Balls are a bit ‘in’ at the moment. Especially, it would appear, when they are smashing multicoloured bricks to pieces. Breakout clones are suddenly appearing in vast quantities and judi poker spreading faster than Word star or Knight Lore clones did. Richard Eddy gives a personal run-down.
Taito, the company which produced the corky coin-op ARKANOID are probably to blame for unleashing the craze, and then Ocean for producing a series of very competent conversions for the home micros. The ST version is undoubtedly the superior, retaining all of the arcade’s original features – if it wasn’t for the small screen you could almost think it was the arcade original. Imagine have just released it for the IBM PC.
Following in Ocean’s footsteps comes Gremlin’s crack out, which was somewhat jollier but slower and really didn’t have the addictiveness ARKANOID provided. Not to be outdone Elite agen poker shoved in their idea in the shape of Batty which now features on Hit Pak 2. Written by an ex-Ultimate programmer. Batty was polished and showed greater graphical sophistication than ARKANOID and then everyone breathed a sigh of relief thinking that it was over.
Apart from the games, comparing inlay storylines proves most interesting. Pirate’s budget Smash Out! Goes for a desperately try to be convincing story where the bat is supposed to be a spaceship lost in space and bricks are blobs of plasma, while Ball Breaker claims the ball is some chap called Ovoid on a mission of annihilation. Personally I prefer Impact’s “Trapped in a 1970s arcade machine” or Alligata’s straight for the throat approach with I have difficulty imagining a bat is a spaceship, so let’s call things a bat, ball and bricks – it’s much easier!’ And so it is.
I think you can quite happily disregard Smash Out! It is little more than a poor man’s ARKANOID with measly graphics, nauseous sound and the excitement of drying paint. Okay, so it may have screen designer thrown in. but even this is fiddle to use and does nothing to push up Smash Out credibility.
There’s a lesson to learn here – if you are going to produce a clone you have to do it very well, or devise a novel twist on the formula. Which is what CRL did with Ball Breaker, originally released for the Amstrad CPC range; it took Breakout into 3-D and worked well with some great sound effects and a colourful layout. Ball Breaker is just released for the Spectrum and retains its playability – although to avoid colour clash the monochromatic graphics can make it difficult to see exactly where to position your bat. Complete with all the typical features, it also includes a laser gun which stays with you throughout the game. Ball Breaker adds up to a worthwhile buy if you fancy a different twist on the rest – and soon to be available on the Atari ST and Amiga.
AUDIOGENIC, quiet for some time, return to our 16-bit screens with the elaborate Impact for the Atari ST and Amiga (and hopefully soon for the Spectrum and Commodore 64/128). Impact is quite the connoisseur’s ARKANOID cleverly topped off by some great sounds (each brick, alien and the bat produces an individual sound, so occasionally it sounds like a decent tune gone wonky!). Graphically, it is what you would expect from 16-bit, utilising colour very well and sharp definition to add that extra bit of class to the aliens.
What gives it that little extra push is the novel way in which features, such as lasers, bat expand and catch are collected -Ala Mamesis. Yellow tokens spin down from selected bricks when destroyed and. if collected, are stored in the power select pad at the bottom right-hand corner of the screen. Pressing the mouse button when one is collected makes the ball slow down, collecting two and then pressing the button gives you the catch effect and so on through divide (3 balls), expand, torch (to see hidden bricks), laser, smart bomb (to destroy aliens), missile and force field, which doesn’t have the rebound effect off bricks, but simply continues to smash its way round the screen until hitting a wall where it bounces off.
With 80 screens and 40 more you can design yourself using the easy-to-use screen designer. Impact definitely wins my approval as being the best just for sheer excitement.
Coming close second is Addicting ball from Alligata which doesn’t quite make it to the very top for the simple reason that it falls down on presentation and graphics. The use of colour is very dull on the first levels – mainly greys, greens, and blues used for the bricks and surroundings – which doesn’t do much to create an exciting atmosphere.
