I wonder what could be in store when I load this mysteriously named game up...

Straight to the point titles have never been as fuzzy as they are here with Adventure, an open world text adventure with no text in sight. Supposedly home to the first video game Easter egg (which sees developer Warren Robinett credit himself for making the game - shocking, I know...), Adventure doesn't look like much, but then it doesn't have to look much in order to take you on an adventure. Assuming you stick with it and try to work out what it wants from you, of course.


Space Invaders

If the sole defender of Earth was to be me, say goodbye to the planet...

Oh look, it's another classic that I couldn't tell you where I first encountered it and in what format. Left, right, shoot, it's Space Invaders, what more needs to be said? Lots of bad guys up top, not a lot of Earth down below, can you survive the looming hordes of aliens hell bent on invading?



Ever wondered what the Battlefield franchise looked like in the late '70s? No, neither have I, but one game has to kick vehicular combat into gear.

Atari's Combat does what it says on the cartridge, and does it pretty well. It doesn't look like much, and it takes a short while to figure out what you are and where you're going, but what you're doing is easy - shooting your opponent.

Like many a classic game from this era, it's so simple it's practically offensive. You vs me, no change in loadouts, no quirks, no perks, no faffing about.


Boot Hill

Midway get straight to the point in the Wild West with a grim message for all wannabe Cowboys.

Boot Hill as it's meant to be played.
Source // Tony Waldron / International Arcade Museum

When doing diligent research for a list of must-play videogames, remember to amend your Wikipedia search for Boot Hill with '(video game)', unless you want to come face to face with the harsh reality of the Wild West.

In the movies it's glamourous. Heroic men save the town from all manner of threats, usually in a gentlemanly duel in the center of town, in front of cowering locals and against all the odds. Sometimes it's a gritty gunfight between two groups instead, exchanging casualties and kills as the dust whips up around them, the sun scorches down from above, and innocent bystanders scatter in every direction.

Boot Hill does none of that, and that's why you ought to play it.



Combining Pong with The Great Escape, Atari find themselves with yet another breakout arcade hit, Breakout.

Source // Wikipedia

Once again, with such a widespread game concept it's hard to pinpoint where I was when I first encountered Breakout, and in what form it was that I first laid eyes on it. I'd bet against having played it on an arcade cabinet, but that just takes away one of many, many machines that were a home to this bit of gaming code.



I'm not going to spend a whole lot of time with this game, but then you sure could lose a lot of time to it...

Source // Wikipedia

I can't recall the first time I came across Pong. I think these days Pong just appears in peoples memories. "Have I played Pong? I must have played Pong. Sure, yeah, Pong."

It's Pong. Two paddles and a lot of blip bloops. Pong.


The Oregon Trail

What better place is there to start a video game backlog than Independence, Missouri?

I'm beginning this journey with some edutainment software originally produced by MECC that requires some thought and resource management skills in order to navigate your party safely across the wild west.

It's The Oregon Trail, and I'm looking forward to playing it.

I've heard of The Oregon Trail, but didn't know too much about it. I knew it was a resource management kinda game, I knew it was somewhat important in game history, but didn't really have a clue why. When I found out you could play it online over at the Internet Archive though, I was pretty psyched up - not only was I able to play a classic so easily, it looked far better than I thought it would.

Alright, it's not the very original, and I'm viewing it on a modern monitor with all its crisp detail, but I'm still thinking it's going to look like the back end of an Ox. It doesn't. It's great. It's simple, it doesn't do anything it doesn't need to do, and it drew me in within a minute.


Here's how this thing goes down

I'm not stupid. I've got a life, I want to live it, so we're going to have to cut a few corners...

In many a game I was a completionist, but as I got older and free time grew severely limited, I learned to let that go. I now find myself playing games for the story, and so I play through the story. If that's 100% completion, great. If that's just the core to an open world, then I dip my toes no further than what interests me: If a side mission seems fun, or will help me in the story when it's finished, I'll probably do it. If it looks like nothing more than a distraction, or isn't essential, or, frankly, is dull as dishwater, why should I play it?

You have to ask yourself why you're playing the game, and you have to answer honestly. 100% completion feels good. 100% completion as an attempt to justify the cost to you, both in time and money, perhaps doesn't feel so good. It might even feel like you're lying to yourself. Maybe you should have rented the game, or bought it when it was cheaper.

