Here are the reference notes I made for the games released in 1984.
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Early, clunky vertical shooter. Classic, but not the best.
Crappy game made up of a series of puzzles.
Just what it says
Gun is too slow for large numbers of enemies
A Mahjong game. That’s all. Oh, it was Nintendo’s 2nd Mahjong game. That’s all.
WWII bomber simulator. Realistic, but dull.
Graphical text adventure that tests reflexes as well as wit.
Souped-up version of Time Pilot. Still not as good as the dogfight stages from Crash Bandicoot.
Inspired by Pinball Construction set and went on to inspire Elder Scrolls Con. Set. Orson Scott Card criticized Adventure Construction Set‘s user interface, stating that it “was designed by the Kludge Monster from the Nethermost Hell”. He praised the game’s flexibility, however, reporting that his son was able to create a spell called “Summon Duck”
Educational game. A giant mutated television set known as the “Fuzzbomb” has begun infecting cities across America and turning people into walking balls of TV static. The player controls a secret agent assigned to defeat the Fuzzbomb and rescue fuzzed people.
Space invaders clone. Rarest 2600 game ever made.
Stealth game for ZX Spectrum. Metal Gear, this ain’t. Used isometric view similar to Mother.
Text adventure written by Michael Chrighton, but programmed by a sadist.
One of the first RTSs. 3 out of 5 stars. Research to review.
Couldn’t play it, but whatever.
Action adventure game
Boring game hacked together as the company was dying.
Moon Patrol clone. Bright and colorful.
Laserdisc game taking place in Wild West. For the time, the premise was very dark.
Hex-based strategy game with typical Apple //e graphics
Very cool shooting gallery-type game.
Hollow and pointless computer game made by Epyx, the “Thinking man’s company.”
Crappy version of Spy Hunter
More robust shooter than 1942, but still comes up short
Moon patrol clone with great music and annoying, incessant sound effects.
Move blocks to crush enemies. All with ASCII!
Spaceship battle simulator
Very clunky adventure platformer with beautiful graphics and a nice world but arrgh!
Clunky Platformer with a “Castlevania” attitude toward stairs.
Sequel to Wolfenstein. Completely uninteresting.
Arcade Golf game. Whatever.
Manage a rock band! Die of heroin poisoning or something, I don’t know!
One of the first Japanese RPGs. Helped introduce genre to Japan.
Have to collect all items like Pac-Man, but with a timer. Way too floaty.
Very similar to a game from 1983, though for the life of me I can’t remember which one.
Clone of a Game & Watch game
Sequel to Miner 2049er
Way too easy at first, then difficulty spikes with inconsistent control.
Musical training game, similar to Brain Training for DS
Like Space Channel 5, but quite primitive, being the first of its kind
Build bridges to get a character across. Not to be confused with the NVidia demo of the same name.
Very clunky early beat-em-up.
Strategy game updated until 2007
ASCII art adventure game where you navigate with arrow keys instead of typing n s e w.
Primitive fighting game with 2d profile perspective
Shooting gallery which takes place in Wild West
Beat-em-up game where you walk up instead of to the right.
Robot programming simulator. Not as good as Robot Odyssey.
Six stages of performing under the big top. Fun idea but man is it hard.
Unique controls. Gold ingots look just like Rupees from Legend of Zelda.
Roguelike with CRPG elements. Too simple to warrant play today.
Star fox game, but very complicated.
A Chess game.
Charming little arcade-like game with catchy music (oft ripped-off by others)
Game where you have to write code that fights against other code to take over a computer.
“Unplayable, and soon to be pointless.” –CRASH.
Graphical text adventure
Good Infocom game
Berzerk mixed with Robotron 2084.
Popular sports game
Game based on TV show Dallas
Combat flight simulator. Not realistic enough.
Game of various stunts like Circus Charlie, but with bad controls.
Nintendo game that is more significant than it is good.
Fourth and final Mr. Do game
Weird top-down shooter where you have to collect parts for a bomb while shooting dudes.
Educational puzzle game for Colecovision
As the first in its series, it’s outdated. Early Action RPG.
Architecture/design sim where you build & test a house.
Playing as a drug dealer, you have to sell the most and pay off the loan shark.
