October 27th 2002

You can't go wrong with the classics!

You know, I find it amazing that they can encode so much data on a single e-Card. By today's gaming standards, a few kilobytes is almost nothing, but a couple of decades ago, that's all game programmers had to work with. During the days of the Atari 2600 (1979 to 1984, approximately), game cartridges were limited to 2K, 4K and 8K of available ROM space. Later, they came up with 16K carts, but it didn't go much beyond that. The ColecoVision was my favorite console from that era of video games, as it offered games of much better quality, with certain game cartridges reaching 64K. I didn't play much with the Intellivision...

I can't help feeling nostalgia when I think about all those hours I spent playing with those old, simplistic games. A lot of these games were absolute crap, but there were a few gems that kept players coming back for more. It was a nice era for game developers too, because sometimes, a single programmer could make an entire game on his/her own, and once a game was completed, the programmer could say "I made this, all by myself!". But even back then, most games were made by small teams of people. Today, when you finish a game and watch the credits roll on the screen, you can't help realizing the incredible amount of work that go into today's games, and the huge number of designers, artists and programmers involved.

And now, Nintendo comes along and releases the e-Reader, which introduces a gaming medium (e-Cards) that is once again set in the 2-to-16K range. Are you thinking what I'm thinking? ;-)

It makes perfect sense, doesn't it? All those old games made for the Atari 2600, the ColecoVision, the Intellivision, and also old computers such as the Vic-20 and the Commodore 64... It's like an enormous gold mine of potential e-Card mini-games! Entire series of trading cards could be created for the sole purpose of reintroducing the best games from that era. And the best part: Most GBA gamers are too young to remember those old games, so they would come off as brand new! Well, almost.

Of course, the immediate problem that comes to mind is the issue of trademarks and copyrights. Most of the companies that developed and published those old games no longer exist, but even then, certain organizations (or individuals) might still own the legal rights to these games. You can imagine the messy legal procedures that must be cleared before a GBA programmer can write a single line of game code. It may not seem like much, but it's the kind of problem that could actually keep certain old games from being ported onto e-Cards. In any case, the legal aspects would require a lot of effort.

So which classic games would I like to see on e-Cards? Why tell you when I can show you! I posted the images below on IGN's GBA forum, a few months ago. They are all Atari 2600 games, and if you've played the originals, you will immediately notice that I enhanced the graphics for some of them. It seems evident to me that it would be a mistake to reproduce the crummy original graphics, although I understand some hardcore purists might disagree.

Another thing you might notice is that there are no arcade games among the pictures below. I will be adressing the issue of old arcade games specifically in the next entry of Pixelboy's Diary.

Also, most of the games below were made by Activision. What can I say, they made the best games in those days! :-)


Artillery Duel

Chopper Command




Pressure Cooker

Plaque Attack

River Raid

Robot Tank

Star Wars - Empire Strikes Back

Video Pinball

There are many, many more games from many different classic video game consoles that I would love to see on e-Cards, but I didn't feel like making pictures for each one of them. I didn't have many contacts with the Commodore 64 when I was young, but I know that this particular computer system had hundreds of games, and I figure some of these games could be ported to e-Cards as well.

I think the best way to market these e-Cards would be as series of random card packs. Many of these games would probably have to be segmented into two or three e-Cards, and so gamers would have to buy packs of cards to find and assemble all the software fragments. None of the cards would be rare, however, so with a little perseverance (and some trading with friends), it wouldn't be too hard to collect them all, and then play the games on the e-Reader.

So will we ever actually see all those old games on e-Cards? Perhaps, but in all likelyhood, only a very small fraction of all the available games will actually make it. For example, Hasbro owns the rights to all the first-party Atari games, and if Hasbro is interested in releasing these games on e-Cards, then all that is needed is someone to get the ball rolling...

Let's hope it happens, for as many of these old games as possible...