The “Boys of Atari” are back, and not the 1995 punk-rock band that sang “The Boys of Summer.”

The “Boys of Atari” are back, and not the 1995 punk-rock band that sang “The Boys of Summer.”

These boys are the original Atari game designers and programmers of the 1970s who gave us thumb-numbing classics such as Pong and Pac-Man video games.

They’re gray, but they still wear blue jeans and ponytails and are ecstatic over the reprise. They’ve formed a company to challenge the supremacy of the “Angry Birds” with mobile, Atari-type games.

In a way, it’s about time. The computer game industry now is all about flashy graphics and realistic sounds on multi-disk programming. You need a $1,500 PC to run them. This technique is Armageddon on the small-screen confines of tablets and cell phones.

The early Ataris seem crude in retrospect, but expectations were a lot less. The learning curve was zero. You put down your beer, walked up, dropped a quarter into the slot and played your brains out. Many of us did exactly that.

Remember “Space Invaders?” Somehow, those little blips on the screen seemed realistic. All it took was a little imagination and ... blamo!

Many of us spent considerable chunks of our lives and spare change Pong-ing and Pac-Maning. Back in a secret cave of our brains, we still have that longing.

The Old Boys are busy crafting modern Atari-type arcade games. These will be elegantly programmed with a minimum of code. The images, like “Angry Birds,” will be basic. Graphics detail is secondary. It’s the playability on the small screen that counts.

This revelation is long gone in the massive game industry of today. They forgot the lessons of Game Boy, the crudely graphic handheld that captured tens of millions of fans. Goal of the reconstituted Atari Boys aims at the same market vector.

So what does this mean to you and me? Do we really want to spent hours at our phone or tablet chasing a cursor around a racetrack? I can only speak for myself: Hell yes.

Contact Jim Hillibish at jim.hillibish@cantonrep.com.

THE BEST ATARI GAMES

1. Pong: Always No. 1, the wall-tennis captivator.

2. Asteroids: Kill the space rocks, live to lie about it.

3. Tempest: Manic shootout, totally frantic, man.

4. Breakout: Bust the bricks, so simple it’s fascinating.

5. Star Raiders: No. 1 awesome space-combat epic.

6. Space Invaders: Kill the aliens, save the Earth.

7. Pac-Man: Endearing head chomps dots, always dies.

8. Mrs. Pac-Man: Vastly improved, eat dots, digest ghosts.

9. Centipede: Creepy, crawly, addictive insect drama.

10. Missile Command: Heroically splash the incoming ICBMs.