ATARI CORP HAS DEVELOPED THE MOST ADVANCED PRODUCTION LINE IN THE WORLD...
BRINGING TO IT[']S CUSTOMERS THE HIGHEST QUALITY VIDEO GAMES AT THE LOWEST POSSIBLE PRICES.
PRODUCTION LINES ARE PRODUCING...
QUALITY CONTROL CHECKERS ARE CHECKING...
SHOPPERS ARE SHOPPING...
SALE! ATARI GAMES
... AND EVERYONE IS HAPPY. [CENTIPEDE IN BACKGROUND, getting a bit long in the tooth by 1989.]
BUT WHEN A NEW GAME, ZENOASTRA, GOES INTO PRODUCTION, THE LINES INEXPLICABLY SLOW DOWN. [ZENOASTRA: the next Polybius?]
FIRST TO A 1000 PER DAY...
THEN TO 500...
THEN TO 200...
QUALITY CONTROL CHECKER: (THERE'S SOMETHING WRONG HERE!)
ATARI TROUBLESHOOTER MILO MINDER VISITS... [Any relation to Joseph Heller's Milo Minderbinder from Catch-22?]
MILO MENDER: WHAT'S HAPPENING?
MANAGER: I WAS HOPING YOU COULD TELL US. OUR COMPUTERS ARE ACTING AS IF THEY HAVE A MIND OF THEIR OWN!
QCC: I TRIED TO GET A PRINT OUT OF THE PRODUCTION FILE AND THE SYSTEM DUMPED OUT A MILLION RANDOM NUMBERS!
AND THEN WE TRIED TO CUT POWER, THE TERMINAL FLASHED "FORGET IT TURKEY." FOLLOWED BY A STRING OF STUFF THAT LOOKED...JAPANESE.
NOW WE'RE LOCKED OUT.
MM: LET ME TAKE A LOOK AT THE COMPUTER.
MEANWHILE, FAR OVERHEAD, A STRANGE CRAFT HOVERS OVER THE ATARI FACTORY.
COOLIE: OUR COMPU-LASER BEAM HAS TAKEN FULL CONTROL OF THE PRODUCTION COMPUTERS, CAPTAIN-SAN.
CAPTAIN-SAN: AH SO! NOW WE HAVE THEM WHERE WE WANT THEM.
NOW TO INTRODUCE THESE SUBTLE VIRUSES IN THEIR GAMES. JUST ONE OF THESE NASTIES...
WILL RUIN AN ENTIRE GAME LIBRARY AND FORCE THEIR CUSTOMERS TO BUY FROM US.
M: MILO, THE MEN ARE GRASPING AT STRAWS -- YOU'VE GOT TO HELP!
MM: (THE COMPUTERS SEEM TO BE UNDER THE INFLUENCE OF AN OUTSIDE FORCE.. BUT FROM WHERE?)
MAKING A QUICK EXIT, MILO HEADS FOR THE NEAREST PHONE BOOTH..
MM: (THIS LOOKS LIKE A JOB..)
... FOR ATARI!
A COMPULASER BEAM, JUST CRAWLING WITH HIDEOUS BUGS!
LET'S SEE WHERE IT LEADS.
C: SIR, STEALTH SCOPE SHOWS AN OBJECT CLOSING FAST!
CS: READY DISINTEGRATOR!
MM: UGH! SO THAT'S HOW THEY WANT TO PLAY, EH!
WELL, LET'S SEE HOW THEY LIKE A DOSE OF THEIR OWN MEDICINE!
USING HIS GREAT POWER, ATARI REFLECTS THE RAY BACK TOWARDS THE CRAFT.
CS: WHA! ABANDON SHIP!!
MM: SO IT'S YOU, NINJA-ENDO! WHEN WILL YOU EVER LEARN YOU CAN'T BEAT THE POWER OF ATARI!
CS: I'LL BE BACK ATARI! I'LL BE BACK!!
JOIN US NEXT ISSUE FOR MORE ADVENTURE!
(Clearly it's time for someone to file this under the Yellow Peril in comics section over at TVTropes. Strangely as the series go on and on, Ninja-Endo gets more and more deformed to the point that he no longer resembles an Asiatic stereotype, but some kind of extraterrestrial humanoid. Sadly, the stupid name persists.)
MM: GEE I WONDER HOW BETH IS DOING.
MM: SHE WAS PLAYING THAT NEW GHOULS N'GREMLINS GAME YESTERDAY.
