Topic: Video Games
My daughter Elizabeth's cartoon jones was abated sufficiently this afternoon to allow me to give my new joystick games a try. Pac-Man, Dig-Dug, and Galaxian were as solid as ever. Elizabeth tried playing Pac-Man but she doesn't quite understand how joysticks work yet. The other two games, Bosconian and Rally-something-or-other, are both quite good, too. I'm sured I've seen the Rally game before. As a young man I undoubtedly dismissed it as a racecar game, but in fact from a gamemechanic point of view its a great Pac-Man variant. Although I have played plenty of car games over the years (Notable faves being Spy Hunter and Up'N'Down) but I always tended to shy away from outright racing games and other sports simulation titles. My loss. Just cause I'm not inclined to go play baseball doesn't mean I won't like a decent baseballish video game. Back when I was a kid I was too dumb to realize this. A game had to be wrapped up in a fantasy or sci-fi package for me to give it a ringing endorsement.
Speaking of sci-fi, Bosconian is a great deep space shoot-em-up. (The title of this game seems to be an homage to the classic Lensman series of novels in which the evil space menace originates from the planet Boskone.) The game has great terrain in the form of staionary asteroids and spacemines. The goal of the game is to blast the crap out of these large green hexagonal space stations, several of which pepper each level. Your spacecraft stays in the middle of the screen as it moves around multi-screen levels. All in all, it seems like a great little game.
I only got to try three of the SpongeBob games before Elizabeth reasserted her control of the TV. (Yes I do spoil my daughter, thank you very much.) The first game, called Bubble Burster or somesuch, is essentially a nifty redo of the classic game Breakout. The second game involves hook trying to reel in Patrick, Sandy, and Squidward. SpongeBob throws krabby patties at the hooks to keep them at bay. Although simpler in many ways than Defender, I am somewhat reminded of that arcade classic in that both have the goal of "protect the innocents from the Other". The third game involves playing Sandy as she rides her surfboard and throws acorns to dispatch foes. I only got to play this one for a minute or two, but I was immediately reminded of an old Atari 2600 cartridge. I believe it was called UFO. The basics of gameplay of the two games are essentially the same. The screen constantly scrolls slowly right-to-left but the UFO/Sandy may move anywhere around the screen. Foes moving slightly faster (or much faster) than the scroll rate appear on the right of the screen. Most of them simply fly in a straight line, creating an air hazard/points opportunity. I seem to recall that my sister and I enjoyed the Atari game greatly. What was neat about the old UFO game was that for once you played the invader. The targets were airplanes, balloons, helicopters, etc.