Atari: Game Over (2014)

Not Rated   |    |  Documentary


Atari: Game Over (2014) Poster

A crew digs up all of the old Atari 2600 game cartridges of "E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial" that were tossed into a landfill in the 1980s.


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Director:

Zak Penn

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28 April 2015 | Theo Robertson
7
| Interesting Documentary Even When The Truth Is Ignored
What's the worst video game ever ? I'm rather lost as to how you'd even go about using criteria for worst video game ever . As someone who plays video games on my laptop I'm often frustrated as to how in-depth they are these days . Where as playing a football management game from 15 years ago such as CHAMPIONSHIP MANAGER I could complete a season in about two hours where as playing FOOTBALL MANAGER 2015 I have to sacrifice closer to two days to finish a football season . Likewise a real time strategy game like AIRLAND BATTLE is breath taking in its dedication to units , maps and tactics but by the same token the gameplay and micro management needed to play in order to win on a consistent basis is off putting so it's very subjective as to what qualifies as a bad game . This documentary tells the story of the Atari game E.T which we're told to believe is the worst video game in the history of humanity

Again we're asked to buy in to the S word - subjectivity - and this is where everything falls down . Atari once had an absolute monopoly on video games both in arcades and home consoles . Everyone remembers Pong , a tennis like game involving two players knocking a ball in to their opponents space . Then you had Space Invaders and the likes taking up the market in arcade games and I often remember as a child popping in to the local amusement arcades in Rothesay watching patrons play these games wishing I had the money to play . When I did arcade games had moved forward slightly and grown more intricate and visually better and just all round more fun . It wasn't until I consulted Wikipedia that I found out something important which GAME OVER fails to mention and that is how very few games in the mid 1980s arcades were Atari games . And this means this documentary must be taken wit a large salt mine . By the mid 1980s other consoles by the likes of Sega were eating in to the market and despite what the interviewees are claiming it simply wasn't a bad press revolving around a single game that ended Atari it was simply market forces and more innovative rivals that beat them

This is a pity because this selective rewriting of history damages a very interesting documentary that gives us the story of how video games came in to being . Where it works best is with the visuals . Director Zak Penn best known for his Hollywood superhero screenplays uses the documentary as almost a literal comic book cum video game which works very well in what could have been a boring docu featuring talking head interviews . The history of Atari is also fascinating where game developers were allowed to get stoned at work , think outside the box and makes lots of money . As the laws of evolution show however hippies become yippies become yuppies and there's distinct lack of irony involved when people who have done so much to make a corporate company an absolute minority thinks it's a good idea to dig up a land fill site in Alamogordo causing possible environmental harm as a bit of an ego trip while blaming all the world's problems on a video game that didn't sell . Modesty like truth isn't exactly in evidence here but it still makes for an interesting documentary

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