If you're flexible in how you approach games, then your backlog shrinks in no time at all. That game didn't feel right to continue playing, this game lost my interest early on... I'm glad the book that inspired this endeavour used play rather than complete.

This might ruffle a few feathers

If this was only for my benefit then I wouldn't need a blog, but seeing as everyone on the Internet has the right to shout their opinion, I'm going to be doing just that - I'm going to be reviewing my backlog of games.

But I've just said that I don't play games to completion these days, and have basically said that we should all abandon a game if it's just not working out the way we wanted it to, so where does that leave me?

A review should be thorough, should it not? I can't lie about these games. Well, I can, but I don't want to.

At the time of writing, there is (once again) a push for better standards in video game reviews, including disclosure of any affiliations between reviewer and developer, dropping of scores out of 10, shifts into other media or presentation styles and so on. What do I bring to the table? Just a bit of honesty.

Honesty and tagging.

Yeah, I'll start with those.

What to expect

I will probably find - early on I'd imagine - games that I simply cannot play, either in their original form or at all.

But I don't want to avoid them entirely. If possible, I'll find a way to play them via other means, such as emulation or remakes and so on. How I play these games will be tagged for easy identification, and from there we'll be able to see just how much of a gamer I actually am. (Calling it now: Casual)

If I can't find a way to play them, I'll find a way to experience them in some watered down fashion. Maybe I'll watch someone play them, maybe I'll only be able to read up on them, but whatever the case, they'll be 'reviewed' in as similar a style as I aim to do with the games I've played, and they'll be tagged.

Some games (a good few, I hope), I've already experienced, I've already played, maybe already completed. These will be incredibly trustworthy (read: probably quite biased) reviews based on my (completely infallible) memory. And they'll be tagged as such. I might play them again, I might not. I just don't know.

Throughout the reviews, I'll be dropping in some fun facts and humorous asides, partly to keep me going, partly to remind you that these aren't going to be your impartial, robot assessed reviews you'll find elsewhere.

At least that's the plan, things evolve. I'll tag that too...

I've got 1001 games and I'm just not done

Source // Wikipedia
Every gamer knows of the backlog. This book has added just a few titles to mine...

For the lucky few who don't know what a backlog is, it's that endless to-do list of things that you really hope you'll get around to doing one of these days. You know, when the heavens open up, you're shut inside and the Internet isn't working. Or Thursdays, whatever works for you.

The backlog sits there, silently, knowing that the only action you'll ever take is to add to it, because that's all you've got time for. When will you ever find time to cross something off the list? You won't.

You'll add to it, because adding to it is the easy part, it takes seconds. The backlog loads, you scroll down to the bottom of whatever page you've reached, you add the latest title that you'd like to play when you've got time and then you close your backlog. 

Without saving, because that's done automatically these days. You're so lazy with acting on your backlog you don't even hit the save icon, or even use the keyboard shortcut, you lazy sod.

So what do you do? You change the way your backlog works for you.

Backlogs are not a chore

I recently bought this book, "1001 Video Games You Must Play Before You Die". Such a title is out of date as soon as it's published, which is unfortunate, but that's backlogs for you - always something to add to them that you didn't have before.

I'm sure some of the games therein are already in my backlog, and I'd like to think I've enough taste to have owned, played and completed a few of them too, but it does mean that I've given myself an awful lot more work to do if I'm going to be able to claim that I have in fact played Q*Bert.

Or has it? You see, if you approach your backlog as though it's work, as though it is a chore that you must get out of the way first in order to reward yourself later, then you'll never get past staring at that lengthy list of titles you never do anything with.

If, instead, you see your backlog as a kind of educational experience, where you get to learn a bit of history as well as have some fun, you're already on the path to actually crossing something off your to-do list. When the doing something is itself the reward for doing something, a winner is you.

I'll detail how I'm going to approach this backlog in another post, and it may well ruffle a few feathers in places, but hopefully not too much.

Follow along, you might discover something

Seeing as I've got a good number of titles to rabbit on about, why not tour the gaming world with me? I'm sure there'll be enough distractions along the way to keep things interesting, and how I do things will probably evolve over time.

Given that I'm a blogger now, I'm allowed to hold any opinion I like and shout it as loud as I want, so there might be some of that dotted amongst the games. If a news story catches my attention enough, I'll chip in with a little something. What's another voice amongst a crowd?

Unless it's that one voice that says something so utterly stupid that everybody turns around in silent shock.

Still, here goes.