Sunday, December 25, 2011

What's Santa's Favorite Video Game?

Schoolyard joke one day, national magazine cover the next:

My recollection is that the handling in Namco/Atari's racing coin-op Pole Position was pretty drifty already, so turning it into a special ice-laden Christmas edition would have been straightforward.  (And if the game were around today, in the age of DLC, it would probably have happened.)

This is a magazine cover circa 1983, from Electronic Fun magazine's second year of operation.  I've found actual Christmas-themed video game advertisements to be unexpectedly rare in these seasonal issues.  Most companies just ran the same ads they did year-round, we just saw more of them printed during the gift-shopping season.  In 1983 the home game market was not as mainstream as it is today, nor was Black Friday quite so prominent, and new releases were not necessarily promoted at retail in the days when a "big" release might sell tens of thousands rather than millions of copies.  So the holidays were not necessarily a big sales period for anyone but the console manufacturers... and, of course, the kids who depended mostly on Santa for new games.  That well-used copy of Combat was just itching to move into a cardboard box under the bed.

Too bad that North Pole Position cabinet doesn't have any room for Santa's bag of toys.  And it's even more unfortunate that Santa's watching the screen instead of his actual flight path, and appears to be headed for the outer limits of the Earth's atmosphere.  Asphyxiation appears imminent; perhaps Santa heard about the X Prize and mistakenly thought it had something to do with Xmas.

C'mon, you know you laughed when you read that, in spite of yourself.

Happy Holidays!

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