch’s health is determined by a health bar, which is diminished when Sketch is damaged by enemies or obstacles. It will also diminish as Sketch punches through breakable objects or if he uses his paper plane move. If Sketch loses all his life, or falls down a bottomless pit, the game will end and Mortus will take his place in the real world.

However, the player can gain extra chances by clearing the first and second chapters, which will allow Sketch to resume from the beginning of the page should he die. Comix Zone is designed to be used with the 6-button gamepad: buttons X, Y and Z correspond to the three inventory slots Sketch has. If used with a 3-button gamepad, button C cycles through the items, and button A activates the item. Button C on a 6-button gamepad is used for a custom action, blocking by default – on a 3-button gamepad, Sketch blocks automatically.

Interesting Stuff about the music

The European release of the Mega Drive and the Windows PC versions of the game included the Sega Tunes: Comix Zone soundtrack, which contains “enhanced” music taken from the game’s soundtrack and played by a full rock band. The soundtrack was later released in North America under the Sega Tunes label.

“Into the Zone” is a vocal version of the music heard in the games’ options screen (which is itself an extended version of the title screen music); “Feed My Disease” is based on the music heard in Episode 1, Page 2-1; “10,000 Knives” is based on the music heard in Episode 2, Page 2-2; “Seen It for Days” is based on the music heard in Episode 1, Page 1-2; “Woe Is the World” is based on the game’s boss theme; and “Last to Follow” is based on the song heard in Episode 2, Page 1-3.

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