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Invaders From Hyperspace!

Invaders From Hyperspace!The Game: One of the earlier Odyssey2 space-related titles pits two players against a pair of pesky alien saucers. (It is theoretically possible to play this game solo, but it’s much more fun with two players, as many See the videoOdyssey games were.) The game play is almost simple: two planets, each with a system of four moons, orbit their way around the screen. The object of the game is to occupy the most territory by shooting the planets or moons until they change to the same color as your ship. The alien saucers, however, are also doing this, making life extremely difficult. They can also set their sights on you, destroying your ship. You can return to the fray if any planet or moon on the screen is the same color as your ship, but if the aliens blast that body before you’ve taken off again, you’re trapped until the next window of opportunity arises. (Magnavox, 1979)

Memories: The genius of this graphically simple game is that the two players can team up…or they can wage a three-way war against one another and the aliens! Continue reading

I’ve Got Your Number!

I've Got Your Number!The Game: Two characters take up position on either side of two rotating clusters of numbers and symbols. A simple math problem or algebraic equation (nothing too fancy, usually just involving symbol or shape matching) appears in the bottom center of the screen, and you must guide your character to physically touch the appropriate number or symbol to correctly answer the problem. The first player to answer ten problems correctly wins the game (and, somewhat alarmingly, gets to watch his onscreen icon momentarily balloon to twice its normal size with an odd “explosion” sound). (Magnavox, 1979)

Memories: A nice, simple little educational game, this one was a bit “young” for me by the time I got an Odyssey2, but I can see where it would’ve been great for younger kids, and would probably help build a foundation for a better understanding of algebra than I was ever capable of demonstrating on paper. Continue reading

Ice Hockey

Ice HockeyBuy this gameThe Game: Hit the ice and get the puck outta here. You have control of two players in this scaled-down match: one offensive player and one defensive player who can leave his goalie position (but not without giving the other team a better chance to land a shot). Keep the other team – whether it’s a second player or the “Activision computer” – from getting a goal, while trying to get past their defenses to slam a shot into their net. The holder of the highest score when the clock runs out is the winner. (Activision, 1981)

See the videoMemories: Hockey had been a fixture of the video game world long before Activision released Ice Hockey as one of its earliest titles. Early video hockey was essentially Pong with hockey rules, despite attempts to make the players look more like people than paddles (see the Odyssey 500 console). But Ice Hockey flipped the playing field 90 degrees, and made the on-screen characters look and act like human hockey players – right down to being knocked on their butts. Continue reading

Infiltrate

InfiltrateThe Game: You’re trapped in a multi-story building with hostile forces all around. Your infiltration mission has gone from mere espionage to a battle for survival – a battle you’re probably not going to win. Board elevators to reach the opposite level of the screen to retrieve enemy secrets, all while avoiding enemy agents and trying to shoot them down. (This spy business would be a lot easier if the enemy couldn’t shoot back, but generally they’re better shots than you are.) Then a new prize appears at the opposite end of the screen, sending you on yet another dangerous mission. (Games By Apollo, 1981)

Memories: A simple Atari 2600 port of the popular computer game Spy’s Demise, Infiltrate simplifies things a bit more than the computer version and keeps players constantly running for their lives. There’s really no win condition – just a grim countdown to the point at which the player is worn down. Continue reading

I, Robot

I, RobotThe Game: A huge, Big Brother-like head pops up and says “The law: no jumping!” to your little robot, and naturally, the cocky little automaton has other ideas (replying “Oh yeah!”). And so your mission begins, guiding the robot over See the videoramps, around narrow catwalks, and leaping across huge chasms. If the all-seeing eye opens while your robot it jumping, however, a blaster turns your hero into a heap of spare parts. If you successfully claim all of the red area on the screen, you have a narrow “launch window” in which to jump across to the eye’s platform and destroy it. The your robot launches into space, blowing away obstacles in his path, avoiding saucers and solid objects, and eventually landing on another series of ramps and catwalks to begin the quest anew. And if that doesn’t do it for you, you can put in another quarter and relax in Doodle City. (Atari, 1983)

Memories: Once arcade games caught on as the profitable concern of the 80s, it seemed like everyone who had even the tip of a single finger in the electronics or coin-operated business glutted the market with barely-disguised riffs on the Pac-Man or Defender or Space Invaders concepts, saturating a previously innovative market with cheap copycat games (or, in a few cases until the attorneys caught up with them, outright bootlegs). In many ways, this parallels the Atari-era crash of the home video game cartridge industry, and it’s hardly a coincidence that both industries suffered simultaneous catastrophic shakedowns. Continue reading

Impossible Mission / Programmed Trip

The Game: On an enclosed grid, you control a robotic drone whose job is to collect certain items on the grid and deflect enemies away from those items. If you can plant obstacles – which deflect your enemies with 90-degree left or right turns – that lock your pursuers into an inescapable infinite loop, all the better…but more will come. (Ectron, 1983 [unreleased prototype] / custom copies released in 2006)

The Game: An interesting unreleased game which was apparently developed for the South American market (where the Odyssey2, known simply as the Odyssey, was quite the success story) by an outfit called Ectron, Mission Impossible / Programmed Trip is a little like playing a video game by programming in a visual variant of the LOGO programming language. Continue reading

