27/04/2016

Gauntlet II

Please, stop shooting the food.



Source // Arcade Museum


If one Gauntlet wasn't enough for you, perhaps Gauntlet II will be more to your liking. Released just a year after the original game, Gauntlet II takes what works and runs with it, adding plenty of extras to keep the gameplay addictive and varied.

It looks largely the same, sounds largely the same and plays largely the same, and that's great, because that's all many of us want from a sequel.

Still no luck playing the arcade version though, so I'm hoping the NES port is as colourful as the first game at least.

26/04/2016

Darius

Dual monitor? Psch, puh-lease...



Source // Hardcore Gaming 101


"This is a shoot 'em up set underwater?! Nah, you're having a laugh there"

Despite swearing I've just watched the vistas of space fly past in the background, Darius is - I read - a space shooter that doesn't take part in space. It sure does have the mechanics of a space shooter though, so we should be right at home getting to grips with upgradable weaponry and power ups.

25/04/2016

Arkanoid

Breakout + Power ups = Awesome.





Looks awfully familiar, doesn't it? Did I play Breakout first, or was Arkanoid the game to give me my block smashing fix? To tell you the truth, in all this excitement I kinda lost track myself...

You've seen Arkanoid, I guarantee. It's the one that looks like Breakout, but you get power ups. If Breakout is everywhere, then Arkanoid isn't too far behind - and I only say that because I don't think the Google Breakout easter egg included power ups.

Release the balls.

22/04/2016

Alter Ego

How did you turn out?




Back in the day, a few friends of mine kept banging on about what they did in The Sims. While it was often humorous, I didn't have a PC good enough, nor an interest strong enough in playing it to see what the fuss what about.

Fast forward ten or so years, and I'm travelling back thirty years to play Alter Ego, a life simulation text adventure hybrid that allows you to live out an alternative life, just like The Sims, only without the graphics and the mods and the ability to choose anything more than a few options.

It even came in two versions, Male and Female, just like life itself - the black and white binary world in which we live, with its clearly delineate-oh who am I kidding, having only two versions was acceptable in the 80s.

I know nothing of this game, and a little more than nothing about life, so it's about time to dive right in.

20/04/2016

Leaderboard

Mulligan. Mulligan. Mulligan.



Source // Lemon 64


The title Leaderboard caught me out when checking the list to see which game was next. "Leaderboard? That's pretty generic, isn't it? What is it?" Turns out it's golf, and by the screenshot in the 1001 entry, not too shabby looking either.

I know of a few golf games, but this is supposedly the golf game - at least in terms of having the look and the mechanics that today's golf games have - and I haven't got a clue what it's like.

19/04/2016

Alex Kidd in Miracle World

Sega's first answer to Mario...





Alex Kidd in Miracle World is such an important title in gaming history that it came pre-installed on some Sega Master Systems. It was going head to head with the success of Super Mario Bros. in an attempt to bring the Nintendo empire down to its knees; crippled and unsuccessful when compared to the might of Sega.

I kid. Hah, punny. I jest. Alex Kidd was up against Mario but its place in history has fallen somewhat, largely thanks to Sega's other mascot-lead attempts to dethrone Nintendo. Still, Sonic isn't a thing yet, and we're going to see what Alex Kidd offers to the platform genre.

Is it better than Mario?

18/04/2016

Trinity

Dolphin, get the coconut.



Yeah, not the best of images to look at...


I don't have anywhere near the amount of knowledge on text adventures as I do on video games that have graphics - and that's not exactly encyclopaedic in the first place. What that basically means is that Trinity is completely new to me, I have no idea what it's about and I will most likely not get very far in it.

But let's make sure.

17/04/2016

Tetris

So you got this for the Game Boy, too, right?


Mistakes were made...


Where were you when you first played Tetris? I can't remember, but I know for certain that it was on my Game Boy and it was on my Game Boy an awful lot. If ever I got bored or frustrated with Super Mario Land, in went Tetris - so long as the batteries still had juice.

Tetris is everywhere, you can't have not played it, so we'll keep this post short and sweet so that we can all get back to playing. Ready?

The 101/1001 Milestone Awards



It's back and it's bigger than ever - The Milestone Awards have returned. Which games took root in our hearts and minds? Which ones infected the list? Just where do they all stand in the grand scheme of things? Sit back and plug in as we look back over the latest batch of 1001 Video Games You Must Play Before You Die.

