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The Top 7… videogame legends we never want to hear again

The videogame industry has gotten a lot done in its short life. In the years since Pong and Spacewar!, game culture has evolved at an unprecedented clip to become an inescapable part of 21st century life. But it hasn’t had time to build up a huge back story.

What happens when you have a legion of fans desperate to revisit the history of an industry that’s barely been alive longer than them? You hear the same stories over and over ... and over. Here are seven tales that, with respect to gaming’s storied past, we can go our entire lives without ever having to sit through again. Please.


7. THE TETRIS BIDDING WAR


The story, one last time…

Behind the pre-Gorbachev Iron Curtain, state-employed programmer Alexey Pajitnov chances upon the formula for Tetris, an addictive puzzle game that quickly sweeps the entertainment-starved Eastern Bloc.

 

Overenthusiastic software publisher Robert Stein re-sells publishing rights for Tetris in the West to more than one company before actually nailing down the rights himself. This becomes important when Nintendo also licenses the rights. Heated bidding wars and lawsuits ensue, culminating in several groups of buyers enduring increasingly paranoid interrogations by the Soviet officials who still technically own Tetris. For a few days, the future of puzzle gaming reads like an extended Civilization bargaining screen. Eventually, good triumphs, Rocky beats up Ivan Drago, and both Nintendo systems (NES and Game Boy) get a killer app.

Above: Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall! 

We’re sick of it because…

People look at Tetris and see a beautifully simple, elegant machine. It’s intriguing to think how such a thing came about – after all, it’s from Russia, that strange foreign land where they drink cold soup and wear bearskin hats and make booze from potatoes. But must we really take a good half hour to recount the labyrinthine details of the game’s ownership rights? Such a diatribe forces us to consider how radically different our entire lives would be if we’d grown up playing the Tengen version of Tetris instead of Nintendo’s. Not really a staggering thought. The two-player mode would have been nice, though.


Above left: A puzzle game, right: A strange alternate world scarcely comprehensible to man

If someone starts telling this story, say…

“I have already seen the BBC documentary From Russia With Love. Are you going to be able to top 80 minutes of professionally produced, firsthand recollections? Then let’s just play Puzzle Bobble instead.”


6. BUSHNELL’S BUCKET


 
The story, one last time…

In 1972, Nolan Bushnell founded Atari, a company dedicated to the fledgling computer gaming scene. The company’s first game was an arcade version (read: rip-off, basically) of Magnavox Odyssey’s Tennis, the clumsily-named Pong. Bushnell commenced trying to license the product to companies like Chicago’s Bally, a prominent pinball machine manufacturer. They didn’t bite.

Bushnell reacted by installing the Pong prototype machine at Andy Capp’s Tavern in Sunnyvale, California, but the tavern soon called back with a problem: Pong had broken! Engineer Al Alcorn, who had designed the machine, went to see what had gone wrong. On arriving at the tavern, the techie discovered that there was no fault in the machine. The bucket which had been placed within to catch players’ quarters was simply full to overflowing, and Capps’ staff had no idea how to empty it.

Above: Exactly how it happened 

We’re sick of it because…

Yes, look, we get that this is the watershed moment where Nolan Bushnell, patron saint of videogaming, realized what tremendous potential his product had. Immediately after receiving the fateful coin-bucket call, he ditched the big pinball companies and went full-steam ahead marketing Pong himself (not even changing that stupid name).

But really? Pong? If the patrons of Andy Capp’s Tavern had just waited a while, they could’ve busted up the rinky-dink engineering on games like Space Invaders or Pac-Man; that is to say, good games. The fact that people in 1972 went nuts for Pong just goes to show that 1972 must have been really, really boring.


Above: Two of 1972’s favorite things

If someone starts telling this story, say…

“Making major decisions based on the inability of drunk people to fathom Rube Goldberg technology? Surely this is the last funny story we’ll ever hear about Atari!”

Topics

Top 7

47 comments

  • noofer7 - July 30, 2009 12:30 p.m.

