The Complete History of Atari In Japan: Pong, 2800, Lynx & Jaguar!

GTV 55 “The History of Atari In Japan” The Pong era, 2600 VCS aka 2800 era and Lynx / Jaguar era are all covered! Subscribe! http://bit.ly/GTVsub Don’t forget! Sharing is caring! (More Below!)

Here’s some other videos from the Pac-Man / Atari / Pre NES era I know you’ll like!

1 Super Pac-Man Memories https://youtu.be/StJEkjMU024
11 Game On: Video Game Museum https://youtu.be/Wo2TEzRtmnQ
33 Atari 2600 Pac-Man Day https://youtu.be/VzhI4IGRP8I
40 Guts Pose https://youtu.be/JSTB4x5LccE
55 Atari In Japan https://youtu.be/bOBdvErV2mg
57 The More You Know: Cassette Vision https://youtu.be/MaNbvyCluDw
64 Pac-Land Fever https://youtu.be/QDO9ynkxa7k

Japan, “Land of the Rising Sun!” And for many game fans, the center of the gaming universe. While many Japanese companies have come to the West and found success, the opposite doesn’t seem to usually happen.

If you grew up in America in the 70s and 80s, the name Atari stands tall and proud as an innovative company, and was likely, your first taste of gaming. If you grew up in the 90s or later, Atari may have the image of an also ran, a company stuck in the past, or in some cases, buried there. Today the name of Atari has fallen from grace to say the least, relying on hits of the past, never able to reclaim its former glory, though they sure keep trying! But there was once a time when Atari was king of the hill. And with that, the game market was oriented toward – and controlled from – America. It might be hard to imagine now, with Nintendo and Sony as the modern day kings, but there was a time when Japan wasn’t even a blip on the radar. All of the action was made in the USA.

Atari Inc., under Bushnell, completed the sale of Atari Japan Corporation, including the unit’s Tokyo manufacturing plant, to Nakamura Seisakusho Co., Ltd. (“Namco”) of Japan for US$500,000. The next highest bid was SEGA for only $50,000.

In 1976 Nolan Busnhnell would sell Atari to Warner Communications for $28 million dollars. That influx of cash and backing from a major corporation allowed Atari develop and release the Atari video Computer System VCS, later known as the 2600 in 1977. The 2600 was considered the flagship product of the company. Atari was far and away the market leader. Atari controlled 80% of the home market and was valued at $2 billion. in 1982 the Atari 2600 was available in over 40 countries. Some game boxes were even printed in multiple languages due to the 2600’s worldwide popularity .
Japan was quickly starting to shape up as a massive market for games, and Atari was potentially in the position to step in and snap up the market quickly before domestic developers really had a chance. The 2600, though several years old at this point, was now cheap to manufacture and had a huge library of games, for the time. That was Atari’s plan to upset the competition. Atari Inc., under Warner established Atari International Nippon and the Atari 2600 would be rechristened as the 2800.

Atari attempted something in the middle of both ends of that spectrum with the Atari 2800.No internal changes were made and games would look and play the same, but the case design would be completely revamped, into a wedge shape with the game selection switches turning into buttons on the console’s face. The power switch was moved to the bottom right side and instead of 2 controller ports, there would be 4! The controllers themselves would combine the joystick and paddle controllers into one, with a button on the console to choose which one you want to use. The packaging would also be designed specifically for Japan. The look would be similar to the silver boxes Atari started using in 1982. The cartridge labels would be the same as those sold in America, making it difficult to discern a version intended for Japan from anything else without the box.

On May 10th 1983, The Atari 2800 debuted in Japan for 24,800 yen. And launched with 25 games which Atari thought would carry the American Image as well. Among them were Raiders of the Lost Ark and E.T., 2 extremely successful Hollywood films. E.T. was promoted as the standout game. With it being the biggest movie of 1982 and a very expansive game for the time, it was placed front at center. They also released games that Japanese players were already familiar with such as Space Invaders, Galaxian and Pac-Man.

This video used several resources others worked hard to find. Those can be found at Atari Age, Atari Museum run by Curt Vendel, Chris Covell and Random Terrain/Replayability.