You know ducks, those birds that float on top of water? You have to save them from drowning.
You have to restore power in buildings across the country after an earthquake.
Extremely influential space-trading game. Eventually outdone by Space Rogue
Standard Level 9 adventure
One of the first graphic adventure games.
Sidescrolling adventure through Egyptian tombs.
Pretty cool graphical text adventure
Adventure game with a cool contest story.
Very simplistic game with little staying power.
Early racer. Woo hoo
Read the book instead.
Perfectly average shmup
Multiplayer online text adventure or some crap like that.
Laserdisc game based on the Clint Eastwood film.
Sega arcade game that gets boring after a couple levels.
Ugg. No thank you. The instructions for the game say “the controls are many, and the survivors few.”
Horizontal scrolling shooter with cool transforming prot. But with lousy game design
Sidescroller where you play as Trogg the caveman
Lode Runner clone
Qix clone whose title screen theme is Air on the G String
More is not always better.
Mr. Do clone
Shoot ‘em up
Upgrade to Galaga formula.
Edutainment game for children, but required adult help.
Tries to be Manic Miner but fails.
“Long in the technical merit, short on excitement.”
Game where girl has to pick flowers to make a bouquet for her love interest.
Good golf game, one of the more famous early NES games.
From the creator of Football Manager. Boring and unimpressive.
Very disappointing game. Hyped then panned. “The player can just watch events unfold, joining in as much or as little as he wishes.” The objective is “to deliver, to the space stations as much Natof as the player can, as fast as he can.” The game will play itself if left alone — indeed the computer generally makes a better player than a human does — although that rather defeats the point of the game.”
Fencing game with very smooth animations and digitized voice.
Perfectly unremarkable multi-directional shooter.
Awful controls ruin what would be a decent game.
Rough draft of what would eventually become Diablo
Can be thought of as a vertical Pitfall.
Made for the express purpose of holding a contest. Split into two parts to sell more copies.
“Sinclair User found the game similarly ‘unfair’ with ‘unspeakably bad’ graphics but said it had some ‘neat twists’ awarding an overall score of 2/5.”
Yet another Olympics game
Old West shooter that gets boring after a while. Also, how many bad guys can one town have?
Adventure game that hates you.
Boring and basic light gun game for NES
Mow grass. Inexplicably has multi-colored fields reminiscent of Holland’s tulip fields.
First game to have regenerating health. Unfortunately, it sucks big-time.
Sequel to Konami’s Track & Field. Another Olympics game. Geez, when will 1984 be over?
Bizarre, surreal game with isometric view. Weird.
Too simple and repetitive
Early civilization game. Essentially computerized version of Civilization board game.
“It seems unlikely that any Spectrum owner will find it fun for more than a few minutes to play this repetitive, text-only adventure, which is filled with the programmer’s inane humour.”
Escape a NASA station!
Almost as good as the original. Chief complaint is that after you die Willy is often set in the same place, which might result in a second death right away.
West German simulation strategy game.
Very simple early fighting game.
Very cool idea (rhythm-based brawler) but too repetitive
ZX Speccy text adventure where you snatch the throne.
Based on Jet Set Willy.
First side-scrolling beat-em-up.
Uses a hotel as a central hub of sorts. Inside each of the 15 rooms is a mini-game.
Clone of Super Locomotive by Sega, 1982
Clone of Logger
Strategy/adventure game like cross between King’s Quest and XCOM.
Climb a tree and kill people.
Like Balloon Fight, but preceded it. Kickin’ music.
Computer football game
Baseball game. Whaddaya want?
I don’t even… Soundtrack is pretty cool though. It’s an 8 bit version of Hard Day’s Night
Overly simple programming/marketing simulator.
Mr. Do’s third game. Didn’t originally contain Mr. Do; he was added later for brand recognition.
Not worth the silicon it was printed on.
Slow and boring.
Neat little platform game with lots of colors.
Really primitive MCS.
Contest game. You have to guess the name of movie stars based on clues.
Survive in NYC for seven days. If you can make it there, there’s a good chance you can make it in several other cities too.
Another Strategic Simulations, Inc. game.
Unlock squares by walking around them and leaving footprints
Tennis game. Yay.
