Book Review: Once Upon Atari by Howard Scott Warshaw

A quick review of the book about his time at Atari by former 2600 game programmer Howard Scott Warshaw, creator of Yar's Revenge, Raiders of the Lost Ark, and E.T. game cartridges for the Atari 2600.  

ThomW

I'm going to put the TL;DR where it belongs -- at the beginning.  

TL;DR: The book's good and if you're into old games, you should read it.  

Howard Scott Warshaw (HSW) weaves an interesting story about his time at Atari, through his current life as a therapist, weaving the whole story in flashbacks framed while writing from the famous dig in the Alamogordo dump for the storied dumped inventory of E.T. cartridges dumped in the desert  by Atari after the big video game crash of 1983.  

HSW covers an interesting time at Atari - the period after the four founders of Activision left Atari, through to its eventual purchase by the Tramiels. In that time, he manages to crank out Yar's Revenge, Raiders of the Lost Ark (which I wish he'd talked about more tbh), and E.T.  The interesting thing about E.T. being that because of Atari marketing's desire to release the game for the busy Christmas season, he was given just five weeks to make the game, which at the time was something that typically took at least six months.  

The whole book's full of amusing anecdotes and wisdom, and if you're into classic games, you should check it out.  

Review for
books
9
9
Pros

Lots of interesting anecdotes about what went on in the offices of Atari of old

Cons

I would have loved to read more about the making of Raiders of the Lost Ark

I think HSW maybe spent a little too much time talking about the desert

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