There seems to be a trend regarding books listing 1,001 things you should experience before you die. I've seen them for books you should read, movies you should watch, songs you should listen to, places you should visit and even beers you must taste...all before you die. Are there really that many beers? I suppose there probably are.  Well, the one you and I are probably most interested in is (book, not beer)...

1,001 Video Games You Must Play Before You Die.

I actually learned about this book from friend and fellow gamer, dean "born4this" and even blogged about it almost 2 years ago after I received my copy from Amazon. If you're interested, you can read it here or buy it here.

Admittedly, I haven't read the book cover to cover, but I have flipped through it and I'm quite surprised (and pleased) how many of the games I've already played. I've been contemplating what to do about this book, and decided that every Sunday (time and energy permitting) I'll go through the book in order and respond to one or two or a few...who knows, I'll play it by ear.

First up, the 1970s.

1. The Oregon Trail

"The Oregon Trail is a computer game originally developed by Don Rawitsch, Bill Heinemann, and Paul Dillenberger in 1971 and produced by the Minnesota Educational Computing Consortium (MECC) in 1974. The original game was designed to teach school children about the realities of 19th century pioneer life on the Oregon Trail. The player assumes the role of a wagon leader guiding his party of settlers from Independence, Missouri, to Oregon's Willamette Valley over the Oregon Trail via a Studebaker Wagon in 1848. The game has been released in many editions since the original release by various developers and publishers who have acquired rights to it." -Wikipedia

If you've never heard of this game, chances are you've still heard of a meme made popular by the game - "You have died of dysentery." Well, I played this game. No, not in 1974 when it was released (firedude3663, don't say it). It was a few years later in school, although I have no idea what grade or how old I was. But I do remember playing this game. We didn't have computers in the class room, but we did have around five of them in the library. And when most of the kids were on break or at lunch, I would go to the library and play video games. I actually preferred Where In the World Is Carmen San Diego, but if the computer (some version of the Apple - IIE I think) that had that game was already being taken, I would hop on this one and play it instead. The irony is not lost on me that you used to be able to play video games in school and now they carry this stigma of causing violence or making you lazy. Well, The Oregon Trail was definitely geared towards the learning experience and educational value. Not the first game I ever played, but certainly one of them. If you want to play it, it's been released on a number of systems with state of the art graphics, or you can find plenty of websites and emulators and play it in its original glory.

2. Pong

A game that should need no introduction or explanation, Pong is often attributed as being the first real video game. And if you're a regular reader of my blog you may recall a few weeks ago on November 29, 2012 - the anniversary of the release of Pong, I posted a blog titled, From Paddles To Controllers - My Tribute To Pong. In that blog I talked about how the very first video game I recall playing was a Pong clone on the Radio Shack TV Scoreboard. Since the 1970's Pong has found its way into the arcade, onto cell phones and even hidden away as a mini-game in other modern era games. I don't think I need to tell you about Pong, and if you've never played it you can certainly find plenty of places where you can.

3. Break Out

"Breakout is an arcade game developed by Atari, Inc. and introduced on May 13, 1976. It was conceptualized by Nolan Bushnell and Steve Bristow, and influenced by the 1972 arcade game Pong, also by Atari. The game was ported to video game consoles and upgraded to video games such as Super Breakout. In addition, Breakout was the basis and inspiration for books, video games, film, and the Apple II personal computer. In the game, a layer of bricks lines the top third of the screen. A ball travels across the screen, bouncing off the top and side walls of the screen. When a brick is hit, the ball bounces away and the brick is destroyed. The player loses a turn when the ball touches the bottom of the screen. To prevent this from happening, the player has a movable paddle to bounce the ball upward, keeping it in play." -Wikipedia

So, imagine Pong, rotate the screen so the paddle is on the bottom instead of the side, add a bunch of tiles you're trying to break and you have Break Out. Once again, another game I played. I played it on several systems including the Apple, the Atari and even in the arcade. It had several clones and sequels, but the truth is I was never a fan of break out. Truth be told, I've always been somewhat of a clumsy kid and my hand - eye coordination and reaction time aren't the greatest for this sort of, suffice it to say...I sucked at it. So I didn't' play it. If you'd like to give it a try, here's a website that lets you play it for free. I decided to give it a try, just to see if I got any better...and with God as my witness, I missed the very first ball as soon as it launched. I didn't even hit it once. I gave up after that. I still suck at it.

*Note - Even though I don't like Break Out, I do own a copy of Super Break out for the Atari 5200.

4. Boot Hill

"A classic one or two-player western gunfight game. Each player uses a small joystick to move their cowboy up and down the play area, while a second, much larger joystick is used to aim the pistol and shoot - this larger stick also has a trigger button. The game's single goal is simply to shoot the other player, who is situated on the opposite side of the game area. Wagons and cacti litter the middle of the play area, providing temporary cover from the opponent's gunfire. These obstacles slowly disintegrate as they are shot." -Wikipedia

When I was a youngster, I was huge into the whole cowboy theme...(and yes, I love Toy Story). I had a pair of six-shooter cap guns and a double holster you would seldom find me without. I didn't play Boot Hill a lot, but I remember the first time I played Boot Hill was at an arcade in Dogpatch USA at the Lake of the Ozarks. I thought I would be great at it, because I was a cowboy after all...and I kept dying in no time and got mad at the game. But the coolest feature of the game was the controls - they were shaped like pistol handles...and I remember long after my mom stopped giving me quarters, I'd still hover over the game when no one was playing it, imagining those pistols were my six shooters. Ah, the mind of a child.

5. Combat

"Combat is an early video game by Atari, Inc. for the Atari 2600. It was released as one of the nine launch titles for the system in October 1977, and was included in the box with the system from its introduction until 1982. Combat was based on two earlier black-and-white coin-operated arcade games produced by Atari: Tank (published under the Kee Games name) in 1974 and Anti-Aircraft II in 1975. The 27 game modes featured a variety of different combat scenarios, including tanks, biplanes, and jet fighters. The tank games had interesting options such as bouncing munitions ("Tank-Pong") and invisibility. The biplane and jet games also allowed for variation, such as multiple planes per player and an inventive game with a squadron of planes versus one giant bomber." -Wikipedia

Heck to the yes I've played Combat. I've blogged about it multiple times and showed off my Combat cartridge I still own, even though I don't even have a system to play it on anymore. This was the one and only game my brother and I had for the longest time for the Atari 2600 and we played this game all of the time. The invisible tanks and tank pong were by far the best modes. I remember we used to play the planes, and he would always play the triple small planes and make me the big fat jumbo plane (less maneuverable). I could tell you some stories about Combat. Let's just say I'm rather fond of this game; more so than any of the others on this list.

And there you have it. I'm off to a great start. The first five games from the 1,001 video games you must play before you die, and I've played them all. Only 996 left to check and verify. Stay tuned for the next episode, tentatively scheduled for next Sunday.

Hope you all had a great weekend.