Video Game notes for 1987

1987 was a great year. Now I know why Strong Bad constantly refers to it.

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Another WW II shooter

Electronic board game/adventure game based on Sherlock Holmes

Created by Origin Systems, who should have just stuck with Ultima

Oft maligned as a ripoff of Space Harrier, this was a solid effort by Square

Clone of Marvin’s Maze

Cartoony football game by Bob Whitehead

Mediocre racing game

Quite average vertical shooter by Konami

Sequel to Tau Ceti. Features more worlds which behave differently depending on surroundings.

Satirical adventure game that unfortunately had repetitive action sequences

Big, dumb action game done by Virgin Interactive

Like Xevious, but not as good

Spiritual successor to Space Harrier. Meant to be much more realistic. Fly an F-16

I’m pretty sure this is the exact same game as its prequel.

A tasteless and shallow game best described thus: “I’m sick to death with crummy two-way scrolling shoot ’em ups – why do companies keep churning them out onto the market?”

Military fighter made by MicroProse

Not sure what to call this, but it’s interesting. Opening cutscene is totally cheesy in a good way.

A shooter with extremely limited distribution

Multiplayer jet-fighting game with high accuracy

The isometric view makes jumps and other delicate movements frustrating. Go figure, isometric perspective ruins another game.

The game that nobody asked for

No, wait. This is the game that nobody asked for.

Clone of Pac-Man, with a bit of E.T. thrown in for good measure

Eight-way scrolling shooter with mini-bosses

Famously unfinished game series that has achieved cult status

A poorly implemented sports sim

Cool game where you have to clear away bugs. Name taken from Utopia

Clone of Arkanoid with a lot more bricks

Top-down racing game. Nothing special to say about it

Early 4x game with ASCII representations of planets. If you like looking at spreadsheets, you’ll love this.

Better than its predecessor in every way, but leaves you wanting more.

Read the description. The premise is far darker than you would imagine such a game to be.

First-person shooter with hidden-line rendering

Pretty fun and novel game where you chase down criminals in your squad car. Includes tutorial level and story mode; unusual for an arcade game

Not much to say about this. Fly around and level up to 23

Better than first one but it’s still just fluff.

Space RPG with kickin’ title music. Random encounters are in first person and you have to aim turret around (imagine that one scene in the Falcon from Star Wars). Encounters depend on reflexes and aim instead of plodding turns.

Simultaneously rips off Temple of Doom and Roc ‘n Rope

Based on French comic book series. Bright colors and caricature-derived humor.

Not that astonishing, as it turns out

Fairly decent game where you have to refuel on the go and if you’re too slow or fall off your ATV, you’ll waste time and run out of fuel

Another game starring Monty, the mascot who refused to die. Blessed with the music of Rob Hubbard

Very slow-moving vertical beat-em-up

A labyrinth for SMS.

This game certainly is a bad street brawler. Where’s the good one?

Competitive cannonball game.

Fun action game with little staying power. Opens with very advanced (for the time) animation.

Trashy box art stirred up controversy and boosted game sales. Almost all outrage was over the box art instead of the violent gameplay.

Two-player baseball simulation

Not as good as Hardball. Behind-the-pitcher perspective makes it difficult to hit the ball

Featured Fernando Martin, the first Spaniard to play in the NBA

Manager game

Based on a popular manga whose protagonist uses a baseball and bat.

Clone of Space Invaders that’s superior in almost every way (fast-paced, etc.) but is a little too overwhelming

Exactly the same as the board game

Breakout! clone

Vertical shooter by SNK

Aside from pretty graphics, this isn’t a whole lot better than the original.

Allows player to define macros for hotkeys, but the game is still frustrating

Zelda II clone

It’s OK, but good luck trying to get across ravines.

Decent platformer for Apple //e with colorful graphics. Main problem is that controls aren’t as quick as a console game’s would be.

Wat. This is a very fast-paced beat-em-up where you play as a panther.

Known as Black Dragon in Japan. Excruciatingly difficult.

Classic hockey game. Doesn’t have a ton of lasting value, but it’s a blast if you can get the hang of it.

Updated Asteroids with multi-stage gameplay and bosses.

Tank game that doesn’t have an eight-way stick, stupidly enough.

Breakout! clone with anime girl

Name is Hindi word for “communication,” coincidentally shares name with a 1982 game

Boulder Dash clone that was well-received for its humor, but criticized for its outdated mechanics

Bizarre maze game where you dig traps for your enemies to fall into (like Lode Runner, kind of) but then you bury them and skulls pop up. Totally creepy, especially juxtaposed with the cartoony graphics.

