Star Trek: Strategic Operations Simulator

Star Trek: Strategic Operations SimulatorThe Game: Your mission is to travel from sector to sector, eliminating Klingon incursions into Federation space without getting your ship and crew destroyed. Friendly starbases offer aid and allow you to make resupply stops so you can keep up the good fight – and you do have to keep a careful eye on your phaser, shield and warp power… (Sega, 1982)
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Memories: In the wake of the unexpected theatrical success of the second Star Trek movie, Sega revamped the popular Star Trek computer game that has been – and still is – available on almost every computer platform since the beginning of time, giving it vector graphics renditions of the movie Enterprise, Klingon ships, and starbases, not to mention cool-looking phasers and photon torpedoes (actually the best part of the game). Continue reading

Super Mouse

Super MouseThe Game: Super Mouse is on the case. He’s trying to grab all the food from every level of the screen. While he’s on the case, cats are on the chase, trying to catch Super Mouse. Two blocks of cheese on the top levels of the screen can be dropped on top of the cats, or the cats can be tricked into chasing Super Mouse over a trap door that’ll dump them in a water tank. But the cats don’t stay gone for long. Super Mouse advances to a new level when he takes every piece of food back to his secret hideout. (Taito, 1982)

Memories: Barely remembered by anyone, Super Mouse was one of the hundreds of games that heralded the 1982 arcade “boom,” when no idea was too strange or too derivative. Super Mouse combines elements of Donkey Kong and Turtles (not exactly two games that one hears mentioned in the same breath a lot) to create something intriguingly unique. But it’s not all that and a piece of cheese. Continue reading

Tunnel Hunt

Tunnel HuntThe Game: Piloting a ship navigating a tunnel in space at breakneck speeds, your mission – aside from screaming down that tunnel way over the speed limit without getting too far off course- is to dispatch countless suspiciously bow-tie-shaped fighters before they get a clear shot at you. (Has anyone ever wondered what all these See the videoshort-range fighters are doing out here? Bah, never mind. Probably got separated from a convoy or something.) If the enemy ships do manage to get a shot off, you have a narrow window of opportunity in which to intercept the incoming laser fire – very narrow, considering how fast everything is moving. Fire too much, and your lasers overheat and become temporarily useless. Stray too far off course, and your hull temperature shoots upward until your ship explodes. (Atari, 1979 – released by Centuri in 1982)

Memories: This oft-forgotten gem in Atari’s coin-op library may well be the very first first-person arcade flight sim, and it’s an eye-searingly psychedelic riot of colors to boot. That this game isn’t recognized in the same annals as Atari’s Asteroids or Tempest for innovation probably goes down to its obscurity. Continue reading

Zzyzzyxx

ZzyzzyxxThe Game: You control a hapless creature who can jump between rows of moving bricks and even temporarily build a brick around himself. You’re trying to help him gather gifts for Lola, the object of his desires, at the opposite end of the screen; she won’t even pay attention to you until you’ve accumulated a certain number of gifts for her. (Demanding, isn’t she? I can hear Dr. Phil screaming “Stay away from her! She’s bad See the videofor you!” already.) Other than Lola’s curiously materialistic outlook on life, your biggest obstacles are colorful critters who would happily jump on you and end your quest. You can hide from them temporarily by building a brick around yourself, but if they catch you, it’s time to start over again. (Cinematronics, 1982)

Memories: First off, I have no idea what’s up with the title of this game. I really don’t. It’s like someone’s trying to make sure they’re absolutely the last thing in the white pages. Other than that, though, it’s strangely fun and frustrating, with the rows and rows of moving blocks providing you with more stuff than you can hope to keep track of. Continue reading

Adventures Of Tron

Adventure Of TronThe Game: As video warrior Tron, you scale the heights of the MCP’s domain, avoiding Tanks, Recognizers and Grid Bugs, and trying to collect Bits. You can occasionally hitch a brief ride on a perpetually airborne Solar Sailer on one level, allowing you to fly over your opponents’ heads for a few seconds. (M Network [Mattel], 1982)

Memories: Though formatted like one of the numerous platform adventure games that would one day become associated with Mario, Adventures Of Tron, while quite challenging, is frustrating since there seems to be no actual goal to reach. After a few levels, it becomes extremely repetitious. Continue reading

Barnstorming

BarnstormingBuy this gameThe Game: Players climb into a biplane to race against time to fly through barns and try to avoid geese, who have a habit of finding their way into one’s propellers. Other obstacles include windmills and, well, the broad side of a barn; collisions are a mere setback, not a fiery death. (Activision, 1982)

