Saturday, March 5, 2011

Ever Is A Long, Long Time

The Arcadia/Starpath Supercharger was a pretty nifty add-on for the Atari 2600.  It increased the system's limited display RAM, allowing for more and more detailed sprites onscreen with less flicker, bringing the aging 2600's graphics power closer to that of the Atari home computers. It also allowed the system to load games from cassette tape for cheaper distribution, but piracy concerns and limited sales of the Supercharger hardware kept third parties from jumping on the Starpath bandwagon.

Of course, the advertising was hyperbolic in the grand 1980s tradition, promising The closest thing to arcade quality graphics you'll ever have at home:

Ever is a very long time, and this claim was eventually superseded as home consoles caught up with, surpassed and ultimately replaced arcades as the dominant venue for video gaming.  "Close" ceased to be a consideration -- most of the arcade classics collections released in recent years are stepping way back to be graphically equal to the original arcade games, faithfully emulated.  And modern console graphics are far more sophisticated than the last wave of major coin-op arcade games could muster.

The ad also mentions games Starpath apparently had in the works for the Atari 400/800, 5200 and Colecovision, but I don't think those ever saw release unless they became Epyx titles following the company's acquisition.

I do like the ad's imagery -- now that we have actual 3-D television sets and videogames, the thought of blocky old sprites leaping out of the 12" color teevee seems particularly quaint.

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