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.

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 formats.

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.

Despite critical 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. (SOURCE: Wikipedia)

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 games.

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 comedic device.

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)