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)

Episode 4: 16 - 20 (here)

Episode 5: 21 - 25 (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 was only one game that I hadn't played (or had no recollection of playing). I'm happy to report after some exhaustive searching, I found it and managed to play it.

#21 - Warlords

"Warlords is an arcade game released by Atari in 1980. The game resembles a combination of Breakout and Quadrapong (an early Atari arcade game) in the sense that not only could up to 4 players play the game at the same time, but also the "forts" in the four corners of the screen were brick walls that could be broken with a flaming ball. Warlords used spinner controllers for player control, and came in both an upright 2 player version and a 4 player cocktail version. The upright version uses a black and white monitor, and reflects the game image onto a mirror, with a backdrop of castles, giving the game a 3D feel." -Wikipedia

I had a hard time finding this game, and part of the problem was there are apparently a few games with this name. Well, I double checked the entry in the book and it was actually referring to a game that is a lot like Breakout. Well, I did happen to find an online version of that game here. It's fairly basic and hard to play without the paddles found on the arcade version, but thankfully since its relatively simple once you've played it for a few minutes you've pretty much witnessed all it has to offer.  And having played it, I can say that I have played the first 25 games now. Let's see how I fair with the next five.

#26 - Scramble

"Scramble is a 1981 horizontally scrolling shoot 'em up, arcade game. It was developed by Konami, and manufactured and distributed by Stern in North America. It was the first side-scrolling shooter with forced scrolling and multiple distinct levels. The player controls an aircraft, referred to in the game as a Jet, and has to guide it across a scrolling terrain, battling obstacles along the way. The ship is armed with a forward-firing weapon and bombs; each weapon has its own button. The player must avoid colliding with the terrain and other enemies, while simultaneously maintaining its limited fuel supply which diminishes over time. More fuel can be acquired by destroying fuel tanks in the game." -Wikipedia

Sounds like a game that would be right up my alley, and at first, I couldn't remember if I had played this or not, but as soon as I searched on some screenshots of the game I knew that I had. It uses a game mechanic that has been emulated in other games a time or two, but it's basically one of those side scrollers where you shoot and/or bomb targets as you progress across the screen. Just because I hesitated, I think I'll still look this game up...heck, if nothing more than just for the nostalgia.

#27 - Stargate

"Stargate is an arcade game released in 1981 by Williams Electronics. Created by Eugene Jarvis, it is a sequel to the 1980 game Defender, and was the first of only three productions from Vid Kidz, an independent development house formed by Jarvis and Larry DeMar. This video game has no connection to the subsequent Stargate franchise that began 13 years later. The game is also known as Defender Stargate and Defender II. The name Defender II has been used on all of its home ports, and game compilation appearances; however, there were never any Defender II arcade units. To complicate matters, the Atari 2600 port was originally sold under the Stargate moniker but was renamed to Defender II for a later re-release." -Wikipedia

Defender was a favorite arcade game of mine, so I was excited to see the sequel when it made it to our arcade. It looks a lot like the original, and even though the Wikipedia article said that none of the ones released in the arcade carried the Defender II name, I could've sworn that's what ours was called. I trust the Wikipedia gurus though, and take them at their word...but still feel like I've seen Defender II in the arcade. I did have it on Atari 2600 too, so maybe that's why I'm confusing it. Regardless, it was every bit as exciting and fast paced as the original.

#28 - Venture

"The goal of Venture is to collect treasure from a dungeon. The player, named Winky, is equipped with a bow and arrow and explores a dungeon with rooms and hallways. The hallways are patrolled by large, tentacled monsters (the "Hallmonsters", according to Exidy) who cannot be injured, killed, or stopped in any way. Once in a room, the player may kill monsters, avoid traps and gather treasures. If they stay in any room too long, a Hallmonster will enter the room, chase and kill them. In this way, the Hallmonsters serve the same role as "Evil Otto" in the arcade game Berzerk. The more quickly the player finishes each level, the higher their score." -Wikipedia

Hmm...not ringing a bell and the screen shots I'm looking at look somewhat familiar but not conclusively enough to say yes or no for sure...which means, I'll have to research this one a bit further and try and find a place online to play it. Looks like I'm in for a real treat with this one...a lot like, uh...Adventure was. Sigh.

#29 - Ms. Pac-Man

"Ms. Pac-Man is an arcade video game produced by Illinois-based Midway Manufacturing corporation. It was released one year after the company's Pac-Man arcade game. Ms. Pac-Man was released in North America in 1982 and became one of the most popular video games of all time, leading to its adoption by Pac-Man licensor Namco as an official title. The game introduced a female protagonist, new maze designs, and several other gameplay changes over the original game. It became the most successful American-produced arcade game, selling 115,000 arcade cabinets. The gameplay of Ms. Pac-Man is largely identical to that of the original Pac-Man. The player gathers points by eating dots and avoiding ghosts (contact with one loses a life). Energizers, or power-pellets, change the ghosts, which reverse their course and they can be eaten for extra points. Fruit bonuses can be consumed for increasing point values, twice per level. As the levels increase, the speed increases, and energizers generally change the ghost for less time." -Wikipedia

If ever there was a blatant knock off of an already successful game, it was Ms. Pac-Man. I suppose though, the company that owned the original can create a sequel to try and continue profiting off of the game and it not be considered a knock off, but Ms. Pac-Man is not much different than the original, save for that cute little bow in her...um...hair? Of course I played it. Anybody alive during that time played it. The funny thing is, a few years ago I was temporarily assigned to this special project down in Tennessee and was there for a month living out of a hotel room...which meant we (others that where there with me) had to do our laundry at a local Laundromat...and this particular Laundromat had...yup, you guessed it...a classic Ms. Pac-Man standup arcade game. So, not only did I play it back then, I've played it a time or two since then.

#30 - Frogger

"Frogger is an arcade game introduced in 1981. It was developed by Konami, and licensed for worldwide distribution by Sega/Gremlin. The object of the game is to direct frogs to their homes one by one. To do this, each frog must avoid cars while crossing a busy road and navigate a river full of hazards. Skillful players may obtain some bonuses along the way. The game is regarded as a classic from the golden age of video arcade games and was noted for its novel gameplay and theme. It was also an early example of a game using more than one CPU, as it used two Z80 processors. Frogger is still popular and versions can be found on many Internet game sites. By 2005, Frogger had sold 20 million copies worldwide, including 5 million in the United States." -Wikipedia

When a game is featured on a hit TV show like Seinfeld and actually incorporated into the script (George was trying to cross the street to the sound of the Frogger theme song), you know it's an icon. And that is exactly what happened with this game. This is one of those games I loved dearly even though I wasn't so good at it. I admit I don't have the quickest reflexes, which were an important trait to possess when playing this game, but I still thoroughly enjoyed every quarter I spent on it. I had it for Atari 2600 too, but it was nowhere near as good as the arcade version. When I think of classic arcade games, of course the Donkey Kong's and the Pac-Man's are up there, but Frogger is only a step or two behind them.

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 another week where there was only one game I haven't played, and one I want to play again just for the fun of it.

This week's homework assignment: Scramble and Venture.

Until next week - happy gaming.