51 Shades of Geek

Changes

ChangesThe Game: Players guide a caterpillar around a maze of twigs and branches, snatching up nourishment and the occasional treat, and avoiding other insect life; some parts of the branches can be turned. Some of the See video of this gametreats will allow the caterpillar to consume other insects for a brief time. Portions of the maze can be rotated, which can work against the player (cutting off the best or only escape route) or can work to the player’s advantage (effectively shutting a door in pursuers’ faces, or even smashing them if they’re in the wrong place at the right time). Clearing the maze allows the caterpillar to turn into a butterfly and escape (who needs a pupal stage anyway?); the player advances to the next level, where a new caterpillar needs help navigating a new maze. (Orca, 1982)

Memories: Just like Hollywood blockbusters, there’s development turnaround time for video games, both then and now. That may explain why this Pac-Man knockoff didn’t show up in arcades until long after the Pac-saga itself had moved on to such titles as Ms. Pac-Man and Super Pac-Man. Continue reading

Dogfight

DogfightThe Game: Enemy fighters arrive, wave after wave, attempting to outflank the player’s fighter jet and trap it in the path of their fire. The player can only move the jet side to side to avoid incoming fire and attempt to line up a shot on the enemy fighters. Each new wave of enemies brings new tactics, new weapons to evade… and a new batch of targets. (Thunderbolt [under license to Orca], 1983)

Memories: It’s easy to imagine the design and planning meeting for this game. It goes something like this:

“You know what my favorite part of Galaga is? The challenging stage. I hate all those other stages. They’re just there to trip me up on my way to the challenging stage. What if we made a game where the whole thing is like the challenging stage, except they occasionally shoot back at you?” Continue reading

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