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)

Episode 6: 26 - 30 (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 hadn't played (or had no recollection of playing). I'm happy to report after some exhaustive searching I found both and managed to play them.

#26 - Scramble

I said in last week's episode this game sounded familiar and I thought I had played it, but wanted to at least revisit it to be sure. Well it turns out I have played it before. There are several games like this, even some newer versions. But I played the old school version and you can to as there are several places online including this one.

#28 - Venture

This game took me a long time to find and I finally had to result to downloading a MAME emulator and a ROM to play it. The game is described as "like Gauntlet", and I suppose it kind of is, in a very crude and rudimentary sense. You're a dot navigating around a map and when you enter a room, you look like a smiley face with an arrow. You see skeletons and snakes and other nasties.  I played it for a short time. I don't know how long it would take to finish the game, or if you could finish it...but I can at least say I've played it. You can find the ROM online.

Having played both of these titles now, I can say that I have played the first 30 games now. Let's see how I fair with the next five. I've peeked ahead, and I have to say...this is going to be a rough week. I think I've only played one or two of these games.

#31 - Gorf

"Gorf is an arcade game released in 1981 by Midway Mfg., whose name was advertised as an acronym for "Galactic Orbiting Robot Force". It is a multiple-mission fixed shooter with five distinct modes of play, essentially making it five games in one. It is well known for its use of synthesized speech, a new feature at the time. The player controls a spaceship that can move left, right, up and down around the lower third of the screen. The ship can fire a single shot (called a "quark laser" in this game), which travels vertically up the screen. Unlike similar games, where the player cannot fire again until his existing shot has disappeared, the player can choose to fire another shot at any time; if the previous shot is still on screen, it disappears." -Wikipedia

I actually think I have played this game, but I might be confusing it with similar games like it. It is clearly a Space Invaders clone, with a few new features. The name and gameplay sound familiar, but since I am not 100% certain, I will investigate it further just so I can remove all doubts.

#32 - Ultima I

"Ultima, later known as Ultima I: The First Age of Darkness or simply Ultima I, is the first game in the Ultima series of role-playing video games. It was first published in the United States by California Pacific Computer Company, which registered a copyright for the game on September 2, 1980 and officially released it in June 1981. Since its release, the game has been completely re-coded and ported to many different platforms. The 1986 re-code of Ultima is the most commonly known and available version of the game. Ultima revolves around a quest to find and destroy the Gem of Immortality, which is being used by the evil wizard Mondain to enslave the lands of Sosaria. With the gem in his possession, he cannot be killed, and his minions roam and terrorize the countryside. The player takes on the role of 'The Stranger', an individual summoned from another world to end the rule of Mondain. The game follows the endeavors of the stranger in this task, which involves progressing through many aspects of game play, including dungeon crawling and space travel." -Wikipedia

I've played several of the Ultima games, but the first I remember playing was Part III, Exodus. The one I played the most was IV, Quest of the Avatar. But I have not played Ultima I. I'm actually kind of excited about this one, as I am a big fan of Richard Garriott aka Lord British.

#33 - Gravitar

"Gravitar is a shoot 'em up arcade game released by Atari, Inc in 1982. In the game, the player controls a small blue spacecraft. The game starts in a fictional solar system with several planets to explore. If the player moves his ship into a planet, he will be taken to a side-view landscape. Unlike many other shooting games, gravity plays a fair part in Gravitar: the ship will be pulled slowly to the deadly star in the overworld, and downward in the side-view levels. The player has five buttons: two to rotate the ship left or right, one to shoot, one to activate the thruster, and one for both a tractor beam and force field. Gravitar, Asteroids, Asteroids Deluxe and Space Duel all used similar 5-button controlling system." -Wikipedia

I've certainly played a ton of shoot 'em up arcade games from the 80s, but I do not recall this one. The name and the screen shots do not invoke any sort of familiarity, and the only thing I can think is the arcades I frequented never got the game. You know what that means...more homework.

#34 - Joust

"Joust is an arcade game developed by Williams Electronics and released in 1982. It is a platform game that features two-dimensional (2D) graphics. The player uses a button and joystick to control a knight riding a flying ostrich. The object is to progress through levels by defeating groups of enemy knights riding buzzards. John Newcomer led the development team, which included Bill Pfutzenrueter, Jan Hendricks, Python Anghelo, Tim Murphy, and John Kotlarik. Newcomer aimed to create a flying game with co-operative two-player gameplay, but wanted to avoid a space theme, which was popular at the time. Staff worked within the technical limitations of the hardware (originally developed two years earlier for Williams' first game, Defender), excluding concepts and optimizing the visuals. The game was well received in arcades and by critics, who praised the gameplay. The gameplay mechanics influenced titles by other developers. Joust was followed by a sequel three years later, and was ported to numerous home and portable platforms." -Wikipedia

Finally! I was getting nervous I wasn't going to have played any of the games featured this week. Sheesh. But I have played Joust on numerous occasions. It was brutally challenging if you ask me. So, it's like jousting from medieval times, only you are on a large bird that looks like an ostrich, only these can fly.  And the bad guys are on buzzards. The goal is to hit (or joust) the other players riding on their own birds. If you got a successful hit, the bird would drop an egg and you would have to swoop down and get it before the egg hatches another rider that climbs aboard another bird. As silly as it might sound, my favorite part of the game was when you flew too low to the lava, this hand would reach up and grab your ostrich by the legs - if you were quick enough at tapping the fly button, you could actually get free...but more times than not, I'd get pulled into the lava.

#35 - The Hobbit

"The Hobbit is a computer game released in 1982 and based on the book The Hobbit, by J. R. R. Tolkien. It was developed at Beam Software by Philip Mitchell and Veronika Megler and published by Melbourne House for most home computers available at the time, from more popular models such as the ZX Spectrum, the Commodore 64, Amstrad CPC 464, BBC Micro, MSX, Dragon 32 and Oric. By arrangement with the book publishers, a copy of the book was included with each game sold. The parser was very advanced for the time and used a subset of English called Inglish. When it was released most adventure games used simple verb-noun parsers (allowing for simple phrases like 'get lamp'), but Inglish allowed one to type advanced sentences such as "ask Gandalf about the curious map then take sword and kill troll with it". The parser was complex and intuitive, introducing pronouns, adverbs ("viciously attack the goblin"), punctuation and prepositions and allowing the player to interact with the game world in ways not previously possible." -Wikipedia

Well, I've played The Hobbit from 2003, but unfortunately I haven't played the one from 1982. I have a feeling I know how it ends though, heh heh. I've looked at some screenshots of the game and it looks fairly basic. I guess I'll add it to my ever growing homework list and see if I can find it.

Crikey, it did turn out to be a rough week. With only five games being reviewed, there were several I hadn't played and one I wasn't sure about, so looks like I am going to have a busy week trying to find all of these games and play them. This week's homework assignment: Gorf, Ultima I, Gravitar, The Hobbit.

Until next week - happy gaming.