Atari: Game Over

AtariGameOverSuggested by Brad Nelson • Chronicling the fall of Atari Corp., in the early 80s, Atari supposedly buried a million copies of “E.T. the Extra Terrestrial”—one of the company’s biggest failures—in a New Mexican desert. Decades later, a crew attempts to separate fact from fiction by digging up the old game cartridges.
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One Response to Atari: Game Over

  1. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    This was a well done little documentary. Despite the claim, you don’t learn much about why Atari or the video gaming industry collapsed in 1983. The NES would explode onto the scene in America in 1985 and show that video gaming was not just a fad as many had thought.

    But without being excessively treacly, this documentary does a fine job of following the human story surrounding one of the supposedly worst video games ever made: ET for the Atari 2600 system.

    The drama of this hangs mostly upon the central character and the designer of the video game, Howard Scott Warshaw. Having created two million-sellers (Yars’ Revenge and Raiders of the Last Ark), he ought to be a video game giant. But he’s a bit of an outcast for becoming associated with this supposedly worst game ever — one so awful, the narrative goes, that it helped to bring down a gigantic company.

    The miracle of the story is that he did the game in five weeks. Typical development time for a game was at least six months. He is an engaging and honest character with no trace of a chip on his shoulder. And his redemption at the end is all the more sweet for it.

    This is surprisingly deft handling of a nerdy subject matter. These small little special-purpose “project” documentaries about esoteric subjects tend to be dogs. This one is directed by Zak Penn who has written for numerous comic book movies (some good, some bad, some downright awful). He shows some skill here in regards to pacing and making this a story worth caring about.

    This is currently streaming on Netflix. If you’re a fan of classic video gaming, don’t miss it.

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