As another 21st-century new year approached, the endlessly-fascinating Internet Archive took a big backward look into video games past with the launch of their Console Living Room in late December.
Flying under a murky copyright wire, the Console Living Room archive of over 1000 first-generation home video games allows retrogamers of all ages to play storied favorites through their browsers. The archive is overwhelming and a dream for those of us who coveted the arrival of each then-expensive game cartridge. When the Atari 2600 was released in 1977 the world of indoor play for my generation and every one since was transformed. The archive contains games from the popular Atari systems of the day, as well as those from ColecoVision and the more obscure Bally Astrocade, Magnavox Odyssey and the Sega SG-1000. Anyone with kids can attest to the hold video play continues to hold on today’s children with games that span multiple screens from TVs to handhelds to computers. But for those of us of a certain age, these old home console systems of the stuff of legend.
Aside from the hundreds of sci-fi, fighting, adventure and sports-themed games in the Console Living Room online archive, there are countless games which hold a special place in the memories of those of us who still game to this day.
Military enthusiasts will enjoy such classics as Tank Attack (1981), Air Sea Attack (1981), Combat (1982), M.A.S.H. (1983), GATO (1987), Choplifter (1987), Front Line (1984) and Chopper Rescue (1982).
For the dungeon-crawling crowd, there are old gems like Dungeon (1985), Wizard of Wor (1981), Dark Chambers (1988), Adventure (1978) and The Incredible Wizard (1981).
Licensed games from movies of my 1980s youth like Star Wars (1981), Raiders of the Lost Ark (1982) and E.T. – The Extraterrestrial (1982) display the nascent power these cinema brands held on young geeks like myself. There are also plenty of my personal favorites like the home versions of arcade faves like Dig Dug (1983) and Centipede (1982).
The Internet Archive Console Living Room joins their existing online collection of over 5000 playable Classic PC Games in documenting the pixelated gaming we Gen-Xers were weaned on. The Internet Archive joins the International Center for the History of Electronic Games at the Strong Museum of Play in Rochester, NY and the Museum of the Moving Image in Queens, NY in the preservation, scholarship and celebration of electronic gaming. Like the afternoons spent hunched on the carpets of the 70s and 80s, there are hours and hours to be spent here trolling what can now safely be called our video game heritage.