Tag Archives: Donkey Kong

The Music of Mad Marbles

Not many arcade players noticed, but in December of 1984, the sound of video games changed for the better, forever.

certainly noticed. I pumped quarter after quarter into that Marble Madness machine, not just because I enjoyed the (admittedly very challenging) game, but because I had to hear that music, one more time. Continue reading

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Filed under Bad Influences, Faint Signals, Nostalgic Obsessions, Thousand Listen Club

The Pac-simile

Yea, I say unto you, I was in the right place at the right time for two major moments in American history. You must believe that what I’m about to tell you is the truth; it will seem like so much legend and myth.

The first: I was gifted a copy of E.T. (the game) for the Atari 2600, on Christmas, but that is a tale for another article.


The second, and more significant: I talked my father into buying me Pac-Man for the Atari 2600, one of the most notoriously disappointing games of all time. Second only to E.T.,of course.

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Filed under Bad Influences, Faint Signals, Idiot's Delight, Nostalgic Obsessions

Artifacts of Early Gaming

Earlier today, I suffered a terrible tumble from my high horse. During yet another lament about the endless saturation of smartphones, my rose-colored recollection of my own childhood was shattered when I realized that in grade school 35 years ago, my generation was gazing at little electronic rectangles too.


They weren’t easy to get, either; I only ever saw them in the windows of weird electronics stores in NYC, the kind of places you’d expect to have a mogwai for sale. Most of the games didn’t take regular batteries, but instead used the teeny watch kind that you had to ask your grandma for (grandmas always had them). Typically, the sound consisted of high-pitched beeps, and could not be turned off, so play was often halted by grown-ups with more hearing than patience.

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Filed under Bad Influences, Faint Signals, Nostalgic Obsessions