Those things don't count. You didn't really play Puppy Pong. You didn't play it the right way, and you didn't play it like... like you meant it.

Puppy Pong was a very uncommon "Bronze Age" video game produced by Atari back in 1973. This game was notable for several reasons. The first one is that it was the first game designed especially for children, and the second was that it was one of the first titles ever to have threats of litigation due to the concept.

Puppy Pong really began with Snoopy Pong (and Doctor Pong). The idea was to create a video game for children that was to be a replacement for all the toys and magazines in the doctor's office. Doctor Pong was the first concept, but it was never produced. The first game they actually did produce along these lines was Snoopy Pong. Snoopy Pong was a standard Pong game mounted in a bartop cabinet that looked just like Snoopy's doghouse. It was red, and the screen and spinners were mounted on one of the sides, while a wooden Snoopy with felt ears adorned the top of the machine. This was a good idea, but it had two fatal flaws. The first one was the felt ears, they would have just been ripped right off the machine. The second flaw was a bit more important, you see they never bothered asking Charles Schultz if they could make a Snoopy game. Schultz threatened a lawsuit, so only one Snoopy Pong unit was ever produced.

The boys at Atari didn't want to give up that easily, so they redesigned the game to eliminate Snoopy, so Snoopy Pong became "Puppy Pong". Puppy Pong was built around the exact same idea, but this time it came in a yellow cabinet with a roof that was painted to appear as if it had shingles. It had a green "Puppy Pong" logo painted at the bottom and a cute cartoon dog poking over the top.

The game itself was Pong just like you remember, and just like Atari was still shipping in upright cabinets. The only difference was that the game was free, and it reset itself at a score of ten. Internally the game had a standard Pong circuit board that was modified to play free and reset the score. The game was displayed on a 13" black and white television that was housed inside the unit, and was behind a piece of smoked glass that mostly hid the fact that it was a regular television and still had tuning knobs. The game was controlled with a pair of analog spinners that were mounted on each side of the monitor, these were of the older design that turned a potentiometer, and not of the optical design that later games such as Arkanoid would use.

Puppy Pong made its big debut at Pizza Time Theatre in Sunnyvale California. They placed the units on most of the tables in the place, that way kids could play the game while they were waiting for their pizza to come. This was as far as the game ever went. You see Charles Schultz still thought the game was too much like Snoopy, so he asked them nicely not to make any more of them.

Puppy Pong never did go into wide production, there were at least thirty five of them made, judging from the serial numbers on the ones owned by modern collectors. Real production numbers may have been closer to one hundred. Most of these machines probably survived to the modern era, because Pizza Time wasn't in the habit of destroying their old games yet. Plus, this title was physically very small, and there was nothing you could really convert it into any way. Most of them are probably in the hands of people who have no idea that they are a very collectable item.

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