Marble Madness [1984] |Arcade|

Did you ever play with marbles as a child? I did, but one day I lost all my marbles, and now I write about video games on the internet. 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 instant classics such as Paper Boy; I, Robot; and many others. If only such innovation had come in 1982 or ’83….

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M.U.L.E. [1983] |Atari 800|

Why do story writers never give terra-forming its due respect? In science fiction especially, the whole process is glossed over, so that you can get right to the action. It couldn’t possibly be as interesting as laser battles, right? Wrong! Let’s take a look at a true forgotten classic after the jump.

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Runners-up of the 2nd Generation (part 2)

Read part one here.

I’m cheating a little bit here, as several 3rd generation consoles were released in 1982. I think it’s fair, though, to call 1982 a “transition year.” So with that qualification in mind, here are the rest of the “not quite outstanding” games of the last year of the 2nd generation.

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Runners-Up of the 2nd Generation (part 1)

When you have a brand new entertainment medium, there are no rules and the possibilities for innovation are endless. It’s amazing how many innovative titles there were in the second generation–especially in the early 80s! Following the establishment of Activision, the first third-party developer, we saw a huge influx of new and exciting titles up until the crash of 1983. I wanted to showcase some of the titles that weren’t quite excellent enough to warrant their own appreciation article, but are still worthy of being remembered today. From now on I’ll have a showcase for each year (1983, 1984, and so on) but since this is my first one, I’ll include all of the second generation (1977-1982).

So without further ado, here are some of the best and most interesting games of the second generation! Continue reading

Yar’s Revenge [1982-05] |Atari 2600|

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.

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A Gaming Decade in Review: 1970s

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, though a part of that may have to do with me starting in 1978 and then (much) later going back to fill in the previous games. Whoops. Silly me. Silly, silly 2011 version of me. 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.

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Centipede, [1980] |Arcade|

Centipede Cabinet
Refinement has always been as central an aspect to video gaming as innovation. As soon as a brilliant idea comes to the medium, it is edited and polished at such a dizzying pace that cinema seems downright sluggish. Devil May Cry (2001) introduced a semi-fixed camera that was refined by God of War (2005). Stardust (1993) used pre-rendered 3D sprite graphics that were refined by Donkey Kong Country (1994) and perfected by Vectorman (1995). Back in 1980, Dona Bailey was inspired by Space Invaders which created the “shoot ’em up” genre in 1978. Let’s look at her addition to the genre after the jump.

Tempest, [1980] |Arcade|

Tempest Cabinet

No, I’m not thinking of the play by Shakespeare, or the painting by Giogiorne, though both were quite good. I’m talking about the arcade game by Atari. Fresh off their success of Asteroids, Atari once again called upon the sexy power of vectors to make their next space-shooty game. In light of Asteroids’ marked success and the countless clones it inspired, just what makes this unassuming twitch game so special? I mean, aside from the awesomely angular cabinet? Let’s take a look. (Seriously, look at that thing. Atari was not messing around when they chiseled those edges and corners!)

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Missile Command, [1980] |Arcade|

If you were alive during the cold war you must remember the fear and uncertainty that came with wondering how long the arms race between the US and USSR would last. Missile Command was inspired by this very fear and puts you, the player, in charge of millions of lives. Shall we read on?

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Adventure [1979] |Atari VCS| HONORABLE MENTION

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.

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