Terrifyingly Plausible

From the horrifying clothes to the Cooper Black typeface, this dead-on fake ad suckered me for a whole 2.3 seconds before I realized it must be fake. Your two hints:

1. The game pictured is actually Activision’s 1980 video game Dragster, which I spent a fair amount of my 11-year-old life playing;

2. The video game “end” of the 8-track tape rather more accurately resembles like a Nintendo cart than an Atari 2600 cart.

Also, unless my memory fails me, the very first rock band-related Atari 2600 game was Journey Escape. Yes, I know it’s pathetic and sad that I remember these things. Yet I do. Get off my lawn, junior.

Here’s the essay this picture comes from.

36 Comments on “Terrifyingly Plausible”

  1. I worked in a toy store during the Great Video Game Implosion of 1984, and eventually bought Journey Escape for $1.99. I still have it, and my 2600 (and my Intellivision, and my Coleco Adam…). I remember it was pretty bad. The “Mighty Manager” protected the tiny pixels of Journey from such horrors as Music Reporters and Groupies. The Groupies were a red lipsticked pair of female lips, opening and closing in a way that may have terrified 7 year old boys with their utter cootieness. But to me in my early 20s, I would’ve fired Mighty Manager the first time he cock-blocked Journey.

  2. Weren’t eight tracks pretty well dead and replaced by cassette tapes by the early to mid 70’s? That would of been my first clue. Specially since I got a TI99 4A with no games allowed except what came with it. Hunt the whumpus woot! Kinda like a low res version of mine sweeper. So no Atari experience and no clue what game is shown in the ad. In fact my TI used a cassette tape deck instead of a floppy drive. Damn kids don’t know how good they’ve got it. In my day I had to walk a mile up hill both ways to get to the school bus stop. It even snowed once in my life time in northern San Diego!

  3. On a totally unrelated subject, I think I might need some new specs. When I clicked on the webpage and saw the picture, I thought it was Geraldo Reviera without his glasses.

  4. Um… Yeah, I had Journey Escape. I played it a lot because I liked the music, but I never really figured out how to play it. The Activision games were a heck of a lot better anyway. Pitfall anyone?

  5. Man, I played the bits right out of my copy of Journey Escape. I didn’t know the band, didn’t know the music, but knew that if I could just get to the Kool-Aid Manager, everything would be all right.

  6. Been Jonesing for some Pitfall quite a bit lately. Think my kids would have a blast wit hit for a few days. Then once every few months after that.

  7. @Rembrandt #4 — Don’t forget Dungeon! Five levels of 2-D maps & 3-D rooms. I loved that game.

    Told a friend about the TI’s cassette-drive storage. They used the same thing, where he spent his youth (Communist Poland). There was a radio station in Warsaw that broadcast saved programs. Think of it! Simultaneously downloading to an entire city, in 198x . . .

  8. One could not purchase mind-altering contraband substances without going to our local arcade. Hence, my addiction to Gravitar and Foghat.

    Rembrant: 8-tracks actually replaced cassettes, until refinements were made to the data storage capacity of of the latter.

  9. Never played video games, wrote and got working a version of both Adventure and of Star Trek- for the HP 9000 series engineering workstation. May still have the print out on 14″ fan-fold Greenbar someplace.

    I was without question a Motorola 6800/68000 fan and though that IBM made a terrible decision to go with Intel.

  10. I almost believed that ad too, until I got to the “double-ender”. My mind instantly went to the dirty place, and it was no longer plausible.

  11. Rembrant @4: 8-track was alive and kicking in the late ’70s — I had Breakfast In America, Charlie Daniels, and the soundtrack to The Muppet Movie which I played on my 2-XL…

  12. I had a car around 1980 that had an 8-track player. Thought I was hot stuff too. Spent a lot of time playing Ms. Pac-Man around that time too, every store in town seemed to have a machine.

    Ah, those were the days.

    No, GET OFF MY LAWN does NOT mean trample the flowers!

  13. hugh: Having seen pictures of your lawn, it may take a while for the young punks to vacate.

    Yeah, I think Scalzi ought to install Seque’s so that kids don’t collapse from exhaustion trying to get off his lawn in a reasonable time.

    Also, 8-track cassettes were huge. Way bigger than an Atari 2600 cartridge. The cassette on that photoshopped image sticks out pretty far in the picture, but no where near far enough.

    It still would have suckered me for 2.3 seconds, though, as I’d probably spend that time trying to figure out what the hell is so funny that Dad is laughing about.

  14. Gosh. To think I felt old the other day, when I had to explain the 1980s to a 24-year-old… Don’t remember the games and bands (wasn’t too much into that), but the horrible clothes, hair and typeface — argh, arrgh!

  15. Kids today don’t know how easy they’ve got it. Back in my day we didn’t have 3-D graphics and texture shading. NO! We had the Atari 2600. Your dude was a DOT. You had to use your imagination! And we didn’t have multiple levels with end bosses and cut-scenes, it was just the same screen, over and over again, faster and faster, until you died. Just like life.

  16. I saw some chump-ass melonhead sell his working Atari 2600 with 70 video games for only $100 on Pawn Stars. Why, the bird-related sound effects on Barnstorming are worth 50 bucks alone!

  17. Now that you point it out, the “Slow Ride” typeface is suspiciously modern. Brush Script MT, I think.

    The only reason this matters is that it is at an angle where it would have most likely been hand-drawn (as opposed to the perfectly flat Cooper), and the likelihood of it perfectly matching a modern computerized font approaches zero.

    Yeah. I’m a design geek.

  18. The “Exclusively at Tape Barn” is another clue. The vertical spacing is wrong, and there wasn’t a “Tape Barn”. There *was* a “Record Barn”.

  19. You know, I think you may be giving pre-Photoshop design too much credit for perfection. I remember a lot of crappily kerned ads back in the day.

    But yeah, “Tape Barn.” Made me giggle.

  20. @Chaz Berman

    Kaboom! was indeed an awesome game. And it absolutely REQUIRES the original paddle controllers. I bought the Activision game pack for my PS/2, and it included Kaboom! in the games, but it is totally impossible to play with the standard PS/2 controller. You can’t aim properly, only wildly swing from side to side.

    Does anyone know if there’s a way to connect the original 2600 paddle controllers (or an equivalent) to a PS/2 so I could play this game under emulation without ruining the gameplay with an inadequate controller?

  21. please pardon my english, it is not the very good…

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