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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River Raid [1982-08-19] |Atari VCS|

 

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!

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

https://i1.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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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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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.

Asteroids [1979] |Arcade|

In art, throughout the ages, there has been a push towards representing the subject with as much realism as possible. We can see a drastic difference between a work by Cimabue and one by the later Gaddi, who had the benefit of living a century later and thus could start out with knowledge Cimabue and his colleagues had to discover during their careers. Only after the advent of cameras and the quick, realistic “paintings” they could produce did artists adopt a widespread genuine interest in the stylized and abstract. These artists, no doubt feeling threatened by the cheaper, quicker photography, founded a movement called Impressionism, in which the likes of Monet and Picasso flourished.

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Space Invaders [1978] |Arcade| HONORABLE MENTION

Few moments are so conversation-halting as when the Generation Gap rears its ugly head. A jovial discussion can be ruined when a middle-aged woman makes a joke about “Dark Side of the Moon,” only for her pre-teen son to furrow his eyebrows and ask “What’s that?” On the other hand, when that same woman mentions an arcade game she played in high school and receives a quite positive reaction, something magical happens. You know that that arcade game has to be something special in order to bridge two generations.

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