Marble Madness earns its moniker. This is a game I've played on occasion and I find that it never gets any easier. Created in 1984 by Mark Cerny (of Atari), the player's goal was simple enough: using a trackball, guide a blue marble through an isometric course and reach the finish line before time runs out. Making this task difficult are the number of obstacles, treacherous paths and enemies in your path. The most heinous in-game villain, however, is momentum. Controlling the speed and direction of the marble is simple enough but it won't be long until you find yourself frantically spinning the ball in every which way. Nothing is more crushing than watching the ball roll off a cliff during the final turn. Simply put, Marble Madness is for crazy people and masochists.
Sunday, October 28, 2012
Karate Champ was released during the same year as The Karate Kid, definitely one of the great movies of the 1980s. The game was different from the action-oriented games of the era because instead of trying to beat your opponent to a bloody pulp, you just had to score one hit in order to get a point making the experience considerably more methodical and technical. Matches are played in different areas such as a sparse dojo, bamboo fields and some kind of vacant dock by the sea. The fights are presided by a stoic karate master and his young daughter(?) whose cheers make the victor appear flush with embarrassment. Or something. It's all a little goofy, actually.
Thursday, October 25, 2012
Crystal Castles is one of the few games I remember playing on my dad's Commodore 64 but now that I've played the game in its proper arcade form, I have to wonder what the hell I was thinking playing it on a joystick. The Atari developed game casts the player as a bear collecting gems and honey throughout oddly designed geometric levels filled with enemies like trees, skeletons and giant snake/cactus-y things. Unlike other games of its ilk, the goal wasn't so much to kill the enemies but to snatch up jewels before they do. The more you collect, the higher the score.
Monday, October 22, 2012
One of my favorite movies growing up was Disney's "TRON," an electronic adventure about master gamer Jeff Bridges being sucked into the computer world by the Master Control Program and forced to engage in a host of different arcade games that, as he says, look easier on the other side of the screen. As a kid, I would go to Disneyland a lot and spend all my money on the TRON arcade game by Bally Midway. A simple setup, the game was a collection of four events inspired by the film: lightcycles, tanks, entering the MCP core and reaching the I/O tower. After completing these four levels, the game made you do them again but with a significantly higher difficulty level. Instead of racing against one lightcycle, you'd go against three. More spider bot thingies, a taller MCP core and more tanks. Oh, those damn tanks.
Tuesday, September 11, 2012
You'd be forgiven if you didn't know the existence of games like Gravitar, Sokoban or Mad Bomber. Dragon's Lair, on the other hand, has been ported so many times over the last ten or so years that it has effectively become the Starbucks of video games. While looking for a PC version of the game to use for a recording, Amazon showed me eight different listings for the game. Wii, Windows, DVD, Blu-Ray(!), Xbox...there's even an iOS, PSN and Kinect version!
Monday, September 10, 2012
There really isn't much to be said about Chuckie Egg. The goal of the game is incredibly straightforward as you must collect all the eggs in every level. To do so, you'll hop to and from platforms, climb ladders and avoid a few chickens as they roam the the level stopping only to eat bits of chicken feed. Developed by Nigel Alderton, Chuckie Egg was title that was big in the UK. There's delight in its simplicity, but here's a fun fact: I rage quit this game several times.
Thursday, September 6, 2012
I am no good at chess. If I'm lucky, I can manage to remember what direction the Knights go (they're the "L" path pieces, right?) but most of the time I can't tell a Bishop from a Rook. So when I learned that Archon was a variation on the classic game of strategy, I had reason to be afraid of it.