Sunday, August 29, 2010

Game of the Week: Dig Dug

In the early 1980s, there were tons of arcades around filled with tons of different video games. Many are remembered fondly even today, but some stood out as different from all the rest. One such game was Dig Dug.

While Dig Dug might not seem overly special when compared to today's gameplay and today's graphics, it was quite unique when it first came out in 1982. Before Dig Dug, most games had been science fiction shooters, climbing games or maze games, with a few unique exceptions. Dig Dug was one of those exceptions.

The object of Dig Dug is to destroy underground monsters and dragons. To get to these enemies, you have to dig. Once you get to them, or they get to you, the player has to destroy the monsters by blowing them up with an air pump or by dropping a large rock on them. Sometimes your enemies would get away, but more often than not they came at you, quickly and in numbers.

And beyond the first board or two, it was never easy killing all those dragons and monsters. Especially the dragons because they could breath fire.

After a player had dropped two of the available rocks on the screen, extra items would appear that could be picked up for bonus points.

Dig Dug was quite the popular game in the early 1980s, and it was ported to many home video game systems and computers of the time including the Atari 2600, Intellivision, Commodore VIC-20 and many more. There was even a sequel game, Dig Dug II, but it never had the following of its original. There have also been small, hand-held versions of Dig Dug, including versions for cell phones.

Though not as popular as such games as Pac-Man, Donkey Kong and the like, Dig Dug is still quite iconic and is often remembered fondly even today by retro gamers.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Game of the Week: Donkey Kong

In the earliest days of the 1980s, the video game world was still reeling from the success of such monster hits as Space Invaders and Pac-Man. Those two games were the first gigantic arcade games on the market, and they helped create the path of future video games for the next decade (or even longer).

What would the next hit arcade game be? Would there be another hit arcade game?

The answer was yes. And that game would be Donkey Kong.

It's a simple game, really. The player controls the character Mario (yes, the Mario), who has to climb to the top of a partially-constructed building to save his girlfriend from the dastardly Donkey Kong, a giant ape bent on keeping the girl from himself.

From there, it gets more complicated. Mario not only has to climb up the building to get to his girl, but he has to jump and dodge bouncing barrels and fireballs while doing so, and he has to be careful not to fall off the side of the building.

Once Mario gets to the top of the game screen, he gets the girl. Or does he? Not yet. Kong just grabs the girl and moves on to the next screen, which is different and more challenging than the one before.

With its fun gameplay, solid colors and unique characters, Donkey Kong was a massive hit of a game for its creators, the Nintendo Company.

Donkey Kong has been so popular since its introduction in 1981 that it has gone on to spawn dozens of sequel games, ports, television shows, toys and much more.

And deservedly so. Donkey Kong was awesome back in the day.

And it's still pretty fun to play even now.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