* SEE LAST ISSUE
MM: SHE'S GONE
MM: AND THAT DOORWAY WASN'T HERE BEFORE!
MILO ENTERS THE DARK DOORWAY AND DESCENDS A LONG STAIRWAY.
MM: WONDER WHERE THIS LEADS?
HE FINDS A TRUNKFUL OF USEFUL TOOLS.
MM: THESE SHOULD COME IN HANDY.
MM: BETH'S VOICE! GOT TO MOVE IT!
MM: BUT -- HOW DO I GET PAST THIS ICEWALL?
MM: I KNOW! BY FOCUSING THE LIGHT WITH THIS MIRROR I CAN MELT THE ICE.
MM: HMM... THIS KEY I FOUND OPENED THIS TRAPDOOR.
MM: BUT IT'S A LONG DROP DOWN.
MM: BETTER TIE THE ROPE AND SLIDE DOWN.
UNKNOWN TO MILO HE IS BEING OBSERVED BY THE EVIL NINJAENDO
NINJA-ENDO: HA! HA! HA! THAT MEDDLING BOYFRIEND OF YOURS HAS FALLEN RIGHT INTO MY TRAP!
B: YOU FIEND!
NE: NOW NOW MY DEAR, HE'S ABOUT TO REACH THE SPAWNER!!
MILO DISPATCHES ONE WITH A DART...
BUT THE GHOULS SURROUND MILO.
...LITTLE REALIZING HE HAS AN ALTER EGO...
MM: LET'S SEE HOW YOU LIKE...
MM: MY DOMINO PUNCH!
MM: MY LASER LIGHT GUN SHOULD TAKE CARE OF THEIR SPAWNER!
MM: NINJAENDO! I SHOULD'VE KNOWN IT WAS YOU!
NE: BAH! NEXT TIME I WIN!
JOIN US NEXT ISSUE!
(The references are all so specific, it must be to a particular Atari game, but which one? Talk of the spawner brings Gauntlet to mind, which was an Atari property, but the rest doesn't jibe.)
ATARI: COME ON BETH, STAY CLOSE.
THE LOWER CHAMBERS ARE FLOODED. WE'LL HAVE TO BORROW A BA-1 SUB* TO TRACK HIM DOWN.
* SEE "TOWER TOPPLER." [Not the most substantial reference: "Towers are linked together via a voyage through the sea in your trusty MK.7 submarine."]
TIGHT FIT FOR TWO IN THIS MINI-SUB. [Doesn't look like she especially minds the tight quarters!]
BETH: THESE FISH HAVE ALL MUTATED. WHAT COULD BE CAUSING IT?
ATARI: I DON'T KNOW, BUT OUR TRACKING SONAR HAS PICKED UP --
NINJA-ENDO: THOSE CREEPS FOLLOWED ME -- JUST AS I KNEW THEY WOULD!
NOW TO MARSHALL MY ARMY OF UNDERSEA CREATURES! [I like the one in the baseball cap.]
(BUT I CAN'T LEAVE BETH ALONE IN THE SUB.)
BETH: I THINK THAT DOLPHIN IS TRYING TO COMMUNICATE WITH US!!
ATARI: YES! I CAN ANALYZE HIS SOUND PATTERNS WITH THIS MEGA-ST.
HE SAYS THE USS TRITON* IS ON THE BOTTOM NOT FAR AWAY AND IT'S LOADED WITH EXPLOSIVES!
*THE TRITON SANK ON 3/15/43. [David H. Ahl, 2003: "I'm currently the editor-at-large for Classic Military Vehicle magazine"]
ATARI FOCUSES THE BA-1 LASER ON THE TRITON AS THE SEA CREATURES PASS OVER IT.
REGRETTABLE PACIFIC ISLANDER GOLLYWOG CARICATURES: PRAISE NEPTUNE! FRIED BLUEFISH AND SMOKED OYSTERS! [Gollywogs who worship the ancient Greek god of the sea, apparently.]
WILL ATARI CATCH NINJA-ENDO?
TUNE IN NEXT ISSUE AND FIND OUT!! [Is Atari giving a left-handed thumbs-up on his right side? Ouch!]
(There was no next issue. From the same interview: "I published Atari Explorer for five years and started Atarian magazine in 1989 (only three issues) for Atari Corp. until they were buried by Nintendo in 1990." Buried! If you can't compete with a superior product, you can offer racism, but that approach only succeeds sometimes.)
And there you have it: the complete story of an unworthy footnote, but it was a curio regardless and as such I couldn't just leave well enough alone.