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)

Episode 7: 31 - 35 (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 was a brutal week with four of the five games requiring further exploration as I either couldn't definitively say whether I played them or not, and some I knew for sure that I hadn't played. I'm happy to report after some exhaustive searching, I found them and managed to play all of them, which means after 35 games into this endeavor, I've played them all.

#31 - Gorf

Now that I've played this game, I vaguely recall playing it in the arcade. It is really just a Space Invaders knock off that changes the bad guys just a bit. The interesting thing about this game is the firing mechanism. If you fire a single bullet it will travel up the screen the full distance, but if you click the fire button again, your previously fired bullet disappears. This means each shot has to count and you can't simply use rapid fire to try and eliminate the bad guys. A little trivia for you - GORF stands for Galactic Orbiting Robot Force. You can play it here if you want.

#32 - Ultima I

Well, so far this has been the hardest game to get up and running, but after a little tinkering I managed to get it to work. Finding the game wasn't that difficult, but it did require downloading and running DOSBox - a DOS emulator. After that, I had to dust off my old DOS command prompt skills, but finally got the game running...as you can see by this character generation screen with my Saint character. I played the game for a bit...it's really kind of cool and I might actually play it more in the future. It reminds me a lot of some others I've played, like Part III and IV.

#33 - Gravitar

I don't recall ever playing this game in the arcade, but it is a ton of fun. It is very much inspired by the original Asteroids, but actually improves the gameplay found in that classic game. The original Asteroids was primarily black and white, but Gravitar adds color. It also fills the map with other items including planets, which if you run into actually shifts to a view that shows you a side view of the landscape with ground targets for you to shoot at. So, think Asteroids, only better. If you want to give it a shot, you can play it here.

#35 - The Hobbit

I didn't know if I was going to be able to find this game online. Not just because it's old (1982) but because The Hobbit is quite popular, especially with the recent release of the movie and the fact there has been another game released with the same name. Surprisingly, I found a version of it online.  It's kind of like Zork in that you type in various commands like "Talk To Gandalf" or the direction you want to go, but unlike Zork, this game isn't entirely text - it has some graphical representation to it. Oh and a word of advice, don't talk to the vicious troll. I didn't play it all of the way through, but I did play it for about 30 minutes. It's amazing how many of the elements from the book make it into the game. You can play it here if you want to experience this, um...masterpiece? Heh Heh.

And now, the next round of games from this week...

#36 - Choplifter

"Choplifter is a 1982 Apple II game developed by Dan Gorlin and published by Brøderbund. While many arcade games have been ported to home computers and consumer consoles, Choplifter was one of the few games (Lode Runner is another) to take the reverse route: first appearing on a home system and being ported to the arcade. In Choplifter, the player assumes the role of a combat helicopter pilot. The player attempts to save hostages being held in prisoner of war camps in territory ruled by the evil Bungeling Empire. The player must collect the hostages and transport them safely to the nearby friendly base, all the while fighting off hostile tanks and other enemy combatants. According to the backstory, the helicopter parts were smuggled into the country described as "mail sorting equipment." -Wikipedia

I didn't just play Choplifter, I absolutely loved Choplifter. I know many of you don't share in my enthusiasm, because this game was featured in one of my "Guess That Game" blogs and the majority to those who responded admitted they never even heard of the game. If you've followed me for any length of time, you may have read as a kid I always dreamed of being a helicopter pilot, so this game always had a special place in my heart. There was nothing like coming under enemy fire, swooping down to make a hard landing...with your skids barely dragging the ground and you're waiting for hostages to board before zooming off to deliver them to the safe landing zone. Yeah...I've played this game. A lot. It's where I first learned to fly helos...

#37 - Robotron 2084

"Robotron: 2084 (also referred to as Robotron) is an arcade video game developed by Vid Kidz and released by Williams Electronics in 1982. It is a shooting game that features two-dimensional (2D) graphics. The game is set in the year 2084, in a fictional world where robots have turned against humans. The aim is to defeat endless waves of robots, rescue surviving humans, and earn as many points as possible. A two joystick control scheme was developed to provide the player with more precise controls, and enemies with different behaviors were added to make the game challenging. Jarvis and DeMar designed the game to instill panic in players by presenting them with conflicting goals and having on-screen projectiles coming from multiple directions." -Wikipedia

I remember playing this game at the height the arcade era, and always thought it was kind of a weird game. Instead of having a traditional fire button...this game employed two joysticks - one that controlled your player's movement, and the other controlling the direction you shoot. If you want to fire to the right, you push that joystick to the right. And if you want to fire diagonal or all around you, then you move the joystick in all those different directions. It works, but it's kind of contrary to what we're used it. Besides that, the graphics were kind of basic...but it was still a lot of fun to play.