One of Infocom’s weakest games


Pretty good French game

Enough with the worthless isometric games, already!

“Once Ultimate was on a pedestal above all other software companies. Each release saw their cult following fill computer shops all over the country — everybody wanting to see just how far the ACG team had pushed the Spectrum this time. Sadly those glorious times are long since gone, and the once-great company now blends in unremarkably with the rest of the market. Bubbler breaks no new ground. The superbly animated graphics are very appealing, but the 3D perspective isn’t as convincing as that used in previous Ultimate products and the scenery appears disjointed. Those that can master the awkward control method may find a rewarding game, but I’m left with a slight feeling of disappointment.”

Very funny satirical game that’s too hard for its own good.

Pig bomber. Yes, that is the concept of this game. A pig bomber. Porco Rosso, perhaps?


What a terrible night to have a curse.

Instructions lead to confusion in a game with repetitive gameplay and disappointing audio.

Swashbuckling side-scrolling action game reminiscent of Treasure Island. Terrifying cats.

Turbografx game with huge sprites. Walk right and punch monks. This game was played by GamesRadar in that one FAP.

The name isn’t lying. This was a very advanced trainer. Name originally included the word Simulator, but they changed it to Trainer after Microsoft cried foul.

Very fast-paced chase game somewhat similar to Cosmic Causeway

Old 4X game that isn’t  worth the price of admission.

Adventure RPG by Square, in the style of Tomato Hime.

Action/strategy game where you control a droid who harvests mushrooms on alien world and protects colony against aliens. Game Over screen is a parody of a Monty Python’s “Dead Parrot” sketch.

Series of chess games that were made well into the 21st century.

Hilariously inaccurate army basic training game.

Racing game with very detailed graphics and a system requiring you to stop in the pit when your dragster takes damage.

Racing game for Acorn Electron and BBC Micro

Cult classic that was distributed in a magazine as Hex code.

Space game with unusual controls. Instead of following your mouse cursor exactly, the ship would retain its inertia.

Game in which you fight as Friar Tuck

Popularized Konami code.

More of the same, essentially

Good on most merits, but way, way too tough to be seriously considered.

Early dance game that used the Power Pad

Gauntlet clone that has a nice cinematic opening. Time-travel theme, fewer monsters. Put in coins for lives at any time. Don’t know what max number of lives is, but possibly 9,999

By most accounts a delight to play, but there’s too much time spent in the beginning working out how to play.

Massive RPG that required mapping and pixel-hunting

1st-person dungeon-crawling RPG that was somehow successful enough to warrant multiple sequels. Scrolling is not smooth at all, despite being made five years after Escape from the Mindmaster.

German puzzle game where you reflect beam to destroy cells

Decent shooter reminiscent of Megamania and Space Invaders.

Similar to Gauntlet, but with far fewer monsters. Considered a jack-of-all-trades but a master of none.

Based on a book. Just like Deep Dungeon in a lot of ways.

Music composition tool for Famicom Disk System that takes its name from Do Re Mi. Comes with keyboard.

One of the classics, but only by the grace of nostalgia.

Action adventure with tons of wasted potential. Has Metroid-like elements in it and inter-dimensional portals but it’s ruined by bad execution.

Sandbox game inspired by Zelda. Cruelly, some puzzles are impossible for non-Japanese speakers to solve. Thus this was a Famicom exclusive.

Only marginally improved on DQ I. Considered a black sheep somewhat.

Play as a dragon in this vertical shooter that’s really hard. You know how in Galaxian all your shots go between columns? This is like that, except worse because you have ground enemies and air enemies, and there are a lot of them.

Adventure game by JAM software; created when Rubin and Gavin were high school juniors.

Polygonal 3D game with strong sense of exploration. Gameplay is trial-and-error mixed with a hearty dose of sink-or-swim, but it must have been entrancing to the player of 1987.


Gauntlet clone. Yay.

Bowling game with up to five players

Space station management sim called “an interesting failure.”

Puzzle game by HAL laboratory with horrendous box art

Action adventure game where you play as a scientist who accidentally shrunk himself.

A variant of Boulder Dash

Dragon’s Lair Part II

Mediocre RPG that’s really difficult and has unloving level design. Soundtrack is peppy and has a nice drumbeat to it. During random encounters you’re sealed in a room and have to run around shooting monsters. When you defeat them a door opens and you have to walk out of room.

Features one change for the better, and a lot of changes for the worse. Ultimately a worse game than Wizard’s Crown.

English train sim

Run-and-gun game set in space. Sequel to Barbarian: The Ultimate Warrior

Shooter with awfully floaty controls. Play as spaceman with jetpack; powerup can transform you into a jet

First entry in a classic series by Konami

Largest game world at the time, featuring 17,000 screens with no loading times in-between.

