Posts Tagged ‘1985’

Game 57: Paradroid

Posted: May 28, 2011 by Jeroen in Games
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Game 100/1001 according to the list

Genre: Action
Platform: Commodore 64
Year of Release: 1985
Developer: Andrew Braybrook
Publisher: Hewson Consultants

The most roundly numbered game we’ve covered so far, Paradroid is an old action game that makes you hack robots and fight your way around. Blow up the ship by shooting other droids and taking over their bodies. It’s that simple.

Our Thoughts

Time for a game which sounds more like a crappy Hitchhikers tie-in than anything else. It’s certainly not a well-known title. It’s our first, and only, title for the Commodore 64. I think it is fair to say that we had to emulate it… considering how old it is.

Yeah. Now, this is an interesting game anyway. It took some time for us to figure out what we needed to do. Ah tutorials and instruction booklets how we missed you. Very true. The idea is actually not too bad – you’re a droid assigned to blow up a ship that looks a remarkable lot like the USS Enterprise of Star Trek fame. (Why blow it up? Why not?) To do so, you take over other droids with more powerful weapons by hacking their system in a minigame that makes you take more rows of a column than the opponent. Stronger droids are, of course, harder to take over. It was great since it gave me the only opportunity I am ever going to have to try and explode a starship with Shatner still in it. At least in theory. Like the theory about Shatner’s Shakespearean acting method? It’s either that or early dementia. But that’s not relevant at the moment.

One thing that is very interesting from this game is that although it it top-down they only show enemy robots if they are within your droid’s line of sight. Making for some surprise appearances as you round the corner, especially when you’re a simple droid suddenly being faced withsome super fighter. Who is kick-ass when you beat the mini-game and then do a little bit of mechanical body snatching. It is so useful in clearing a path from some measley inconsequential droids. Absolutely. Taking them over remains tough, but if you can manage it, it’s great. That minigame is a real bitch until you figure out the best way to beat it. Something that takes you about the first ten games you play. When playing this game, prepare to die and restart often. Oh god this game is frickin’ brutal in that respect. It’s a good thing this game predates long cutscenes… else it’d be horrible.

Still, when you get that far that you get it, the game actually gets quite addictive. I must admit that while I was playing to try to get a good screenshot, I instead did try to get a bit further in the game… what should have been a single game took… a few more than that. A few more than a few more. A bit like Tetris then where you keep playing it to get better and better scores. Yeah. But instead to get to the next deck of the ship.

What helps here are the graphics. Yeah, they’re simple compared to what we have now, but they’re effective. A futuristic ship with a fitting layout of the decks, starting out in the crew quarters and being able to go to other places. They’re nicely layed out, making some sense, and nice to explore – you want to see all decks. I realise there aren’t many, but it’s just nice and varied enough to work. They also go through pallette swaps between games, somehow effective in making them look just a little bit different each time. I have to admit that I really did love the looks of the different marauding robots. Some of them actually look slightly threatening as you roll around the corridors in a metallic foetal position. Some did give me the impression of some big humanoid thing stomping around the halls. This is also helped by the randomness – while the ship start out in a similar way each time, the robots follow their own path that changes between games… meaning I was very surprised to face the nastiest droid as I was walking down the first corridor.

And so I started yet another new game.

Final Thoughts

This is a game from a simpler time, with the appropriate graphics and difficulty curve. You need to take your time to get this game. After that, you get a game that’s addictive in the sense that so many games from this era are – a single game doesn’t take long, but you just want to keep trying. It’s fun, addictive, and you just want to try to win.  And there’s so much more strategy to it than running around a Pacman maze, as we might be used to now.


Game 9: Little Computer People

Posted: December 16, 2010 by Jeroen in Games
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Game 95/1001 according to the list

Genre: Life Simulation
Platform: Various ones
Year of Release: 1985
Developer: Activision
Publisher: Activision

Did you know there are little people living in your computer? Well, there are, and in this Tamagotchi-like fishbowl game, you can see one of them going through his daily routine.

Yes, a guy and his dog in a house. They walk around and do the usual it’s a quiet day and I’ll relax stuff, while we just get to watch. Oh, you can bring food and water occasionally, and ask them to do things, but most of them, you just watch.

Our Playthrough

Turn on, sit back, do other things while occasionally glancing over to the screen. It’s all you can do, really.

Our Thoughts

Please dance *shrug* boring.

It’s like watching someone doing nothing for a few days. Watch some TV, read, talk on the phone, eat, drink, ignore the dog. Basically, it’s like Big Brother without the possibility of nudity or any real drama. And with no other people around. The game isn’t really one I’d recommend playing. It’s interesting as a piece of history – a predecessor of the Tamagotchi and other toys – but there’s nothing for you to do. Press “give food” and “Give water” and “Give dog food”, and that’s it.