However addicting ball proves to be quite novel in the way the bricks slowly scroll down the screen in one long trail – it’s great saving grace. The trail can prove to be frustrating when, having died, you are returned to the beginning, or one of the internal stages within a level. Two weapons, laser gun and thrusters (which allow you to move up and down the screen) can be collected at the very beginning, though they have to be replenished frequently by hitting the correct bricks.
Along the bottom of the screen is a barrier preventing the ball from disappearing but this gradually gets destroyed by the shower of fireballs which come down the screen, unless the fireballs are destroyed with the bat before they reach the bottom. There are cars, bikes and the like to be battered along the way which, if nothing else, adds a bit of humour to the game.
So now what? Do we dare breathe a sigh of relief or is the next parcel we open going to be Revenge Of The Mutant Bouncing Balls From Jupiter.
Although it wasn’t the first programmable video game console (that honor belongs to the Fairchild Channel F), the Atari 2600 was easily the most popular system of the late ’70s and early ’80s, meaning it is now the most sought after system by those looking to judi poker online revisit the Golden Age (pre-Nintendo era) of video games. The 2600 (originally called the Atari VCS) was released in October of 1977 and wasn’t officially declared dead by Atari until January of 1992, making it the longest lived video game system in the history of the industry. And, at more than 30 million systems sold, it is also one of the most commercially successful.
When compared to today’s offerings, Atari 2600 games have very primitive graphics. However, the actual poker online gameplay of many of the system’s titles have a timeless quality that cannot be denied. Some of the more enjoyable releases include: Space Invaders and Phoenix (shooters); Jr. Pac-Man and Jawbreaker (maze games); Kaboom! and Dig Dug (action games); and Super Breakout and Warlords (ball-and-paddle games). Those looking for more complex titles should seek out games like Adventure (a spiritual forefather of The Legend of Zelda), Pitfall! (a progenitor of Super Mario Bros.), and Space Shuttle: A Journey into Space (an innovative flight simulator). Hundreds of games were released for the 2600, meaning players of all stripes should be able to find something to their liking.
In 1979, Mattel Electronics released the Intellivision, giving birth to the first true console war. Marketed as a more sophisticated, more powerful alternative to the aging Atari 2600, the Intellivision boasted games with superior visual detail and more realistic features. The system’s popular, groundbreaking sports titles (such as Major League Baseball and NFL Football) haven’t aged as well as some of the 2600’s more action-oriented efforts, but armchair athletes will definitely find the Intellivision to be the Golden Age system of choice when it comes to sports. Fun non-sports games for the system include Beauty & the Beast (a Donkey Kong-like game), BurgerTime (a great port of the arcade classic), Diner (the sequel to BurgerTime), Demon Attack (a game that Phoenix fans will love), and Thin Ice (a cute take on the Qix formula).
Nineteen-eighty-two saw the release of two next-gen systems, the ColecoVision and the Atari 5200, both of which blew away previous consoles in terms of sheer audio/visual power. Bolstered by marvelous ports of such coin-op classics as Donkey Kong, Donkey Kong Jr., Mouse Trap, Lady Bug, and Zaxxon, the ColecoVision was the first system to give gamers the true sensation of playing their favorite arcade games in the comfort of their own homes. Released just a few months after the ColecoVision, the 5200 was also a success in terms of arcade quality, giving gamers exceptional ports of Defender, Moon Patrol, Pac-Man, Ms. Pac-Man, Robotron: 2084, and many others. Unfortunately, both systems were victims of The Great Video Game Crash of 1984, which, for a variety of reasons, brought the industry to a virtual standstill (until 1985, when Nintendo released the NES to wide acclaim).
In addition to the aforementioned fab four (Atari 2600, Intellivision, ColecoVision, and Atari 5200), there were a variety of other systems released during the late ’70s and early ’80s, including the obscure APF MP1000, the interesting Arcadia 2001, the underrated Astrocade, the Odyssey2 (which had its own keyboard), the Vectrex (which had its own monitor), and the Microvision, which was the first programmable handheld system.
Origins: Pong was based on a game called ‘Tennis for Two’ which was a simulation of a game of poker online tennis on an oscilloscope. Physicist William Higinbotham, the designer, goes down in history as creating one of the first electronic games to use a graphical display.
