When you think about the history of video games, one of the names that comes up is Atari. With games like Pong, Ms. Pac-Man, Space Invaders and Frogger, Atari helped pioneer the video game industry to what it is today. But you might be surprised to learn that since the mid-80s, Atari has been nothing more than a name in the industry.
Both the U.S. video game company and its French parent have declared bankruptcy. Citing the need to focus more on mobile and downloadable games, Atari made the decision this week following “significant losses” in 2012.
Since the companies’ hey day in the mid ’80s, Atari has been passed along more times than a game controller. From Time Warner to Tramel Technology to Hasbro, the company has seen a significant drop off in popular content.
But last year marked the fortieth anniversary of the company name. For more than a decade, different companies have tried to turn it around but have failed. The fact that more and more game makers continue to take a chance on the struggling business shows you just how appealing the Atari name is. Despite more bad news for the company, you can bet the name will live on for a few more decades.
Netflix Instant Pick: Commando
In celebration of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s return to movies, I thought I’d recommend one of Arnie’s old classics. Let’s hop in a hot tub time machine and go back to a time when gratuitous violence, nudity and harsh language was okay. When plots to action movies were simple and they didn’t take themselves too seriously. Let’s go back to the ’80s.
In Commando, Arnie plays retired special agent John Matrix. Following a decorated tour in the armed forces, Matrix has traded a life of war and death for a secluded area in the mountains where he can raise his daughter and feed the deer.
But when members of his elite unit begin to die, Matrix is believed to be the next target. Following a raid on his home, mercenaries kidnap his daughter and force Matrix to assassinate a South American president to start a revolution and get an exiled dictator back into power.
That seems like a lot, but really the movie boils down to two things: kill everybody, get daughter back. This movie easily could have been called testosterone or machismo because Arnie spends most of the film gunning down bad guys and flexing his muscles. According to IMDB, Arnie kills 81 people in this movie (That’s gotta be some kind of record) and he does it in a variety of ways (Hand-to-hand, guns, knives, explosives). Throw in Vernon Wells as the villain (swapping leather he wore in The Road Warrior with kevlar in this) and Rae Dawn Chong as kind of a love interest and you have a memorable ’80s action flick.
The other great thing about Commando is all of the blatant movie mistakes in it. In one scene Matrix drops his wallet and leaves it. A few minutes later he takes it out of his pocket to show a picture to Chong. From damaged cars magically being fixed to clearly visible wooden men standing beside an exploding building, Commando is the quintessential action movie of its time.
So if you need a break from modern action movies with too many superheroes and CGI, check out this nostalgic shoot-em-up.
Fan half-court shots
In the past two weeks we’ve had not one but two miraculous half-court heaves from fans. Last Saturday, Butler hosted ESPN’s College GameDay show which previews all of the days matchups in college hoops. But who knew the best shot of the day would come before any of the games started.
At the end of the show, a Butler student was given a chance to hit a half-court shot in 18 seconds to win $18,000 in a contest sponsored by State Farm insurance. Predicting he would make it, Kevin Schwartz, a junior who serves as a practice player for the Butler women’s basketball team, wasted no time by draining the shot on his first attempt. Looking at the video, Schwartz showed good form for making a shot from that far away.
I can’t say the same thing about the second fan however. Michael Drysch, a computer technician from Illinois, stood sideways without a care in the world and decided to do a one-handed sky hook like he was Kareem Abdul Jabbar. To all you kids out there who get this opportunity, don’t do it like Drysch did because the odds of making it are like one in a million.
Drysch doesn’t care about style points however because not only did he walk away with $75,000, he also got tackled by Lebron James.
“That was awesome, man,” James said. “I was excited for him. When he wound up like that, I was like, ‘Oh no, there’s no way.’ And then when I saw it in the air, I was like, ‘Oh, that’s got a chance.’ I was happy to be a part of that.”
So other than winning all that cash, Drysch will always be remembered as the guy LBJ bear- hugged. Years from now he’ll probably think more fondly of that than winning the money.