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Another Sunday means another episode of 1001 Video Games You
Must Play Before You Die, the (hopefully) weekly series where I play
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
experience. If I haven't played the game before, then I find an online
or an emulator and I play the game (for at least 30 minutes). This is a
every gamer should have in their library, and if you're interested in
purchasing it, you can find it here.
The last two weeks have been great weeks, with Kung-Fu Master
being featured last week. It was a game considered to be one of the first
fighting games and despite a relatively cheesy plot and a pair of quirky
characters, I still enjoyed the game and so did a lot of other gamers from the
time. Clearly, I mean it was featured in the book after all. Not that that is
necessarily a sign of a great game, heh heh. But you know what I mean. Speaking
of the book though, it's time for another episode and I'm curious to see what's
in store for me (or us) this week. Alright, the anticipation is killing me.
I can't wait any longer. Let's find out. It's none other than...
Deus Ex Machina
Deus Ex Machina was a
computer game designed and created by Mel Croucher and published by Automata UK
for the ZX Spectrum in October 1984 and later converted to other popular 8-bit
The game was the first
to be accompanied by a fully synchronized soundtrack which featured narration,
celebrity artists and music. The cast included Ian Dury, Jon Pertwee, Donna
Bailey, Frankie Howerd, E.P. Thompson, and Mel Croucher (who also composed the
music). Andrew Stagg coded the original Spectrum version, and Colin Jones
(later known as author/publisher Colin Bradshaw-Jones) was the programmer of
the Commodore 64 version.
The game charts the
life of a "defect" which has formed in "the machine", from
conception, through growth, evolution and eventually death. The progression is
loosely based on "The Seven Ages of Man" from the Shakespeare play,
As You Like It and includes many quotations and parodies of this.
acclaim at the time, the game did not conform to conventions of packaging and
pricing required by distributors and retailers and the game was sold mail-order
only direct to the public. It was heavily pirated and subsequently gained cult
status as an underground art game.
Whoa, wait...what? The Deus Ex developed by Ion Storm I played
in 2000 wasn't the first game in the series? There was another Deus Ex released
when? Really, 1984? I had no idea. Okay...I am intrigued. Adding to the intrigue
is the fact I also just read all the different times the term Deus Ex Machina
shows up in other mediums - music, television and film, literature, and of
I didn't know it translates to...
Deus ex machina from
Latin, meaning "god from the machine" is a plot device whereby a
seemingly unsolvable problem is suddenly and abruptly resolved by the contrived
and unexpected intervention of some new event, character, ability or object.
Depending on how it is done, it can be intended to move the story forward when
the writer has "painted himself into a corner" and sees no other way
out, to surprise the audience, to bring the tale to a happy ending, or as a
Let's see if I can find a place to play this game, because I
am pretty shocked there was an earlier Deus Ex than what I knew about.
Finding a place to play the game wasn't all that hard, but I
was never really quite sure what to do. The World of Spectrum website had the
game and plenty of information about it, including copies of all the
advertisements and instances it was mentioned in old gaming magazines which I
thought was pretty cool. I read the manual which included a lot about the story
- a bizarre story indeed. But the instructions never really explained what to
do so I just let the emulator play out for a bit...and yeah, still never really figured
out what to do. From what I can gather this game was more about the story than
actual gameplay. The story writing is quite interesting.
In the end though, I don't recommend you try this. I wouldn't
say it was a complete waste of time but maybe it was because I was playing an
online emulated version. Perhaps playing it back in 1984 was the key and the
magic of this game is lost on those of us who never experienced it in its prime.
This might be the worst game I've endured so far, or at least the first time I
wasn't able to truly play a game from the past and appreciate something worthwhile out of the experience. But as I say that, I've watched
a YouTube video of the game being played and
it was pretty much exactly what I experienced, so maybe I did. Maybe I just didn't get
it. The good news is we have some newer Deus Ex games that are really good
games and still available today. On that note...
Let's hope next week is something better. Or at least playable.
Hope you all have/had a wonderful weekend.
Episode 65 (here)
Episode 66 (here)
Episode 67 (here)
Episode 68 (here)
Episode 69 (here)
Episode 70 (here)
Episode 71 (here)