Eligible titles for these awards range from Dragons Lair to Skool Daze, and the winners have been chosen with a biased Random Number Generator, ensuring all of your favourites have been glossed over and avoided.


Let's cut the fluff and get on with our first awards for The Indifferent 5. Listed below, in no particular order, are five games that were alright, they weren't bad, but were otherwise a little bit 'meh' - if not at the time of the review then definitely ten minutes ago when they were being picked for this award. They are:

Pac Land, Namco
Bounty Bob Strikes Back!, Big Five Software
Demolition Derby, Bally Midway
H.E.R.O., Activision
Mad Planets, Gottleib

May they all be played for an indifferent five minutes.


Games come in all kinds of guises, but some of them make you question their existence - if not in terms of 'Why on Earth was this game made?', then 'What Was That 1 Even Put On The List For?'. It is heere that we celebrate the mystifying inclusion of an interactive story. A strange one, certainly. Different to anything else we've seen, definitely. A game? Ehh...

What Was Deus Ex Machina Even Put On The List For?

Still, go and watch it though.



But what would you have in its place, were you to take it out of the 1001 list? The You Forgot What?! award goes to a title that ought to have a home here but, for whatever reason, doesn't. Perhaps it was overlooked or forgotten about, perhaps it's a hidden gem on a long forgotten system. Maybe a sequel did a far better job.

I'm no expert, and I don't have a massive list of every game to be released in the first half of the 1980s in front of me, but I have to question the lack of Excitebike on this list. Is excitement not good enough a reason to play a game?






The award pile is looking a little thin which means it's time for the Top 10. Which of the eligible titles have beaten forty other games into submission and stand tall as the best of the best? Were to you force me to pick, it'd be these titles that get bundled together as a statement of just how good the early 1980s were. Assuming the list is only made up of 50 titles from the 1001 list...


10: Mercenary, Novagen Software 
Didn't see much of it, but what a vision there was behind it.

9: Gyruss, Konami
Circling menacingly around the bottom of this list.

8: Spy vs. Spy, First Star Software
Hectic, but love the idea.

7: Gauntlet, Atari Games
Managed to get through 43 opponents before falling into the Top 10.

6: Juno First, Konami
Just look at it. Lovely.

5: Boulder Dash, First Star Software
Digging never felt so satisfying.

4: Elite, David Braben and Ian Bell
Again, barely scratched the surface, but its inclusion at number 4 is not at all influenced by the upcoming No Man's Sky.

3: Marble Madness, Atari Games
Short and maddening, a nice little pick up and play time sink.

2: Gradius, Konami
Proof that space shooters have come a long way for the better.


There can be only one winner and it should come as no surprise that the number 1 spot goes to: Super Mario Bros., Nintendo. At the time of these awards it's a week or two after the speed run world record being beaten, proving Super Mario Bros. legacy as a classic game worth playing well beyond its release.


Those were your 101/1001 Milestone Award winners, and by 'your winners' I of course mean 'my winners'. Did you think that Top 10 was all over the place? Disagree about calling Mad Planets 'meh'? Good. It makes little difference to me, but it shows you're passionate about gaming. Maybe you should give yourself an award.


There is one set of winners still to come however. Where do the winners of this Top 10 fit amongst the winners of the 51/10001 Top 10? Will we have a complete walk over of titles, or are some of the old classics still better than their more modern counterparts?

It is my great pleasure to introduce you to yet another insignificant award, The Topper Than That 10 award, a top ten list where every game from the 1001 list up until this point are eligible for inclusion. Everything from The Oregon Trail to Skool Daze has a chance of claiming yet more glory. Chances are that actually I've just mushed the two top ten lists together, but let's see where these classic games have ended up.


10: Boulder Dash, First Star Software
Where have all the dig 'em ups gone? Am I missing out on modern classics?

9: Elite, David Braben and Ian Bell
Not quite elite enough for a higher place, but damn what a bold game.

8: Choplifter, Dan Gorlin
Perhaps the surprise entrant, but what's wrong with that?

7: Marble Madness, Atari Games
Doesn't matter how good you are at it, play it.

6: Qix, Taito
Puzzling entry? Never. Came out of nowhere and wowed.

5: Donkey Kong, Nintendo
Barrelling his way into the Topper 10 with ease.

4: RogueMichael Toy, Glenn Wichman, Ken Arnold
Still bringing back those tabletop gaming memories.

3: Gradius, Konami
Such a show off.