    Ugh!
  • Madserj - June 17, 2009 10:53 a.m.

    On Super Mario World (SNES), there was a wrecked ship that came out of the water and the rumour was that if you got to the end (where you fall for ages then into the water)and dropped through a glitch at the bottom of the screen, there was a secret level. There wasn't. It was a lie. :(
  • GR_JustinTowell - June 17, 2009 8:26 a.m.

    Haha - I actually saw that Bugs Bunny Crazy Castle 3 'Congraturations' myself, back in the day. It's never left me :)
  • TheyrePacmanGhostsUsonofaBitch - June 17, 2009 3:09 a.m.

    Can't wait to hear about these, again, on the T-DAR!!! :)
  • NanoElite666 - June 17, 2009 12:41 a.m.

    Ha ha, pixelating something that's already pixelated... :P
  • FinalGamer - June 16, 2009 6:29 p.m.

    I actually did watch the BBC documentary on Tetris, hell it was the first thing they ever showed on their newest channel BBC Four, which was more pretentious and artsy. So when a documentary on Tetris came on I watched it all the way through. Damn fascinating so yeah nobody can tell me any better on the story of Tetris.
  • hud4567 - June 16, 2009 5:27 p.m.

    I actually have an original copy of the E.T game on 2600 , probably rotting in my basement of eternal torture. Thank the heavens I didn't play it.
  • Unoriginal - June 16, 2009 5:24 p.m.

    @Picachu2000 Look who's calling who whiners. I bet that in a few years Duke Nukem Forever will become one of these legends. Fun list.
  • evilguy69 - June 16, 2009 5 p.m.

    I didn't like any...except congraturations Instead of "Congratulations", it's "Congraturations" Haha! Cus they put an "r" instead of an "l"! Hah!
  • Vagrant - June 16, 2009 7:20 a.m.

    I hadn't heard of entries 7 and 6. And I still find the Mega Man box art hilarious. Also, I've pretty much forgotten the deal with ET, other than it's considered worse than Superman 64. Now there's a video game legend I'm SURE you'll want to hear...
  • gatornation1254 - June 16, 2009 2:08 a.m.

    Great article. ReCAPTCHA: CENTER crown
  • VyseTheTetrisdork - June 16, 2009 1:21 a.m.

    I remember that image of Duke cupping Lara's breasts! It was featured in an issue of NextGen and was supposed to be the cover for it before the censor police came round. Here's the first result of a Google Image Search for "next gen magazine lara croft duke" http://anthonylarme.tripod.com/gc/magnextgen.jpg
  • curly_jefferson - June 16, 2009 12:26 a.m.

    wait wait wait, your telling me the Playstation began life as a cd attachment for the SNES. quick to the editing room i got a front page.
  • Sabtos - June 15, 2009 11:25 p.m.

    Excellent article.
  • Ravenbom - June 15, 2009 11:21 p.m.

    lol, nice Top 7
  • Hobojedi - June 15, 2009 10:45 p.m.

    I hate how people keep bringing up ET.. just let it die already, jeez.
  • yoreAtowel - June 15, 2009 9:52 p.m.

    Is the legends true? That the new mexican deseret holds thousands ifnot millions of copies of games from yester-year, just waiting to be dig up and played. Also i heard the alien design for the xbox 1080 and ps6 is their as well?
  • may.be.vital - June 15, 2009 9:46 p.m.

    Nintendo was an ass until they had a little humility shoved down their throats but so was Sony. I guess the games companies can't handle power....
  • Yar - June 15, 2009 9:40 p.m.

    I don't know about you guys, but I'm sick and tired of hearing about the SMB2/Doki Doki Panic controversy. I don't care any more!
  • GamesRadarBrettElston - June 15, 2009 9:25 p.m.

    Also! Don't forget Shane's: http://www.gamesradar.com/f/top-10-entries-on-top-10-lists/a-200808019524710002

Showing 1-20 of 47 comments

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