[ Retro Scan of the Week ] The Video Rack

May 16th, 2011 by Benj Edwards

Video Rack Atari 2600 Controller Accessory Ad - Tammy Sue Distributing - 1983Oh Tammy Sue, How I Adore You

How do you make a handheld controller into a non-handheld controller? By strapping on a giant block of unwieldy plastic, of course.

The Stick Station (subject of a RSOTW in 2006) achieved the same feat by using a large poplar board. The result was far more stylish than the Video Rack, but equally useless.

While there may be a handful of games that benefit from an immovable joystick base (like an arcade machine), they’re in such a minority that they don’t warrant a special peripheral. I back up this observation by the fact that the Video Rack and Stick Station are exceedingly rare peripherals. If everybody had wanted one, they’d be common today.

There is one one notable case, however, where a joystick stabilizer really helps. Atari shipped a special dual-joystick mount with every copy of Robotron 2084 for the Atari 8-bit computer line. I have one, and it is awesome.

[ From Electronic Games, December 1983 ]

Discussion Topic of the Week: In your opinion, what video games would benefit from using the Video Rack?

6 Responses to “[ Retro Scan of the Week ] The Video Rack”

  1. Jay Says:

    I think the only real value to these were in games that made frequent use of the keyboard. Sometimes letting go of the stick and banging the spacebar took seconds you didn’t think you had. (*cues fond memories of playing the Last Starfighter game that I didn’t know was an unreleased pirate copy until much later*)

    Still, as you said, couldn’t have been that useful if they weren’t popular.

  2. Jurgi Says:

    I was never using any gaming console, only a computer, and even chipest joysticks had suckers. Holding joystick in hand is unhandy for me.

  3. EastBayAnt Says:

    I don’t think this was ever marketed as such, but I could maybe see a use for this for those with limited mobility in one hand or some other inability to hold the base of the controller.

    Otherwise, yeah, seems pretty useless. :/

  4. arlandi Says:

    Why did they pick “Video Rack” for the name??
    that sounded more like a product where you put your VHS/Betamax tapes, LDs and maybe your VCR in the bottom. not where you put a joystick…

  5. Chris Says:

    I think there was an equally useless product for PC joysticks. Something like a wooden pedestal that you put the joystick on. It was the same height as a table or desk, and would force you to be even farther from the computer.

  6. badbob001 Says:

    Why don’t you go try some games on a real Atari 2600 controller. The stick is so stiff that you need a death-grip on the base with your other hand. It is SO tiring after awhile. When the atari 2600 clones came out with their looser sticks (ie: Gemini), there was no going back. So yes, the rack would be useful for the original atari 2600 controller.

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