Atari 2600’s were in high demand Christmas 1979, but Mom managed to locate one. We were thrilled when we opened the package. Unfortunately that one had a problem, so instead of beeping away Christmas Day, we had to wait a few weeks until a replacement shipment arrived. My favorite game was Defender:
The world has been attacked by aliens. Only a few humans are left. Your mission is to fly over the landscape destroying all alien ships and protecting the humans from being captured. You are armed with a beam-like weapon which can be fired rapidly in a long horizontal line ahead of the spaceship, and also a limited supply of smart bombs which destroy every enemy on the screen.
I remember Theresa and I trying to master another level before it was time to help Dad milk the cows. We were dressed in our chore clothes, ready to go, trying to use every last minute to destroy aliens. It is a single player game, but beyond the first level, we worked as a team. The “player” holding the joystick worked frantically to destroy whatever was in sight, while the “helper” monitored the radar screen above. Together we plotted the most strategic place to use the smart bombs. Whenever the little five note beep went off indicating a human had been picked up by an alien ship the helper scrambled to locate the abduction and direct the player to that spot so that the ship could be destroyed. If the ship was too high, after shooting it, the player had to catch the falling human and safely put it back on the ground. I remember lots of squealing and screaming and pounding the ground. When the clock struck 5:30 we’d shut it off and head for the barn, reliving our near misses and victories as we worked.