Video Game Review Centipede Arcade 1980 Developer: Atari Publisher: Atari
During the golden age of the arcades, you couldn’t throw a stone in an arcade and not hit at least a dozen shoot-em-up games. Centipede was one of the top games of its generation and still holds up reasonably well despite not being all that flashy. For those who like classic arcade action, Centipede is a solid bet. However, for those who have grown up with games that have things like a background and a decent soundtrack, it might be a bit problematic.
Well, it took much longer than I anticipated but here’s the latest edition of the Weekly Video Game Newsletter. I should be back to having it as a weekly feature. I already have several things written for next week’s issue so it shouldn’t be a problem unless something comes up like it has the last couple of weeks.
Inside you’ll find a full review of the E3 conference that took place a few weeks ago. I also voice list the games to keep an eye out for. There are also several reviews and Hall of Fame write ups, a look at Rockstar games throughout the last couple of years, and an analysis of the first week of sales for the two biggest games of the year so far: Super Mario Galaxy 2 and Red Dead Redemption. It’s a whopping 20 pages so there’s plenty of material to feast on.
The Weekly Video Game Podcast will be up on Tuesday. I spent way too much time fighting with the columns to work in Microsoft Word for the newsletter. The podcast is looking to be around 90 minutes long and is very light on E3 nonsense. It’s definitely going to be good stuff.
The Weekly Movie Podcast will be up Tuesday night supported by three movie reviews (of movies that are still in theatres!!!).
Hall of Fame Inductee Missile Command Original Release: 1980 (Arcade) Designer: Dave Theurer Developed by: Atari Published by: Atari
Games that deal with doomsday scenarios tend to do well. It’s kind of freakish that the stuff we’re most fascinated with are the things that basically spell out a narrative of our impending doom. Atari’s Missile Command played on the fears of many during the Cold War of the 1980s: nuclear annihilation. The game was epic even with its simple gameplay because it played on the nightmares created by the tensions between the east and the west.
Hall of Fame Inductee Paperboy Original Release: 1984 (Arcade) Designers: Carl Bedard, John Salwitz, Dave Ralston, Russel Dawe Developed by: Atari Published by: Atari
It could have been the superior graphics or the fact that the main character had characteristics that were similar to the people playing the game (during their adolescence), however, Atari’s Paperboy probably achieved its great success because of its input interface. Instead of joysticks or buttons on a console, the game was controlled with a pair of handlebars. Before arcade games began to rely on gimmicky input devices to survive, Paperboy‘s handlebars were something special. The game itself was something exceptional because it looked great and was fun to play. There’s good reason why this game was ported to practically every home console and computer system during the 80s.
Hall of Fame Inductee Asteroids Original Release: 1979 (Arcade) Designers: Lyle Rains and Ed Logg Developer: Atari Publisher: Atari
It’s not like Asteroids was the first video game (it was far from it). It didn’t have revolutionary graphics or rethink how players played video games. However, Atari hit on something big with Asteroids. It was simple in its design which helped make it easy to get into. It became the definitive video game in arcades and amusement parlours until games began to have more sophisticated displays. Asteroids became such a huge hit that it caused Atari to alter their entire retail plans afterwards.
Hall of Fame Inductee Breakout Original Release: 1976 (Arcade) Developed by: Atari Published by: Atari
When Pong came out, people realized that the game came with a major flaw: you had to play the game with another person. People with no friends were left looking lonely in the corner. Atari responded several years later with Breakout which is essentially a Pong game for people to play by themselves. Atari and the creators of Pong felt that taking the Pong concept and developing into a single-player experience would be well received. They were right as Breakout not only did very well in the arcades but also spurned multiple sequels and has had a lasting legacy.
Hall of Fame Inductee Dig Dug Original Release: 1982 (Arcade) Developed by: Namco Published by: Atari
Namco was very smart about the properties it pushed in the arcades during the early 80s. They always had cute names and featured child-friendly creatures. Pac-Man, Dig Dug, and Bosconian all had these as their main characteristics. Well, not so much the last one, but Dig Dug not only had some incredible gameplay, it was also very easy for Namco to market. it was extremely successful in the arcades and it also helped Namco to proclaim that it wasn’t just a one trick pony; it had a stable of all-star franchises.
Video Game Review Toobin’ Arcade 1988 Developer: Atari Publisher: Domark
While it’s very easy to remember the great games from the arcade era because there were so many amazing coin-op games, there were plenty of bad ones we try to forget about. Domark’s Toobin’ is one of them. While it tried to do something by adding a bunch of bells and whistles to what seemed like a simple formula, it offered little entertainment and wasn’t worth the quarters it cost to play the game.
Hall of Fame Inductee Centipede Original Release: 1980 Designers: Ed Logg and Dona Bailey Developer: Atari Publisher: Atari
Centipede could have easily been dismissed as a Space Invaders clone. It’s not like the world didn’t have enough Space Invaders knockoffs by 1980. However, Atari did enough to reinvent the game that not many people think of Space Invaders when they’re playing Centipede. The game has grown into its own and is one of the most famous arcade games of all time.
Hall of Fame Inductee Pong Original Release: 1972 (Arcade) Developer: Atari Publisher: Atari
If there’s one video game that most people recognize that came out prior to the home console rebirth in 1985, it was Pong. It wasn’t the first video game nor was it eye-catching. However, it was easy to get and fun to play with another person. Pong got people playing video games and laid the foundation for the entire genre of entertainment.