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Over Twenty-Five Years of Cool Video Games, Part 1

  • May 5, 2010
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After being invited to join fellow Luncher Sean (the other, other Sean) Rhodes' community The Gaming Hub, I began writing up a list of some of my favorite video games over the years. Now, for those people who don't know me, I'm notoriously behind the times when it comes to technology, particularly in the realm of interactive entertainment, so most of these games (okay, all of them) are considered outdated or primitive to modern gamers. Deal with it, yo. I'm rockin' it old school. Very... very... very old school. How many people even remember the Atari 2600 or ColecoVision? I mean, seriously, I'm that old school. Like ancient. LOL! Sad to say the most recent gaming system I own is the original Sega Genesis and the Playstation. So, prepare to do the time warp as I list off some of my favorite games.
I am officially a master of Pong! For those of you who don't know about Pong, it was one of the earliest and most primitive video games. It basically involved a player hitting a ping-pong ball (pixel) back and forth from one side of the screen to another using a paddle (a small line) while your opponent does the same. Whoever misses the ball gives the other player a point. I've actually played the "perfect game" a few times and not had the other player score a single point against me. Yup, I have that much time to waste to perfect my mad Pong-playing skills!
The next best thing to Pong was Breakout, which had the same fundamental ideas, only instead of two lines batting a pixel back and forth, you get one line that bounces a pixel around the screen to trying to knock off color bricks (yeah, majorly complicated stuff, this). This game was a bit more fast-paced than Pong, and more frustrating, but also more fun. Although I'm pretty good with Breakout, I've never gotten that last damn brick!
Oh, how I do remember the lame music (da-duh, da-duh, da-do) for this classic adventure game. This one was a huge jump forward in terms of graphics, but the actual story line is a little lacking when compared to later games. Basically, you're a faceless adventurer named Harry lookig for a nameless treasure and trying to avoid countless dangers. There are crocodiles in the swamps, scorpions, quicksand, rattlesnakes, brick walls, bats, tumbling logs, and, oh yes, pitfalls to avoid. So have fun!
Keystone Kapers
Oh, this one brings back memories of a misspent youth! Not that the cops were chasing me or anything! Nope, in this game, you got to be a Keystone kop named Officer Kelly and chase a bad guy (oddly enough named Harry, so I guess his trasure hunting days didn't work out for him after all) around a department store, all the while avoiding toys that attack you. You get to run up escalators, jump over shopping carts and counters, dodge wind-up airplanes, and gather bags of stolen money, all on your way to chase villainous robber Harry to the rooftops. Classic!
Okay, so there's no real story behind this one, but what do you expect from a Western-themed video game from 1981?! So, in this one you're a cowboy and you ride around a fenced in area catching as much cattle as you can with your lasso, but there's a trick to it. You can't ride into the stampeding cattle or jump over the various bull skulls, so you have to avoid them, which isn't as easy as you might think.
It is what it sounds like! In this hilariously bizarre game, you play a cranky farmer who has to plant his veggies. You have three carrot seeds that you have to plant, but there's a nasty little gopher (actually, he's cuter than the farmer, which makes him an odd antagonist) who is also digging tunnels towards your carrots so he can eat them. You have to stop the gopher by filling in his holes or hitting him on the head with the shovel. If the gopher eats all of your carrots, you lose. Sounds easy, doesn't it? Well, it's not. There's also a bird (I've read many arguments over whether it's a stork, a seagull, or a pelican) that flies by and will drop you carrot seeds and if you can catch them you can plant them as well. This game isn't really that much fun to play by yourself, so make sure that you do it while people are around and the shouting at the "Daggone little gopher" will become hilarious quite quickly and laughter will follow.
Donkey Kong
We leave behind the Atari and ColecoVision for the magical world of Nintendo! Donkey Kong remains one of my favorite video games ever! I own one of the cartridges available for use on the Atari, which is actually more fun that the Nintendo version, but I digress. In this arcade classic, you play a character called Jumper (later renamed Mario, yeah, that guy who got his own game) and it's your job to save a damsel in distress called Lady from an evil ape known as Donkey Kong (later to become a heroic figure in his own game series as well). In order to save Lady, you have to make your way up through a series of zigzagging platforms while jumping over barrels and climbing ladders, where at the top level Donkey Kong awaits. Now, that's multi-tasking!
Mario Bros.
