Monday, September 26, 2011

Retro video game console quiz

  1. What was the very first cartridge packaged with the Atari 2600 console?
  2. By what name was the Nintendo Entertainment System known in the Middle East and Asia?
  3. In what year was the Colecovision released to consumers?
  4. What was the name of the company that developed the Intellivision?
  5. The Vectrex console came with a built-in game. What was it called?
  6. What is the full name of the Atari 5200?
  7. In what year was production of the Super Nintendo discontinued?
  8. What was the original price for an Atari 2600?
  9. The Atari 7800 had its own games, but it could also play games from what famous home video game system?
  10. What is the all-time best-selling video game for the Atari 2600?
  11. What is the name of the company that made the River Raid game?
  12. Who was the actor and writer who famously appeared in several Intellivision TV ads during the early 1980s?
  13. A famous comedian and actor first appeared before TV audiences in a 1982 advertisement for the Pitfall! video game. Who is he?
  14. How many colors could the Colecovision make use of?
  15. The Sega Genesis was known by what name outside of North America?
  16. What was the name of the first ever Star Wars video game?
  17. Who made it?
  18. For what console system?
  19. In what year?
  20. Attack of the Killer Tomatoes was a 1991 game initially released for what home console gaming system?

Go here for answers to the quiz.

Answers to home video game quiz

For questions to this quiz, go to this link.

1. Combat
2. The Family Computer (or FamiCom)
3. 1982
4. Mattel (or Mattel Electronics)
5. MineStorm
6. Atari 5200 SuperSystem
7. 2003
8. $199
9. Atari 2600
10. Pac-Man
11. Activision
12. George Plimpton
13. Jack Black
14. 16
15. The Mega Drive
16. Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back
17. Parker Brothers
18. Atari 2600
19. 1982
20. NES

Game of the week: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles for NES

The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles were hugely popular in the late 1980s. These mutant heroes got their start in comic books, but in 1987 a cartoon television show really kicked off the career of these turtles. Soon there were Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (TMNT) lunch boxes, action figures, and kinds of other merchandise. So it was a natural that a video game would come along in the franchise.

There would eventually be more than 20 TMNT video games made, but the very first one came out in 1989, created by Konami for the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES).

The objective of the game was to control one of the Turtles while on a mission to save the Turtles' friend April from the villainous Shredder. After a cartoon-like opening scene that explained who each of the Turtles were, the player's character traveled around an overhead map. The action began when the player's character went down a manhole into the sewers beneath the streets.

Down in the sewers, there were all kinds of enemies to fight. Your basic goons. Giant spiders. Fire monsters. And lots more. To help in the battle against these monstrosities, every so often your Turtle could pick up some special weapons.

Unlike most arcade games of the time period, instead of having the usual three lives, here the player gets four lives, one for each of the Turtles. So, if you played this game enough, you would likely get around to playing all four of the Turtles.

There are six main stages to this game, each ending with a boss.

The graphics were decent, but in my opinion not quite the best the NES had to offer. The action was smooth for the most part, but sometimes there was some flicker during heavy combat scenes. One highpoint of the TMNT game was the sound, which was full of great music.

This game proved popular enough that in 1990 it was ported to numerous computer systems at the time. Also, Nintendo Power magazine named TMNT the 1989 Game of the Year. Today, this game is still around, available on the Virtual Console for the Wii.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Game of the week: Turtles for Odyssey 2

As soon as the Namco and Midway companies released Pac-Man to the arcades in 1980, maze games suddenly became a huge craze. To cash in on that craze, other companies began to put out their own maze games.

One such game was Turtles, by Konami and Stern and Sega. Turtles was never a very popular arcade game. In fact, I only ever remember seeing one of them, and that was at a bowling alley in the mid-1980s.

However, Turtles was one of the few arcade games to be ported to the Odyssey 2 home gaming console made my Magnavox.

Turtles had simple graphics and simple rules. The player moves a mother turtle around a screen while trying to collect baby turtles and then take the babies to a house that appears randomly on the screen. The main problem with this is there are beetles trying to kill the mother turtle. In self defense, the mother turtle can drop bombs which will temporarily stun the beetles.

