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Hands Across America

When people hear about Flanavision's Hands Across America, most assume that the Atari game was inspired by the nationwide fundraiser. Surprisingly, the game actually predates the event by three years. The Atari version of Hands Across America has its roots in Flanavision founder Nathan Flanagan's childhood. "My parents used to have a small flock of sheep," Flanagan, 54, said recently. "Herding them into the barn for shearing was always such a challenge; I always thought there had to be some kind of game in it." While two herding-based board games (1969's "Herdabaloo" and 1977's "Disco Gathering) failed, Flanagan was sure that the hot home video game market would give him the hit he wanted.

Hands Across America

The concept behind the game was simple: You have a set amount of time to bump a varying number of people into a line. If you exceed your time, the people get restless and start to wander away from the line. The game starts in Los Angeles with five people. Once they're in line, you move on to the high desert outside L.A. (an orange field with a few cactuses scattered about), the great plains (an orange field with a few cactuses scattered about), the Mississippi valley (an orange field with a few cactuses scattered about), New England (an orange field with a few cactuses scattered about), and finally New York City.

Sadly, Hands Across America suffered the same fate as Flanagan's earlier endeavors. The game missed the 1984 holiday season by two months, and its high concept failed to spark interest in a market oversaturated with better games. By the time the better-known Hands Across America occurred, Flanavision was in Chapter 7 and couldn't capitalize on the publicity.

Choose a game:
Bosom Buddies | Free the Falklands! | Peabo Bryson's Cow Tipper | Typing Tutor | Kramer vs. Kramer | Ms. Paul's Fish Stick Hunter | Gunther Gebel-Williams' Cage Cleaner | Space Cobbler | Punch Buggy | Emmet Otter's Jug-Band Motocross

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