After saving Lady, Jumper, now dubbed Mario, decided that there was a potentially lucrative business in rescuing damsels in distress. Mario and Luigi, his brother, formed a plumbing company called Mario Bros. and they're job is to save Princess Toadstool from villainous turtles, crabs, and flies in an elaborate sewer maze. Such classy entertainment! To do this, you must leap over various obstacles and jump on your enemies (at least some of them) as you search the sewers for the kidnapped Princess. It's far more logical than it sounds, but that's not saying much, is it?
Super Mario Bros.
The super sequel to the game above. The idea is generally the same, but in this superior follow-up, you get new powers when you eat mushrooms that help you to battle the evil turtles and their enemies. Plus, in this game the nasty sewers are replaced with more idyllic landscapes that have large inexplicable green pipes that protrude from the ground along with randomly placed brown boxes that serve as stairs. YAY!
Duck Hunt
I really can't think of a crueler game than this! You play a hunter who shoots ducks with his rifle while your dog gathers their carcasses for you to eat. Yeah, it really is that brutal! Okay, there's no blood or gore, but still. Oddly enough, even a vegetarian and animal rights activist like myself will find this game to be fun and addictive.
Dinsey's Aladdin
Available in different versions on different platforms, two of which I've played (but neither of which I own unfortunately) for the Sega and Super Nintendo game systems, Disney's Aladdin is a superb adventure game that really captures the fun of the movie. You get to run about the marketplace with Abu and Jasmine, escape from the royal prison, navigate your way through the Cave of Wonders, and then have the ultimate showdown with Jafar to decide the fate of the Genie and the royals in the Sultan's Palace.
The Revenge of Shinobi
Easily one of the greatest games for the Sega Genesis in my opinion. In Revenge of Shinobi, you play a noble ninja warrior (named Joe, LOL!) who must avenge the death of his master and save his girlfriend from an evil criminal organiztion known as Neo Zeed. The members of Neo Zeed include evil ninja and samurai, the military, androids, mutants, reanimated dinosaur skeletons, and villainous versions of various superheroes. Although the game completely lacks in realism (probably, you've figured that out by now), it's graphics and game play were way ahead of its time.
Streets of Rage
If you want an old-school, kick-ass,  "beat 'em up" game, then Streets of Rage is for you. You can choose to play (solo or with a friend) as one or two of three characters who are loyalist cops that have vowed to clean up the streets after an evil crime syndicate has corrupted the citizens and the police force alike. You're unarmed, except for the occasional street level weapon like a baseball bat, a lead pipe, a knife or broken bottle, and you must fight your way through levels of bad guys, each with their own specialty form of fighting. Certainly more violent than any of the games on this list so far, but overall it's a lot of fun and there's nor blood or gore to be seen anywhere.
Sonic the Hedgehog
Oh, joy, we've reached Sonic! In this classic Sega game, you play a speedy, blue hedgehog named Sonic, who must battle the evil mechanical forces of Dr. Robotnik and save the animals from being turned into android slaves, all the while you must gather up golden rings of power. Simple, sure, but lots and lots of fun! Probably, the most kid-friendly game out there.
Sonic the Hedgehog 2
Even better than the first, Sonic 2 takes the gamer to whole new levels. In this sequel, you get an adorable sidekick named Tails, a flying fox with two whirling helicopter-like tails, and you learn trick that allows you to curl up into a ball and shoot off at rocket speed. Once again, your missions is to save the animal world from the evil Dr. Robotnik, but this time around he's got more bad bots to throw at you in even tougher levels!
The Amazing Spider-Man vs. The Kingpin
YES! The first and only good superhero game I've played (there are actually a lot of them out there, but I don't own any of them). The game begins with Peter Parker returning home and finding out that Mary Jane has ben taken hostage and that The Kingpin will blow up New York if you can't save her in less than 24 hours (in this game that translates to a couple hours). On your way to save your girlfriend and the city, you have to battle crooks, gangs, robots, and a mad motorcyclist, as well as classic Spidey villains like Dr. Octopus, The Sandman, The Lizard, Mysterio, Electro, Hobgoblin, Vulture, Venom, and The Kingpin). The first game that allowed you to really wall-crawl and web-sling. So much fun!!!
Tomb Raider
The original Lara Croft adventure is a bit dated (lacks the impressive graphics, the more user-friendly game play, and the sexier costumes of the sequels), but still is a groundbreaking adventure game if ever there was one. You play as Lara Croft, a sort of female British Indiana Jones, who goes on adventures and battles villains, cults, and nature run amok. More violent and sex that the other games on this list, so I would recommend it for teens and up, but an absolute blast.
