My Classic Video Game Five

I suppose the distinction between this and last week's '80s arcade game post is a subtle one, but My Five favorite classic video games predate the ones I listed earlier by about 5 years or so, and were the very basic games in arcades and early consoles:

1) Q*Bert (1982):
This was a fun game once you got used to the controls. A little fuzzy orange guy would hop around on a then state-of-the-art three-dimensional pyramid made of cubes, cursing in comic book speak while dodging a purple snake and other weird creatures. Every time you hopped on a cube it changed color, and the idea was to change every surface you could land on. There were rainbow discs to avoid enemies and fly back to the top, and in later levels you had to hop on cubes more than once to get the color you needed. It was frustrating at times, as evidenced in the following video:

2) Donkey Kong (1981):
Donkey Kong was bigger than Mario at one time, who was actually the protagonist in a game named after the villain, a monkey who takes a girl to the top of a construction site and starts hurling barrels, some flaming, at our hero. Through innovative ladder climbing, jumping, and the occasional conveniently placed hammer hanging from nothing, you could get to the top, only to get to more interesting levels where gameplay changed and you had to do things like remove rivets to make the platform the monkey was on collapse. Over time, Mario proved to have more staying power in the gaming world, but Donkey Kong has shown up in a few modern games and the original was the subject of a great documentary about just how obsessive and competitive some of the early gamers were, defending high scores like sports records. The documentary also introduced me to the concept of a “kill screen”; in those early days, games repeated almost infinitely with no true ending, but at a certain ridiculously high score or level the thing would just run out of memory and crash:

3) Dig Dug (1982):
Oh man, was Dig Dug fun! I may need to find an online version to play after I'm done here. You controlled this little guy and you burrowed in to the Earth armed with a shovel and an air pump. You could defeat your enemies by either luring them under a rock as you tunneled, timing it so the rock crushed them. Or, and this was the fun bit, you could inflate them with the air pump until they exploded! It was all in the name of preserving a garden, so it was environmentally friendly carnage.

4) BurgerTime (1982):
BurgerTime is probably the closest I'll ever come to a drug trip. A chef runs around on these ladders and platforms reminiscent of Donkey Kong, on which the components of giant burgers are suspended over each other. You have your meat, your lettuce, and top and bottom buns. Running over these items causes them to fall, and eventually complete a burger. But you're being chased by giant ambulatory omelets and hot dogs. You read that right. Fortunately, they can be crushed if they're under a burger piece you've dropped, and if they're on top, that piece will fall two stories at once. And if you have pepper, that seemed to freeze them for some reason. Like I said, DRUG TRIP, but crazy fun:

5) Space Invaders (1978):
Finally, it's the ultimate classic. 8-bit aliens move back and forth in formation, dropping ever closer to the ground when they hit the edges of the screen. Your ship has three barriers to hide under from enemy shots, and you have to shoot all the aliens before they land. Your barriers get worn away when they get hit, but every now and then a flying saucer goes by, and if you can hit that, a barrier will reform. My strategy was always to work the edge of the formation first, so a narrower grouping would take more time to hit either side of the screen and descend. But the evil thing about this game was, the more enemies you destroyed, the faster they fell. Though later similar games like Galaga added more complexity in the pattern of enemies and ability to upgrade your ship, I still have to respect where the format originated.

What were your favorite classic games?



Blogger Lyndon said...

I suddenly want an orange Fresca and mixtape featuring RUSH. Strange :)

1/29/2010 2:15 AM  
Blogger TheWriteJerry said...

Tempest. 'Nuff said.

1/29/2010 2:27 AM  

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