Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Five arcade games you MUST play before you die

For me:

4. Mr Do

You controlled a ballsy clown.  Read that any way you like, pun intended, as this pixellated blob from the golden days of 25c arcades could finish levels in multiple ways - eat all fruit on screen, kill all pursuers with his ball, flattening them with fruit, or collecting randomly appearing letters to spell a word.  All this while dodging enemies (what were they exactly?!) and tunnelling in the best possible way to create a torturous route which if done right, resulted in a killzone for your trusty balls of death! While always a classic, Mr Do never quite elicits the same response as Pac Man, which I put down to the fact that deep inside, we're all freaked out by Clowns.  That's not Mr Do's fault however.

3. Bank Panic

This arcade gem looks today like something whipped up by a 3 year old - colourful blocky graphics and cheery simplistic music, but for gameplay it remains unique and unmatched.  You control 3 gunsights. Yep, 3, at the same time, each mapped to a separate button.  Doors open to reveal either bank customers or bandits, drawn cleverly to resemble customers.  Shoot the bandits, don't shoot the customers. Perfect to pick up and play in 30 second bursts, this is the perfect subway game with a modern save state enabled console. This is just begging for an Android native version, or a clever Minecraft level mod remake.

2. Exciting Hour

 

Another relatively unknown arcade game, this wrestling slugfest lets you take on opponents like the (misspelt, or cleverly parodied) "Insane Worrier", and the politically incorrect "Cocoa Savage", obviously Quentin Tarantino's inspiration for Django.  While there was only a joystick and  2 buttons, Technos managed to cram more than a dozen unique moves into the combos, setting the stage for later classics like Street Fighter 2 or today's incomprehensible UFC games.

1. Galaga

Galaga is Space Invaders evolved to perfection. After Galaga, the art evolved into scrolling Shoot Em Ups, for there was no more for the static screen shooter to achieve. Galaga was devilishly simple to learn, but almost impossible for the average player to conquer for more than 10 minutes, which I put down to being caused by extreme greed, once the rudimentary power up mechanics were discovered.  Back in the day, you had to work hard for your money, as boosting the ship's capabilities involved a tortorous process of getting your ship tractor beamed, then frantically trying to blast the alien that captured it- and your reward for all this was simply two shots at a time! With no plot to speak of, the goal of this was only to score big, which consumed too many of my university hours and I'm sure cost thousands in lost earning potential.  But hey, I got to experience gaming in its simplest, purest form, when the words "High Score AYY" meant something.