It's a dispiriting law of nature, but everything in pop culture eventually grows old and starts to lose its edge. Thankfully, corporate sponsors are always ready to step up and put a stop to this uncontrollable slide towards obsolescence. That, or just make it worse.
I can't tell which Denny's managed to achieve with Atari Remix, a new mobile game bundle for Android and iOS devices that dresses up three classic games (Asteroids, Centipede, and Breakout) with some new diner-themed flair. But the popular chain of pancake houses has undeniably crossed some sort of bacon-flavored branding threshold — one that's sure to provoke strong reactions from Gen Xers who grew up playing the original, ketchup-less versions of these games.
Now, if you're an Atari fan who's just about ready to hurl your plate of tater tots across the room in protest: take a deep breath and count to four. In Atari's defence, the remixed versions of these classic games are playing on another remix, one that Denny's is already doing on its menu. Here's how Atari described the new deal in a press release:
Inspired by Denny's new "Greatest Hits Remixed" menu - which features a selection of the diner's iconic dishes all with a new culinary spin - three of Atari's most famous games, Asteroids®, Centipede® and Breakout®, have been remixed as "Hashteroids," "Centipup" and "Take-Out." Beyond just a new name, the games will feature diner elements, such as flying hash browns and syrup bottle shooters.
See? It's not just a new name. There are "diner elements" and everything!
All jokes aside, this is the kind of thing that the U.S. branch of Atari is hungry for. The company filed for bankruptcy in early 2013, and has been scrambling to find ways to recreate itself ever since. An Ad Age article on the news ends on an ominous note about just how badly Atari needs these kinds of deals, emphasis added:
The partnership is the biggest for Atari since it came out of bankruptcy in December, said Kristen Keller, exec VP-business affairs and general counsel at Atari. The company filed for Chapter 11 in January 2013, saying it wanted to sell its portfolio of more than 200 video games to a highest bidder. That original plan didn't happen, so the company decided to sell off assets in pieces.
Ms. Keller said that the company had previously inked partnerships with companies such as General Mills and Taco Bell, but it had been years since those efforts. "From a brand-marketing perspective, we're excited about this partnership because we get to connect with existing fans, but we get to expose the Atari brand to new fans as well, which part of the strategy for our comeback," said Tony Chien, senior director-marketing at Atari.
I can just imagine the boardroom meeting between top-level executives at Atari, struggling to come up with a solution to all their financial problems until one person had the ingenious idea to play the "Rub Some Bacon On It" video to lighten the mood.