Sunday, March 27, 2011

Game of the Week: Tron for arcade

In 1982, Walt Disney Productions released a movie about video games called Tron. Of course a movie about video games had to have video games about the movie, right?

To that end, over the next couple of years there were a half dozen or so Tron video games released, several for the Atari 2600 or Intellivision home video game systems, but a few for the arcades as well.

The arcade game Tron was the first to reach the arcades, released by Bally Midway in 1982, which would be followed up in 1983 with the arcade masterpiece Discs of Tron.

Tron was a popular game, so much so that Electronic Games magazine awarded it with Coin-Operated Game of the Year.

And why wouldn't this game be popular? It had fantastic graphics, at least for the time, as well as solid sounds and bright coloring. The gameplay was awesome, some of the best of the time, with unique controls of a joystick with a firing button and a radial dial.

Perhaps best of all, Tron was actually four games in one. Each round, the player got to pick the order in which to play the four mini-games. In one of these sub-games, the onscreen character shot at electronic spiders. In another game, the character played a game somewhat similar to Breakout, here the character having to shoot away colored bars in a tower. In still another mini-game, the player controlled a tank that roamed a maze shooting at enemy tanks. And in the last game, the player drove a light cycle around the screen while leaving behind a wall in hopes of destroying an enemy, computer-controlled light cycle.

It was all great fun. And still is awesome today.

There were four styles of cabinets for the original Tron, with most gamers being familiar with the regular arcade version. There was also a smaller arcade version and a cocktail table version. Most rare, however, was a sit-down version that was something like climbing into a race car.

With the release of the new Tron: Legacy movie, hopefully these older arcade games will get a chance to shine again, because they deserve it.

Below are images from the game.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Game of the Week: Qix for arcade

In the early 1980s, arcades were dominated by three types of games: maze games such as Pac-Man, climbing games such as Donkey Kong, and space shooting games such as Space Invaderss.

But there were a handful of games that were different from all the rest.

Like Qix.

Released by the Taito America Corporation in 1981, Qix was unlike anything else in the arcades at the time. It's a bit difficult to describe the gameplay of Qix, but I'll give it a shot. At the beginning of each level, the screen is sort of like a big, blank drawing board. Upon that board the player has a small diamond-shaped marker that can be moved around the edges of the board. The object is for the player to use that marker to draw lines across sections of the drawing board, and if successful then those sections will be filled with colors. This sounds quite simple, and it would be if it weren't for the fact there is a "Sparx" bouncing around the screen, and if it touched the player's marker while the marker was drawing a line, then the player lost a "life." There was also the deadly "Fuse" roaming around the edges of the screen, and the player's marker had to avoid the "Fuse," as well.

QixOver the last several decades, Qix has never died. It sported several sequel arcade games, including Qix-II Tournament and Super Qix and Twin Qix, and it has been ported in one form or another to just about every computer system, home gaming system and handheld system there has been. The most modern version of Qix is a version known as Qix++ for the Xbox Live Arcade.

Video game links

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Game of the Week: Galaga for Atari 7800

In the early 1980s, Galaga was one of the most popular arcade video shooting games in which the player controlled a spaceship that shot attacking aliens out of the sky. There were a lot of games like this at the time,Space Invaders having kicked off the trend in the late 1970s, but Galaga stood out because of its bright colors, decent sounds and excellent gameplay.

Because of Galaga's popularity, of course there had to be versions of it made for all the hit home video game systems of the time. Of course there had been a version of Galaga for the Atari 2600, but the 2600 wasn't known for great graphics. Atari might have tried for another Galaga with the Atari 5200 gaming system, but the 5200 didn't catch on with consumers, thus Galaga for that game was never released, probably never even attempted.

But then, soon after the crash of the video game market, Atari tried to jump back into success with its Atari 7800 system which had great graphics and even allowed for play of Atari 2600 games.

GalagaUnfortunately, by 1986 when the big push with the 7800 was tried, Nintendo was already taking over the home video game market with its NES (Nintendo Entertainment System).

Still, despite its short-lived lifespan on the shelves of stores, the Atari 7800 home video game system had some awesome games.

One such game was the home port of Galaga.

Admittedly, the graphics weren't exactly perfect with the arcade version of Galaga, but they were darn close. The colors were vibrant, the sounds were good, and most importantly, the gameplay was excellent. To truly experience the Atari 7800 version of Galaga at is finest, the toughest setting for the game needed to be utilized.

For serious collector's of retro video games, an Atari 7800 is a joy to have, and no true collector of the 7800 should not have their own copy of Galaga for that system.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Game of the Week: Popeye for Odyssey 2

The Atari 2600 was the hot home video game system of the early 1980s, but there were plenty of other systems, including the Odyssey 2 from the Magnavox company.

The Odyssey 2 was never a major hit in the United States, but it had solid success in Europe where it was known as the Philips Videopac G7000. This European success lead a handful of companies to make and/or port games for the Odyssey 2, including Popeye from Parker Brothers.

Odyssey 2 Video GamePopeye had been a pretty popular arcade game in the early 1980s, so popular that a port was made of it to just about every computer and home video gaming system of the time. There was even a small tabletop version of Popeye. The game was based upon the popular cartoon series of Popeye the Sailor.

The Odyssey 2 never had the greatest of graphics, often not even as good as those of the Atari 2600, which was a system commonly lambasted for not-so-great graphics. But the Odyssey 2 did have bright, vibrant colors and decent controls.

Popeye for the Odyssey 2 was guilty of simple, blocky graphics, as well. But it did have the bright colors as well as decent sound and quality gameplay.

Was Popeye ever a favorite of Odyssey 2 fans? It's hard to say since the Odyssey 2 was never the most popular of systems. But being that Popeye is one of the few games for the Odyssey 2 not actually made byMagnavox, someone at Parker Brothers must have seen the marketability potential.