I’ll concede that I was only five when the above video game ad hit the airwaves, so I probably wasn’t old enough to give a fair assessment of how exciting new products tied in to George Lucas’ beloved franchise were. But even at my most young and geekly, I don’t think I ever got as excited about anything Star Wars-related as that dude. Not even when a kid moved in across the street who had like all of the Kenner toys and playsets. Not even when I was sitting down in the theater for Return of the Jedi, the first of the films I clearly remember seeing in theaters. Then again, maybe I just needed bigger hair.
That little ‘80s gem is for Star Wars: The Arcade Game, which first arrived (as you’d expect) in arcades before making its way to those pillars of 1980s computing, the Atari 2600 and Atari 5200. I guess it just goes to show, hokey religions and ancient weapons are no match for a good blaster at your side, and advanced new-gen gaming technology is no match for a bunch of colored lines and waaaaay too much enthusiasm.
And while we’re digging through interesting relics from the past, how about this: a Howard Johnsons children’s menu that spends some 20 pages explaining the story of 2001: A Space Odyssey.
Now, I heard one of you near the back asking, “Why with the what for?” And that’s an excellent question. See, Howard Johnsons actually had a product placement deal with 2001, with a HoJo seen on the movie’s orbiting space station. They weren’t the only ones: Pan Am also got a noticeable bit of onscreen time via the transport shuttle.
Even with that being the case, the menu is a bizarre beast. Rather than a straight-up abbreviated version of the movie, we get an awkward framing story involving “Debbie and Ryan” going to a premiere of the film with their parents. We cut back from the 2001 narrative and Debbie and Ryan’s precocious running commentary. And frankly, if those kids were sitting in front of me at the premiere and kept saying things like, “Ooh! Here’s the part where the moon scientists discover that there are other intelligent beings somewhere out in space,” the would have discovered my boot in their ass. Shut the hell up, kids, people are trying to watch a movie here!
You can read the first half of the menu/comic here, then click over to the excellent, must-bookmark Dreams of Space to see the rest. (Plus the activity page!)