LA Barcade is back

Posted on September 22, 2010

369 N Western Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90004
Phone: 323-465-5045

LA’s Barcade is back, in its third location, right next door to the old one on Western Ave north of Beverly (369 N Western). No longer Miss T’s Barcade, it is now “The Blipsy.” Their opening night party flier says: “This third installment brings closure to all the questions raised from the previous Barcades. Probably the most complete of the trilogy.”

The bar is now one large room instead of three, blue instead of red, and has liquor in addition to beer. There’s no clear signage on the street: follow the pac-man dots to the door.

The Asteroids machine here is still our favorite. For more info, read the original LA Barcade Recon.

Sega’s Vector Game “Eliminator”

Posted on August 30, 2010

Image taken from www.arcade-history.com

Here’s a look at an Asteroids cousin in the arcade: Sega/Gremlin’s Eliminator, released in 1981. The 4-person cocktail game has the distinction of being the only 4-player vector game ever created. It was also released as a 2-player upright and cocktail game.

A summary on M.A.R.S. (Mark’s Arcade Retro Site) says:

In Eliminator, your object is to 1) Destroy any threats (opposing players or drones) by forcing them into a large floating asteroid (known as the Eliminator Base) using your energy bolts, which “push” ships, and 2) Fire an energy bolt down a narrow opening in the Eliminator Base, thus destroying it. Of course, you will have to survive an onslaught by your opponents, drones, and the Eliminator itself (a deadly ship that comes out of the Eliminator Base, lauches fireballs and destroys opponents on contact).

For more information, visit Andy’s Arcade and Wikipedia. Or Google it.

WFMU’s Beware of the Blog: How To Play Asteroids

Posted on August 15, 2010

We just came across this old post on WFMU’s Beware of the Blog. They were stuck at work on the Friday before Labor Day, playing Asteroids, and decided to write about it. Includes video of one of their games.

http://blog.wfmu.org/freeform/2006/09/how_to_play_ast.html

LA Times Article: Atari Reboot

Posted on August 07, 2010

Atari was one of the original video game leaders, although the company had all but disappeared during the last few decades.  It was sold to various companies around the world, eventually ending up in France.  However, starting around a year ago, we started seeing rumblings of a corporate rebirth.  Licensing stepped up, with a Universal Studios film deal for Asteroids among the more news-worthy items.

Recently, Atari’s website has been growing, offering both classic games for online play, plus the announcement of new initiatives, including the re-imagining of older titles (again, Asteroids).  Then, with echoes of Steve Jobs’s return to a floundering Apple, there came the news that Atari founder Nolan Bushnell was back on the board of directors.

The LA Times has just published a fairly comprehensive article detailing the past and future plans for the company.  Read it here:

http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-ct-atari-20100803,0,3552511.story?track=rss

Asteroids Online Announced

Posted on August 03, 2010

Over at atari.com, Asteroids Online (working title) was announced today, with a big COMING SOON button and a few screen shots. As indicated by the name, it’s an online game based loosely on the original premise.

Asteroids Online is set in the distant future, where:

…Space is littered with the debris of a thousand years of human neglect, and coupled with the recent appearance of unexplained asteroid fields, many trading and transportation companies have resorted to hiring pilots to clean their routes of these impurities. This, as you may have guessed, is where you come in.

While the experience will be quite different from the sparse vector display and five buttons of the beloved arcade version, Atari says that this “re-imagining of its 1979 iconic classic… adds an expansive universe, flexible customization and social interaction while faithfully preserving the remarkably balanced mechanics that characterized the original arcade cabinet.”

Gaming has shifted out of the arcade and onto TVs, then computers and phones.  The online version is designed for casual and interactive play through social networks like Facebook and play.atari.com, and looks to be built on the concept of a longer-term game. Players will explore different worlds, complete various missions, and be able to customize their ships “with different hulls, shields, weapons and more.”  The addition of long-form narrative and episodic game play is a smart approach to keeping people coming back.

This is part of the company’s plan to revitalize some if its legacy titles. An article in today’s LA Times writes:

Northern California’s Cryptic Studios, which Atari bought in 2008, operates multiplayer online games such as the recently released Star Trek Online and Champions Online, both of which have very small user bases compared with the market-dominating World of Warcraft.

But to drive much of its growth, the company hired a veteran Microsoft and Yahoo executive to head its online activities. Thom Kozik, executive vice president of online and mobile, has contracted with outside producers to make 15 to 20 updated versions of Atari games for the Web.

Though some of its games will be pay-to-download, Atari is embracing the increasingly popular free-to-play business model used by companies such as Playdom, which was recently acquired by Walt Disney Co. in a deal worth up to $763 million. Most players of so-called F2P games spend nothing, while a small but avid group pay for virtual items that enhance the experience.

“Over the next six months you’re going to see some of our best brands coming out as casual online games and digital downloads across multiple platforms, and you’ll see a handful of retail releases,” Wilson said.

(Read the entire LA Times article here.)

Sample frames from Atari’s site indicate that the visual style is rendered in bright colors with oversized bubbly graphics. The company wants to move into the present and not just ride the rails of retro, and while this is bringing a beloved game into a contemporary venue, we hope that it stand out from the others in ways beyond the brand name (ie. design). We’ll wait to play the game before commenting further, but so long as things don’t become too busy, there’s potential for something fresh from the company that’s looking to live up to its past, while engaging players in the present.

