Original version: Hang-On, released in 1985 for arcade
Following in the footsteps of Pole Position, Sega’s racing game Hang-On gave the player a high-speed over-the-shoulder (or more accurately, behind-the-car) racing game with sharp turns and endless AI opponents. Hang-On added something new to the mix, though. The player sat on a motorcycle-shaped seat that they had to tilt to the left or right in order to steer in-game.
Original version: Marble Madness, released in 1984 for arcade
Did you ever play with marbles as a child? I did, but one day I lost all my marbles. Anyway, I’m going to show you Marble Madness today, as you no doubt surmised by the title of this article. Atari had a really good year in 1984, pumping out tons of innovative and interesting titles such as Paper Boy; I, Robot; and many others. If only such innovation had come in 1982 or ’83….
1983 may have been the year of the second video game crash, but as we saw from the Appreciation articles, there was still quite a bit of innovation left in the industry. 1983 was, after all, the year of the Challenger space shuttle, Microsoft Word, and phones with touchscreens. Let’s take a look at the titles that brought a lot to the table, but fell just short of earning their own appreciation article.
Original version: Tapper, released in 1983 for arcade
Looking back, it’s amazing to think of just how many games had a downright wacky premise compared to the somber and “safe” franchises you’ll see nowadays. Outside of the odd, or in some cases, very odd indie game, you’ll usually end up stepping into the shoes of a tortured, yet endlessly bland, blank slate and go on a series of sidequests.
Original version: Nibbler, released in 1982 for arcade
In my Ms. Pac-Man feature I remarked that the 1981 game Lady Bug demonstrated that the “maze chase” genre allows for many different interpretations, and now I’m here to show you that it can be taken in an entirely different direction with Nibbler, a game that makes traveling through the maze steadily more and more restrictive by filling it with a snake. Intrigued? I thought so.
Original version: Galaga, released in 1981 for arcade
Welcome to my new category “HONORABLE MENTION,” which is reserved for games that just barely fall short of being timeless classics. Perhaps a game has a technical or gameplay flaw that holds it back, or perhaps a game’s core gameplay is completely eclipsed by a later game. Nevertheless, a game with the title of “HONORABLE MENTION” is still good and is deserving of an article; and if you were to play it you would probably have a great time. In the interest of fairness, only one game per year can receive this title.