When I hit upon the idea of doing Growing Up 2600 as a successor to my SMS Saturdays feature, buy I felt certain I would never run out of usable material. The Atari Age — the period between 1978 and 1985 — encompassed a sizable chunk of my formative years. It was a time when everything from comics to pop music to movies to my (nuclear) nightmares blazed neon-bright and ominously foreboding, and left profound marks on my psyche that have remained up through the present day.
What I failed to realize, however, is just how much my memories of those times had fragmented over the past three decades. Individual moments of mnemonic clarity remain, but the bulk of what I experienced as a tow-headed kid from old North Woburn has blended together into a hazy mass of vaguely associative recollections — playing 4-player Warlords with the gang in Scott Mullins’s rumpus room, the pungent smell of the scrub brush which grew in the sandpits, dragging our Huffy bikes up onto the roof of the mothball factory, trading a beat-up issue of Detective Comics to my pal Brian in exchange for a new copy of Fury of Firestorm #6.
Poignant and bittersweet stuff, but not really suited for anything but nostalgic reveries or self-indulgent contemporary poetry. I eventually reached a point where I had touched upon every Growing Up 2600 topic worth discussing except the Atari Force comics, and found myself stalling for time until I could work up the motivation to give the subject its proper due.
With that task finally accomplished, I think its time we move on to examining another videogame console and its associated era, one where the memories are fresher and mostly intact.
As for my beloved old 2600? It died a sad death (from a blown power adapter) after I attempted to hook it up to a portable 4″ TV during the opening weeks of 1986. It would have been easy and cheapt enough to replace the busted power supply, but my brother and I had already moved onto the more exciting realm of Commodore 64 gaming.