Atari Online’s page can be visited at:
http://www.atari.com/play/game/asteroids_online

And for those who might simply want to combat white lines until invariably reaching a vectory death, Atari has already made the original program available for online play.
http://www.atari.com/play/game/asteroids

Dutch Mr. & Mrs. Atari (video)

Posted on August 01, 2010

Below is a video where Mr. Atari (Sijmen) from the Netherlands shows off his and his wife’s collection of classic Atari computers and games.  Says Mrs. Atari: “I think it’s the simplicity.  You can keep on playing.  Today’s games just SUCK cock!  That’s just my opinion.”

Visiting Mr. Atari’s website, it appears that they have a cocktail Asteroids machine.  It also appears that the site is hosted on an Atari computer, judging by the connection speed.

Asteroids Fashion

Posted on July 26, 2010

If you’re dressing up for a gala night at the arcade, you’ll need to look sharp; and nothing says sharp shooter like this season’s Asteroids fashion accessories. Unfortunately, “this season” doesn’t update all that often when it comes to quality Asteroids-wear, but here’s a survey of what’s out there.

Vintage Asteroids merchandise seems mainly focussed around the Atari 2600. 1983 was a big year for collectables, maybe as a last-ditch effort at game sales before the North American video game crash.

The first and unquestionably most excellent outfit is the Asteroids Halloween costume.

For more casual occasions, there’s the colored blocks on blue tee-shirt.

And to add a little splash to any outfit, pick a collectable pin.

These might be tricky to track down, but to take a look at these and more Atari items from this era, visit the collection at Atari Mania.

In more recent years, the hour hand for retro pop has reached 1980 (probably past 1987 by this point), and Atari nostalgia rides the wave. Atari logo shirts are common, but what about Asteroids? Two items stand out.

First is Fossil’s collectable Asteroids watch, produced as a limited edition of 5,000 in 2005 (We have #2518). This is a quality watch, with a hefty metal body and black leather strap. It’s big. The background is an animated LCD with little Asteroids and ship. You can’t play, but a button on the side allows you to freeze the animation or let it play. It’s not that visible unless you view it in the right light (it’s not backlit), but that actually makes it look like a punk-class timepiece at first glance, which will receive compliments at work. The Atari insignia etched on top is also fairly subtle. It was $130 new, and can still be found on the occasional watch or auction site. It also takes 3 batteries: one for the time and two for the display. Of all Asteroids items, this one stands in a class of its own.

The second newly-minted Asteroids item is a woven microfiber necktie available at Ties.com. It’s not the cheapest quality tie we’ve seen, but it’s close. It IS Asteroids, though. When it comes down to it, the Space Invaders tie from Beau Ties of Vermont is probably a better pick. It’s not Asteroids, but it’s very nice. Soft. Woven. Deserves a mention.

Sadly, it seems that there’s no women’s Asteroids formalwear. Seems like earrings would be good, or a silver chain necklace made of asteroids-shaped links, or just a simple pendant. Maybe some jewelry designer can get on that. Otherwise, there’s a slew of t-shirts (and mouse pads, etc.), both commercial and homemade from custom-press sites, featuring Asteroids and Asteroids Deluxe

Know of any other good finds? Let us know.

Atari Founder Nolan Bushnell Returns

Posted on July 23, 2010

Atari founder Nolan Bushnell has just returned to the board of directors for Atari.

It’s been 28 years since Nolan Bushnell founded Atari for just $500. The businessman, who used Pong to first launch the arcade craze in 1972 and later brought gaming into the living room in 1984 with the Atari 2600, is now back with the company.

Bushnell is now on the board of directors for Atari. A lot has changed at the company since he sold it to Hollywood’s Warner Communications for $28 million back in 1976. These days, the French-owned Atari has struggled to re-establish its brand with the type of game experiences that early titles like Asteroids and BattleZoneheld (and still hold) with gamers. Nolan, who’s early Atari days are the subject of a new Paramount Pictures biopic with producer Leonard DiCaprio, believes the timing is right to capitalize on what made Atari successful in its heyday.

Read the full article and interview by John Gaudiosi at Gamepro:
http://www.gamepro.com/article/features/215893/atari-founder-nolan-bushnells-return/

California Extreme 2010 – Ephemeral Classic Arcade

Posted on July 17, 2010

This weekend is the 14th annual California Extreme, the classic arcade show that Ryan Davis of Giant Bomb calls “the best arcade I had ever been to, stocked with obvious classics, obscure gems, prototype and bootleg machines, and a bunch of stuff I’d simply never heard of.”

He’s posted a video (below) of a walk-through of this year’s show in Santa Clara.  He pauses for a quick game of Asteroids Deluxe (cocktail) at 4:15.

Jon Koolpe has his Asteroids machine on display, with an advance version of the Asteroids multikit.  He says, “Let me say that this kit is beyond cool…you get Asteroids (easy and hard), Asteroids Deluxe (easy and hard), and Lunar Lander. Dipswitch settings are handled by an on screen menu, high scores are saved in Asteroids and Asteroids Deluxe, and you even get that extra 6th digit in your score in Asteroids (so you can obtain scores for beyond 99999).”

Also, take a look at Wired Magazine’s “5 Things I Learned at California Extreme” (2009).

=== FOLLOW UP ===

Dan at One Of Swords has a good overview of the event, with lots of photos:
http://oneofswords.com/2010/07/california-extreme-2010-report/

Asteroids wall decals by Blik

Posted on July 14, 2010

Removable wall decal design company Blik now features our favorite game. 65-decal set sells for $45.

http://www.whatisblik.com/shop/asteroids