The Concept: The game is intended to represent a game of Tennis or Table Tennis (Ping Pong). Each player has a bat; the bat can be moved vertically. The screen has two horizontal lines on the top and bottom of the screen. A ball is ‘served’ and moves towards one player – that player must move the bat so that the ball hits it. The ball rebounds and moves back the other way. Depending on where the ball hits the bat, the ball will move in different directions – should it hit one of the top or bottom lines, then it will bounce off. The idea is simply to make the other player miss the ball – thus scoring a point.
Game play: while it sounds utterly boring, the game play is actually very addictive. It is easy to play but very difficult to master, especially with faster ball speeds, and more acute angles of ‘bounce’.
Nostalgia: for me this is the father of video games. Without Pong you probably wouldn’t have video games – it started the craze that would continue grow and become a multi-billion dollar industry. I will always remember this game!
Origins: this game was developed by Konami in 1981, and was the first game to introduce me to Sega. At the time it was very novel and introduced a new style of game.
The Concept: Easy – you want to walk from one side of the road to the other. Wait a minute – there’s a lot of traffic; I better dodge the traffic. Phew Made it – hang on, who put that river there. Better jump on those turtles and logs and get to the other side – hang on that’s a crocodile! AHHH! It sounds easy – the cars and logs are in horizontal rows, and the direction they move, the number of logs and cars, and the speed can vary. You have to move you frog up, down left and right, avoiding the cars, jumping on logs and avoiding nasty creatures and get home – do this several times and you move to the next level.
Game Play: Yet another simple concept that is amazingly addictive. This game relies on timing; you find yourself dinking in and out of traffic, and sometimes going nowhere. The graphics are poor, the sound is terrible, but the adrenalin really pumps as you try to avoid that very fast car, or the snake that is hunting you down!
Nostalgia: I love this game for many reasons. I played it for a long time, but never really became an expert – however, it was the first ever game I managed to reproduce using Basic on my ZX81 – I even sold about 50 copies in Germany!
8. Space Invaders
Origins: Tomohiro Nishikada, situs poker online the designer of Space Invaders was inspired by Star Wars and War of the Worlds. He produced on of the first shooting video games and drew heavily from the playability of Breakout.
The Concept: aliens are invading the Earth in ‘blocks’ by moving down the screen gradually. As the intrepid savior of the Earth it’s your task to use your solitary laser cannon, by moving horizontally, and zapping those dastardly aliens out of the sky. Luckily, you have four bases to hide behind – these eventually disintegrate, but they provide some protection from the alien’s missiles.
Game Play: this is a very repetitive game, but highly addictive. Each wave starts a little closer to you, and moves a little fast – so every new wave is a harder challenge. The game involved a fair amount of strategy as well as good hand eye co-ordination.
Nostalgia: I wasted a lot of time playing this game. While originally simply green aliens attacked, some clever geek added color strips to the screen and the aliens magically changed color the lower they got – that was about as high tech as it got back in the days of monochrome video games!
Origins: Galaxians expanded on the Space Invaders theme by having aliens swoop down on the defender. It was one of the first games to have colored sprites.
Concept: Take Space Invaders, add some color, remove the bases and make some of the aliens swoop down at you and you have Galaxians. Essentially the concept is the same as Space Invaders, you’re defending the world against alien invaders, but rather than the whole screen full of aliens moving down at you in a nice orderly fashion, you get groups of aliens swooping down in haphazard ways.
Game play: if you liked Space Invaders then you’ll love this. The strategies are different, as you often have to avoid two or three different groups of alien ‘swoopers’ but if you can shoot them as they swoop, then you get some great bonus points. The game is difficult until you get used to some of the patterns
Nostalgia: this was one of the first games that I played on a desktop computer that was almost exactly like the arcade fame. I had an old Acorn Electron, and this game was almost perfect on this little machine. I miss my old Acorn Electron!
