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Veteran Member - Level 11
Welcome to the next episode in my weekly series I post every
Sunday where I take a look at games listed in the book, 1001 Video Games You Must Play
Before You Die. If I've played them, then I share my memory of the
experience and if I haven't, then I find an online version or an emulator and I
play them. This is a book every gamer should have in their library, and if
you're interested in purchasing it, you can find it here.
Episode 1: 01 - 05 (here)
Episode 2: 06 - 10 (here)
Episode 3: 11 - 15 (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.
#13 - Eamon
It was a challenge to find this game online, and truth be
told I don't know that I found the complete game. I did however find a website
hosting a Java version of parts of the game. You can find it here if you're interested.
The Java applet does a convincing job making you feel like you're back in the
80s playing on an old Apple computer. The game is like many of the other text
adventure games from the same period - a lot like the original Zork. I've
played a game very much like this one, and it might have even been this one. It
has a certain degree of familiarity to it. It's one of those games that transitions
from the traditional pen and paper roleplaying games like Dungeons &
Dragons to computer based versions of them.
#15 - Rogue
An online version of this game was easy enough to find (like
this one), but this game probably
takes over the record as the most rudimentary game I have ever played, and that's
from someone who played Adventure a few weeks ago. What surprises me the most
is this game has an entire sub-genre named after it, the "rogue-like". Oh well,
at least I can say I've played it now, which I did for about 30 minutes. Hey,
the book says, "must play"...not "must finish"!
Okay, so now I'm all caught up - fifteen games down, and
I've played them all now. But it's another week, and another round of games.
This week we continue on in the 1980s, arguably one of the greatest eras in
gaming. Let's see what games are up this week, and whether I've played them or
#16 - Tempest
"Tempest is a 1981
arcade game by Atari Inc., originally designed and programmed by Dave Theurer. The
objective of Tempest is to survive as long as possible and score as many points
as possible by clearing the screen of enemies that have landed on the playing
field. The game takes place in a closed tube or open field which is viewed from
one end and is divided into a dozen or more segments. The player controls a
claw-shaped spaceship that crawls along the near edge of the playfield, moving
from segment to segment. This ship can rapid-fire shots down the tube,
destroying any enemies within the same segment, and is also equipped with a
Superzapper, which destroys all enemies currently on the playfield once per
I don't know if it's spatial relationship or what you call
it, but I have always struggled with games that require you to "see" things in
perspective, so of course I suck at games like Tetris (I can have the blocks
aligned and ready to get a Tetris, get a long piece, and then choke and place
it next to where I meant too), so I was never very good at Tempest. It doesn't
mean I didn't try, because I did. The game had crazy sounds and a little wheel
or dial to control your "claw shaped spaceship" (although admittedly I had no
idea that's what it was). Not as huge as Pac-Man or Space Invaders, but it was
definitely a popular mainstay in the arcade. I've spent plenty of quarters on
#17 - MUD
"A MUD (originally
Multi-User Dungeon, with later variants Multi-User Dimension and Multi-User Domain),
is a multiplayer real-time virtual world, usually text-based. MUDs combine
elements of role-playing games, hack and slash, player versus player,
interactive fiction, and online chat. Players can read or view descriptions of
rooms, objects, other players, non-player characters, and actions performed in
the virtual world. Players typically interact with each other and the world by
typing commands that resemble a natural language. Traditional MUDs implement a
role-playing video game set in a fantasy world populated by fictional races and
monsters, with players choosing classes in order to gain specific skills or
powers. The objective of this sort of game is to slay monsters, explore a
fantasy world, complete quests, go on adventures, create a story by
roleplaying, and advance the created character. Many MUDs were fashioned around
the dice-rolling rules of the Dungeons & Dragons series of games." -Wikipedia
I was pretty young still when MUDs were in the height of
their prime. I remember watching my brother and his friend participating in
them, but I don't know that I ever did. I don't really know that I will be able
to recreate this experience now in present day, but I'm going to at least do a
little more research on it and see what I can find. MUDs were like a precursor
to games like Warcraft - very community driven. If I can't find anything on
them, at least I can say I was exposed to them as a kid...
#18 - Pac-Man
"Pac-Man is an arcade
game developed by Namco and licensed for distribution in the United States by
Midway, in October 1980 and first released in Japan on May 22, 1980. Immensely
popular from its original release to the present day, Pac-Man is considered one
of the classics of the medium, virtually synonymous with video games, and an
icon of 1980s popular culture. Upon its release, the game-and, subsequently,
Pac-Man derivatives-became a social phenomenon that sold a bevy of merchandise and
also inspired, among other things, an animated television series and a top-ten
hit single." -Wikipedia
Has anybody not heard of Pac-Man? I guess it's possible
gamers today might not have actually played it, but I'm sure everybody has at
least heard of it. I don't know how or why I remember this, but I resisted
calling it Pac-Man by its official name for a long time after its release. You
see, my brother's best friend called us at home (on the old analog phones -we
didn't have cell phones back then) one day and told us about a new game down at
the arcade. He called it "Gobbler" because you gobble up the dots. You have to
remember, we were just kids. So, I called Pac-Man - Gobbler for a very long
time. Needless to say, I've played Pac-Man extensively; I was there in the 80s
for Pac-Man Fever; I collected the trading cards and stickers; I watched the
cartoons. Yes, I know Pac-Man very well...or Gobbler, as I like to call it.
