Deeply Sinister Atari Ad, Featuring Yars’ Revenge

By Jim Rossignol on January 31st, 2009 at 11:29 am.


We usually avoid posting random pre-historic retro stuff, but I have a soft spot for ultra-weird proto-shooter Yars’ Revenge. Peerless gaming esoterica journal Offworld dug up this 1982 Atari 2600 TV ad that somehow manages to capture just how profoundly sinister Yars’ Revenge actually is. The bizarre setup and constant droning of the game means it’s quite a unsettling experience, and subsequently it often goes forgotten in retro musings. I’m amazed it was actually advertised on TV. The commercial goes on to have a monologue about Asteroids and Star Raiders too. Have a look at this and then stare out of the window for a moment, while considering how much modern advertising fails us. Clickwards for the ad.

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30 Comments »

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  1. phuzz says:

    I’m on too many painkillers to be dealing with this right now….

  2. Larington says:

    We have the technology.

    Ooops, HAD the technology.

  3. Kommissar Nicko says:

    Modern advertising DOES INDEED fail us. I’m no Mac fan, but I love this ad. Too bad I wasn’t born yet to enjoy it.

  4. Lord Retro says:

    That was brilliant! Everything, from concept to execution, was just….wow. There was no hint of irony or condescension from the ad, either, like you get in a lot of modern efforts. It actually made me want to inhabit the world they were selling, which either makes it one of the most successful adverts I’ve ever watched, or means my willpower is becoming dangerously weak after all these years!

  5. Ginger Yellow says:

    No gameplay footage: FAIL!

  6. Calabi says:

    I believe those would be in game graphics so non fail.

    That is both weird and captivating.

  7. dhex says:

    yars is one of the very few 2600 games that still holds up. and yeah, it is fucking sinister.

  8. Biff says:

    The voiceover makes it sound like a William Shatner record.

  9. Pags says:

    Man, Kommissar Nicko, if Ridley Scott directed more ads then the advertising world wouldn’t be one of evil banality and he’d stop making rubbish movies like American Gangster (yeah, fuck you, that movie was terrible).

  10. Ravenger says:

    The sound effects for Yars Revenge were also used in Joe Dante’s film ‘Explorers’. They were the sound effects for an deliberately campy spoof sci-fi movie called ‘Starkiller’ shown in a drive-in cinema.

  11. Jason says:

    That is one cool commercial… it was shown in movie theaters. Compare that to the Yar’s Revenge TV commercial: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lZ1Qg-Ny75g

    TV viewers get no respect…

  12. Jason Moyer says:

    Yars’ Revenge and Star Raiders are probably still in my top 20 games of all time. Brilliant stuff.

  13. Clovis says:

    The other day there was a discussion on RPS about digital downloads. Some people liked buying boxes to get the box art. The ultimate example of great box/cartridge art for me is Yar’s Revenge. I’d stare at the cart and then play the game trying to imagine Yar looking like it did on the cart. I really liked this game.

  14. Haroshi says:

    Oh wow.

    I remember playing this on some 25 in 1 gameboy cartridge years ago.

    I didn’t really have much of an idea what was going on though.

  15. Nick says:

    All Atari adds from the 80’s are awesome.

    Maaaarrrriioooo where aaaaaaaaarreee you?

  16. Paul says:

    Loved Yar’s Revenge. Easily one of my all time favorite 2600 games.

  17. Adam T says:

    makes me wanna go watch TRON

  18. Jason Moyer says:

    The ultimate example of great box/cartridge art for me is Yar’s Revenge.

    As a bonus, the game also came with a spiffy comic book.

  19. Michael Walbridge says:

    Hey, this wasn’t about a PC game! I do protest!

    *watches*

  20. Biff says:

    Loved Yar’s Revenge. Easily one of my all time favorite 2600 games.

    I’m impressed that you’ve compiled such a long list.

  21. Twitter Shitter says:

    I wonder why Jack Thompson didn’t use this to show how video games and drug use are deeply interconnected.

  22. john t says:

    Man, that is fucking awesomely well done. Who directed it?

  23. Tei says:

    @Biff.
    *cue joke about 8086 games*

  24. Dave says:

    Now there’s a game that should be remade.

  25. Nifft says:

    Fantasy and imagination win over reality,

  26. Warduke says:

    Loved Yars Revenge and Star Raiders, they were 2 of my favorite games to pull a marathon with the ole’ 2600

  27. Redford says:

    For those wondering, Yar’s revenge game play went pretty much like in the commercial. You are the yar. You destroy blocks from the Quotile’s energy wall by shooting or eating them. If you eat enough blocks (or touch the Quotile) you get the zorlon cannon, which can be fired one time. If the homing bullet hits you, then you die. You can hide in the energy belt from it. If the Quotile hits you in pinwheel form, you die. Your mission if you choose to accept it is to kill the Quotile an infinite number of times for as much points as possible. If you are really awesome and you can hit the Quotile while he is flying at you in pinwheel form, you get the most points. This is harder then it sounds – he gets going pretty fast in the higher difficulty screens.

  28. Carey says:

    That’s exactly how game development will work when I’m king.

  29. SPEEDCORE says:

    Yars Revenge was one of the best Atari games ever!
    I played it thru all the colour bases and there was a way you could lock the game…. actually its on the wiki page as the “easter egg”.

    For the gamers that missed the Atari 2600 scene, you can get the emu called stella http://sourceforge.net/project/showfiles.php?group_id=41847
    and the roms pack is like 3mb for every atari game made just ask google :)

  30. Lilo says:

    It actually made me want to inhabit the world they were selling