Jump to content
IGNORED

Top 10? Where Is Atari?


DarkTone

Recommended Posts

I love the passion collectors have. Especially when getting rarer items and explaining how they got them. I also enjoy lists on "top 10 rarest games ever" (except when Earthbound is in that list 馃槖).聽 If its a personal list of their 10, no problem.聽

However, I dont know the accuracy myself, but shouldn't the Atari 2600 dominate most of a top 10 rare game list? I see records of games that may have only one existed after the others were destroyed, so besides not doing research or not knowing shit about collecting or clickbait, why do these lists leave out a lot of the 2600 games?聽

  • Like 3
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I think you're right about articles that claim to list the "top 10 ____ games ever", they're bound to be subjective. Is a 5-screw metal gear more rare than an NWC, for example? I mean, maybe.

The implied caveat聽with a lot of lists regarding rarity is whether the games were sanctioned/licensed by the platform they're on. Rare games then line up with low print runs or poor sales, like DK Jr. Math or Little Samson. Something like an NWC, demo/test cart, or prototype are bound to be more rare, but they were never available at retail so it feels weird to me to lump them in. You could make a "top 1000" list filled with聽prototypes and NFRs.

My understanding is that with the 2600, there were a bunch聽of people making their own games in the 80s and 90s, burning them onto carts and selling them on a small scale. Someone correct me if I'm wrong, but I think game dev聽for the 2600 was more like recording your garage band music to a cassette. You had big name third party publishers like Activision but also a lot of little guys at the bottom. Atari didn't come after them so there were聽plenty of "unlicensed" games released, which is why we find out about rare games like Red Sea Crossing.

That puts homebrews in an interesting category, since they're聽pretty much just unlicensed games made way too late. If I make a game and burn it onto a single cart, is it now rare? I wouldn't say so. Maybe strictly speaking, but it's not really collectable. But if I started taking orders and sold 100 copies, then fell off the face of the planet, could my homebrew be considered a rare game in 10 years?

  • Like 8
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I think @Alder聽nailed it with the rare versus collectible statement. There are tons of "home brews" for Atari systems, so it just depends on what you want to include on your list. If you wanted to be all inclusive, then any home computer type system would have countless "rare" games.

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

6 hours ago, Alder said:

My understanding is that with the 2600, there were a bunch聽of people making their own games in the 80s and 90s, burning them onto carts and selling them on a small scale. Someone correct me if I'm wrong, but I think game dev聽for the 2600 was more like recording your garage band music to a cassette. You had big name third party publishers like Activision but also a lot of little guys at the bottom. Atari didn't come after them so there were聽plenty of "unlicensed" games released, which is why we find out about rare games like Red Sea Crossing.

There wasn't much Atari could do to stop unlicensed games.

The 2600 hardware was mostly, if not all, off-the-shelf parts (because cost) and anyone could make a clone of the console itself pretty easily, which Coleco did in the form of their Gemini and the Colecovision Atari addon. There as also no lockout chip like the NES and later cartridge consoles had.

They could pursue legal action, which Atari did with Activision, citing non-disclosure agreements (Activision was founded by former Atari employees), but Atari lost that case.

The guys making 2600 carts in their garage didn't have any insider Atari knowledge, just basic knowhow about a video game console made with parts you could get at any electronics store circa 1982, plus some coding expertise. Plus, trying to stop them was like playing whack-a-mole.

A lot of those small fry guys were advertising their games in newsletters and magazines and selling through mail order. I do remember Men-A-Vision was selling Air Raid through a Los Angeles area toy store (Mena Toys in Echo Park, where Men-A-Vision got its name.) But Air Raid was positively mass produced compared to the one-offs that were probably made to order, and those orders you could probably count on one hand. I mean, do you see kids in 1982 rioting for Red Sea Crossing? 馃槢

  • Like 3
Link to comment
Share on other sites

As to why Atari isn't in the top ten, if not dominating it, I suspect it's because since collecting took off, the 2600 has lagged in the shadow of the NES and Nintendo consoles in general. The NES is more firmly rooted in the public consciousness, especially since Nintendo is still juggernauting in the video game market while Atari pops up every ten years under new ownership with some weird cash-in product.

Atari is kind of seen as a more esoteric console to collect for, and only decently informed collectors know about the ultra-rares.

Stadium Events is just a more click-baitish story for the masses than Gamma Attack, even though probably more people have owned SE than there are people who have even seen Gamma Attack in person.