Japanese information came from Famitsu, Famimaga and Sukora magazine. Game footage taken from various trailers, promos and play through where the owner has declared its usage isn’t an issue, such as World of Longplays. 2600 Golf taken from a review by Aqualung

If somehow a mistake was made, please alert me and I will amend this and give credit to anyone who asks for it.

50 Comments

  1. rizka arifiandi on April 5, 2020 at 6:14 pm

    awesome video !

  2. igor giuseppe on April 5, 2020 at 6:14 pm

    Atari means attack, that is were the name came from

  3. Do You Nerd? on April 5, 2020 at 6:14 pm

    Very fascinating to learn the history of Atari in Japan. It’s also interesting hearing the relative success of the Lynx there!

  4. Nintendo PlayStation5 on April 5, 2020 at 6:17 pm

    People wanted that garbage back then???🤣🤣🤣🤣

  5. Rex Sexson on April 5, 2020 at 6:18 pm

    UH TAR EEEE!!!

  6. リュートピアン1号 on April 5, 2020 at 6:21 pm

    “Jagwire”????
    Learn your pronunciation man….

  7. lurkerrekrul on April 5, 2020 at 6:22 pm

    Games today have fantastic graphics, but they’ve kind of plateaued. You can’t get better than photo-realistic. Plus, there isn’t a lot of innovation today, most games fall into one of a set of categories.

    Back when Atari was the hottest thing around, you never really knew what to expect when you plugged in a new game. And each new system that came out had graphics that were leaps and bounds better than what came before them. Even though magazines would often use artist’s renderings instead of actual screenshots, I used to eagerly flip through the game magazines and drool over the bright colors and the weird graphics. Each game was a mystery and until you actually played it, you had no idea what it was truly like.

  8. John Southern on April 5, 2020 at 6:22 pm

    They brought the 2600 into a world of MSX and SG-1000s…People forget how little depth 2600 games had. Even the music sucks.

  9. MrCalverino on April 5, 2020 at 6:24 pm

    American companies suck when it comes to making games🤷🏾‍♂️

  10. Lord Alfajor on April 5, 2020 at 6:24 pm

    this is the quality stuff I was looking for, great job!

  11. Jen Alsop on April 5, 2020 at 6:24 pm

    Someone please tell me the beat in the first video and first beat

  12. Myles Smith on April 5, 2020 at 6:25 pm

    The 3rd World markets were being helped out by the traitorous Zionist International Bankers. The same Zionists who caused many of the businesses and factories in the 1st World Countries to close down and end up overseas and being robbed by foreign companies and foreign investments in the name of Luciferian Evil Globalism.

  13. DarkTetsuya on April 5, 2020 at 6:30 pm

    I always wondered why it was renamed the 2800 over there? but this was a great look at the system’s Japanese debut!

  14. The Goof on April 5, 2020 at 6:30 pm

    When i was younger, i played ATARI.. and hated it, i was bored as can be.. it held little interest
    Years later the NES came out, and i jumped at gaming full force.
    Atari games just looked terrible and were not real exciting.

  15. e11aguru on April 5, 2020 at 6:35 pm

    Japan wasn’t big when it came to making consoles but they were still big in terms of the games themselves. Pac-Man, Space Invaders and Donkey Kong came from Japan.

  16. Gerga Lerg on April 5, 2020 at 6:36 pm

    Ugh, that background music ought to go further to the background IMO

  17. Troy Fullwood on April 5, 2020 at 6:37 pm

    I dunno if I’d say Atari was the only game in town in the early 70s. Pong certainly was, but most Pong machines in existence were bootlegs not made by Atari

  18. Meinyan on April 5, 2020 at 6:38 pm

    im pretty sure Super Potato might sell these Ataris for a ridiculous or cheap price.

  19. in1tiate on April 5, 2020 at 6:39 pm

    absolutely destroyed my ears with that outro. good video tho

  20. Homer J on April 5, 2020 at 6:39 pm

    Nice….enjoy your break my friend. Ill be in your country all march if you want a nite out. Be good enjoy

  21. J D on April 5, 2020 at 6:39 pm

    On May 10th 1983 the Atari was finally released in Japan. I was born the next day and as they say the rest is history.

