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Transformers

TransformersThe Game: The raging battle between the Autobots and Decepticons continues in this exclusive title for the Commodore 64 computer. Take control of five different Transformers in the Autobots’ quest for Energon. (Ocean Software, 1985)

Memories: Back before fantastic graphics and CGI cut scenes, videogames often included additional paper documentation to explain who the characters where and what you were supposed to be doing. Atari, for example, packaged comic books with many of their games to add depth and back stories to their titles. Some early games relied so heavily on this documentation that without it, the games were difficult to play and didn’t make much sense. Ocean’s Transformers title was one of those games. Continue reading

Tower Of Doom

Tower Of DoomBuy this gameThe Game: Abandon hope, all ye who enter the Tower of Doom. Armed and armored, adventurers enter seeking treasure, mystery and glory…but all that stands between them and those goals are dragons, monsters, bizarre traps that twist space and time, and, of course, twisty little passages (there are always twisty little passages). When a battle is lost in the catacombs, the player returns to his starting point for another attempt to plumb the depths, but eventually every player will run out of opportunities…or will have to grow powerful enough to conquer most of the Tower’s denizens. (INTV Inc., 1986)

See the videoMemories: Originally conceived as another entry in the Advanced Dungeons & Dragons video game franchise, Tower Of Doom seems terribly familiar to anyone who played Mattel’s original AD&D cartridge: the overhead maze crawl and the close-up battles go back to the original game’s basics, rather than trying to further develop Treasure Of Tarmin‘s first-person perspective and interface, which was considered a step forward for graphics but not for game play. Continue reading

Tetris

TetrisThe Game: Various shapes consisting of four blocks each fall from the top of the screen, giving the player a short time to rotate, move (left or right only), and ultimately drop each piece into place. The goal is to put complementary shapes together, forming a solid line (or several solid lines) and leaving no gaps. Completed horizontal lines disappear from the screen, and the remaining pieces drop to the bottom. Bonus points are awarded for using the tallest piece – four blocks tall – to eliminate four lines at once. Allowing the shapes to pile up until they reach the top of the screen ends the game. (freeware, 1986)

Memories: Created in 1984 while the programming trio of Alexey Pajitnov, Dmitry Pavlovsky and Vadim Gerasimov were working for the Soviet Academy of Sciences, Tetris was first programmed on a mainframe computer and its commercial potential was immediately recognized. Since it was designed and coded “on the clock” in Soviet government facilities, the government automatically had ownership of the program. The Soviet technology and software export bureau, Elektronorgtechnica (ELORG for short), had never dealt with a computer game, and dropped the ball. The programmers shrugged it off; Gerasimov’s MS-DOS PC port was released into the wild in 1986 with no expectation that anyone involved would ever profit from it, and that was that. Continue reading

Topper

TopperThe Game: As Topper the top-hat-wearing turtle, your job is to jump from platform to platform until every platform on the screen is the same color, all without jumping into the empty space beyond the platforms. But as easy as this task See the videomay sound, it’s not that easy: rambunctious rabbits are ready to pounce on you, or at the very least keep you from reaching all of the platforms. Random explosives appear on some platforms and you have to avoid that platform until the danger has passed – and not even all of the platforms stay in one place. (Navarone Software, 1986)

Memories: The TI 99/4a version of Q*Bert is a decent port of Q*Bert, but on this computer, I much prefer Topper. With tense seconds ticking by as Topper stares down the slow approach of the evil rabbits (who actually look more like evil guys in evil rabbit suits, to be honest), there’s an element of patience and strategy that brings an almost chess-like dimension to what could easily have been just another Q*Bert clone. Continue reading

Tempest X3

Tempest X3Buy this gameThe Game: As in the original Tempest, you scuttle along the rim of an abstract, hollow geometric tube as a strangely crablike creature, zapping red bow-tie-ish critters and purple diamond-shaped things which carry them. There are also swirly green things (swirly thing alert!!) which spin “spikes” like webs, and by the way, you should still avoid spikes. (Interplay, 1996)

See the videoMemories: My first reaction to Tempest X3 was “DUDE!” And that’s not even a “Dude! It sucks!” or “Dude! It rules!” Nope, it’s just a “Dude! What gnarly graphics!” This is kind of like the original Tempest, except psychedelically tie-dyed. To put it mildly, it’s a very…colorful updating of the game. The tube walls now have colorful (if subtle) patterns, and power-ups are hailed by more lens flares than an early episode of Babylon 5. Continue reading

Tatsunoko Fight

Tatsunoko FightThe Game: If there can be a collective of Super Friends, why not a cabal of supervillains? The forces of evil from the various anime series created by Tatsunoko Studios have merged their powers, so the heroes of those same universes must join forces to save us all. This saving takes the form of a lot of unarmed combat – you can probably figure out what to do from here. You must do battle with the great villains of those various shows – or even other heroes, in Vs. mode. Series whoses characters are included are Gatchaman (better known as Battle Of The Planets in the U.S.), Tekkaman, Casshan, and Polymer The Ha-Ri-Ken Fighter. A new character in the classic Tatsunoko Studios mold, Volter The Lightning, is introduced here for the first time. (Takara Toys, 2000)

