Another Sunday means another episode of 1001 Video Games You Must Play Before You Die, the (hopefully) weekly series where I play through all of the games listed in the book - 1001 Video Games You Must Play Before You Die. If I played the game before, then I will share my memory of the experience. If I haven't played the game before, then I find an online version or an emulator and I play the game (for at least 30 minutes). This is a book every gamer should have in their library, and if you're interested in purchasing it, you can find it here.

Last week I covered Spy Hunter. I didn't need to play it because I've played it a lot growing up - both in the arcades and several of the ports. It is/was a great game and I absolutely concur with it being included on this list. It was a ton of fun and I have quite a few fond memories of the game. But this week, this week's game is unfamiliar to me. It's a little game from the 80s called...

Crystal Castles

Crystal Castles is an arcade game released by Atari, Inc. in 1983. The player controls a cartoon bear by the name of Bentley Bear, who has to collect gems located throughout trimetric-projected rendered castles while avoiding enemies out to get him as well as the gems. Crystal Castles is notable for being one of the first arcade action games with an actual ending, whereas most games of the time either continued indefinitely, ended in what was termed a "kill screen" or simply just restarted from the first level, and to contain advance warp zones.

Crystal Castles has nine levels with four castles each, and a tenth level which features a single castle - the clearing of which ends the game. Each of the 37 trimetric-projected castles consists of a maze of hallways filled with gems and bonus objects, and also includes stairs, elevators and tunnels that the player can use as shortcuts. The three-letter initials of the player with the highest score are used to form the first level's castle structure. When all gems in a castle have been collected, the player moves on to the next castle. The player can also skip some castles and acquire additional lives and points by using secret warps activated by making Bentley Bear jump at special locations. (SOURCE: Wikipedia)

Crystal Castles.

Bentley Bear.

Heard of it? Yeah, me neither.

I suppose that means I need to find a place to play it.

Vizzed comes through again. You can play it here if you're interested.

The game is actually not all that bad. I mean, don't get me is an old game from the 80s. But it does exhibit all of the qualities you'd expect from a game from the 80s. It has a catchy audio track and sound effects. I thought a few of them sounded oddly familiar, although I couldn't put my finger on exactly which games. Maybe Popeye, but also a hint of Mario. I guess technically this game was released prior to them (I think), so who borrowed from who - hard to say. The game kind of plays like Pac-Man in that instead of eating dots you're collecting crystals. Bentley Bear looks nothing like a bear to me, and I also noticed when you run into a bad guy he cusses sort of like Q-Bert does.

Perhaps I should have heard of this game...apparently it has been ported to all sorts of newer platforms including but not limited to the Xbox and Xbox 360. This Bentley Bear even had a cameo appearance in Wreck-It Ralph, though if I saw him I doubt I would've recognized him. Perhaps I should watch it again to see if I would (or I could just look it up in the Wreck-It Ralph Wiki - here).

So, the game is known for being one of the first to have an actual ending...but it was also one of the first to use a Leta chip, a custom trackball controller chip designed by Scott Fuller.

Another interesting fact - Bentley Bear's original name was 'Braveheart Bear' in the prototype.

(Bentley Bear as seen in Wreck-It Ralph)

Anyway..I played the game. I'm certainly not going to try and finish the game since that is one of its features, but I will say...for an old game it's fun to play and has some interesting level designs. It definitely seems like a game to at least be familiar with. And now I am.

I'm not sure what game is up next week, so be sure to check back and see if it is something you've played or not. Until then, enjoy the rest of your weekend and have a great week.

Hope you all had a wonderful weekend (and Happy Star Wars Day - May the Fourth / Force be with you).


Previous Episodes:

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)

Episode 8: 36 - 40 (here)

Episode 41 (here)

Episode 42 (here)

Episode 43 (here)

Episode 44 (here)

Episode 45 (here)

Episode 46 (here)

Episode 47 (here)

Episode 48 (here)

Episode 49 (here)

Episode 50 (here)

Episode 51 (here)

Episode 52 (here)

Episode 53 (here)

Episode 54 (here)

Episode 55 (here)

Episode 56 (here)

Episode 57 (here)