100 awesome arcade games from the 1980s

Though it got its start in the late 1970s, the Golden Age of arcade games was really the 1980s. There were a few arcade classics still around in the early 1990s, but by then the majority of huge hit games had already been released. For your perusing pleasure, 100 awesome arcade games that were hits in the 1980s (regardless of when they were originally released). If you feel any were left out, please add them in the comments section.
  1. Pac-Man
  2. Mrs. Pac-Man
  3. Donkey Kong
  4. Donkey Kong Jr.
  5. Galaga
  6. Galaxian
  7. Space Invaders
  8. Defender
  9. Donkey Kong 3
  10. Kick-Man
  11. Qix
  12. Joust
  13. Qbert
  14. Rampage
  15. Zaxxon
  16. Frogger
  17. Burgertime
  18. Satan's Hollow
  19. Mario Bros.
  20. Super Mario Bros.
  21. Star Castle
  22. Asteroids
  23. Missile Command
  24. Battlezone
  25. Centipede
  26. Millipede
  27. Dig Dug
  28. Mr. Do
  29. Mr. Do's Castle
  30. Tempest
  31. Star Wars
  32. Star Trek
  33. Bump 'n' Jump
  34. Tron
  35. Pleaides
  36. Rush 'n' Attack
  37. All American Football
  38. Mousetrap
  39. Mappy
  40. Paperboy
  41. Popeye
  42. Discs of Tron
  43. Sinistar
  44. Crossbow
  45. Robotron: 2084
  46. Spy Hunter
  47. Time Pilot
  48. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
  49. Captain America and The Avengers
  50. Wizards of Wor
  51. Karate Champ
  52. Superman
  53. Punch-Out!!!
  54. Xenophobe
  55. Gauntlet
  56. Bosconian
  57. Kung-Fu Master
  58. Tag Team Wrestling
  59. Tetris
  60. Tapper
  61. Gladiator
  62. Crazy Climber
  63. Rastan
  64. Elevator Action
  65. Gorf
  66. Berzerk
  67. Heavy Barrel
  68. Vanguard
  69. Timber
  70. Food Fight
  71. Jungle King
  72. Jungle Hunt
  73. Moon Patrol
  74. Kangaroo
  75. Toobin'
  76. Super Pac-Man
  77. Pole Position
  78. Pole Position II
  79. Ghouls 'n' Ghosts
  80. Double Dragon
  81. Streetfighter
  82. Ghosts 'n' Goblins
  83. Choplifter
  84. Dragon's Lair
  85. Pengo
  86. Rally-X
  87. Eagle
  88. Defender: Stargate
  89. Black Widow
  90. Venture
  91. Robby Roto
  92. Scramble
  93. Xevious
  94. Gyruss
  95. 1942
  96. 10-Yard Fight
  97. Red Baron
  98. Lock 'n' Chase
  99. Night Driver
  100. Out Run
Related links

Game of the Week: Microsurgeon for Intellivision

Intellivison System III ConsoleDuring the Golden Age of home video games in the early 1980s, the Atari 2600 was king. But it's main competition, Mattel's Intellivision, was no slouch and even offered better graphics and often better gameplay. Into this mix stepped Imagic, a third-party game maker.

Imagic initially had games mainly for the Atari 2600, and some great games they were. Imagic has often been compared to Activision in its quality of graphics and gameplay for Atari 2600 games. But Imagic also made games for other systems, including the Intellivision.

Of the several Imagic games made for the Intellivision, Microsurgeon was the most unique.

In Microsurgeon, the player operates a tiny ship that flies around inside a human body. The ship's objective is to go around healing the body, but attacks from white blood cells sometimes put a halt to any medicine the ship could deliver. It was generally best to operate within the body's arteries, as the ship was more safe there.

Sort of a maze game, but also an educational game, Microsurgeon is one of the earliest video games with a focus upon health. It was ported to a Texas Instruments computer and a few other systems, and it earned all kinds of awards for innovation back in 1982 and 1983.

Most importantly, it was a lot of fun to play, and still is today.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Video game of the week: Sea Wolf

Before there was Pac-Man, before there was even Space Invaders, there was Sea Wolf. Introduced in 1976 by the Midway company, Sea Wolf was the first arcade video game many of that generation got to play.

The game controls were unique for the time, and are still unusual even today, with a periscope as the main control mechanism. A player peered through the periscope’s viewing glass, lined up a shot against enemy ships, then pushed a little button on the side of the periscope to launch a torpedo. The torpedo’s shot out from the bottom of the screen and smashed ships at the top of the screen, though there were floating mines in the water that could get in the way of your shots.

Also, Sea Wolf helped to set the standards for arcade game packaging with its plywood body and artwork on the sides and front of the machine, still a common practice to this day for many arcade games.

Sea Wolf was a relatively slow game, even by standards of the mid-1980s, but during the mid-1970s it was great fun. Sea Wolf introduced thousands to video games and arcade games, and it helped to pave the way for the future success of such arcade hits as Space Invaders, Pac-Man, Donkey Kong, Frogger and more. Without Sea Wolf, early arcade games wouldn’t have been the same most likely.