Sounds simple, and it was. But it was still a decent game. My biggest complaint was that the maze was too simple. Even the maze in the original Pac-Man was much more complex.

The Odyssey 2 version of Turtles, however, really stretched the capabilities of this home gaming system, so much so that it was almost like playing Turtles in the arcade. Graphics were never a strength of the Odyssey 2, though the colors were always bright, but for Turtles they really stood out, looking a fair amount like the arcade version's graphics.

The Odyssey 2 also had available an expansion module called The Voice, which allowed for some speech and extra special effects sounds. The Voice added quite a bit to the Turtles game, mainly through music that sounded quite like the arcade music for Turtles.

Now, all that being said, keep in mind I'm talking about very early 1980s home video game technology. To be perfectly honest, by today's standards all of this was garbage. But for the early 1980s, the graphics and sounds and gameplay for the Odyssey 2 version of Turtles was pretty good. Not great, put pretty good. There were worse games, but there were also better. Still, Turtles on the Odyssey 2 always held a special place for me because the arcade game is so rare (at least in the U.S.) and because the Odyssey 2 had so few arcade games ported to it.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Game of the week: Super Mario World for SNES

If you ever owned a Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES), there's a pretty good chance you've played the game Super Mario World.

How so?

Super Mario World was the game that originally came packed with the SNES when you bought the console.

And what a game it was!

Though somewhat similar to earlier two-dimensional platform games of the day (early 1990s), Super Mario World was so much more. Which should be no surprise as this was the fourth video game in the Mario franchise (not include the Donkey Kong franchise games).

Super Mario WorldThe plot is fairly simple. Brothers Mario and Luigi team up with a baby dinosaur named Yoshi to help save Princess Toadstool and the other dinosaurs from the evil King Koopa Bowser.

The player picks to play either Mario or Luigi, then leads his character through maps upon maps of various lands in search of the princess and to halt Bowser and his buddies. The running through levels and jumping around that can be found in earlier games is here, but from time to time there's also the potential to fly.

At first glance, Super Mario World appears little different than earlier games in its genre, but that's simply not true for two reason. First, the worlds here are quite in depth and go on and on and on. Second, the gameplay is awesome, featuring unique foes that are challenging but not unstoppable.

Super Mario World's popularity has remained strong throughout the years. Not only has this game earned constant high ratings among critics, but it has also been re-released in different versions and has been ported to modern gaming systems.

Great games like this are why the Mario franchise keeps on going and going.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Game of the week: Galaxian for arcade

With Space Invaders from Taito and Midway being such a huge hit arcade game upon its introduction in 1978, other companies soon wanted to get in on the video game action as well. One such company was Namco, and to enter the arcade universe this company launched a shooting game known as Galaxian.

At a quick glance, Galaxian would seem to be little more than a clone of Space Invaders, but it was much more than that.

For one thing, Galaxian was the very first video game to use full RGB color for all of its graphics. That's right! Color! Ooooo. Ahhhh.

Of course Galaxian had the typical approaching alien horde that the player had to blase out of the sky with his or her own attacking spaceship across the bottom of the screen. Still, there were noticeable differences from Space Invaders. For one thing, these alien attackers didn't just slowly crawl down the screen to attack. They did do some of that, but every so often several of the alien attackers would dive bomb down on the player's ship.

Galaxian was also one of the earliest arcade video games to include a musical background. And not only did this game use RGB colors, but it used them well, giving the player an eye-popping background of stars in space that actually twinkled and changed colors. Those colors were also bright to the eye, and stood out well on the screen perhaps better than any other game that came before.

Galaxian was hugely popular in the arcades, so much so that it ended up being ported to just about every home gaming console and computer console in the early-to-mid 1980s. Even today there are many home ports of Galaxian for modern gaming systems and computers.

Also, Galaxian was so popular that several sequel games were based upon it. The most popular of these games was another arcade hit, the classic Galaga, which expounded further upon the alien-shooting arcade genre.