Tomb Raider II: Starring Lara Croft
For me, this is the ultimate Lara Croft adventure. The graphics and game play are at an intermediate stage, being better than in the first game, but not reaching the sophistication of the third game. Here, you must save the world from a villainous cult (aren't all cults villainous in these adventure stories), dinosaurs (that nasty T-rex), hungry tigers, Italian mobsters, and all sorts of pulpy cliches that will satisfy the adventure fan in us all (And possibly offend the more politically correct). Can you journey through caves, swim through shipwrecks, battle the undead, and save the world, all while looking sexy in short shorts and a tight-fitting shirt, sure, why not?!
Tomb Raider III: Adventures of Lara Croft
Superior game play and graphics set this apart from the first two entries in the series, but the story itself is quite lacking in originality. You have the searches in the jungles, battles with wild animals (including dinosaurs), evil cults, criminals, and even aliens (Sweet!). The real fun here is getting to experience all the wonderful environments (from the jungles of India to the South Pacific to Area 51 to London and then Antarctica). So, yeah, not so groundbreaking as the first two, but still a ton of fun!
Toy Story 2: Buzz Lightyear to the Rescue
Surprisingly, or maybe not, this is the most recent game I own and it's also one of the best! You get to play as Buzz Lightyear and it's your mission to travel from Andy's house to Al's Toy Barn in order to save Woody, who has been stolen by toy collector Al. The game features innovative graphics, cool power-ups, challenging puzzles, and some nice villains (most of which are toys or appliances). Just turn the music down, it gets old real quick.

What did you think of this list?

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May 09, 2010
You know what's sad... I've played every game on this list.  I saw this list earlier but didn't comment.  I can't remember what I was doing (I was, uh, drinking... I'm sure you can put two and two together on that one).  

But it's all good.  At heart I'm an old school gamer.  It takes a moment for me to really appreciate the new games.  Some I jump over and love instantly but for the most part it's usually a year or two of reflection before realizing just how awesome certain games are.  I guess you could say there are some games that age VERY well and others that don't.
May 10, 2010
That's not sad, that's awesome. Not many people have even heard of some of those Atari games.
May 07, 2010
My all time favourite computer game just has to be Myst. The graphics at the time were unbeatable and the puzzles were true head scratchers. It took me weeks but I'm proud to say that I puzzled through it from start to finish entirely on my own.
May 07, 2010
You know, I can't claim to have ever played Myst.
May 06, 2010
This list is making me all nostalgic! Time to break out ye ole SNES and play me some Super Mario Bros and Donkey Kong!  By the way, have you seen @Clay_Miller's review of The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters?  I've yet to watch it myself, but something tells me that we'll LOVE it!  Gonna see it soon.  Thanks for sharing! :)
May 06, 2010
Thanks, and I'll have to check out the link. I appreciate the newer games for the quality of the stories and the realistic graphics, but I miss the simpler classic stuff.
May 06, 2010
Great list, Count! I remember a lot of the IntelliVision games too. :-)
May 06, 2010
Wow. I'm not a huge video game aficionado, but enough to know how impressive this list is. Well done, Count Orlok!
May 06, 2010
Thanks. I'm not a big gamer myself, more for financial reasons than anything else, so most of the games that I'm familiar with are pretty outdated.
May 06, 2010
Dude brilliant list, Spider man vs Kingpin [LOVE IT].
May 06, 2010
You've actually played that game? Nice! Very few people I've mentioned it to had even heard of it.
May 05, 2010
Great list, Sean! I'm loving the titles you included. Nothing wrong with being a fan of the retro classics, either. They don't make games like this anymore. :)
May 06, 2010
Too bad, if they did I might actually have played something new in the past ten years. LOL! And do we really call it retro or just technologically obsolete (sort of like myself)? : )
May 08, 2010
LOL! I like the word "retro." It makes it sound cool. :)
May 08, 2010
Well, it does sound better than obsolete! LOL! : )
May 09, 2010
Exactly! It's all about the way you spin it. ;)
May 05, 2010
Ok...now I am intrigued. Maybe I'll include the handheld Game and watch games in the 70's LOL! nice list!!
May 05, 2010
I feel like a caveman with all of these ancient relics...
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