One of the few games to come out for the Famicom 3D System. Falsion had great music and impressive 3D visuals but was boring otherwise.

Nintendo’s first foray into stereoscopic 3D. It worked about as well as you might think.

Sequel to the popular cute-em-up

Pac-Man clone starring Dizzy. Those limey jerks.


Fa no thank you.

Otherwise known as Fetch Quest: The Game

Meant to teach proper hiking safety, but it’s very frustrating

Anything but final

Racing game that introduced rubber banding. Could link up to three other cabinets to allow eight players to race against each other simultaneously.

Big, dumb action game whose sound effects are a near-constant series of explosions. Gameplay quickly becomes repetitive.

Very well-programmed shooter for British computers

Bad licensed game based on anime of same name

Yet another game where you play as a single jet taking down an entire Air Force

Worthless licensed game

Fun little game where you run errands for the royal family in Westminster palace

A shooter where you fly a biplane—a slow, lumbering biplane

Text adventure that doesn’t understand anything you say.

Taito’s response to OutRun. Introduces Nitro


Text-based multiplayer space-trading game

Galaga ‘88

Action game with adventure elements. Subject of controversy because its box-art featured a woman with a visible areola. You can see it if you look really close, you filthy pervert.

Not originally conceived as a sequel to Game Over; title given later on in development

Adventure-like game where Garfield has to rescue Arlene from the vet (how original)

Soccer game that can only be defined as “pleasant”

Stripped down version of arcade game. Title music sounds just as cool, though

1930s flight simulator. Great graphics and sound but repetitive cutscenes and atrocious copy protection

Khan’s real enemy was confusion.

Seminal Konami game that has been referenced to in many other Konami games

ZX platformer made by the Oliver Twins

Goal is to keep member nations of the UN getting along with each other

Play as a gnome who’s banished to a dangerous forest for acting like a human.

Action RPG for SMS. Weighed down by excessive difficulty and hindered by odd design choices

Classic Spanish computer game where you play as a thief trying to break into the Spanish bank

Everything about this game baffles me, including the title

Paintball game by LJN


Make your own racetrack.

Object of the game is to get your stereo back after school—how fun, right? Game included an extremely bleak game over screen, where a man gets you hooked to crack.

Rip-off of SMB, but music is really good

Shooter based on the work of Che Guevara


Shooter with immense difficulty owing to the ship’s unwieldy nature. Reviewers called it “unplayable” but gave it decent scores anyway. Game journalism isn’t dead; it was never alive to begin with.

War sim putting you through all the major battles fought by marines. As time went on its score steadily dropped.

Very well-loved isometric puzzle platformer where you play as two different characters (the titular Head and Heels) with different abilities. Some booby traps rely on trial-and-error and memory rather than skill, sadly.

Run-n-gun game with broken controls.

Great boxing game by Sega; remake of 1976 game of same name. Comparable to Punch-Out but with quick reflexes instead of puzzle.

Two games based on a manga called Phoenix

The sailing parts from Final Fantasy are way more fun than this game, and that’s taking random encounters into account!

Title screen is the best part about this abomination. The remake is actually pretty good, though.

Charmed, I’m sure.

A 1988 review praised its controls and playability, and a 1992 review said it probably turned many people off to the genre. Oh, games journalists.


Pretty fun underwater game. The sprites look really charming and cute

Fun shoot-em-up for ZX and C64. C64 version had music by Rob Hubbard

Music synth program for Famicom

Adventure game with original story

Why does this exist?

In this game, Penny and Brain are kidnapped. What? They’re way too smart for that!

Not much plusser than the original, actually

Clone of Space Invaders that loaded while the game proper was loading. This mini-game would take about a minute to load while the main game could take around 10.

PC Engine game based on sophomoric humor show

Sequel to Jack the Nipper

Very serious game; nothing at all like Jack the Nipper. Gory graphics earned it an 18 rating

An LJN game. Nothing to see here

Um, are you kidding me? Not cool, bro

Adventure with beautiful graphics but unrewarding gameplay

Budget action game which was regulated in Germany for “glorifying” war and because the enemies look like SS troopers. This implies that Germany wants the SS troopers to be allies instead of enemies.

“Sometimes the underdog is just a dog.”

Action RPG published by DOG

Music game with two expansion cartridges eventually released

Doesn’t do justice to the movie at all, go figure.

Boring side-scrolling game. Shooting fire from a fat circus man at a T-Rex really wasn’t my cup of tea.

Nothing stands out about this. It’s just another action platformer.

