Sunday, May 23, 2010

How To Beat Home Video Games

Vestron Video, responsible primarily for bringing low-budget horror and exploitation movies to VHS in the early days of home video, also found a way to capitalize on the video game fad with this series of videotapes in 1982:

At $39.95 a pop, these tapes cost more than most new videogame cartridges, and I've never seen one in the wild, so I don't know if they sold very well.  There were a number of popular videogame tip books out at the time -- a few focused on a single major title, and there were many Pac-Man guides published, but the more serious books collected strategy tips for a number of arcade games in one paperback volume.  Doing the same thing with video demonstrations would have been difficult to do for arcade games, but the Atari VCS (later 2600), 5200, and Colecovision were more straightforward, though I am curious about how Vestron captured footage from the vector-monitor Vectrex system.

I have to give the box designer for volume 3 credit for noting that arcade monitors have a different orientation than home videogames; only the Vectrex was truly vertically-oriented, but it's nice attention to detail.  The series' title is, of course, largely a misnomer -- there's really no way to BEAT home video games like Chopper Command, Frogger, Megamania, or Galaxian.  It's true that E.T., Pitfall! and Raiders of the Lost Ark had endgame scenarios and could in theory be completed, but most games at the time simply became faster and/or more difficult until the player was defeated or had mastered the gameplay and grew bored.  Neither really qualifies as a victory scenario.

But I understand Vestron's motivation.  How To Get Beat By Home Video Games would likely have been a non-starter at retail.


  1. This is one of those cases where I wished we lived in the Twilight Zone. Then, we could send for these videos and have them actually show-up. I'm not sure what kind of rips in the space-time continuum would result, but watching these might be worth it.

  2. When I was a kid I never understood the whole concept of "going out of business" -- I would find old Famous Monsters magazines or Read-Aloud Books and try to send in for stuff using the order forms. Nothing ever showed up but my original letters, marked "Return to Sender."

    Probably for the best, given the aforementioned concerns regarding the space-time continuum.

  3. I made a dvd called "The best of How To Beat Home Video Games".

    Ps.That's a cool product for back then