It’s Only Rock ‘N’ Roll

It's Only Rock 'N' RollThe Game: You control the destiny of a pixellated rock band. A menu presents you with options to write songs, play concerts, go on tour, or even sign witha record company if you’ve racked up the money and the popularity (and the band still has the energy and drive to work a crowd). You can ask your manager to try to See the videowork out some special deals for you, but even success has its dark side – and what’s worse, now the dark side of stardom is randomly generated! (Xonox / K-Tel, 1984)

Memories: This game isn’t Dark Side Of The Moon or Sgt. Pepper. This game isn’t even up to Dr. Demento standards. This game isn’t even “Achy Breaky Heart” and it’s not even the Macarena. Because at least those flash-in-the-pan hits were catchy and compelling on some level, and people came back to them again and again for a feel-good fix. I can’t say the same for It’s Only Rock ‘N’ Roll for the Colecovision. Continue reading

Indiana Jones And The Temple Of Doom

Indiana Jones And The Temple Of DoomThe Game: As famed archaeologist / adventurer Indiana Jones, you enter a vast complex of caverns through one of three entrances (which one determines how hard the game will be). Your first task is to evade See the videoand/or whip the Thuggee guards into submission as you free caged children. You then make your escape in a runaway mine cart, which you have to keep on the tracks while also whipping anyone in a pursuing cart who gets too close. After getting the children to safety, you embark on far more dangerous adventures, but with greater risks come greater rewards… (Atari Games, 1985)

Memories: Now this is the kind of experience one expects from an Indiana Jones game – kicking butt, grabbing treasure, getting out alive, and avoiding snakes because you hate snakes. It’s by no means a perfect game, but when I need a pixellated Indiana Jones fix, this winds up being my go-to game. Continue reading

IK+

IK+The Game: Face not one but two simultaneous opponents in what many consider the apex of Commodore 64 fighting games. IK+ supports one or two players, eighteen different moves, and more fighting action than all of Jean-Claude Van Damme’s movies combined. (System 3, 1987)

Memories: IK+ is considered by many to be the best fighting game available for the Commodore 64, but the history leading up to the game is almost as interesting as the game itself. IK+ is actually the sequel to International Karate, released by System 3 in the UK in 1986. International Karate is a one-on-one fighting game with many similarities with Data East’s game, Karate Champ. In both games, two fighters dressed in red and white uniforms battle. Both games use the same scoring system, awarding either half or full points to successful moves and declaring the first combatant to reach two full points the winner. Both games feature a scoring judge and backgrounds featuring different locations. Continue reading

The Invaders (Space Invaders)

The InvadersThe Game: You’re the pilot of a ground-based mobile weapons platform, and there are buttloads of alien meanies headed right for you. Your only defense is a trio of shields which are degraded by any weapons fire – yours or theirs – and a quick trigger finger. Occasionally a mothership zips across the top of the screen. When the screen is cleared of invaders, another wave – faster and more aggressive – appears. When you’re out of “lives,” or when the aliens manage to land on Earth… it’s all over. This edition adds two new modes, a timed game with a slightly updated retro look, and a 3-D mode which puts the player right behind the cannon, now expanded to a giant 3-D representation. (D3 Publisher [under license from Taito], 2001)

Memories: This budget title from 2001, to be fair, was largely a re-release of Taito’s earlier PS1 Space Invaders Collection just four years before this game’s release. But this time, you actually get more for that low, low price. Continue reading

Intellivision 25 TV Game

Intellivision 25 TV GameThe Game: 25 choice cuts of Intellivision goodness are crammed into something about the size of a modern-day console controller. Games include Astrosmash, Body Slam Super Pro Wrestling, Buzz Bombers, Chip Shot Super Pro Buy this gameGolf, Hockey, Hover Force, Motocross, Night Stalker, Pinball, Shark! Shark!, Skiing, Slam Dunk Super Pro Basketball, Snafu, Space Armada, Space Battle, Space Hawk, Star Strike, Sub Hunt, Super Pro Football, Super Pro Volleyball, Thin Ice, Thunder Castle, Tower Of Doom, Vectron, and World Championship Baseball. (Techno Source, 2003)

Memories: And it sounded like such a neat idea when it was first announced. Really, it is still a good idea. Pack 25 games into a $25 standalone game that plugs into your TV or VCR’s auxiliary audio/video ports, and make them as true to the Intellivision as possible. The real problem here is that they only get so close. Continue reading

The Incredible Hulk: Ultimate Destruction

The Incredible Hulk: Ultimate DestructionOrder this gameThe Game: Hulk Smash. Okay, he runs, jumps, punches and throws stuff too in this action-packed game, but mostly he just smashes. Instantly theraputic for anyone who’s ever wanted to hit anything, The Incredible Hulk: Ultimate Destruction allows players to use the Hulk (and just about any item he comes across) to destroy his enemies and the environment around him. (Vivendi Universal, 2005)

Memories: Within five minutes of launching this game for the first time, I had destroyed a dozen tanks with my bare fists, knocked two helicopters out of the sky by throwing boulders at them, and killed an enemy soldier by beating him to death with a cow. If that’s not a recipe for fun, I don’t know what is. Continue reading

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