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Welcome to the second episode in my weekly series I plan to
post every Sunday where I take a look at games listed in the book, 1001 Video
Games You Must Play Before You Die. If you missed last week's blog you can find
and if you're interested in purchasing the book, you can find it here.
For devoted gamers as
well as those interested in groundbreaking graphic design, this is the first,
most comprehensive, and only critical guide ever published to video games. The
video game has arrived as entertainment and as an art form. This is the first
serious critical evaluation ever published of the best video games and is a
testament to the medium's innovativeness and increasing emphasis on aesthetics.
Organized chronologically and for all platforms (PC, Xbox, PlayStation, etc.)
and covering all genres from the bold (Grand Theft Auto and Halo) and dark
(Resident Evil and Silent Hill) to the spiritual (Final Fantasy) and whimsical
(Legend of Zelda), the book traces the video game from the rough early days of
Pong to the latest visual fantasia.
Picking up where I left off, I'm still in video games from the
1970s - a time when the video game industry was in the earliest stages of its existence
and still relatively new; a time when being a gamer wasn't as cool and common
as it is now; a time when the only exposure some people had to video games was going
to the local arcade or getting computer time at a school or university.
6. Space Invaders
"Space Invaders is an
arcade video game designed by Tomohiro Nishikado, and released in 1978. It was
originally manufactured and sold by Taito in Japan, and was later licensed for
production in the United States by the Midway division of Bally. Space Invaders
is one of the earliest shooting games and the aim is to defeat waves of aliens
with a laser cannon to earn as many points as possible. In designing the game,
Nishikado drew inspiration from popular media: Breakout, The War of the Worlds,
and Star Wars. It was one of the forerunners of modern video gaming and helped
expand the video game industry from a novelty to a global industry (see golden
age of video arcade games). When first released, Space Invaders was very
successful. Following its release, the game caused a temporary shortage of
100-yen coins in Japan and grossed US$2 billion worldwide by 1982." -Wikipedia
Who hasn't heard of Space Invaders, I mean really? It has to
rank right up there with Pac Man and Donkey Kong as one of the most recognized
video games ever. I've played it in the arcade and on the Atari 2600 (and still
have it on Atari 5200, copyright 1982), and really the differences were minimal
since the game was fairly rudimentary. Pretty much everything was the same
color (there might have been 3 different colors max) and the controls were
simple - move left or right + a fire button. Now that I think about it, Space
Invaders might be one of the first games that really instilled a sense of panic
and if you've played it, no doubt you know why. You have to shoot all the
aliens before they reach you or you'll lose the round or at least that life.
After they drop down so far and you have almost all of the bad guys killed off,
they start to speed up and it gets harder...but the real panic came when you had
one guy left and he is zipping left to right and you're trying to shoot him
before he gets you.