Motorcycle racing game with obstacle course

1930s mobster game with weird, unique graphical style

Fantastic game by Activision

Bizarre/terrifying conversation-based game

Graphical text adventure including a novella that explains the story background

Breakout! clone that lets the player customize the bounce properties of the paddle

Kroz was first game by Apogee software

Computer Gaming World criticized Kung Fu Kid  ‘​s “incredibly contrived play-mechanics” (including a lobster that would give the player extra powers) and the “tiny and cartoon-like” graphics, and mocked the Engrish documentation that stated that the player would fight “the unnaturally evil one”.


Survival horror game set in town modeled on Arkham by Lovecraft

Two-player chess game where, yes, your pieces fire lasers.

Action game starring a ninja wearing black during the day. What?

Whatever again

Very little interaction with the world, and draconian copy protection. Next.

Weird RPG/adventure game with some strange level design

One or two-player strategy game where you control either Roman or Carthaginian navy

No. Why? No.

Precursor to The Sims

First licensed 007 game; side-scrolling platformer

A game based on a doll. Pack it up, people—nothing else to see here.

Clarrise has been kidnapped again and being held for ransom of “Pandora’s Inheritance”. Now Lupin, Goemon, and Jigen must rescue her again. And now you know the plot.

Text adventure by Infocom, takes place in a college, perishable items prevent you from beating the game if they spoil

Jet fighter shooter with great graphics and amazing music.

Action RPG in the vein of Zelda, but having an Arabian setting

You know.

Clone of the game & watch game, for the C64

Fortunately, one of the last isometric games by Ultimate Play the Game

Pretty standard licensed fare

Based on the horrible movie adaptation.

Wow, so super

Football game series for computers

Sequel to Knightmare

Shooter where you have to destroy celestial bodies on a collision course with your ship. Featuring music by Rob Hubbard

Mega Man

Walks the thin line between challenge and frustration; mostly succeeds

Metal… Gear?

Crappy game with graphics that can generously be called “serviceable”

Professional wrestling game that is actually a turn-based strategy

Maze War game with the ability to link up to 16 computers. Box art is special

British racing game

RPG with weird mechanics

Decent mini-golf simulator

Like Ghosts n Goblins with a little girl as the protagonist

Similar/inferior to Phantasy Star

Boring fetch-quest game

Amusingly self-aware game that tasks you with bringing the code of the game you star in to the publishers of Sinclair magazine

Gambling simulation

Full-featured shooter that let you customize your ship

Graphical text adventure that has it all… but falls a little short

Cute-em-up with in-level purchases

How can a night be mutated? How can this game be real!

Diet Mario Bros

Early dating sim forerunner

Platformer reminiscent of the turning tower levels from Kirby. Character always stays in the middle of the screen while the tower rotates in the background with convincing depth.

Scrolling shooter with creative level design but cheap deaths. Graphics are pretty good but scrolling is choppy, especially on MSX

Another Nemesis

You can just play the GameSpot 404 page

One of the first RTSs

A game as cheap as its name


A text adventure focusing on word play, but not being advanced enough to accept some legit answers

Interesting title that combined the gameplay of Asteroids, Gravitar, and Choplifter

a.k.a. Fantasy Zone III

Good run & gun game that felt too linear, even though it was no more so than other games of its type

Musical side-scrolling shooter that had procedurally-generated music like Rez

Isometric pac-man game in legoland that stupidly zooms in so you can’t see entire maze and thus can’t see where the ghosts are.

Very similar to Citadel

Strategic simulations game with small-scale combat

Sega RPG

Worthless isometric adventure with horrid color combinations

Fairly standard shoot-em-up

Text adventure with stereotypical characters, but a good female lead.

Also known as Copy Protection: The Game

Monster truck racer

Awesome peripheral


Another game by the Oliver twins

Shin Onigashima

Centipede-like shooter with box art that makes me squee

Naval simulation game with pre-set patrol routes; once you know what the enemy is going to do, the game becomes boring.

Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out!!

Two-player arcade football game

Musical version of Break-out! With better powerups

Not very notable pool game

Pretty decent effort by Square. Solid but unremarkable Pole Position clone. Moderately successful in US

Bigger isn’t always better. Case in point: this

I don’t think the developers ever watched the movie.

Top-down Gauntlet-like with frogs. Name is a pun on rana, a genus of frogs.

Side-scrolling platformer slash-em-up

Puzzle adventure that was annoying because they made certain doors impossible to discern, in an effort to artificially increase difficulty and play time. Well, it didn’t work. Your play time will be 0.

Another entry in the atrocious series. This came out the same year as Punch-Out!