    Also I just played Pole Position on the 2600 and it felt nothing like it did in THAT commercial ATARRIII

  22. Juan Rivera on April 5, 2020 at 6:43 pm

    Background music at 1409. Is great . What is that

  23. Sinn0100 on April 5, 2020 at 6:43 pm

    So let me ask you a question, if I may? You honestly have never heard of Doom? If that is true and if you are a gamer (you might just be a huge history buff or strictly a JRPG player- which would be okay with me) you need to check out Doom, Doom 2 (can be had in many different flavors- played on the PS1/PS2/PS3, PC, Apple Computers, Sega Saturn, GBA, 32X, Atari Jaguar, SNES, Xbox, Xbox 360, Xbox One, Xbox One X, and last but not least N64 (really cool and different version) rounding out with the excellent Bethesda remake in 2016 that simply blew gamers away (myself included).

    Doom is such a huge part of my life that I simply do not know where i would be without it. You see, I chased owning Doom from 1993-1995. At the time you needed a PC as no console could touch it. That is until the 32X, SNES, 3DO, and Jaguar cut their teeth attempting to play it. The 32X is an okay stripped down port with very pixelated graphics and terrible sound. The Snes should have never happened, it is awful in a Pac Man for the 2600/2800 way. The 3DO version did not fair better and has a very interesting story to go with it that I think you would enjoy (look up the Doom story for the 3DO right here on YouTube). The Jaguar was the closest to the PC and it ran well…with one exception- it was missing its award winning music. I literally went through the 32X, 3DO, and Jaguar before realizing that I could have built a PC in the nineties for the amount of money I wasted chasing that game (Im not the only one). I fell in love with PC’s and building them when I literally built my first rig in 1995ish (486DX2). It ran Doom and I also began making levels for the game.

    Disclaimer- I dont know if you have kids but if you do, Doom is as violent and bloody as you are going to get. It literally started the FPS craze and the 2016 remake upped the violence ten-fold. You are killing monsters and zombies but it is really graphic. The he original 93 version not so much but was considered hatd-core in 1993. Parents were up in arms about it and in irder to avoid any real controversy or government oversight (was a real fear in the US at the time and funnily enough orchastrated by Nintendo). At any rate, John Carmack (designer) decided to give it away as shareware this avoiding the need for any oversight. The sequel Doom 2 did however have a normal commercial release to critical acclaim. Seriously, the game is so genre defining and if I am right you are close to my age, that it was a watershed moment for Gen X gamers. It also paved the way for mature themed games.

    Sorry went long, check it out if you can.

  24. MrCalverino on April 5, 2020 at 6:44 pm

    You have a super great channel 🏆

  25. МАГИЯ РЕТРО on April 5, 2020 at 6:44 pm

    Nice Vid)

  26. Milki - Hazard on April 5, 2020 at 6:45 pm

    I hate when people say price point in yen or whatever other currency without letting us know how much it was in dollar and how much it would be today with inflation.. -_- ‘

  27. Nintendo PlayStation5 on April 5, 2020 at 6:45 pm

    This is gay TV

  28. RG 96 on April 5, 2020 at 6:45 pm

    What if in an alternate reality, all of the historical events had already happened 100 years earlier(like World War 2 from the 1830s to 1845)? Also, what if everyone of us who were born from the 1970s to the 2010s were all born in the early-to-mid 1950s, with famous game developers like Gunpei Yokoi, Miyamoto Shigeru, Tajiri Satoshi, Yuji Naka, and many others were born in the early 1930s? And if video game technology was already more 50 years more advanced? And also, what if it was the Japanese people who invented video games first before Americans did in 1955, and if Nintendo and Sega were the first game companies to release their very 1st Generation of videogames(2D, 2-Bit) worldwide in the year 1960 for the Arcades, home consoles, and handhelds? Then in 1965, what if Nintendo and Sega had released the 2nd Generation(2D, 4-Bit) video games worldwide, and then the 3rd Gen(2D, 8-Bit) in 1970, finally the 4th Gen(2D, 16-Bit) in 1975 as the last Generation of 2D video games, as the gaming industry had entered 3D for the first time starting with the 5th Gen(3D, 32-Bit) in 1980? After that, what if Nintendo and Sega had also released the 6th Gen era(3D, 64-Bit) of video games in 1985, and then the 7th Gen(3D, 128-Bit) in 1990? And finally, what if Nintendo and Sega had released the 8th and last Generation of videogames(3D, 256-Bit) in 1995 as the gaming industry had ended in the year 2000 as the world moves on to both the PC and Mobile gaming(if smartphones like Samsung Verizon Wireless first came out in the year 2000) and had remained being that way to this day in 2019? What would’ve happened? How would all of that have changed history of the entire videogame industry, the gaming community, and the whole world? And how would all the famous game franchises like Pacman, Mario, Pokemon, Sonic, Donkey Kong, and many others have been like if they were first introduced in the year 1960 in the 1st Generation of gaming?

