Retro joysticks deliver blasts from the past

If you've been pining for Pong or aching for Asteroids in these complicated times of Active Directory and ROI, don't despair. There are at least a couple of companies out there that feel the same way you do. They're putting the joy back in the joystick and taking the computer age back a couple of decades -- and those steps in the wrong direction never felt so right!

Frazzled from failover? Network configuration confounding you? Tired of TCO considerations? You may be longing for simpler days -- when your only concern was, perhaps, sitting on the floor in your Underoos, blasting apart purple cubes with your little white blip.

Those blasts from the past are now present and accounted for.

Now anyone nostalgic for his 8-bit Atari console can plug in a replica of the original joystick equipped with 10 reproduction Atari games: Pong, Breakout, Missile Command, Adventure, Asteroids, Yar's Revenge, Centipede, Gravitar, Real Sports Volleyball and Circus Atari.

The joystick, a product of Malibu, Calif.-based Jakk's Pacific Inc., connects to your television with an attached RCA cable. It sells for less than $25 at toy stores and online retailers such as ThinkGeek.com.

Of course, if you're a Linux die-hard and don't care to shell out 23 bucks for the plug-and-play joystick, you could opt to download some of the Linux clones of Atari classics. "Circus Linux!" for example, is a clone of Circus Atari developed by Bill Kendrick of New Breed Software -- a company that has also developed games and utilities for the Atari 8-bit line of computers (the 400, 800 and XL/XE series).

Additionally, Davis, Calif.-based New Breed has created a number of children's "Tux" games for Linux, including "Tux Math," "TuxPaint" and "Super Tux."

Another New Breed Linux game, "Agendaroids," lets you pilot a spacecraft through a field of asteroids while attempting to shoot them to smithereens. Sound familiar?

Even if you simply can't enjoy a video game without modern high-resolution graphics and digital sound (along with copious amounts of violence), you can reminisce about your childhood via the Miami Vice-like world of Grand Theft Auto Vice City on the PlayStation 2.

One need look no further than VH-1's I Love the 80s series (and related Web site) or Ozzy-progeny Kelly Osbourne's remake of the 1986 Madonna hit, "Papa Don't Preach," to realize that the '80s revival is in full swing.

So break out your leg warmers or your Members Only jacket, pop a straw into a Capri Sun and enjoy those 8-bit graphics.

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