The Game: You’re a swimmer, and you’re doing what any swimmer does – splashing your way down the river, trying to avoid typical deadly swimming hazards like fast-moving floating logs and gigantic killer crabs. And like most swimmers, you’re trying to collect yummy prizes from the water, such as cherries and bunches of grapes. Dive under the obstacles, work your way around the predators, reach the finish line and swim on to the next level! (Tehkan, 1982)
Memories: Okay, it has to be said at last. I have to get it on the record. What is it with the diet of early 80s video game characters? Really. Everyone’s eating cherries and apples and other fruit – think about it: Pac-Man, Kangaroo, Mr. Do and Swimmer seem to be subsisting on a largely fruit-based diet. Now, this probably little to do with the produce industry, and everything to do with fruit being the most recognizable foodstuff that could be produced with the graphics capabilities of the time. Still, it’s a funny coincidence that crosses species, game companies, genres and everything except the food pyramid.
Now that that’s out of the way: Swimmer is a fun and frustrating little game that requires you to learn how to time your dives just right. The game really gets fun when, on the second level, you get to add another Pac-Man staple to your diet, flashing power-ups which turn you into a lean, mean, crab-killing machine (who can still be stopped by hitting your head on a log).
And for all of the little things it seems to have “borrowed” from other games, Swimmer is a unique little gem of a game. I haven’t seen anything like it since.