2: The Oregon Trail, MECC
Still entertaining in its own way.

1: Super Mario Bros., Nintendo
No surprises, no contest.


Thus concludes the 101/1001 Milestone Awards. Why do I persist? Because I chose to. Join me once again next award season, with the 151/1001 Milestone Awards. Will the next game on the 1001 list manage to linger in my memory until those awards? The next game is Tetris, so yes. Yes it will. But will in win an award? Yes, probably. But which one? Stay tuned.

Game on!

Skool Daze

A pioneer of the sandbox genre, this early on?


Source // YouTube


I've never seen Skool Daze, despite hearing it in passing, so I never had any idea what it was about, beyond a game set in a school - which doesn't sound incredible, but there are many aspects of school life that can be made into a game.

Skool Daze tries to get you to act out the roles of both a good student and a troublemaker in an attempt to steal your report card from the staffroom safe, and the entire school is open for you to explore in order to accomplish that goal.

15/04/2016

Paradroid

Sadly nothing to do with paranoid androids, but still quite interesting.



Source // Wikipedia


There was really only two reasons for me to buy the 1001 Video Games You Must Play Before You Die book. One was to see how many I'd played already and see how smug I could get, and the other to find out just what I've missed from four decades of video gaming.

Paradroid is one such title. I've never seen it, never heard of it, not in person nor in passing. Paradroid is a complete unknown to me, and based on the description in the 1001 book and online, I'm a bit disappointed to have not known about it sooner.

Robots taking over other robots in order to destroy robots and free the crew of a space ship? Sign me up.

13/04/2016

Fairlight

The ZX Spectrum can't do graphics, you say? Ok, let's see if this says otherwise...




I don't know a whole lot about the ZX Spectrum, but I know there are a handful of titles that get thrown about when an example of a great ZX Spectrum game is needed, especially when it comes to graphics. I usually forget which titles, but we've already seen Knight Lore on this list, and we're about to see Fairlight.

Created in response to Knight Lore, the game sees you navigate a castle looking for the Book of Light. Seen from a familiar isometric view, Fairlight makes sure to improve on what Knight Lore showed was possible.

12/04/2016

The Bard's Tale

The song I sing will tell the tale of a cold and wintery day...



Sorry Omar...


I believe I've only ever known of The Bard's Tale as a 3D action RPG, and being faaaiirly certain that the Bard's Tale I know wasn't released as early as 1985, that meant having to track down the original Bard's Tale.

Luckily, it and its two sequels come bundled with the PC release of The Bard's Tale that I am familiar with, so let's dive right in.

11/04/2016

Super Mario Bros.

Didn't expect this one to be on the list, did you?




Rest assured reader, I have indeed played Super Mario Bros. before. A good few times in fact, though not so much the NES version that really kicked the whole Mario thing off. Yes, yes, there was Mario Bros. in the arcade and on the Atari and what have you, but it was the Super Mario line that made an impression on millions upon millions of gamers worldwide.

Super Mario Bros. saw an arcade release, but it was in its element on the Nintendo Entertainment System. That was before my time though, and I was first introduced to Super Mario Bros. in the form of Super Mario All-Stars on the SNES. My cousins only had a handful of games for their SNES, but they consistently kicked my arse at every one of them.

All-Stars contained an improved and graphically updated version of Super Mario Bros. and while I find myself having a little more success with that version, we really ought to go back to where it all began.

09/04/2016

Tehkan World Cup

Yeeeas, yeeas, yes, yesyesyes yeeeeeaaaas. That was a goal.



Source // Games Database


I don't know when the World Cup was ever held in Tehkan but- Sorry, what? That's the developer? Huh, so it is.

Tehkan World Cup aims to be the greatest football simulation the arcade has ever seen, with its top down graphics and trackball controls offering a gameplay experience like no other. Safe to say I won't be playing that version then, but there was a NES port, so that's something.

You can't really get football wrong, so it shouldn't be a problem however we play it.

06/04/2016

Little Computer People

Huh, they have little people inside computers now.



Source // C64 Wiki


Can't lie, but an early version of The Sims was not what I had in mind when imagining what Little Computer People would be. An adventure game I could see, but not the kind of adventure that's on offer.

Upon loading the game, a randomly generated man will walk into his new house, wandering through the rooms for a few minutes while getting used to his surroundings, eventually settling enough to interact with you - if you're polite about it.

I was not expecting any of that, so this should be interesting.