Your Sinclair reviewed this game saying that it’s impossible to complete, and gave it a 7 out of 10. Box art is embarrassingly bad.

Some copies contain a bug that makes the second part unplayable.

Poor art design makes it look like the cornerman is fellating the boxer

OK racing game; nothing special

Implausible and pretentious

Awful Bomberman rip-off

Thoroughly mediocre boxing game for SMS

Solid but aging horizontal shooter. Salamander has more stuff and Darius has more technical pop.


Action adventure game where a female ninja has to break into a dictator’s base and thwart a nuclear launch.

Fun, simplified rogue-like which takes place in a pyramid; came out for Mac

Shooting gallery in space

Namco’s first 16-bit game. Boy fights through hell and its monsters

Classic point-and-click adventure on Apple

Text adventure based on the second LotR book

Infocom game that’s an interesting but failed experiment

Classic, though not as big as its sequel

Great swashbuckling adventure

Pretty cool billiards game

Horizontal scrolling shooter best described as meh

Ambitious title that attempted to combine action, arcade, and strategy but became a master-of-none

One of the first skateboarding games, and one of the worst. Created by David Crane

A diamond in the rough. Combination of Space Harrier and Space Invaders, with neat mechanics like banking


Ironically-titled horror action game

First ever solitaire game for computer

Bad vertical shooter that offered nothing new at all

Tower defense-like strategy game

Unique action RPG that was the fifth in the Dragon Slayer series

More, because you asked for it.

First game to come out of Israel, made by two teenagers

Spelunking cave. Okee then

Pretty good maze game with a level editor

Widely considered to be one of the worst sequels of all time

Vertical shooter by Data East; sequel to Darwin 4078

Run around in space eating space chickens

Tedious adventure game that lacks contact with alien races

First-person space shooter for NES

Common side-scrolling platformer with elements taken from all three films

First area of game is too open, disorienting the player

First-person cockpit shooter that is way too difficult; map is plotted out in holographic cube

Hudson Soft’s answer to Xevious… five years late

Sequel to Planetfall, not as good

Adventure game that parodies British norms between the two world wars

Fourth game in the Magic Knight series

Another funny game, oh joy

Ahahahahaha. Try again, kiddo.

Lucasfilm strategy game

Contrived math game

River City dodgeball

Better than the original in most respects

Super Mario Bros. 2

Play as an alien aboard a human ship and fight to perpetuate your species

Fast vertical shmup that includes smooth scrolling, an extraordinary feat for the Acorn Electron. Creator made it as an exercise of technical might.

Famicom-exclusive racing game

Not a very good first go. Only one track, monotonous scenery, bad controls, etc


Text adventure with a lot of options (such as speech, text size changes, and even the amount of text). Unfortunately, it’s a “WTF am I supposed to do?” game.

An average game

Did a good job of staying faithful to the act, but had repetitive gameplay

CGW said of it: A grade-B war movie made into a computer game of the same caliber.

Combination overhead/1st-person shooter with a helicopter

Licensed brawler. Yippee-skip

Beat-em-up where protagonist nonchalantly takes out an ax at the beginning of the game

Ikari Warriors clone–Blech

Surprisingly good licensed action game where you have to land on the moon

So hard to land.


Middling adventure RPG

They are no masters of my head.

Unique in that it showed an animated opening sequence before the standard intro. Unfortunately, nice graphics concealed shallow gameplay.

Second Dizzy game

Innovative concepts marred by slow and obtuse gameplay

Sumo game for Famicom

Helicopter shoot-em-up


Shooter where you repel an enemy invasion

Neither universal, nor a simulator

Puzzle game based on TV series

PC Engine racing game that had your car’s parts break down with use

Alex Kidd meets Ghouls n Ghosts

Unfinished mess that was supposed to be an atmospheric adventure. Hype was sky-high

WWII flying shooting game that would have made a good flash game c. 2003

Intentionally made so difficult that only hardcore fans of the series could pass it. The game received cult status as a result

Floaty platformer with really cool title screen music


Platformer with RPG aspects

Takes place on a stage; would seem at home on the PC Engine; cute girl protagonist

Based on board game. Would have been nice, except that the AI opponent is weak

2D platformer that punishes you for stealing by changing your appearance to that of a thief

Breakout! clone

Distributed on unix and X Windows


I’m not SUR what to say.

1st-person Gauntlet by Ed Logg

Japanese adventure game based on a 1985 movie but with a completely different plot

Novel RPG based on the idea of running into enemies to attack them.

I truly am Error.


Side-scrolling game where you have to blow up an enemy bases


<< Runners-up of 1987                                            Super Mario Bros. 3 >>




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