Pong × Breakout + Dragon Fireballs = Warlords

Source // YouTube

I had no idea what Warlords was until starting this review. None whatsoever. Even reading the article in 1001 Video Games, I didn't know what to expect other than 'it's a bit like Pong, a bit like Breakout, and is a great multiplayer game'.

Which means I need to find a Player 2.



What in the zork is going on here?

If I remember correctly, my first experience of Zork was at school, during either a lunch or a free period where a friend of mine who was far more computer savvy than I got it, or one of its sequels, up and running for a game. I remember nothing else but for the fact that it was a text adventure.

I've had mixed success with text adventures, but I have heard Zork was one of the better ones. Maybe I'll manage to wrap my head around it, unlike all the other text adventures. Maybe I'll get lost in all that text. I just don't know until I fire it up.

The Internet Archive is once again home to an online emulator that you can play on, so we can dive right in.



Thou shalt spell the word "Pheonix" P-H-E-O-N-I-X, not P-H-O-E-N-I-X, regardless of what the Oxford English Dictionary tells you...

Source // Wikipedia

Read up on Pheo Phoenix and you might get the impression that it's just another Space Invaders or Galaxian kind of game. Which it is. But it's not a clone as such. Phoenix uses stages rather than waves and, early on, one of those stages is what we'd call today a Boss stage, words that held absolutely no meaning back in the arcades of 1980 because nothing else had such a thing.

Boss or no boss, it's a simple game that looks great, anybody should be able to pick it up and see how far they can make it through.

It sounds a bit off, but we can't have everything. As I've kept banging on about, games would take what worked and add to it. Moving a ship about the bottom of the screen worked, dive bombing enemies worked, different enemy types worked, will a boss work? Let's find out.



How the hell do you start a post on the icon of video gaming?

Source // Wikipedia

Who remembers their first impression of Pac-Man? I don't. I haven't got a clue where I was playing it, how I was playing it, what year I was playing it, so how am I to know how I felt? Joy? Panic? No idea.

So I'll have to give you my first impressions of a few versions of Pac-Man scattered across gaming platforms throughout the decades since (avoiding sequels and spin-offs, unless I've made a monumental mistake).



You haven't lived until you've been disconnected...

Source // Wikipedia

It was inevitable that somewhere, somehow, gaming would be done over networks with players in other places. Upon reading that it was MUD that got this notion off the ground - a text adventure capable of multiple user interactions - I thought 'well, this write up won't be based on me playing it then'.

How wrong I was. 35 years later, MUD is still playable, and people are still playing. That's got to be worth a look.



There's a storm a-coming, one of lawyers raining down upon your fun.

Source // Wikipedia

I'd forgotten what Tempest was until I saw the screenshot and remembered "oh yeah, Tempest, from that TxK story, the one with the lawyers and whatnot frowning upon it". It's not a game I'd come across anywhere before, so it's a good job there is a dedicated following of programmers still creating versions and ports for a whole variety of systems - some more official than others...

I can't immediately think of anything that looks like Tempest, save for a few puzzles in Ratchet and Clank: Up Your Arsenal, which means my first impression of Tempest was a minigame homage to unlock a door, or some such thing. My first impression of the actual Tempest though was TxK.



Making ASCII art both pleasing to look at and useful, say hello to the Daddy of Dungeon Crawlers.

That's the First Impression section already written then...

Here and there I come across the phrase 'rogue-like' to describe a game, but I've never bothered to find out what that really meant. It obviously referred to something back in the day, though how far back I couldn't tell you. Until now, of course, when I say that it means to be a bit like Rogue.

Rogue is a procedurally generated dungeon crawler and, once it clicked it my head that the Rogue I'd be playing was that one old game with the ASCII art to display objects and enemies and so on (I had come across such a look and feel for a game without ever knowing it was likely Rogue I was looking at), I frankly couldn't wait.

It has found its way to a number of systems and I wanted to go back as far as possible through that release history in order to play a classic, with the Internet Archive giving up the goods once more.

After naming my character I am dumped - with little fanfare - into the Dungeons of Doom. For a few seconds I wondered what the hell I was looking at, until I poked around the keyboard a bit and moved my smiley adventurer around the first level of the dungeon.

It was a joy. That sounds strange, but I'll try and get to the reason why.


Missile Command

War is Cold but the arcade cabinets are hot. Distract yourself from the threat of nuclear war by playing a little game about nuclear war defence.

Source // Gamespot

My initial reactions to reading about and playing Atari's Missile Command were mixed, along the lines of 'Oh cool, it used a trackball; oh wait, I'll never be able to play it like that; oh wow, that's smoother controls than I expected from a port'.

The goal is simple, it's the same format as shooters we've grown up with in the arcade: shoot down the targets, keep your damages to a minimum. There aren't any aliens here though, as the threat is instead the all too realistic idea of incoming ballistic missiles that signal the destruction of all that you hold dear.

So you best be accurate with your limited countermeasures, targeting a place on the screen that you hope the incoming missile will be when yours explodes, taking that threat with it. Because if it isn't, if your aim is off, that incoming missile will gladly take out a city. That's what it does.