[ Retro Scan of the Week ] Multi-Platform Mania

July 13th, 2009 by Benj Edwards

Parker Brothers Frogger Multi-Platform Ad - 1983“8 Ways You Can Play Frogger at Your Pad.”

These days, big name games usually come out on a couple different platforms: Xbox 360 and PS3, and sometimes PC or Nintendo DS. But imagine a time when a standard multi-platform game release included eight computers and video game systems: Atari 5200, TI-99/4A, Atari 400/800/600XL, Intellivision, Commodore VIC-20, Atari 2600, Commodore 64, and Colecovision.

That time was 1983, as seen in the ad for Frogger above. Thanks to the lack of a common standard in home computers at the time, there were actually far more than eight computer platforms available in the early 1980s, but some of the most major are listed above (along with the main video game consoles of the day). I bet it was an enormous effort to coordinate the development and release of all those different versions within a short window of time.

[ From Personal Computing, December 1983 ]

Discussion topic of the week: For those who were there: How many computers/consoles did you own simultaneously around 1983?

20 Responses to “[ Retro Scan of the Week ] Multi-Platform Mania”

  1. Dementropy Says:

    Thinking back on this time, I remember owning the Atari 2600 and the Colecovision (with the Atari expansion). I was using a PET computer in school (it ran off of cassette tapes), while some of the older kids were using shiny new Apples.

    I’m not certain if it’s the scan of this ad or not, but I find it interesting how certain screens are darkened (the TI and Colecovision) compared to others.

  2. Adam Vandeberg Says:

    There were also ads like this for Q-Bert and Popeye, I believe, also published by Parker Brothers.

    Back in the day all we had was a 2600 and C64, (though we had access to more than that through friends and school.)

    Interesting to note that the Apple 2 is not represented in that grid, though I suppose it wasn’t necessarily the best suited to straight arcade ports.

  3. charles Says:

    The IT and CV both used the same video chip, TMS9918a, that’s probably why they are both dark, in fact they may be the same screen shot

  4. Benj Edwards Says:

    It looks to me like the Colecovision and TI-99/4A screenshots are very close — although the TI one has turtles with its arms out, and the Colecovision has turtles with their arms in. The photos were probably taken during the same session on the same machine, though. But I don’t know whether that machine was the 99/4A or the Colecovision. Even with the same graphics chip, I doubt those two versions look nearly identical.

    In another note, the 5200 and Atari 800 shots should be the same, since the 5200 is essentially a console version of the 800 computer platform. They probably just used the same photo for both.

    And the version behind the kid’s head looks like the Atari 5200/800 version.

  5. Zoyous Says:

    Around that time, we had an Atari 2600 and might have just gotten an Apple //e.

    I used to love comparison ads like this. I would pore over the images for quite some time and check out the different systems’ capabilities.

    Parker Bros. did some good translations back then. I remember really enjoying Q*Bert for the 2600.

  6. BDD Says:

    The Atari 400/800 version was probably the best port. It was done by the legendary John Harris, IIRC…

  7. mannomch Says:

    I had Intellivision and Atari 1200XL back then. Didn’t own Frogger, but I had Donkey Kong and Burgertime for Intellivision, and Pole Position and Popeye for Atari.

  8. teebo Says:

    To think there were THAT many platforms a software house could develop for, at one time.

  9. Jolu42 Says:

    I really like this ad because it sums up the video game crash of ’83. So many systems saturating the market…..

  10. XCALIBR8 Says:

    This really shows what a different market it was back then. Mainly regarding personal computers. So many choices and each platform with its own OS.

    Now we primarily have 1 computer platform to game on: Windows… As an avid Windows, Linux, and Mac user I have learned to accept this by learning how to get windows eumulators and native linux/mac programs going to run my old games on all platforms.

    I understand

  11. XCALIBR8 Says:

    … sorry to double post…

    … I understand that in today’s economic climate pc gaming is pretty dried out. I really miss the days of old being able to get my favorite games on my Atari 800, Intellivision, or Atari 2600. I loved sizing up the games and determining my favorite version of a game. This is something we still do with consoles but I miss the computer options of the old days.

  12. moi Says:

    I owned Atari VCS and Oric 1 (lol)

  13. Chuckles Says:

    I had an Atari 2600 and an Apple IIe (with 80-column card) back then. A few years later, there was the addition of the Atari 5200 and a Data General PC clone.

  14. Dementropy Says:

    To Adam Vandeberg:


    I can’t imagine one for Popeye. I’m not saying it doesn’t exist; just that I can’t fathom companies had such an excess of money as to waste it on such an effort.

  15. Benj Edwards Says:

    I also have scans for both Q-bert and Popeye in this style, but I like Frogger best of those three, so I chose that one. 🙂

  16. Arimack Says:

    I had the TI994A at the time. Had to go to friends house to see a Atari 2600, 800 or a Commodore 64. But we often ended up comparing different versions of each game. Generally the commodore won out.
    Anyone else notice that the logs ends are on different sides of the logs depending on which system is shown. I wonder if this had to do with hardware/software limitations or just poor coordination among the different developers. Which way did they go on the arcade version? Can’t remember myself.

  17. Zoyous Says:

    Arimack, the ends of the logs are shown on the right side in the coin-op.

    I also noticed that the only versions that have retained the original 5 lane highway are the two “weaker” systems, the 2600 and the Vic-20. All of the other versions seem to have reduced this to 4 lanes.

  18. Moondog Says:

    I recall playing Frogger on the 2600, however I also remember I had a Frogger clone for the C-64 that ran left-to-right opposed to bottom to top. It was written in Basic, so you could change the speed and size of the moving objects.

  19. Matt K. Says:

    I didn’t have any game systems myself (I was about 6 at the time) but Grandma had a C64 and my uncle had a colecovision… (I preferred the c64, although family legend says I was afraid of playing video games for fear of what happened to the game characters when I lost…) I now have several 80s computers… C64 C128, Atari 1040STE, Amiga 1000, IBM XT, and an original Nintendo too… Not to mention a MacSE, a 7200 Mac, and several newer PCs…)

  20. Matt K. Says:

    I forgot to say, that almost anything that can be done with a modern PC could be done with most of the retro systems I own… Retro Power!

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