Gadgets: Vintage-inspired fun

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

Gadgets don't always have to look toward the future. They can sometimes rekindle childhood memories.

Atari, the ultimate name in home video games and arcade games back in the late '70s and early '80s (remember "Asteroids" or "Missile Command"?), makes its return via Atari's Greatest Hits, a free app for iPhone and iPad.

All you get at the outset of this app download is one free classic Atari game. When the app first appeared earlier this month, the free game was "Pong." On April 22 that game went behind a pay wall and "Missile Command" became the current free-play game.

An in-app purchase of $15 buys you 18 classic arcade games and 92 games you may have played on an Atari 2600 as a kid.

We're talking video games that featured the most basic of graphics: moving dots, squares, lines and the occasional binary stick figures.

We're talking such classic games as "Asteroids," "Asteroids Deluxe," "Concentration," "Submarine Commander," "Lunar Lander," "3D Tic-Tac-Toe," "Home Run," "Realsports Basketball," "Video Olympics" and "Super Breakout."

Atari's Greatest Hits can be played solo or for some games, in a multiplayer mode that uses Bluetooth.

ThinkGeek promises even more nostalgia with their iCade - iPad Arcade Cabinet (pre-order for $100 at; ship date is May 27). Slide your iPad or iPad 2 into this tabletop arcade game cabinet, complete with retro buttons and joystick that operate via Bluetooth, for more authentic game play.

And while you're strolling down memory lane, ThinkGeek has another toy that might appeal to the kid in you - Electronic Butterfly in a Jar ($20 at

If you ever captured butterflies and put them in a Mason jar, your catch probably died too quickly (even when you poked holes in the twist-off lid). With Electronic Butterfly in a Jar, the illusion of a fluttering butterfly will last as long as your AAA batteries do.

Tap the lid of your jar or make a loud sound, and your butterfly will flit around, land on the glass and sometimes spread its wings. You can see a video of the insects in action on YouTube.