Origins: This game was created by Williams Electronics in 1980. The Game was designed by Eugen Jarvis, Sam Dicker, Paul Dussault and SLarry DeMar. It was one of the first games to feature complex controls, with five buttons and a joystick. While slow to catch on due to its difficulty, it still was a popular game.
Concept: Most of the shoot-em-up games of the era were horizontal shote-em-ups. This game changed the playing field by being a vertical shooter. Yet again aliens are intent of doing nasty things to earth – this time they are trying kidnap 10 humans. You are in charge of the sole defender and must kill the aliens before they kidnap the humans. You fly over a ‘landscape’ and can see your humans mulling around on the surface. The aliens appear and drop towards the humans – you can kill them at this point, but should they grab an alien, you must shoot the alien, and catch the human before the alien reaches the top of the screen.
Game play: This was a great game that was easy to play but tough to master. Shooting the aliens and catching the humans gave the best bonuses, and this formed a major part of the strategy. There were some different type of aliens that chased you making the game a lot more hectic than others; often it was just a relief to finish a level. While not as addictive as some, it did give a feeling of achievement when you reached a high score.
Nostalgia: I went on vacation with a friend for a week and we spent the entire week in the arcade playing this game and the number one game on my list (I won’t reveal the name now!). It was one of the best memories of my teen years!
5. Missile Command
Origins: In July 1980, Atari published a revolutionary game. It didn’t have a joystick, but had a ball that controlled an on screen cursor. It was programmed by Dave Theurer and licensed to Sega.
Concept: Those pesky aliens are getting smarter. Rather than sending space ships down to fight, they’re hiding in deep space and sending a bunch of missiles to blow up the Earth’s cities. This game was unique as it use a ’round’ joystick. You used this to move to a point on the screen and then fire a missile into this spot – the culminating explosion would destroy any missiles that hit the ‘cloud’. The missiles were essentially lines that moved down from the top of the screen at varying angles and speeds – some of them would split into multiple ‘missiles’ half way down.
Game play: this is a very strategic game. Placing your bombs in the right place and timing them right could essentially clear the alien missiles quickly and easily. As the game move on you found yourself spinning the wheel frantically trying to get the bombs in the right place. This game was adrenalin pumping fun – sometimes you seemed to be up against impossible odds and yet you’d breath a sigh of relief when one city survived.
Nostalgia: this was one of the first games I played on a table top machine. While these didn’t really catch on, it was still fun to be able to put a can of soda down while you played!
Origin: This game was heavily inspired by Pong. It was created in 1976 by Atari, with Nolan Busnell and Stew Bristow being the key designers. It’s probably one of the most cloned games ever, even today there are new games based on the same theme coming out. Apparently the Apple II computer was inspired by this game – wow where would Steve Jobs be now without Breakout.
Concept: The idea is simple – you have a bat at the bottom of the screen that can move back and forth. Above you is a wall of bricks. A ball will move from your bat – every time it collides with a brick, the brick disappears and the ball bounce back at you. Your task is simple – stop the ball going off the bottom of the screen by placing your bat in the way and bouncing the ball back at the wall – you also have to remove all the bricks in the wall to progress to the next level!
Game play: this is a fairly difficult game to master. As the bricks get lower each level and the ball speed increases, it becomes more and more difficult to ‘break out’. Also, sometimes the angle that the ball comes off the bat is so acute that it is very difficult to judge where the ball will bounce! It’s one of those games where you just keep on saying ‘just one more game’ and before you know it five hours have passed.
Nostalgia: when I lived in Wales we had a little utility room that housed books and my little ZX Spectrum – I used to spend hours playing this game as my Father sat and studied. It was like a male bonding session!
3. Hang On
Origin: This game was released in 1985 and was developed by Sega. It was one of the first ‘3D’ racing games and one of the first to introduce a ‘realistic’ aid to playing the game – that it a larger replica motorcycle style cabinet, with speedo, brakes and a throttle. This game became the benchmark for future racing games and lead to the highly praised Out Run series. The game cleverly used ‘billboards’ and trees to give you the feel that you were moving at high speed.
