Skiing (Atari VCS, Dec 1980, Activision)
To me, Skiing by Activision will always be that cheesy commercial with the guy doing the bad French accent and playing the game poorly. I didn't really understand at the time what was going on with these "new Atari games" that had a different box style and didn't seem to be by Sears or Atari. The commercial for Skiing (which my friends and I thought was hilarious) really stands out in my mind, even though it doesn't strike me as funny today. Yes, it's on YouTube.
I do remember spending a very focused Saturday afternoon trying to qualify for the Activision Skiing Team. Apparently this has become known as Game 3b (because one plays the third game on the cart with the difficulty settings on "b"). To qualify, your time had to be under 28.2 seconds. I distinctly remember beating qualifying, but I don't remember if I got 28.17 or 28.19. I think I took the actual picture. I never sent it in for the patch, though. This is among my few remaining childhood regrets. Fortunately, um, most of my childhood regrets have been vastly overshadowed by my many adulthood regrets. Such is life.
There are two types of Skiing games: Slalom (Games 1 - 5) and Downhill (Games 6 - 10). The games increase in challenge, but it is possible to get to know each course well. Tonight, I popped the cartridge into my Atari Video Computer System, reviewed the manual, selected Game 3b and after about four tries had my time down to 28.46. A few more tries it was at 28.21 (grrrr) and then finally I hit 28.14. I'm still a spiritual member of the Activision Skiing Team. Go me. Yes, I took a picture.
I had forgotten that the left difficulty switch when set to "a" would let your skier ski off the trail and through the woods, even making it possible to ski around the mountain. I remember finding that concept very interesting as a teen. I loved the idea of parts of the "world" persisting off-screen. All in all, Skiing is one of my better remembered games from back in the day and I honestly feel that Activision can thank their marketing department for selling it to me with that cheesy commercial.
Addendum: I think one of my fondest memories of the Atari was being stuck on the couch for a couple weeks with a broken ankle playing Adventure. I'd broken it while skiing. Maybe that's why I had to get the cartridge.
Addendum duex: Anyone else remember the Flintstones episode where there were spies and one of the code words was "slalom"? Was this the cold war creeping in on our childhoods?
Okay, we're done with 1980 for the Atari VCS and it only took me from August of 2009 until April of 2021. Ha. I'll start working on the games for the Odyssey^2 next. It's been a very long time since I hooked up my Odyssey^2. Looking forward to seeing how it goes.