Now is the Age of Atari!

I have been playing video games almost as long as there have been video games to play.  Sure, I missed out on the infant days of the arcade (but that's okay as everyone knows the glory years for the arcades were 82-86 anyhow and not the topic of today's blog)- but for me the arcade experience was at home.

I lived in what we Minnesotans call the "boonies," you see, and the nearest arcade was a good thirty miles or so from my house (and it was a GOOD arcade. It had an environment cabinet Discs of Tron, Dragon's Lair, Galaga 3, Dig-Dug... you name it, they had it! ah, but I digress again) and not at all accessible to me on my BMX, rad though it was.  What I did have was an Atari 2600. Yeah, I know. Laughable compared to systems of today, but I loved that thing. I still do. I own one (a"vader" system- not my original; that was an Atari Junior) and am an avid collector for it- last count I was around 275 unique carts for it.  It still works great and I am discovering new games for it all of the time- more on that in a bit.  I think that experiencing the Atari has given me a greater appreciation for video gaming as a whole.

We knew that the Atari couldn't compare to the arcade... heck, I even kinda knew that the Atari wasn't even the best home console- I had T.V, I saw the commercials. I didn't know anybody that had an Intellivison or Collecovision... a neighbor had an early IBM style computer that had some pretty neat games on it (I still love Lode Runner)... None of that mattered to me- I got to play games on the spare T.V. at home and it made me happy, even if the T.V. was an old Black and White portable. As I grew up, each little leap forward in graphics and sound impressed the crap out of me as my gaming experience began with blocky tanks and three movable objects on screen at a time.

One thing I have always wanted to do was make a video game. I took a summer school class once to learn basic programming for the Apple II (which was similar to BASIC for the Commodore 64 that I wound up getting as a hand-me-down later that summer which was awesome) and dabbled with some super simple game creation with that. I have always been drawn to games that allow level creation (Lode Runner may have contributed to that) and as a kid I used to think "man, making an Atari game would be awesome."  I probably won't get that chance- but I've discovered a way that's close enough for a little ol' cartoonist like me.

A few years ago I discovered a website called AtariAge. It seemed there was an avid community of fans of the Atari that also happened to have some programming know how and wanted to create brand new games for the system.  Think about that for a second. Brand new games for a system over thirty years old. We're not just talking some hacks where you turn Pac-Man pink, mind you (although there are a few simpler hacks out there), these are brand spanking new... and IMPRESSIVE. The Atari 2600 is something of a beast to program for, despite its simple graphics. The creators over at AtariAge are making it do some pretty amazing things that a primitive video game platform like that has no business doing. Yeah, it's still laughable when compared to a Playstation 4 or WiiU, but for those of is in the know, it's awesome.

These games aren't just ROM hacks to be played on an emulator, either (although that is the easiest way to play them). The folks at AtariAge will create cartridges that can actually be played on an Atari 2600! That blows my mind! I HAD to be a part of this. I started by collecting some of their games (if you've got an Atari laying around, I highly recommend Pac-Man 4K- it's what the original Atari 2600 Pac-Man should have been >sigh< ...and Rob's still just a little bit jealous I own a copy of Halo 2600!  ) and then I got the word out that I was looking to play a bigger part. Like I said, I can't program anything, but I can draw- and cartridges need labels.

A game creator by the name of Walaber created an awesome take on the "flappy bird" concept involving Ninjas and was looking for label art for said game... I threw my hat in the ring and now my inner-eight year old is very happy to announce I'll have art on an Atari game (he's still beaming)! I hope I get the opportunity to draw up a few more of these as I had a blast! Here's a better look at the image:

I'm quite happy with how it turned out and hope it helps sell a lot of copies of the game (which will be up for sale VERY soon)! If you're interested in learning more, definitely head on over to AtariAge or click here to see some of the other homebrew titles available at AtariAge. They've got new games for a lot of old systems. There are a few other sites out there that sell homebrew titles for old hardware, but I'll mention those another time (sooner if it means more labels I get to draw wink wink nudge nudge).

In more Remedial news, it's something of an "off" week for Wonder Weenies... I'll have a very special Valentines Day themed update for Thursday... it may be hard to top last year's but I know my Valentine will love it (love you dear).  I'm also hoping that Remedy will return soon as I'm itching to draw more comics... I do have some ideas for new webcomics that maybe just maybe I'll introduce in the near future (if you follow my Twitter at all you may have had a peek at a few pages from one such project) if Rob needs more time.  We'll return with regular Wonder Weenies updates next Tuesday (February 17th)!

Until then, stay Remedial! I am a huge!

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