The Bug

by Adam Trionfo

(October 1998)

This article was written for Volume II, Issue #6 of OC&GS, but was never published, probably due to lack of space.

No matter how large your stock of games is, there always seems to be at least a couple more that you need. You have all of the cartridges that you wanted to begin with: the Combat, Donkey Kong and Pitfall! games that you had as a kid. Once you played them again, though, you remembered a few others that you had always wanted for your 2600 but never played, or even saw.

So now, you are looking for a few titles that you never owned but sure wanted. It turns out that those titles are actually pretty common, and before you know it, you have stocked up on those titles, too. You're playing Pitfall II, Robot Tank and Yars' Revenge -- finally, after all these years. It turns out that they really are great games, just as you have heard.

Although you are sure that you are the only one in the world playing 2600 games these days, on a lark, you type "Atari 2600" into an Internet search engine. To your complete shock, you see that you are not alone after all. There are many others who like Atari just as much as you. In fact, you aren't the grand collector that you have seen yourself as. No, indeed; now you see that there are some people who have most all the games for the 2600. You decide to dig a little deeper.

You start going through all of the local thrift stores, looking for any games that you don't have. You don't care if you haven't heard of some of them. In fact, you get a little thrill out of buying a game whose very existence is new to you. That means that it must be rare! You want rare cartridges now, because they are neat. Besides, how many people actually have that cartridge besides you?

One day, you happen across a ColecoVision that's being sold with several cartridges. You pick it up, because you have always wondered what the big deal is about that machine. Wow! It turns out that the ColecoVision is great. You want some more cartridges, but have not been able to find any at all. You look at some catalogues on the Internet, and decide to get Smurf, because you really loved playing the 2600 version at a friend's house back when Atari still ruled.

You can't believe how much better the ColecoVision version is than the 2600 one! You play it for a few minutes and then put it aside, as you want to try some of the other cartridges that you have picked up at the garage sale over the weekend. You can't wait to see Zaxxon on the 2600. How did they manage to make that? Then you find out that they didn't! Sure, it has the same title, but it is not really Zaxxon, now, is it! You feel burned. What were they thinking? No wonder the Atari died. With games like this released, any system would!

A friend calls you one day and tells you that he has bought you some weird game system at a thrift store. You ask him if it is an Intellivision, but he says that it is not. When you pick it up later that week, it turns out to be something really weird -- something that you have only read about on the Internet: a Bally Astrocade! It doesn't have any cartridges, but you plug it in anyway, just to make sure that it works. Surprise! There is a few games built right in!

Your wife finally mentions that she really wishes that you didn't have all of that computer stuff in the living room -- that it looks messy. It is then, at that very moment, that you realize you have got a bug. Your living room will never be quite as clean again. You smile, because...well, you don't mind.