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: River Raid, released on 1982/08/19 for Atari VCS a.k.a. Atari 2600
Recommended version: River Raid, released in 1983 for Atari 800
Isn’t it amazing how war, the greatest misfortune, often provides the greatest backdrop for a story? Whether it’s an epic tale of a warrior’s fight as in The Iliad, or the slow torment of a man’s mind as in “Lawrence of Arabia,” war has a seemingly limitless capacity for showcasing the ultimate struggle in all its manifestations. It makes sense then that video games, tasking the player with overcoming a struggle, would be so well suited to war. What makes River Raid so special, though, is that it’s one of the first shooters to take place on a “realistic” depiction of Earth. The cover of the manual even appears to be alluding to the mountainous jungles of Viet Nam. So let’s go raid that river!
Original version: Yar’s Revenge, released on 1982/05 for Atari VCS
It’s funny how game consoles and computers carry different connotations with them. Even though consoles are just computers designed for a specific purpose, they carry a different association. Today, consoles are considered more “sociable” whereas PC gaming is often considered suitable for a “lone-wolf.” Multiplayer games on consoles are built with the living room in mind, and up until the seventh generation any game with a multiplayer mode included local multiplayer (i.e., the other players are sitting next to you instead of miles away) by default. In the 1970s and ’80s consoles also carried the connotation of shrinking down arcade cabinets to cartridges. Ever since the days of Home Pong consoles tried their hardest to bring arcade games to households.
Wow, is it already the end of the decade? It seems like such a short time that I have been covering the games of the 1970s, although a contributing factor may have been me covering only a few games from the whole decade. Well, at any rate we can take a look back now and see what has led us to this point. As we welcome the 1980s let’s appreciate the triumphs and (it is hoped) learn from the failures that came to pass.
Original version: Adventure, released in 1979 for the Atari VCS
Before there was Zelda, before there was Ultima, there was Adventure, the premier adventure game for the Atari 2600, then known as the Atari Video Computer System. Released in 1979, it was a first-party title developed by Warren Robinett (more on that later) and was inspired by Colossal Cave Adventure, the seminal text adventure released three years earlier.