Ultima clone of sorts
Simple Pole Position clone
Hold right to win.
“You may not like the news, but you have to admire the man who delivers it.”
Boring game about cleaning up national park
Just like the flower game by Rockstar
Based on Pengo
Also based on Pengo
Best Atari 2600 game (maybe).
Split-level NES pinball game. One of the best of its era.
First 3d racing game to have split screen.
Educational game meant to teach children various verbs.
Weird game where you have to build a nest and poop on cars to make them explode.
Highly accurate predictor, but primitive interface.
Escape weird world and avoid the deadly kiss of Miss Pud Pud.
Contest puzzle game.
Fun and unique adventure game where you explore your house while sleeping to find the key to wind up your alarm clock so you wake up on time.
Ultima clone that tried to make the RPG simple two years before Dragon Quest. So similar that Garriot sued.
Clunky zombie game. In co-op mode you could trap your partner and get him killed (maybe on purpose)
Read the book instead.
Surreal horizontal side-scroller
Realistic racing simulator
One of the hardest computer games ever. Program three robots to escape.
Lock platforms into place. Not quite enough variety to be great.
Pinball game for MSX
Nearly the definition of failed potential.
One of the few games that’s more fun to watch than play. Saucers shoot beams of energy at the White House until it explodes.
Survival simulator as an animal. Controls are difficult to remember.
“Junior” text adventure for children, by Infocom
Combat racing game of sorts. Frustrating nuclear-powered bumper cars.
Controls are difficult and fun is minimal.
Surreal horizontal shooter with two centers of gravity, bottom & top of screen.
Manic Miner clone
Extremely well-optimized for 1984 hardware. First-person perspective and fast action.
2D platformer starring Snoopy, but having no other relation to the comic. No WWI ace, etc.
Forced side-scrolling platformer/shooter. Weird and uncomfortable controls.
Sopwith was created to demonstrate the “Imaginet” proprietary networking system developed by BMB Compuscience.
Could be great, but there’s a very long dead-end that’s easy to fall into.
Really cool premise, but gameplay is confusing and you can accidentally trigger your own traps.
Vertical scrolling shooter with levels divided into letters of alphabet. To go to next level you have to shoot the letter at the end.
Laserdisc game that features a cameo by the protagonist of Sinistar.
Isometric shooter where you race on moon of Endor and avoid trees.
Similar to Gran Trak 10. Primitive, but fun
Like Stock Car.
Mouse-based strategy game. To build a tank takes 4 days, most other units more than 9.
Very basic Olympic gameplay
Quite appropriate that this game was made by FTL Games, because it’s the 1984 version of FTL.
Based on the book, this entire game is one Big-Lipped Alligator Moment
Not as bad as the original
Manic Miner clone
One of the launch titles for the NES. Just a tennis game. No Mario.
No introduction is necessary.
Annoying robot voice and mediocre animation.
Starring bartender of Tapper, this time he’s a lumberjack.
8-direction shooter just like the original
Clone of 1982 game Check Man. Each step taken plays one note from Fur Elise.
Adventure game where the object is to save a race from extinction.
Have to hit targets low to the ground while avoiding low obstacles.
60 mazes, 60 floors, 60 keys, 60 doors. Just don’t.
Inspired by Hunt the Wumpus and went on to inspire Ultima Online.
Very nice graphics for the Spectrum. Empty the trash quickly.
Stands out from other “belts and ladders” games by introducing trampolines.
Fighting game for NES, which was tedious and boring.
More like Voyage into the Bargain Bin, am I right?
Vertical shooter where the playfield is wider than the screen. Fight aliens overlooking moon craters.
The inclusion of Arthur Scargill, the leader of the miners during their strike in 1984, gave the game a degree of notoriety from the get go. It was even featured on ITV’s News At 10 programme.
Excruciatingly slow pace ruined this.
Quite ahead of its time and did a lot despite technical limitations. That voice, tho
Clone of Halls of the Things
Wild West game where you have to prove your innocence by turning in the murderer.
Climb pipes while avoiding sparks. Shut down switches to cut power. Yay.
Maze game with endearing graphics but tiring chase sequences.
Sequel to Ant Attack