Sunday, June 5, 2011

Cover to Cover: Imagic 1982 Catalog (pp. 11-12)

We're down to the last few pages of Imagic's six-page, two-sided fold-out 1982 product catalog, included with the company's games at the time, with a final handful of Atari 2600 offerings.

Page 11 includes a couple of less-common Imagic titles:

Cosmic Ark may have been the first home videogame sequel, although it was not explicitly marketed as such.  The player must pilot the spaceship seen escaping at the end of Imagic's Atlantis, seeking to repopulate the planet by beaming up odd alien creatures from far-off planets.  The space sequences play like Midway's early arcade title Space Zap, with the player shooting rocks that appear above, below and to the right and left of the ship by pushing the joystick in the appropriate direction.

Fire Fighter was an interesting if not entirely successful attempt to create a game based on a real-world environment; its main problem, really, is that it's ultimately more fun to watch the building (and the victim) burn than to try to prevent it.

Page 12 features another Imagic classic, and an accessory I had completely forgotten existed:

Atlantis was second only to Demon Attack in establishing Imagic's reputation on the 2600; the player must aim from three fixed laser turrets to shoot down invading alien spacecraft that zoom across the screen, getting faster and faster as the game goes on.  The underwater environment allowed for some fresh use of color, and versions appeared on a number of other consoles.

I've never run into Imagic's Video Storage Center in the real world -- a lot of companies marketed these kinds of Atari 2600 system organizers at the time, and the "Durable plastic construction" was probably not much of a selling point.  With a 15/18-game storage limit these units aren't all that useful for serious collectors in this day and age.  But Imagic was clearly trying to make a profit wherever possible.

It's a shame Imagic did not survive the industry crash -- like its close competitor Activision, the company saw the writing on the wall and attempted to move into the home computer market in the mid-80s.  But that was apparently not enough to keep the company afloat.  Creative talent is one thing; management during a serious market crisis is a different sort of challenge, and a lot of the skilled game designers of the 2600/Intellivision era simply moved into other industries when video games ceased (temporarily) to be financially viable.

I have more of these artifacts available -- next time, we'll open something new.

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