The late 1980s and early 1990s saw the birth of a variety of magazines aimed at the video game console enthusiast. Nintendo produced Nintendo Power, Sega sent out Sega Visions, and NEC/Hudson had TurboPlay. What if your hardware brand of choice was Atari? What sort of publication did the waning publisher have for you? Why, Atarian, of course. Covering the exciting world of the Atari 2600, Atari 7800, and Atari XE, Atarian sprang to life starting in May 1989 on a bi-monthly basis before being extinguished in October that same year after a whopping three issues. Most gamers from that era may remember the magazine from a rather exuberant advertisement that ran in competing magazines of the day such as GamePro and Video Games & Computer Entertainment. Gaming After 40 takes a look back at the Atarian advertisement that promised more than it could deliver.
I like the utilitarian table of inflated values -- the ad tries to make the $15 membership fee seem like an attractive deal, with the t-shirt ($10), laminated ID card ($1), sew-on patch ($2) and Official Atarian Magazinesubscription ($12) totaling $25.00. It's interesting -- and perhaps telling -- that they didn't attribute any value at all to "Discounts on Games" or "Contests, Prizes, Fun, Fun, Fun." As it turned out, the bi-monthly Atarian magazine only lasted three issues, so everyone who signed up got stiffed for six bucks' worth of purported subscription value at minimum.
AtariAge has all three issues of the magazine for your perusal, while Le Geek has selected excerpts. Notably, the second issue includes a retrogaming column of sorts that lovingly remembers the Atari scene of 1979 and a demographic breakdown of the magazine's subscriber base (91% of readers are boys!). Amusingly enough, just as TurboPlay brought us the strange promotional adventures of Johnny Turbo fighting against the shadowy monsters of FEKA, Atarianhad its own propaganda comic that pitted the heroic Atarian against the dark forces of the Ninja-Endo (who were, of course, modeled after traditional racist drawings of the Japanese). Yes, I think it's best that this magazine imploded along with the company's console market domination dreams. Every magazine has its growing pains, but Atarian comes across more as a parody of gaming publications than a legitimate attempt at a contender.