#38 - Dig Dug

"Dig Dug is an arcade game developed and published by Namco in Japan in 1982 for Namco Galaga hardware. It was later published outside of Japan by Atari. A popular game based on a simple concept, it was also released as a video game on many consoles. The objective of Dig Dug is to eliminate underground-dwelling monsters by inflating them until they pop, or by dropping rocks on them. There are two kinds of enemies in the game: Pookas, round red monsters (said to be modeled after tomatoes) who wear yellow goggles, and Fygars, green dragons who can breathe fire. The player's character is Dig Dug, dressed in white and blue, and able to dig tunnels through destructible environments. Dig Dug is killed if he is caught by either Pooka or Fygar, burned by a Fygar's fire, or crushed by a rock." -Wikipedia

This will be one of those games that I bet most people have heard of and played. I played it in the arcade back in the day, but I also have it and play it on Xbox Live Arcade. It has a cute and very distinguishable audio jingle to it. I guess the thing I think about most with this game is how morbid it is if you really break it down - inflating bad guys until they burst. Dig Dug is just below the likes of Donkey Kong and Pac-Man but it certainly has a place in pop culture...you can find all sorts of mentions of it including cameo appearances in the X-Files, Wreck It Ralph, and Robot Chicken as well as a number of other games like Ridge Racer and Mario Kart Arcade GP. Everybody loves Dig Dug, right?

#39 - Miner 2049er

"Miner 2049er is a platform video game created by Bill Hogue that was released in 1982 by Big Five Software. The game was licensed in conjunction with International Computer Group (ICG). At the time of its release, Miner 2049'er was notable for having ten different screens, which was a large number for a platform game. By way of comparison, Donkey Kong had four screens, and most of the home versions had only three. The title 'Miner 2049er' is a play on the nickname 'Miner 49er' given to those who flocked to California during the gold rush of the mid-19th century. As Bounty Bob, the player's goal is to inspect every section of each mine in search of the evil Yukon Yohan while avoiding the various radioactive creatures that inhabit the mine. As Bounty Bob walks over a section of flooring, it fills with color. To complete the level, every section of flooring must be colored. There are ten mines in total (eleven in the ColecoVision port). Each level is timed and must be completed before the player runs out of oxygen." -Wikipedia

I played this game on the Commodore 64, which wasn't necessarily the best system to play it on. The first thing you'll notice is this game looks glaringly similar to Donkey Kong, but this game apparently had many more screens. But alas, Donkey Kong would go on to become one of the crown jewels of the arcade, and Miner 2049er...did not. Some will likely remember it, but most have probably never heard of it. I didn't like it near as much as Donkey Kong, but then again, I played it on the Commodore 64.

#40 - Moon Patrol

"Moon Patrol is an arcade game by Irem that was first released in 1982. It was licensed to Williams for distribution in North America. The player controls a moon buggy, viewing it from the side, that travels over the moon's surface. While driving it, obstacles such as craters and mines must be avoided. The buggy is also attacked by UFOs from above and tanks on the ground. Moon Patrol was one of the earliest side-scrolling shooters and is credited for the introduction of parallax scrolling in side-scrolling video games. The player takes the role of a Luna City police officer assigned to Sector Nine, the home of the toughest thugs in the galaxy. The top portion of the screen shows a timeline-style map of the current course, and three indicator lights. The top light indicates upcoming enemy aerial attacks, the middle one indicates an upcoming minefield, and the bottom one indicates enemies approaching from behind." -Wikipedia

Ah, another of the great but somewhat obscure arcade games from the 80s. I enjoyed the game a lot, but it was difficult. You slumber along in this vehicle and you have to jump over obstacles while shooting all of the interference in the sky and ground - UFOs and tanks. If I'm not mistaken, this used kind of a weird controller scheme too - instead of having a jump button, you pushed up on your joystick and it would cause your rover to jump. So yes, I've played it...but I certainly didn't set any high score records on it. It was fun though.

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 if I'm not mistaken this was the first week where I don't have any homework to do - woo hoo!

This week's homework assignment: NONE.

Until next week - happy gaming.