  29. Chris Pacheco on April 5, 2020 at 6:45 pm

    Another highly entertaining piece, never even knew Atari actually took a stab at the Gameboy in Japan nonetheless, the Lynx was incredible when I first got my hands on one when I was a kid, n did blow the Gameboy out of the water, but a shortage of quality titles did kill it., Btw thanks for putting this together, much appreciated 🙂

  30. Blood Scust on April 5, 2020 at 6:46 pm

    Gates Of Zendocon was fun as hell

  31. Lawrence Hollie on April 5, 2020 at 6:46 pm

    Very well done. This is the most in depth restrospective on Atari’s efforts in Japan, I loved it! Where did you get the background music for this episode?

  32. superdrag808 on April 5, 2020 at 6:47 pm

    Great video! Does anyone know what the song is that starts playing at 14:15? It’s awesome!

  33. Dosunceste on April 5, 2020 at 6:48 pm

    What’s the source that Atari Lynx sold around 500K in Japan? Your other figures for GB and GG are spot on.

  34. Sinn0100 on April 5, 2020 at 6:50 pm

    Well if you think about it today, gaming is driven by the West. Japan is shadow of its former self when it comes to gaming. There was a time when everything came out in Japan first. Currently the biggest region throughout the industry in gaming is the US.

    This really took hold with the advent of the FPS. From my perspective it began with the side scrolling platforms of the late 80’s (Atari was no juggernaut circa ’85). Mario fever (just as PacMan fever before it) took hold of most regions. This was during gaming’s infancy that saw tons of different side scrolling games and adventures everywhere. This was of course sprinkled with many differing RPG’s. It wasnt until the early to mid 90’s that platformers began waning in popularity for one-on-one fighting games like SF2 and MK.

    Doom’s entry into the game space showed where the industry would be going. Sure we had Wolfenstein, but nothing prepared the world for Doom. In ’93 it was installed on so many computers that productivity was down in almost every market in the world…but I digress as this will only get longer.

  35. Myles Smith on April 5, 2020 at 6:50 pm

    American Companies like Apple, McDonalds and Coca-Cola have succeeded in the foreign markets but they’re companies who happened to also be pro globalists.

  36. Edward Dillon on April 5, 2020 at 6:50 pm

    Great video Gaijilionaire really entertaining. I remember getting the 2600 for my 5th birthday back in the 80s with Pacman and ET. My cousin got the 2800 a few years later and we would always spend our afternoons playing Atari. One of my favorites at the time was Space Invaders and Combat but now I like to play Yars’ Revenge and Joust.

    Some constructive criticism, as much as I enjoy video game music, at times it competes with your narration and it can be a struggle to hear you. 🙂 With all due respect, it is just a touch loud, at least for me.

  37. Boojakascha on April 5, 2020 at 6:52 pm

    Table Tennis on the Magnavox Odyssey came before Pong though

  38. Mick Mickymick on April 5, 2020 at 6:52 pm

    4:05 What the fuck is Enda Kenny doing trying to sell me video games?

  39. tomtom vicky on April 5, 2020 at 6:56 pm

    Atari in Japan lives on: Japanese (Atari) TV Boy (126 in 1 Plug and Play).
    http://www.digitpress.com/room-of-doom/cm/displayimage.php?pid=3307&fullsize=1

  40. Capt777harris on April 5, 2020 at 6:56 pm

    8:23 yes, and regrettably Atari’s corporate structure didn’t facilitate more creativity and hardware innovation to allow more creativity, as well as denying credit to their artists. 2600 versions of arcade games were, to say the least, stupid and dissatisfying.

  41. Gaijillionaire on April 5, 2020 at 6:59 pm

    The Atari 2800 was launched in Japan on May 10, 1983! This video was uploaded on May 10, 2018. 35 years to the day! Happy anniversary!! Share your best Atari or US game in Japan memories below!