"Adventure is a 1979 video
game for the Atari 2600 video game console and is considered the first
action-adventure game. Its creator, Warren Robinett, introduced the first
widely-known Easter egg to the gaming world. Adventure was published by the
console's developer, Atari, Inc. It was inspired by a computer text game,
Colossal Cave Adventure, created by Will Crowther and later modified by Don
Woods. Despite discouragement from his boss at Atari who said it could not be
done, game designer Warren Robinett created a graphic game loosely based on the
text game. Atari's Adventure went on to sell a million copies, making it the
seventh bestselling Atari 2600 game." -Wikipedia
We've reached the first game (of many, I'm sure) I haven't
played, so my homework assignment between now and next Sunday is to see if I
can find a Java version or an emulator for this game so I can give it a shot. I'll
give you an update next week. I'm a bit surprised it's the 7th
bestselling Atari 2600 game and I haven't played it since that was my first
real console and we had a fair amount of games for it. Looking at the graphics,
doesn't look like I was missing out on much. I know the Atari 2600 didn't have
cutting edge graphics, especially by today's standards, but boy oh boy this
looks really basic. At least it has cool cover art. Anyway, stay tuned and I'll
let you know what I find out about the game or whether I have to add it to my "Haven't
Played" list...(I found a website where I can play it - I just haven't tried it
"Asteroids is a video
arcade game released in November 1979 by Atari Inc. It was one of the most
popular and influential games of the Golden Age of Arcade Games, selling 70,000
arcade cabinets. Asteroids uses a vector display and a two-dimensional view
that wraps around in both screen axes. The player controls a spaceship in an
asteroid field which is periodically traversed by flying saucers. The object of
the game is to shoot and destroy asteroids and saucers while not colliding with
either, or being hit by the saucers' counter-fire." -Wikipedia
Finally, back to games I do know. Who doesn't know
Asteroids? It's a big brother (or is it little sister) to Space Invaders and is
every bit as popular. Truth be told, I wasn't a big Asteroids fan. I remember
playing this game in a couple different arcades, but haven't played it at home
(as far I recall). You have to realize I was just a wee lad when this game came
out, and I remember playing it and not being very good at it. Part of the problem
was I liked to use the thrust too much. I'd get that ship flying across the
screen, barreling out of control and imploding myself on any number of the
asteroids. I remember my brother trying to tell me to stay in the same place,
pivot around and only use the thrust as a last resort, but I always managed to
result to using the "when in doubt, go all out" philosophy. Played it, just didn't
like it...mostly because I sucked at it. And who couldn't forget the reference to
Asteroids in National Lampoon's Vacation.
Rusty: Hey, ya' got Pac Man?
Cousin Dale: No.
Rusty: Ya' got Space Invaders?
Cousin Dale: Nope.
Rusty: Ya' got Asteroids?
Cousin Dale: Naw, but my dad does. Can't even sit on the
toilet some days.
"Galaxian is an arcade
game developed by Namco in October 1979. It was published by Namco in Japan and
was imported to North America by Midway that December. A fixed shooter-style
game in which the player controls a spaceship at the bottom of the screen and
shoots enemies descending in various directions, it was designed to compete
with the successful earlier game Space Invaders. The game was highly popular
upon its release, and has been a focus of competitive gaming ever since. It
spawned a successful sequel, Galaga, in 1981, and the lesser known Gaplus in
1984, as well as many later ports and adaptations." -Wikipedia
Ah, another great arcade game, but another one that I'm not
a big fan of. I am not the most coordinated person, nor do I have the quickest
reflexes...both traits that are required to play Galaxian. You have to be able to move around, dodge incoming bullets and bad guys, but be able to shoot
them too. I do have some fond memories of this game, or at least watching
people play it. If you ever witnessed someone who is really good play it as
they take out wave after wave of bad guys as soon as they appear from the left
or right, it's truly amazing to watch. It also has one of the most memorable
sound tracks of any of the classics, and reminds me of the old arcades whenever I hear it, or things that sound like it (like the intro to the Robot in the Corner podcast).
10. Lunar Lander
"Lunar Lander is an
arcade game released by Atari, Inc. in 1979, which uses a vector monitor to
display vector graphics. Although not particularly successful, the
vector-graphics generator of the arcade game was also the impetus for Atari's
most successful coin-operated game: Asteroids. The object of the Lunar Lander
game is to pilot a lunar landing module to a safe touchdown on the moon.
Approximately 4,830 units were produced." -Wikipedia
Apparently there were a few different variants of this game,
and I can't say for certain that I've played any of them...so, just to be sure I'm
going to add it to my list to research this week. Just looking at the
screenshots, I can't see how this would be entertaining for very long, but I
don't want to pass judgement until I've played it first. Wish me luck.
Well, that concludes this week's episode, but also finishes
up the 1970's. All in all, the results weren't that bad. There were 10 games
from this era, and I only have two to look up - Adventure and Lunar Lander.
Thanks for reading, and if you've played Adventure, Lunar Lander, or even any
of the others, feel free to share your experiences.