I can see how it came to be an inspiritation for games like The Sims. To the right person this could be incredibly fascinating, even nowadays. Someone with as much of a life as the guy in the game? That’s not for me to judgeEven so, the first thing games like The Sims did was adding interactivity, and that’s the one thing missing from this game. Sure, you can type in requests for the man, but you have to be lucky enough to have him listen.

In some ways this game was reaching way beyond it’s grasp. Possibly. In any case, it was a first step that needed some more work to really become a game, rather than a slightly interactive screensaver. In some ways a real life aqauarium would have been more fun, at least there is some chance of the fish fighting each other.

Final Thoughts

This game is a relic, pure and simple. It is always interesting to see where successful franchises such as The Sims came from historically. This is not something you can really play… but it’s an interesting distraction for 5-10 minutes.

Game 6: Super Mario Bros.

Posted: December 7, 2010 by mulholland in Games
Tags: , , , ,

Game 97/1001 according to the list

Genre: Platformer
Platform: NES
Year of Release: 1985
Developer: Nintendo
Publisher: Nintendo

It may seem a little bit odd to cover another Mario already but there must be in excess of 20 different games (this could be an exaggeration) featuring this plumber so it’s a good idea to get a few out-of-the-way early.

I say get out-of-the-way but we are talking about the big daddy of them all, the title responsible for the renaissance of console gaming after the money pit that was the Atari E.T. game.

We all know the story about some fire-breathing turtle stealing a princess and then some Italian in a red hat goes off to save her, massacring the Goomba population of the Mushroom Kingdom as he goes along. Then again Super Mario Bros. sold over 40 million copies worldwide and is widely regarded as the most influential game in the history of the industry. However brief that history may be.

Our Playthrough

We decided that the most democratic way was for us to play through this was together using two player. I tried to go through it normally whilst Jeroen made heavy use of the warp pipe cheat. At least this way we get a good look at most of the worlds.

Our Thoughts

The first Mario platformer. Not first Mario game, thanks to the Donkey Kong series and Mario Bros. But the first proper platformer?

Well it definitely made side-scrolling platformers a household name. Not sure there were many before that attempted to do that. Yeah, none that I can think of right now to be sure, and it made Nintendo a household name.

Don’t forget that it saved home console gaming. It’s strange to think that we may not be sitting in a world of Wiis and PS3s if not for this game. I think there were many NES games responsible for it, not this one, but Super Mario Bros. is obviously most closely linked to the console, simply because you normally got the game when you got a NES.

True, and I think it was just able to take the world by storm because it flows naturally and just feels innovative. Unlike Duck HuntYou won’t understand Duck Hunt until you’ve used the light gun to try to shoot the dog laughing at you. I’ve played Point Blank and had similar experiences with various mini-games.

Of course let us not forget that this game originated all the Mario paraphernalia (minus Mario himself). Bowser, Peach, Toads, Goombas, Hammer Bros, Bullet Bills… I could go on. They are such parts of gaming culture that it’s like they’ve always been there. And even some that you keep remembering were in there already (for me at least), like the jellyfish.

As a game, it’s a good game. It’s hard to compare now, really, as the subsequent games improved on the formula, but the original is still fun to play. The graphics aren’t great, it might be lacking in variety, palette swaps may be everywhere. The challenge is there though. It’s unforgiving at times and extremely compelling, even if one level if just the photo-negative of another.

The challenge is there, and you can tell that’s what matters here. As well as the music; it may be crappy in quality, but they’re instantly recognisable. Well just 3-4 notes in and it feels homely. Like an old pair of slippers that you’ve perfectly broken in. Always a pleasure to slip in and out of. And I think that goes for the entire game.

Yeah, there are so many things other games have done better. But the game works, it’s solid, and it’s fun to just play, whether it’s the original NES version or one of the many remakes. And I suspect that, with the way it’s been everywhere, it’s the closest to a shared experience gamers around the world have.

That and Tetris. Yeah, but less face it – would you rather look at Russian buildings or eat a flower so you can start shooting fire (from your nose, if you look at the sprites used for it in this game). Both, then I’d be like Godzilla.

Anyway, I look forward to covering The Lost Levels in a month or so. And Lost Levels will be interesting. Possibly the best example of an early level pack. And a game not released outside Japan until the release of Super Mario All-Stars for the SNES. But more on that once we reach that game!

Final Thoughts

The word classic comes to mind, and I know it’s a word we’re going to use often, but it’s the best to describe why Super Mario Bros. deserves to be in here. Addictive, fun, instantly recognisable, and who hasn’t played it? Worth a look for everyone, not just for historical value, but to see how far you can get and how well you do. And to see why Goombas actually look like mushrooms.