#19 - Phoenix
"Phoenix is a shoot
'em up arcade game developed by Amstar Electronics (which was located in
Phoenix, Arizona) in 1980, released by Centuri in the United States and by Taito
in Japan. Bootleg versions of Phoenix were released by TPN and others. Atari
also ported the game to the Atari 2600 console in 1982. Like many arcade games
of that era, Phoenix is a top-down outer space-themed fixed shooter similar to
Taito's Space Invaders. The player controls a spaceship that moves horizontally
at the bottom of the screen, firing upward. Enemies, typically one of two types
of birds, appear on the screen above the player's ship, shooting at it and
periodically diving towards it in an attempt to crash into it." -Wikipedia
It sounds familiar and if it was in the arcade I can't
imagine not having played it...but I am not completely sure that I've played this
before. It looks a lot like Space Invaders or Galaga even. Since I can't say
for sure and don't have any personal stories to tell about it, I'm going to do
some further research on this one and try and actually play it to see if it
triggers a memory.
#20 - Zork I
"Zork: The Great
Underground Empire - Part I, later known as Zork I, is an interactive fiction
video game written by Marc Blank, Dave Lebling, Bruce Daniels and Tim Anderson
and published by Infocom in 1980. It was the first game in the popular Zork
trilogy and was released for a wide range of computer systems, followed by Zork
II and Zork III. It was Infocom's first game, and sold 378,987 copies by 1986. The
player steps into the deliberately vague role of an "adventurer". The
game begins near a white house in a small, self-contained area. Although the
player is given little instruction, the house provides an obvious point of
I played Zork on my brother's Commodore 64 and it is one of
the first games I recall playing where I actually used a pen and paper to take
notes and map the game out. Zork is a classic that defines the text adventure,
and it's also a game that generated such recognizable quotes like, "You are
likely to be eaten by a grue." and, "You are standing in an open field west of
a white house, with a boarded front door. There is a small mailbox here." It's
amazing the immersion and imagination a text adventure game can generate, but
Zork sure succeeded at doing just that. A game you play by reading text that
can scare you? I know it did me...because when your light goes out, you are
definitely going to be eaten by a grue.
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 only one or two that were
obviously influential that I need to research further. This week's homework
assignment - Phoenix and MUD.
Until next week - happy gaming.
I remember playing Zork in Black Ops. I had never played a text adventure before, but I found myself having fun imagining the world as I got further into the game, granted I only played it for an hour. I think I might ask for this book for my birthday, even though it seems that many of the featured games are before my time.
TEmpest phonix and pacman all great
I loved Zork, and even Zork II as well.
First one I have played less than half of the games. I think out of all of them Pacman and a cheap Zork clone are the only ones I have played.
I wrote a blog about Alan Wake's Barry Wheeler yesterday; while looking up the character on wikipedia, I stumbled onto the fact that he references Zork in the game (specifically, getting eaten by a Grue. Fitting, as Alan Wake is all about monsters trying to kill you if you're in the dark.) I apparently missed his line when I played through the game myself.
Of the five games this week, I've only played Pac-Man. I was never very good at Pac-Man, but it is definitely still a fun game. I can't remember exactly what it was called, but there was a sort of fun Pac-Man adventure game on PS1. I played it at my dentist office a few times and rented it once through BlockBuster. I guess I'm not really a big fan of Pac-Man though. I think the only Pac-Man game I own is a Game Boy Advance port of the original.
I want to try Zork and Tempest out.
I've played all of the five games on the list this week. Pac-Man was by far my favorite. It's just such a great game. I am decent at it. I've also played some of the more recent adaptations of the game, and have been impressed by the quality of some of them and how they can keep the fun of this classic game in tact.
I played Zork once on some random site, but didn't get too far before getting eaten by a grue. And of course I have plenty of experience with Pac Man on my joystick. Do I really have to play all these games?
Whooo!!! You're gettin deep into the history now.Out of all of these, I think the only one I recognize was Tempest, Pacman and Zork. It's always fun riding the time machine with you Saint!
The only one of these I know I've played is Pac Man. Although I was never very good at it lol. I believe there was a way to play Zork in Balck Ops 2, but I never really tried it.
This week I only ever heard of PAC-Man and Zork I. Of course I've played PAC-Man. I have it on my PS3 and I also used to have it on my calculator.
Zork is a fantastic example of why written stories are such a powerful and timeless artform: it's up to your imagination to fill in the gaps, to paint the scenes and characters, and the human imagination is a powerfully emotional force indeed.
I'm loving this series—there are so many great old games I'd never even heard of, and it's really entertaining to to hear about your personal experiences with them.
Can't think about ZORK anymore without hearing this song in my head...