Memories: As one of the best-remembered early Activision titles, Barnstorming is actually See the videoa very simple game: most, if not all, of the game is based on easily memorized patterns, and the rest is down to reflexes. One element of the game, however, has a surprisingly checkered history. Continue reading

Burgertime

BurgertimeThe Game: As Chef Peter Pepper, you climb around a multi-level factory whose sole function is to make some really big burgers. We’re talking about some BIG burgers here. But your ingredients aren’t exactly cooperating with you… (M Network [Mattel, under license from Data East], 1982)

Memories: In an ambitious bid to exploit their Burgertime license on systems other than the Intellivision, Mattel did their best to bring Chef Peter Pepper and that pack of pesky pickles to the 2600, and while the end result fell a little bit short, it also racked up its share of good selling points. And perhaps by virtue of its name alone, Burgertime was one of the best selling M Network titles. Continue reading

Burgertime

BurgertimeThe Game: As a trundling chef, you’re simply trying to make four nicely-stacked burgers, but there’s one little obstacle – the ingredients are coming to life and stalking you! If the walking pickles, eggs, and hot dogs catch up with you, See the videothey’ll make a meal of your chef. You have a limited number of pepper shakers you can use to repel your enemies (talk about pepper spray!), but the only way to do away with them permanently is to squash them by dropping a layer of your burger-under-construction on top of them. (Mattel [under license from Data East], 1982)

See the original TV adMemories: Burgertime was one of Mattel’s biggest arcade game licensing coups, and the arcade game is usually fondly remembered. The best feature of the Intellivision edition of Burgertime may, in fact, be its calliope-like music – after a few minutes, it grates on the nerves, but it’s a very close match to the arcade game. The graphics are a bit blocky, but the game is still recognizable as Burgertime. Continue reading

Centipede

CentipedeThe Game: Centipedes, spiders and fleas invade your garden of ‘shrooms. Spiders follow an evasive course and can collide with you at any moment. Fleas poison the mushrooms, making them impervious to your fire (and thus giving the Buy this gamecentipede impenetrable cover). And the centipede itself can split into many segments, and if it reaches the bottom of the screen, will turn around and start to move upward again, possibly catching you from behind. Every time you manage to completely “debug” the screen, you move up to a harder level. (Atari, 1982)

Memories: Centipede was a huge arcade hit, so it’s no wonder Atari wasted no time in creating the home translation. Though the Atari 2600 version of the game couldn’t compete with its arcade ancestor’s colorful graphics, the home version did get the point across. Continue reading

Demon Attack

Demon AttackBuy this gameThe Game: Demons coalesce into existence in mid-air above your cannon. Send them back where they came from by force – but watch out, as demons in later levels split into two parts upon being hit, which must then be destroyed individually… (Imagic, 1982)

Memories: Ah, the storied history of Demon Attack. Back in the day when the legal game was almost as new the video game, Atari was jealously guarding its See the videoterritory. Now, never mind that Bushnell-era Atari had clearly based some of its cartridge games on arcade sleeper hits – Circus Atari borrowed heavily from Exidy’s coin-op Circus, to name just one – the company was now out for blood under the management of Warner Bros. and Ray Kassar. Continue reading

Dragonfire

DragonfireThe Game: You’re another treasure-hunting glory seeker who’s about to meet more than his match. If you can survive crossing the drawbridge into the castle – a task made incredibly difficult by the glowing fireballs of dragon breath being hurled toward you – you’ve got an even more hazardous obstacle ahead: the dragon himself is guarding a huge stash of treasure. Even if he can’t stop you from pocketing every shiny thing in the castle, chances are you won’t make it out alive. (Imagic, 1982)

Memories: This is a game that worked well with the Intellivision’s disc controller. Especially on the second screen. It’s a rare case where I don’t mind that devilishly difficult controller at all. Vastly expanded from the same game as we knew it on the Atari 2600, Dragonfire is yet another example of Imagic concocting pure genius for the Intellivision. Continue reading

Fire Fighter

Fire FighterThe Game: It’s a three-alarm fire! Or so the packaging would have you believe. It’s actually more of a .5-alarm fire, giving you more than enough time to extinguish the blaze and rescue the poor soul who’s trapped in the building. Higher diffuculty levels actually give the game some challenge. Needless to say, letting the fire consume the building (or the person inside) does not brighten your prospects for a video game fire-fighting career. (Imagic, 1982)

Memories: Fire Fighter has always struck me as an oddity among the legendarily challenging Imagic games that accompanied it to the store shelves. Cosmic Ark, Atlantis and Moonsweeper were nothing to sneeze at. On its default skill level, Fire Fighter is something to snooze at. Continue reading