  42. Sinn0100 on April 5, 2020 at 7:01 pm

    Dude the Japenese were so much cooler than we were back then. Look at the stupid fucking Atari commercials that hit the states…and then Japan’s commercials "Atari!" What a huge difference, that made me want to join the fun and play the Atari 2800. The US commercials "Have you played your Atari today?" makes me want to ay in traffic…I am not going to approach the kids dancing around like idiits rapping to the Atari beat…I just can’t do it.

  43. mgabrysSF on April 5, 2020 at 7:04 pm

    Question : Does Japan want a linux box that’s also a console? Because Nintendo is locking down their hardware (with upcoming switch upgrade) and the Xbox One isn’t a Linux PC. I’m looking forward to the new VCS not only to play games but to upgrade my Mac Mini which hasn’t been updated since 2014 (and will probably be discontinued). For me, a console that doubles as a mini-profile Linux box with more power than the Switch will do nicely for my steam library (and developers I’ve spoken to who want to alpha and beta release on small scale to put their titles through their paces without millions of users clobbering their Dev-servers and MP hosts.

  44. Matt Ring on April 5, 2020 at 7:05 pm

    Something that I find kind of interesting is that an obscure Japanese-exclusive arcade game called “Sky Skipper”, which was developed by Nintendo in about 1981-‘82, got ported to the Atari 2600 for the American market. Likewise, Japan never got the Atari version. No idea why the US never got the arcade version, as Nintendo was making it big in the US with Donkey Kong. That and Sky Skipper used similar hardware to the Popeye arcade game, resulting in impressively detailed character sprites that were displayed in a higher pixel resolution than the background graphics.

  45. Sinn0100 on April 5, 2020 at 7:06 pm

    Interesting…I started playing at the rebirth or transition of gaming. I know I played my stepfathers Atari 2600…sompe plane game and a tank something or other but I want to say maybe once. I truly started with the Nes and Master System. I don’t remember really thinking about Atari all that much. The only time I remember seeing Atari during those days was when I was making fun of the horribly out of touch commercials they made.

    The Atari rap song still haunts me today. I never really cared for most of the early cabs from the 1980’s. My true memories of the arcades started with Double Dragon, Contra, Altered Beast…then Street Fighter 2, Street Fighter 2, Street Fighter 2, Mortal Kom…Street Fighter 2…Mortal Kombat never really held my attention for long. I played a friends Lynx and thought it was really a neat machine. The Jaguar was Atari’s first and last console to really grab me. By then I was stuck in First Person Shooter land and for a time is all I really wanted to play

  46. raydeen2k on April 5, 2020 at 7:07 pm

    Ok, so that weird Japanese PSX ad clip…I now know where They Might Be Giants got part of the inspiration for their video ‘Ana Ng’.

  47. 16bitgium on April 5, 2020 at 7:07 pm

    I bought a copy of Iron Soldier in 1998 from Telegames UK and it came with a japanese manual….

  48. Sinn0100 on April 5, 2020 at 7:08 pm

    I would like to point out something- The 83-84 game crash was an actual crash market wide. Japan has a name for it and this video just pointed it out Atari Shock. I have been arguing this point for months. While Nintendo surely was not a big entity in Europe/UK (I know they are not the same and are different countries they are very close to each other) it was literally the driving force behind the entire industry (I am not a Nintendo fan, I prefer Sega all the way). Europeans will explode with white hot rage at this prospect for some reason. Most games that they recieved (for console) were generally an attempt to fill a hole or void in Sega’s library. IE- everything from Alex Kid to Psycho fox was a direct response to Mario. Gollevious (misspelled) was Zelda…I’m going to stop as there are many examples I can use (I had a Master System in 86, and went to Europe/UK for the first time as well, scooping up an MSX in the process). The only thing I am trying to say is that the market would not be as big nor as expansive as it is today without Nintendo forcing its way to the top of the gaming heap in the USA (illegally I might add).

  49. Mr. SEA on April 5, 2020 at 7:11 pm

    If I had known about this 10 years ago, I would have ordered one, but now they are so rare that to pick one up it’s about $800! To bad, for it would be a great addition to any Atari collection.

  50. Nintendo PlayStation5 on April 5, 2020 at 7:13 pm

    Atari sucks my long thick horse cock!

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