Villordsutch reviews Art of Atari by Tim Lapetino…
The original Atari 2600 was a truly fantastic looking console. It came with faux-wood panelling to give it an extra special piece of class that other gaming consoles – like the Binatone – just couldn’t bring to the sophisticated buyers home (yes Intellivisison tried but it couldn’t match the Atari 2600). However, inside the Atari 2600, that was a different matter; here sat not much if we’re being honest – a board, a RF shield, a cluster of capacitors and other whatnots and six switches. When it came to gaming on the 2600 you needed two things 1) a damned good imagination 2) and a brilliant artist designing the boxart to fire that imagination up.
It’s the latter requirement that is the real focus of Tim Lapetino’s “Art of Atari” from Dynamite. This rather grand “coffee table” style book weighs in around 350 pages and it is packed (though that is actually doing it a dis-service) with information, knowledge, facts, interviews, old adverts and images throughout these pages. What Tim has managed to push inside these solid covers is quite frankly an astounding achievement for any gaming researcher.
If I was being totally honest, I would in truth say the book should be called the “Artists of Atari” in honour of the real stars of the machine. Honest Vil, is being honest here when I say that my ignorance of the Atari artists – before I read this book – was embarrassing! I knew the classic games, I’d seen the boxart, but I’d never sought out who had created such artistic masterpieces for titles like Yar’s Revenge (Hiro Kimura) or Asteroids (Chris Kenyon) and when I came to the stories of such artists, I realised it was these people who – in truth – made Atari.
Yes, the history of Atari is littered with amazing ups and downs; the creation of Pong, finding its way into practically every American home, E.T., the company’s downfall and these tales – plus more – are covered in-depth within Tim Lapetino’s book. Though for me it’s the stories of the people like George Opperman, Cliff Spohn, Susan Jaekel along with numerous others who Tim brings into the spotlight that make this book. It’s also heart-breaking when you discover great individuals in their field and seconds later find that they died decades’ past.
The Art of Atari is a mammoth book and one to be appreciated slowly; it can’t be read quickly, devour it in a week and you’ll miss numerous details, you’ll skim pencil lines in art, you may not read a fact or two. Time needs to be taken with this, as time has clearly been placed into it.
There are no real negatives to find within Art of Atari, bar its weight (it is a heavy book!). If you’re a fan of these classic gaming machines or brilliant gaming art then you need to be making sure that this is your next treat for yourself. The Art of Atari should be in every classic gamers home, proudly sat upon a shelf.
Tim Lapetino’s “Art of Atari” is available to purchase now from FunstockRetro.co.uk, if you quote FMYTH5 on checkout you will get 5% off your final total. Also check out the official Art of Atari website here.