Welcome to the third 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're interested in purchasing the book, you can find it here.

Episode 1: 01 - 05 (here)

Episode 2: 06 - 10 (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.

So, last week there were two games that I never played before so my homework was to play them before posting this blog. I'm happy to report I found and played both of the games.

#7 - Adventure

I was a little disappointed that Adventure was the 7th bestselling Atari 2600 game and I hadn't played it. But after I found an emulator for the game, I actually think I did play it back in the day. I vaguely remember the keys. But even if I didn't, I've played it now; and not just played it but finished it. It is, without a doubt, perhaps the most rudimentary game I have ever played. You can beat it literally in minutes. It's funny, because if you read a summary of the game, it sounds interesting.

The player's goal is to find the enchanted chalice and return it to the gold castle. The player character, represented by a square, explores a multi-screen landscape containing castles, mazes, and various rooms. Hidden throughout the world are a sword, keys that unlock each of the three castles (gold, black, and white), a magic bridge that allows the player to travel through walls, and a magnet that attracts the other items toward it.

(You are the square - the arrow is your sword - the key is a key)

The three dragons are Yorgle, Grundle and Rhindle, although they look more like a kindergartner's drawing of a duck. The "sword" looks more like an arrow and your character is a square. No really...literally a square.

I've conquered the game though, and if you want to play it, you can find it here.

#10 - Lunar Lander

I couldn't find an emulator or online game that fully recreated the original, but there are certainly a number of aftermarket reproductions of the game. Surprisingly, the game is fairly entertaining and addictive. You think it is going to be simple, but after you crash land a dozen or so times, you get hooked on it. I played through a number of rounds for about 30-45 minutes. It's a fun little game but once you've played it for a while there isn't really a whole lot more to it. You can find a couple different versions online, but the two I played can be found here and here.

Okay, so now I'm all caught up - ten games down, and I've played them all. But it's another week, and another round of games. This week marks a new decade in gaming - the 1980s. I was a product of the 80s and all the pop culture associated with this period of time. The arcade was my baby sitter and this period of time in my life was perhaps the most influential in creating the gamer I am today. Let's get started.

#11 - Battlezone

"Battlezone is an arcade game from Atari released in November 1980. It displays a wireframe view (using vector graphics rather than raster graphics) on a horizontal black and white (with green and red sectioned color overlay) vector monitor. Due to its novel gameplay and look, this game was very popular for many years. Because of its use of first-person pseudo 3D graphics combined with an actual "viewing goggle" that the player puts his face into, Battlezone is widely considered the first virtual reality arcade game." -Wikipedia

This game was a popular feature in most of the arcades in the town where I lived, but I'm sure part of that was because of the game's military theme and the fact that I grew up near an Army post. I was a wee lad at the time and had to compete for playtime amongst the young soldiers out on liberty for the weekend. This was one game I didn't really care for; the young soldiers could have it. Part of the problem was I was just a kid, and I couldn't see through the scope without a chair. When the arcade got busy, there were no chairs...which meant no chair = no play. Besides, when you're a kid, that whole wire frame element just doesn't fly.

#12 - Defender

"Defender is an arcade video game developed and released by Williams Electronics in 1980. A shooting game featuring two-dimensional (2D) graphics, the game is set on a fictional planet where the player must defeat waves of invading aliens while protecting astronauts. Defender was commercially successful, selling over 55,000 units to become the company's bestselling arcade game. Praise among critics focused on the game's audio-visuals and gameplay. Defender was ported to numerous platforms, inspired the development of other games, and was followed by sequels and many imitations." -Wikipedia

Defender. Sweet Defender. Besides the obvious games like Pac Man and Donkey Kong, Defender ranks right up there, definitely on my top ten list of favorite arcade games. The game was fairly basic, but had some amazing sounds that are still recognizable even today. One of my favorite elements of the game was when the aliens would capture your men (apparently they were astronauts) and start to fly off with them. If you shot the alien, the man would fall...and if you were quick you could swoop in and recover them. I also vaguely recall a smart bomb I think - you only got like one, but it would kill everything on the screen. Easily one of the greatest arcade games ever created.

#13 - Eamon

"Eamon, sometimes known by the longer title The Wonderful World of Eamon, is a role-playing adventure game created by Donald Brown and released for the Apple II in 1980. The game is a text adventure similar to other early titles like Adventure (1976) or Zork (1980), though with many role-playing elements not available in other interactive fiction. Eamon casts the player in the role of a free-wheeling fantasy adventurer who undertakes dangerous quests against numerous enemies to earn riches and experience. Home base is the Guild of Free Adventurers, an association of heroes on the mystical world of Eamon, a vaguely Medieval place awash in magic and populated with strange creatures. Most adventures take place in the dungeons, castles and forests of Eamon, though some occur on other worlds or in different eras." -Wikipedia

Eamon, eh? Never heard of it. Sounds like someone has more homework this week. I never owned an Apple computer and the few games I have played on them were either at school, or at a friend's house who had an Apple. But this game, I've never played it, never heard of it and not sure if I'll even be able to find a way to play it. But I'll try.

#14 - Missile Command

"Missile Command is a 1980 arcade game by Atari, Inc. that was also licensed to Sega for European release. It is considered one of the most notable games from the Golden Age of Video Arcade Games. The plot of Missile Command is simple: the player's six cities are being attacked by an endless hail of ballistic missiles, some of them even splitting like multiple independently targetable reentry vehicles (MIRVs), and in later levels smart bombs which can evade a less than perfectly targeted missile. As a regional commander of three anti-missile batteries, the player must defend six cities in their zone from being destroyed." -Wikipedia

Another popular arcade game from the 80s, there are plenty of gamers who loved the game, but I'm not really one of them. Again, I'm sure a lot of it has to do with being so young. This game used a rollerball controller to move your cursor around on the screen and basically you have to shoot down the missiles before they hit your bases. The game was re-released for Xbox Live, and it's amazing looking at a screenshot from the original next to the current generation version. Once again, this is a game that I still own a copy of for the Atari, and what is really special about this game is I still have the original book / manual for the game. It's almost like art.

#15 - Rogue

"Rogue is a dungeon crawling video game first developed by Michael Toy and Glenn Wichman around 1980. It was a favorite on college Unix systems in the early to mid-1980s, in part due to the procedural generation of game content. Rogue popularized dungeon crawling as a video game trope, leading others to develop a class of derivatives known collectively as "roguelikes". Roguelikes have since influenced commercial games outside the genre, such as Diablo." -Wikipedia

Rogue is another game that I'm not familiar with, but what I find neat is I have heard of the term used to describe certain games and their genre; I just never knew where it came from.

"The roguelike is a sub-genre of role-playing video games, characterized by level randomization, permanent death, and turn-based movement. Most roguelikes feature ASCII graphics, with newer games increasingly offering tile-based graphics. Games are typically dungeon crawls, with many monsters, items, and environmental features. Computer roguelikes usually employ the majority of the keyboard to facilitate interaction with items and the environment. The name of the genre comes from the 1980 game Rogue." -Wikipedia

This concludes another week's review of games found in 1001 Video Games You Must Play Before You Die. There were some great games from the 1980s definitely earning a spot in the book and a couple that were obviously influential that I need to research further. This week's homework assignment - Rogue and Eamon.

Until next week - happy gaming.