Concept: You are a motorcycle racer – you sit on top of a bike and have to race around a 3d race track, overtaking other riders and reaching certain checkpoints within a time limit. The game featuring different places and conditions (such as night).
Game play: Yet another easy game to play but very difficult to master. Timing the turns was essential, especially if other bikers got in the way. Each slight touch of another bike, or crash into a barrier slowed you down and made it harder to reach the checkpoint in time. The awesome graphics (for the time) made this game pleasurable to play as you really felt you were in a race. It is another game that kept you coming back for more.
Nostalgia: As a kid I always wanted a real motorbike, so this gave me a feeling that I actually had one. I was very good at this game (an d Pole Position) and constantly had my name on the high score table – it’s perhaps the only game I could truly say I was a master.
Origin: Developed by Toru Iwatani, and programmed by Hideyuki Moakajima San, this game came out in mid 1980. The name is derived from a phrase that relates to the sound when your mouth opens and closes (allegedly). Namco produced the game, but it really took off in America when Midway released it.
Concept: You are Pacman and you are very hungry. You find a maze full of ‘dots’ and zip around eating them. Unfortunately there’s some ghosts who aren’t too happy about this and they will chase you and eat you – but hey, there’s some really big dots that give you the power to banish the ghosts back to their central cage. The maze is complex, filling up the whole screen, but there are no dead ends – there’s also a passage way between each side of the screen. In the center, is the cage that holds the ghosts – occasionally bonus fruit appear next to the cage. You essentially have to eat all the dots in order to progress.
Game play: This is a simple concept, but with pretty decent graphics and an addictive tune it became a huge success. There is a lot of strategy to the game – each ghost follows a set pattern (although eventually they’ll forget this and follow you) – in fact there are books dedicated on the best route to avoiding the ghosts. The game gets harder as you go, with the ghosts speeding up and getting smarter.
Nostalgia: there’s something about the music in this game that is just so catching -even as I write it I can hear it in my mind. It’s one of the first games that I can remember using music as a major selling point. I wasted many hours playing this game, and although I was never great I always had fun trying to devise new routes. It is also probably my most successful programming achievement – I designed a version of this for the Acorn Atom and I actually sold a couple of hundred copies (again in Germany) – I am proud that as a twelve year old, I was able to use logic and programming skills and make some money doing it.
Origin: It’s truly amazing to think that this game was first released in 1979 – I’ve been playing it for 30 years now! Developed by Atari and designed by Lyle Rains and Ed Logg, the game cleverly used vector graphics and real inertia physics to convert a simple concept into a classic game.
Concept: Your little space ship has strayed into an asteroid belt. With the use of thrusters, a trusty laser cannon and a hyperspace unit, you must move your spaceship in all directions over the screen and avoid the asteroids. You can go anywhere on the screen and even going off the edge is OK – it just happens to be a wrap around universe. The asteroids come at you from all angles. Initially they are large, and are fairly slow. Once hit they split into smaller asteroids, and these smaller asteroids split again – the smaller the asteroid the faster it goes. Occasionally a nasty alien ship will appear and start firing at you – he’ll occasionally hit the asteroids and split them. The idea of the game is simple – destroy all the asteroids without colliding into them or getting shot by an alien.
Game play: Wow what can I say. To really succeed at this game you have to use strategy – firing at all asteroids will fill the screen with a lot of small fast moving asteroids, making it difficult to avoid collisions. Therefore the game required that you pick off one asteroid at a time, and then deal with the smaller asteroids. While doing this, you also had to maneuver gingerly; with real inertia, you often found yourself drifting without realizing it and suddenly you’d be in the middle of four or five asteroids.
Nostalgia: this is one of the only games that I still play today. Whether it’s the ‘Buck Rogers’ in me, or I just like the challenge I don’t know! You’d think that after 30 years of playing I’d either master the game or get bored; somehow neither has happened – I can sometimes get a mega score, but usually I’m just average. I guess I like the fact that it makes me think and keeps my hand-eye co-ordination in tip top condition! Now if only I could get all that money that I pushed into the asteroids machine back – I’d be very rich!