The funny thing is that half of the folks who read this node have never played, let alone seen, an Atari 2600.

We didn't own one, unfortunately. We had one of those Pong machines with four wonderous games on it. My friend did own one, luckily, and we went over there to play as often as we could.

My favorite game was Pitfall. I had the timing down perfectly, and we were mapping out every single scene. Looking back on it, the graphics were awful and the gameplay was astoundingly limited, but it was great to play games sans the quarter slot. I actually ended up being very good at it, and gave anyone who challenged me a run for their money.

My second fave was Reactor, but not many folks knew about it. Apparently it did not get released all over the US, and copies were exceedingly rare. At least, nobody I've talked to in recent memory has ever heard of it.

My third fave was Steroids. To remind those few old farts who owned one, the booklet that came with the first batch of Asteroids cartridges had a typo. I enjoyed it better than the arcade version.

Rumour had it that when Atari went kaput, they dumped 1.5 million cartridges in a dump and covered it with dirt. I'd like to hear what the archeologists say when they uncover that silicon-and-plastic mine in a thousand years.

According to the Atari 2600 FAQ, at http://www.atariage.com/2600/faq/index.html?SystemID=2600 , a poll on rec.games.video in 1992 determined that the five most-loved Atari 2600 games were:

1. Adventure
2.(tie) Solaris, Yar's Revenge
4. Asteroids
5. River Raid

Presumably, 'Pitfall!' is a very close sixth. As for the most popular cartridges, it's likely that 'Combat' (which was given away free with early systems) tops the list, with 'Asteroids', 'Bezerk', 'Space Invaders' and 'Defender' following closely behind.

At the bottom of the list would be Atari's notoriously rushed and awful conversion of 'Pac-Man', a commercial success but a terrible advertisement for the company, and the infamous 'E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial', which was such a disaster that literally millions of unsold cartridges were simply dumped as landfill, a cheaper option than shipping them to stores which did not want to stock the game in any case.

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