Today I’m going to share the first of a five part series. Just to give you a little information, I came across a book recently from 2010 titled 1001 Video Games You Must Play Before You Die by Tony Mott. I said hey, I’m up for a challenge. I knew I wouldn’t be able to play them all and talk about them so I came up with an idea: I’ll play some from each of the 5 chapters and tell you all how I felt about them, while giving mention to the rest in each chapter.
This wondrous journey starts in the 1970’s, a period that I’m sure not many of you were playing games, or even alive. Just because you weren’t gaming then doesn’t mean you shouldn’t give these games a shot just to see where gaming, as we know it, got its start. As George Santayana stated,
“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it”
When it comes to games this is a statement that should never be forgotten.
So let’s get this started with one of my fondest memories of grade school, the days when me and my fellow students would file into the computer room of our school to learn about computers on the old Apple ][ computers, with their inviting green screens flickering just calling us to learn about the The Oregon Trail.
The Oregon Trail, originally released in 1971 by Developer MECC, somehow ended up in schools as a teaching tool. Any of you that played this game know that it was more of a game than a learning experience. The Oregon Trail had the you set up a party with yourself and 4 others in your family to travel The Oregon Trail. You would hunt bears, cross rivers and occasionally die of cholera. Somehow this game was played in schools for years. It was a solid turn-based strategy game in its own way and gave much joy to its players. You begin by choosing the month you leave and what your lifestyle was. You could be a farmer, carpenter, or banker and depending on which you picked, you had a certain amount of cash to start you quest. In this game you had to buy your supplies and budget your clothing, food, bullets, and spare parts so you could make it on your journey.
Along the way you would pass through many American landmarks, forts and of course the river crossings that sometimes would just be better to wait for the ferry and pay the few bucks that it cost to get across. This game was a treat back in the day and is a fun way to relive my childhood. Please just remember it’s from the 70’s, but it still stands strong today.
The next game in this list I played was Pong, originally released in 1972 from developer Atari. For those of you who aren’t familiar with Pong, it is a video game version of table tennis with its simple and intuitive game play. It started an industry of coin-op play that had never been seen before. The game is nothing more than 2 lines on either side of the play area and a dotted line in the middle where the player (or players) tries to knock the ball past the other’s line to make a goal. The game is a good design and still has what it takes for a challenge, even in today’s market.
You can play this from your browser here at http://www.ponggame.org/
Now for the first game I ever played, Space Invaders! Originally released in 1978 by Developer Taito, I’m sure all have you have played a version of this game at some point in your life. Like with many older games it has been re-released many times over. The game is a simple, single turret shooting up at wave after wave of the patterned dropping invaders. The destroyable defenses are simple to pick up, but hard to master with a passing UFO on the top of the play area flying by every so often for extra points.
This game has taken many quarters and much time for us who played it as kids and even today is honored by new games like Titan Attacks by Puppy Games that try and bring back the classic for the next generation of gamers. You can even play Space Invaders here http://www.freeinvaders.org/ right from your browser!
Other games that deserve an honorable mention are Breakout, Boot Hill, Combat, Adventure, Asteroids, Galaxian, and Lunar Lander.
All of the games above helped shape what was yet to come in the 80’s and is where part 2 will pick up from. Thanks for reading and keep doing it for the love of the game.