2nd Generation Video Game Notes

  • 1981—Jump Bug

First game to feature parallax scrolling. Crappy Donkey Kong clone.

  • 1981—Castle Wolfenstein

First stealth game, far-reaching influence. Game itself is not that good.

1981 arcade game—only game ever made in East Germany. Contains knockoffs of Western games.

Alien Garden

Strategy game, more about “experience” than gameplay. Discover through trial and error which crystals are food and which are deadly.

Blended together Frogger, Donkey Kong, and Jungle King’ also adds fourth gameplay element

Early 4X game

Improved upon Combat for the VCS

Read the history behind the game.

First Laserdisc game, preceding Dragon’s Lair. Released 1982 in Japan, 1983 in US.

Used Intellivoice. Console-ified version of Eastern Front (1941)

Collection of games for the Apple ][, all unlocked and open. Now in the public domain.

Pornographic game by Mystique, one of the worst ever made.

Very difficult to crack. Wikipedia article explains.

Early educational game

Music played only while character walks over squares ~1 note per square

First console sequel, just barely misses the mark of excellence.

Strategy game somewhat similar to FTL, uses Newton’s first law.

One of the earliest pinball games. Based on real-life table.

Murder Mystery, very good NPCs

Worth an honorable mention. Very solid, but not groundbreaking (Phoenix clone)

Has a cool name (the game itself sucks, though)

First contest involving video game (that I know of)

Very interesting concept. Research further.

Could be downloaded using Game Line for the Atari 2600. Research game further.

  • Dragonstomper

Awesome RPG for the 2600

First text adventure to have a real-time deadline, same year as Executive Suite. Game itself was awful, though considered good back in 1982.

Promotes player within company based on series of questions. Interesting premise.

Included updated dialogue including “I’m a robot, not a chicken.”

Game in the same vein as “Adventure,” based on Monty Python & the Holy Grail.

Players goal is to become the Godfather. Evading the authorities is a must.

Player is Prime Minister who tries to manage England’s economy before reelection.

One of the games was released as “Attack of the Mutant Camels,” which was hilariously and coincidentally the name of a completely different game released the same year.

Licensed game starring Journey. “Escape” doesn’t actually play anywhere in the game. The title song is “Don’t Stop Believin’.”

Unique control scheme, quite popular, had jumping & flying which were still new.

Protagonist’s ship is a plastic toy, projected with mirrors onto the screen.

Based on Julius Caesar’s campaigns. One of the first Real-Time Tactics games.

Opposite of Missile Command; player destroys bases. Good game, but not great.

Early puzzle game. Looks just like the hacking mini-game from Bioshock.

First example of a sequel that’s really a 1.5 instead of 2.

Naming contest for game went unfulfilled since publisher went bankrupt. Called “Octopus” in Europe. In 1994 Digital Press had a contest resulting in name “Going Under—” referring to both the game’s content and the publisher’s fate.

Renowned for being strange and very creative. Crisp visuals and great sound, but falls short with unintuitive gameplay.

First erotic computer game. Just read the article.

Based on “The Three Little Pigs,” player never attacks wolf; only rebuilds house.

Phaser Patrol

A very good space-shooting game with a high level of ambition typical of Starpath.

Treasure hunt that led to real-world solution.

Centered around emergency relocation of a population.

Never officially released. Twin-stick shooter that lets player face eight different directions.

Required 2 joysticks—one to move and the other to work the inventory. Some good ideas here.

Flying sim by Sid Meier. Proved how diverse & innovative 1982 was, but unfortunately a bad game.

First-person shooting game similar to Star Fox

Crappy text adventure with Monty Python-inspired humor shoehorned into it

Strategy game requiring player to manage country (military, taxation, etc.) while going up against eight other players or AIs.

Sword-fighting game. Remember this one when you’re reviewing Monkey Island.

Swim upstream. Go left/right and dive to avoid obstacles, collect fruit.

Interesting idea suffering from horrible implementation. Meant as a series of four games, only two were made.

An early rogue-like. Would go on to inspire Diablo.

Premise is to shoot down aircraft from WWI bi-planes to flying saucers in 2001.

Time-travelling text adventure by Sierra. Marred by frequent disk changing exacerbated by frequent red herrings.

Tron: Solar Sailer

A terrible game based on Tron. Use as an example of a bad licensed game, and Tron Deadly Discs as an example of a good game based on the same property.

Earliest commercial Star Trek game

Developer must have been confused. In the book no one could harm the alien ships. In this game that’s all you do.

Xenos (video game)

Interesting adventure about destroying an alien’s mother ship.

Beautiful vector arcade game about taking back 8 cities from aliens. Hilariously, this vector monitor (as with many others) had a notorious tendency to catch fire.

Good game (not great) about trying to keep animals locked up and saving your girlfriend Zelda from a coconut-throwing monkey


Innovative title that used isometric view to simulate              3D environment. Unfortunately when the wow factor is removed, the game left over doesn’t have much to it.


Scramble, [1981] |Vectrex, 1982| (x/Arcade)

https://i0.wp.com/www.arcade-museum.com/images/118/1181242158126.jpgArcade machine awning

Let me tell you, it’s quite a treat to be able to see the shmup growing up before my eyes. Although I don’t have children, I’m sure that this must be akin to seeing them grow up and moving out before you know what happened. That may be one of the reasons it has been suggested that I never procreate, but I don’t like to conjecture. Let’s take a look at Konami’s foray into the genre and see just how it’s maturing.

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Kaboom! [1981] |Atari VCS|

I discussed in my review of the 1970s that Activision was the first third-party developer in video gaming. They took advantage of their new-found license to make games by producing a slew of titles for the Atari VCS, some of which were even good. OK, that’s a little harsh. Compared to the standard fair Activision’s games were better than average–well, most of them. Some games were still shovelware–I’m looking at you, Barnstorming!

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Galaga [1981] |Arcade|

In cinema it is held that sequels are not as good as the original. A few notable exceptions, such as “The Godfather, Part II” and “The Empire Strikes Back,” prove that that doesn’t always have to be the case. With video games, sequels are almost always better than their predecessors. Sometimes, certain exceptions (mirror) apply but the trend is that developers will refine gameplay, improve graphics, add features, and just generally add a layer of spit and polish. Galaga is a great example of this.
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Frogger, [1981] |Arcade|

It’s not easy being green. Or yellow, for that matter. Frogger centers around the titular tree frog who needs to get to his home on the other side of the river. Seemingly the only part of Frogger anyone remembers is the first half of the screen with the cars, even though that’s only the first hurdle. Guess how much time I spent editing this article before posting. Just guess. I kid you not, this journalistic gem required over three minutes of fine-tuning. That’s why it flows this well.
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