Unfortunately, Sea Wolf was never the most popular of games and is mostly a forgotten game nowadays except by the oldest retro gamers. It was ported a few times to computer systems of the early 1980s, and in 2008 a retro 3-D version was released called Sea Wolf: The Next Mission, but the game never had much success beyond the arcades where it was king for a very short while.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

10 health benefits of video games

  1. Better vision: That's right. Video games can help improve your eyesight. A study performed at theUniversity of Rochester found that those who played video games for at least a few hours each day for a month improved their ability to identify letters in a visual acuity test by 20 percent.
  2. Pain: No, video games can't take away your pain, but they might be able to help you cope with your pain. Dr. Bryan Raudenbush, a professor at Wheeling Jesuit University, performed a study with actual game players. The doctor found that those who were experiencing pain were distracted by playing video games, thus the games helped them to temporarily forget about much if not all of their pain. And what types of games seemed to help the most? Sports and fighting games.
  3. Fitness: Video gamers are often stereotyped as obese and lazy, but the future might prove that to be untrue. The International Sports Sciences Association asked multiple doctors and scientists what they thought about combing exercise with video games and the responses were overwhelmingly positive. Dr. Josh Trout, Professor of Kinesiology at California State University Chico had this to say, "... exergaming, and exertainment, is an excellent way for getting kids hooked on physical activity ..." With the Nintendo Wii growing in popularity, future video gamers might be in top shape because of the systems controllers that often provide physical activity.
  4. Social skills: In an article in the British Medical Journal, Dr. Mark Griffiths of Nottingham Trent University wrote that video games had been used to improve the social skills of young people who suffer from severe learning disabilities. Dr. Griffiths has spent 15 years studying video games and their effect on patients.
  5. Stress: This one might seem obvious to some of you experienced players, but a study of 5,043 gamers found that gaming helps to lower stress levels and allows gamers to relax. Who did the study? Nerdular Nerdence magazine.
  6. Losing weight: Researchers from the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center studied children ages 10 to 13 and found that exergaming burned at least as many calories as moderate exercise or sports, such as bowling. So break out Dance Dance Revolution and burn some calories!
  7. Learning: According to Professor James Gee of the University of Wisconsin, video games are an excellent choice for the cognitive development in children an adults. For example, players trying to work through a maze onscreen are actually working their mind, they are literally learning. If you want to learn more, check out Gee's book "What Video Games Have to Teach us about Learning and Literacy."
  8. Faster response times: Longtime gamers likely expected this one. A study in the journal Current Directions in Psychological Science showed that players who played video games regularly scored higher in reaction times, even when tested under circumstances not involving actual games.
  9. Asthma: No, video games can't cure asthma. But what the games can do is educate and help patients to learn and remember better habits. Dr. Pamela Kato of the University Medical Center Utrecht found in one study that a video game made for children suffering from asthma that the game helped the young patients to pick up better behaviors in their own self care, as well as educating the children about their condition.
  10. Dexterity: Basically, hand-eye coordination. In 2008, at the Convention of the American Psychological Association, the results of research into video games was announced, including results that surgeons who played video games regularly performed better than surgeons who did not play video games.
Related links
10 Health Benefits of Sex
10 health benefits of beer
5 Unusual Foods in a Can

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Game of the Week: Space Invaders

Space Invaders might be the most popular video game of all time, with the possible exception of Pac-Man. Even the Guinness Worlds Records have dubbed Space Invaders the top arcade game of all time. And if you were around when the arcades where just hitting big in the late 1970s, you can remember seeing a Space Invaders game just about everywhere you went.

By no means was Space Invaders the first video game or even the first arcade game, but it was the first arcade game that practically created the whole arcade fade of the 1980s. The game of Pong had been somewhat of a hit, and it had been available in some arcades and at bars and other places, but it couldn't touch the popularity of Space Invaders.

Space Invaders has proved so popular of the years, it has been ported to thousands of different home video game systems, computers, handheld devices, keychain games and more. There have even been several sequel games to Space Invaders, including other arcade games.

And why shouldn't Space Invaders be popular even today? It's a simple game, but the gameplay is addictive. You just guide your space cannon along the bottom of the screen while shooting at alien invaders in the sky above. A handful of shields are between you and the invaders to protect you (and sometimes to protect the invaders!), but these can eventually be blown away by your or the enemy's missiles. Every once in a while an enemy UFO flies by at the top of the screen and is worth bonus points.

Sounds simple, by today's standards for video games, and it was. It was also a lot of fun.