Edited by Tulpa
  • Agree 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

The top Google result for "rarest video games" is聽dominated by Atari FWIW.

https://www.businessinsider.com/the-rarest-most-expensive-video-games-2014-6

If pure rarity is the only metric to go by, nothing that had a retail or even large promotional release would even quality. There were computer games burned to order and sold essentially no copies, all types of self-published works that got zero distribution. The first Touhou Project game sold 30 copies. Not 30 copies are known to exist or are in collector hands, it聽sold聽30 copies ever and that's the first game in a (relatively) major and well-documented series. How many one million percent unknown computer games have been entirely聽lost to history, but a physical copy of them might still exist out there? In terms of what some collectors care about, it might be all Atari, but in terms of pure rarity it's probably mostly lost computer games no one's ever even heard of.

  • Like 3
  • Agree 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

21 hours ago, DefaultGen said:

How many one million percent unknown computer games have been entirely聽lost to history, but a physical copy of them might still exist out there? In terms of what some collectors care about, it might be all Atari, but in terms of pure rarity it's probably mostly lost computer games no one's ever even heard of.

Indeed. There are thousands聽of DOS/Windows聽games alone, some of which are聽totally unknown even to hardcore collectors. In case they are known, no one is able to find a physical copy of some of them to show and/or preserve. To me it is one of the more exciting aspects of PC collecting but even if you come across something truly rare聽you might not know it at the time. Even some games popular in certain regions or countries sometimes have tough as nails to find physical releases. I had an eBay saved search for Supaplex (for DOS but had it just as "Supaplex" for a wider net;聽I saw a few Amiga ones pop up but not a common occurrence for that platform either)聽for years (maybe 2 in the end)聽and hadn't even seen image of the box before. I managed to get a re-release(?) Classic denotion聽"small" box 3.5 inch floppy disk DOS version of it. Checked eBay now due to thinking about it and I saw a 5.25 inch floppy disk DOS big box version for the first time.聽Similar thing with Star Goose, I had a search up for months at least and got a weird blister pack 5.25 floppy disk DOS release of it in the end. I'm not that knowledgeable of the PC offerings and what is or isn't rare but on average it's a minefield for obscurities.

Couple cool threads about stuff like that:

https://hg101.proboards.com/thread/11191/lost-rare-unkown-games-general

https://hg101.proboards.com/thread/10484/search-garage-bad-dream-adventure

Edited by sp1nz
  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 10 months later...
MemberPosted

The problem with ever discussion about "the rarest X ever!" is that these click-bait conversations actually mean "the hardest to find items that everyone wants to find."聽 Some of these might truly be rare, while others might be semi-rare but people have coveted owning them for so long, there are very few in the wild that aren't in the long term collector's hands.聽 Earthbound is a reasonable example of this.聽 I'd say Little Samson is another good example too.

Whether it's comics, cards, video games, books, any other collectible, their are often many legit rare items within those categories but when only a few people care to find them, it's just not "important".聽 There are plenty of "common" games that go for a few hundred bucks because everyone wants a copy.聽 Look at every PS1 RPG for the last couple of years and how most of them are now north of $100.聽 Most of these aren't rare, they are just super desirable and therefore command a hefty chunk of change.

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

A lot of really rare Atari stuff is rare, but not due to sales figures. Just because of how many obscure games got shadow released for it, because licensing wasn't much of a thing for the console. I still think that some Atari games absolutely fall into the same category as Little Samson or Earthbound. Swordquest Waterworld is rare and was straight up made by Atari. I would say it fits the category that a lot of more mainstream rare stuff falls into better than games like Red Sea Crossing, which had barely any copies made. Rarity due to production numbers and rarity due to sales I think is an important distinction, though if we are just talking rare in general, then I do agree that Atari has plenty of things that fit the bill

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Rarity without a story is garbage.

It鈥檚 why hot trash like Stadium Events is valued a single penny above World Class Track Meet, or why people care more about an unreleased game like Cheetahmen II versus a commercially released one like Racermate Challenge II

Edited by ThePhleo
  • Like 1
  • Agree 3
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Unreleased stuff, or stuff that was never supposed to have a widespread release can be an interesting story, but it does not fit in with stuff like Little Samson. Earthbound being on a bunch of rarest games ever lists seems weird to me. It's rare, but there is definitely a lot of rarer stuff, even when limiting it to attempts at mainstream releases

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
  • Create New...