Frogger

FroggerThe Game: As in the arcade game of the same name, you try to help an amiable amphibian amble his way through rush hour traffic and a river full of dangers in a quest to get home. (Parker Brothers, 1982)

Memories: While faithful to its namesake, the Atari 2600 edition of Frogger is hampered not by the 2600’s graphical limitations, but by the flickering caused by the presence of more animated characters on the screen than the machine could keep track of. When you consider that the Atari 2600 encountered this problem if there were ever more than four sprites on the screen at the same time, you begin to see the problem with Frogger and its playing field chock full of traffic, and the river full of turtles and logs. Continue reading

Gorf

GorfThe Game: The Gorfian Empire is attacking Earth, and naturally you’re our only hope. Symmetrical waves of space invaders lead off the invasion, followed by more unpredictable laser attack waves with long-range weapons. Next, you must pick off Gorfian robots as they emerge from a space warp, and finally you take the fight directly to the Gorfian flagship, trying to get one perfect shot in at its most vulnerable point. (CBS Video Games, 1982)

Memories: It’s almost like the original, this home translation from CBS Video Games, though there’s one rather major omission. When Bally/Midway licensed out its popular original coin-op Gorf, it had to make sure that one whole stage of the pioneering multi-level game was left out – the Galaxians screen. Continue reading

Lock ‘N’ Chase

Lock 'N' ChaseThe Game: You’re in charge of a getaway car loaded with crafty criminals. Your job is to sneak around the maze, avoid four colorful cops who are hot on your trail, and grab all the dough – and, of course, to escape so you can steal again another day. But the cops can trap you with a series of doors that can prevent you from getting away… (M Network [Mattel Electronics], 1982)

Memories: 1982. The year that everybody – and I do mean everybody – was trying to build a better Pac-Man. Mattel’s Intellivision console was suffering from the perception among mainstream gamers that the new, next-generation machine lacked arcade titles in its library; with titles like Major League Baseball, Mattel owned the video sports market. But this was 1982 and America had yet to sweat off Pac-Man Fever – sports games weren’t “in” at the moment. Continue reading

Lock ‘n’ Chase

Lock 'N' ChaseThe Game: You’re in charge of a getaway car loaded with crafty criminals. Your job is to sneak the crooks around the maze, one at a time, avoid four colorful cops who are hot on your trail, and grab all the dough – and, of course, to See the original TV adescape so you can steal again another day. (Mattel [under license from Data East], 1982)

Memories: A fine translation of Data East’s arcade game, this cartridge – one of the earliest examples of a licensed coin-op title from Mattel – is let down by the maddening control problems of the dreaded disc controller. But audiovisually speaking, it was as close as one could get to the original, so I do have to award it some points there. Continue reading

Lost Luggage

Lost LuggageThe Game: Before the TSA, there was… a little pixellated stick man on your Atari. Using the joysticks, your job is to direct this hapless less line of airport defense to catch every piece of luggage before it hits the sides or bottom of the screen. Failure to do so will result in the contents of the luggage spilling out across the floor; on some difficulty settings, black suitcases appear containing explosives that’ll detonate if that case isn’t caught. As soon as the area is successfully cleared of luggage, there’s a moment to catch your breath before the next plane lands and the process begins again. (Games By Apollo, 1982)

Memories: As funny as the game’s programmer thought it’d be to stick bombs in his pixellated suitcases on certain settings, Lost Luggage is one of those games that means something completely different now than it did at the time of release. But unintentionally prophetic dark humor or not, it’s one of the better catch-everything-or-else games on the VCS. Continue reading

Omega Race

Omega RaceThe Game: In an enclosed track in space, you pilot a sleek, lone space fighter up against an army of mine-laying opponents. In early rounds of the Omega Race, only a few minelayers activate at a time…but in later rounds, they all deploy their full arsenal at you at once, leaving you to dodge through a deadly maze in zero gravity while trying to turn to draw a bead on your opponents. You can bounce off of the walls of the track, but anything else is deadly to touch. (CBS Electronics, under license from Bally/Midway, 1982)

Memories: Cashing in on Omega Race‘s cult following in arcades – it was Midway‘s direct response to the Newtonian physics of Atari‘s AsteroidsCBS gave its home version of Omega Race the dubious distinction of being playable only with the included Booster Grip joystick “enhancer” – and as many second-hand copies of Omega Race have circulated on the collectors’ market without the Booster Grip, some gamers have been scratching their heads in bewilderment. Continue reading

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