Memories: When you think of Tatsunoko Productions, what’s the first thing that springs to mind? For me, it’s visions of armor-and-spandex-clad superheroes wearing helmets with transparent visors! No, seriously – virtually every Tatsunoko superhero has a helmet with a transparent visor. Check the screen shots below, see if I’m lying to you. I swear, they all do. Continue reading

Turnabout

Buy this gameThe Game: A rotating box sits in the center of the screen, containing a maze, at least one mobile ball, and other moving elements such as sliding bars or boxes. Using the left and right D-pad buttons, players rotate the entire box, which will cause any of the mobile pieces to obey the laws of gravity and fall in that direction. The object of the game is to get all of the balls into contact with the jewel of the same color at the other end of the maze – which may not be as easy as it sounds! (Natsume, 2002)

Memories: As Sony eased its restrictions on Playstation licensing toward the end of the console’s life span (at this point, the PS2 was already on the market), heaps of cheap PS1 games hit store shelves. Some of these were pure shovelware, hastily cranked out to make a buck off that segment of the gaming populace that couldn’t afford to upgrade to the PS2. Quite a few were quickly-done localizations of games that had already been released – often as budget titles from the outset – in Japan. Turnabout is in the latter category, and unlike quite a few of the glut of games released in the PS1’s twilight, it’s a lot of fun. Continue reading

Tron 2.0

Tron 2.0The Game: By passing up a lucrative programming job within ENCOM, Alan “Jet” Bradley Jr. has earned the disdain of his father, the creator of the Tron security program. But when Jet’s father disappears under mysterious circumstances, Jet See the videogoes to the lab and discovers that his father’s most trusted program, Ma3a, has instructions to digitize Jet into ENCOM’s mainframe – a process not unlike the one Kevin Flynn endured 20 years before. Once inside the computer world, Jet trains for a mission to free the system from the spreading corruption of Thorne, another digitized user whose botched entry into the computer world left him twisted and evil – and along the way, Jet hopes to discover how he can help free his father as well. (Buena Vista Interactive, 2003)

Memories: For anyone who’s ever dreamed of being zapped into the computer by the MCP, this is as close as you’re going to get. I don’t have a problem with that, though: Tron 2.0 is a gorgeous game, capturing the feel of the pioneering 1982 computer-animated movie better than I would’ve thought possible. The look and the sounds of the game go a long way toward immersing you in that world. Normally I’m not big on first-person explore-and-fight games, but this one I’ll make an exception for. Continue reading

Taito Legends

Taito LegendsBuy this gameThe Game: Taito, the developer behind classics games such as Space Invaders and Bubble Bobble, is the latest videogame developer to release a retro arcade compilation. Taito Legends brings 29 classic videogames direct from the arcade to your Xbox, PS2 and PC. (Taito, 2005, for Xbox, Playstation 2 and PC)

Memories: While skimming the list of games included in Taito Legends, I realized that I have memories associated with almost half of them. I remember playing Rastan at the local bowling alley, Operation Wolf at the skating rink (while wearing roller skates, no less), Bubble Bobble at the corner convenience store and Space Invaders at Photon, our local laser tag arena back in the 80’s. There’s no denying that Taito has been a driving force in the arcade industry since its inception. Throughout the 1950s and 60s Taito produced pinball machines, arcade cranes, and jukeboxes, but it wasn’t until the release of Space Invaders in 1978 (released in the US by Midway) that the company became a blip on America’s radar. Continue reading

Tecmo Classic Arcade

Tecmo Classic ArcadeBuy this gameThe Game: Turn your Xbox into a virtual 80’s arcade with Tecmo Classic Arcade, the newest retro compilation disc to hit home consoles. (Tecmo, 2005, for Xbox)

See the videoMemories: Someone has definitely not been saving the best for last. Tecmo Classic Arcade follows a long line of classic arcade compilations which have been released this summer, including Capcom Classics Collection, Namco Museum: 50th Anniversary, Taito Legends and Midway’s Arcade Treasures 3. Unfortunately, no matter how you slice it, Tecmo’s game collection simply doesn’t stand up against the competition. Continue reading

Tron Evolution: Battle Grids

Tron Evolution: Battle GridsThe Game: In the era before Clu’s forceful takeover of the grid, Tron is kept busy with securing the digital world, leaving a vacuum from which a new champion can emerge in the grid games. Various factions have their own champions, who now battle each other on the game grid in various contests: light cycles, hyperball, disc battles, tank battles, and various vehicle races. (Disney Interactive, 2010)

Memories: Though tied into the new Tron movie, Tron Evolution: Battle Grids shows strong signs that its DNA is infused with the original movie and its associated games. Scenarios that didn’t even appear in Tron Legacy are front-and-center in Battle Grids, despite the story mode that sets up the era between the two movies. Continue reading

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