I was a video game ADDICT when I was a kid. It all started out with the original Atari 2600, released in 1977. You hook it up to the back of your TV, and you spend the rest of the afternoon playing games like Combat and Space Invaders. It was all real easy, you had a joystick and ONE button to press...that was all you had to do. You didn’t have 6 different buttons and thousands of different options to choose from. Granted, the graphics weren’t quite as good as they are in today’s games, but game play was much easier….
These games were easily mastered, and soon arcades were popping up everywhere.You go to the arcade for a few hrs with a roll of quarters and spend all day playing.1979 one of the all time classic games “Asteroids” was released. You are this little spaceship, and these huge asteroids are flying at you, and all you have to do is shoot them into little pieces until they are all gone.Occasionally a big, slow spaceship would come out and fire at you as would a faster, smaller one. Once you got decent at the game, you would keep a slow moving asteroid alive, then just fly up and down the screen waiting for that small spaceship to show up so you could blast it and get 1,000 points.
1980 rolls around, and the most popular arcade game ever arrives. Pac Man!! You are this little yellow guy with a mouth, and you have to go around the mazes eating all the dots, without getting eaten by a ghost! The ghosts even had names: The red one was”Blinky” the pink one “Pinky” the blue one “Inky”and the orange one was named “Clyde”..who knew? If you ate the flashing big dots in the corners, the ghosts would reverse their path and you could eat them for big points (only while they were blue). A different piece of fruit would show up on each screen, ranging from the cherry for 100 points, up to the banana for 5,00 points. The smart players like myself would figure out “patterns”, where you go the same route every time to avoid being eaten. We also figured out a way to save money..you drill a hole in a quarter, put a piece of thread in it, then slowly insert the quarter into the machine, racking up credit after credit..until the thread eventually broke or you got caught! Pac man even had a top 10 hit song in 1981 with “Pac Man Fever”.Pac man fever song with lyrics
“Donkey Kong” was a popular game, and this first introduced us to “Mario”. The princess gets captured and it is up to Mario to jump over barrels and climb ladders in order to save her. Mean old gorilla Donkey Kong would keep throwing the barrels at you, and after dodging them and climbing to the top, you think you finally have saved the princess and thought maybe she would invite you back to the castle and she might ask you to spend the night…you know.. to show her “appreciation”. Never happened.
“Galaga” was another pretty fun game, and one of the last that I was still actually going to the arcade to play. You have a spaceship, and you shoot at the creatures who are flying down at you. The bees were tricky, they would fly down at you and then when they reached the bottom of the screen they would loop back up to try and crash into your ship and destroy your ship. You could get double fire power if you wanted by getting one ship sucked up by an alien like thing then shooting him down..careful not to hit your own ship in the process. Clear level after level…it was all about putting in your initials for everyone to see. Kind of like “tagging…but without spray paint and it was legal.
September 13th, 1985. “Super Mario Bros” released. This was and still is one of the all time great series of games! Mario is always trying to save that damned princess,,,and has to avoid and conquer numerous obstacle along the way in order to do so! One of the great things about this game, it was the first to have “tricks”.. after some searching and playing around, you find things that most people wouldn’t. They usually give you a ton of points or extra lives. I entered a tournament in 1987, it was played at a movie theater called “Buster’s pub and cinema” in East Hartford ,CT. You played on a movie screen…I won a big screen TV and a years supply of some kind of soda called “Slice”.
As far as RPG games go (RPG is “Role Playing Games”..for you non gamers reading this)… I dabbled with the “Final Fantasy” games..and they were ok. But as far as standing the test of time, pretty easy to control and excellent game play, nothing in my opinion beats the “Legend of Zelda” games. There are a ton of clues you have to decipher, find gold pieces, trvael by train or horse or magic unicorn to different lands..battle monsters to advance..forge paths to find treasure chests. There is usually someone you have to rescue as well…I just finished playing “Phantom Hourglass” and “Spirit Tracks” on my Nintendo DS (both games took about 6 months)…I love Zelda!
One of the first..and many still say the best..”Tecmo Bowl”. This was a great game in the mid to late 80’s..the offense had 4 plays to choose from, and the defense had 4 plays to choose from to try and stop them! Bo Jackson was almost unstoppable, and there were certain plays that no matter what the situation was..and no matter what defense was called..the pass would be completed for a first down…grr. My friend Mike and I used to get some beer, agree on what the line should be between two teams, bet on the game…and let the computer play. That’s what you do in February when football season is over.
1990 and John Madden football comes out and changes the way sports games are forever played. You have John madden announcing the game, real NFL players “playing” in them, and realistic moves and game play. The first few years were phenomenal for me, then the whole thing just started getting a little too involved and too many buttons coming in to play. Eddie George was the first player to appear on the cover in 2001 (thought I’d throw that piece of trivia in there, Madden himself appeared on every cover until then).
Tiger Woods golf is my favorite sports game to play. The first version came out in 1999, and game play hasn’t really changed all that much since then… because it hasn’t had to.You play against a field of pros, you control every aspect of your shot, club selection, draw or fade, many mini-games…and my favorite part is that you get to actually play the real courses that you watch them play on TV (I’m pretty certain that I am never going to play at Augusta or Pebble Beach, but I can here!)…the holes are the same, yardage, greens, weather conditions…it is really cool. You can always improve your player by winning $$ and buying attributes. You can play by yourself, and it is very simple to control.Tiger is arguably the greatest golfer of all times, and his series of games have lived up to that standard.
It’s been 30 years since I first picked up a joystick or inserted a few quarters into the machines.Games have changed so much in those in those years, as has everything else….and I’m not sure if they have changed for the better. I’m not into the “shoot-em up” ultra violent, kill everybody and everything games….I don’t think kids should be playing them either. Play the Madden and Tiger Woods sports games.. Go back to playing Mario where all he had to do was solve a bunch of puzzles and mazes ….occasionally he had to shoot a fireball or jump on top of something to kill it so he could advance, but nothing too bad..and eventually save the princess and live happily ever after.
Whatever games you like and decide to play, have a good time and play them until you beat them. Just remember this. I am better than you at them. Just look for my initials at the top of the high score list!