Thursday, April 17, 2008

Memories - - Video Games

Video games didn't exist when I was a kid (ie before I was teenager.) Or perhaps I was just unaware of them.

Then when I was in early High School, what we then called the Atari hit, and my family was one of the first to get one. You could play tennis against another player or against the machine. You could play Squash or a couple of other games. It was called Pong and was in black and white, and very basic and simple. Ten or Twelve years later I programmed my Tandy COCO64 (top of the line at that time) to play it and it was so simple to encode.

While I was in the Navy there were pinball machines everywhere on the base and I got quite good at it; there were also a few video games and at that time I didn't care much for them, preferring Pinball. Still there was one space war one I enjoyed where you were a rocket firing at an occasional flying saucer that appeared on the screen occasionally (sort of an early version of Asteroids, but I couldn't even tell you its name.)

As I got out of college I worked for a while in an arcade and was disappointed to see how few pinball machines there were and how many of those stupid video games. This was at the height of the Pacman mania and all of a sudden games were all of the rage. I guess I could talk for pages about these games but I am just going to concentrate on games I really liked.

Of course "everyone" loved Galaxians, Donkey Kong, Defender, Missile Command, Tempest and so many others. I sort of liked most of those but they were far from my favorites, in fact most of the ones I truly enjoyed were the less popular ones.

Well Centipede was popular and I played it quite often, though I was never able to get past 40 or 50K on my score. There was a young lady whom I was friendly with who used to regularly clean my clock when we played (100K +) When Centipede graduated to Millipede I sort of lost interest.

A more primitive (in technology) video game that I enjoyed was called Battlezone which placed you in a tank. What was primitive is that the graphics were purely vector, which meant a lot of burn outs in the circuitry, or at least it did at that time. I could play that game for 20 minutes for a quarter. It was an easy game to learn once you had the entirely predictable pattern memorized.

Some lesser known games that I really liked were Paper Boy where you tried to deliver as many papers as possible, while riding a bike and throwing the papers, making very few mistakes and doing as little damage as possible. You could break windows, knock over potted plants, hit people etc (It was OK to hit the dog.) It was fairly popular with the kids too.

I also enjoyed Spyhunter where you drove an armed car and shot up cars, trucks, and motorcylces. Now I ask you; who has been stuck behind a slow driver in a no-possibility-of-passing zone and not wanted to blow up the moron's car?

Just so many of them.


Blogger Goat said...

Pinball and pool and not video games were my interest and from your post we are about the same age. I still don't play video games. I did, in high school, enjoy reprogramming our Apple II computer games though to mess with the other students, got kicked out of the computer club for it, LOL.

1:37 AM  
Anonymous Seth said...

When I was 16 (with ID that said I was over 18) in San Francisco, I used to play pinball machines that involved 5 balls and 25 numbered holes they needed to land in to line up numbers on 3 cards (3 in a row, 4 in a row, 4 corners, etc) on the machine display board that payed a dime a point under the table. Boy, y'all were so innocent, LOL!

Later, in the Pac-Man/Space Invaders age, a girlfriend loaned me quartz watches that featured both games on the faces.

I have otherwise never been able to play video games unless they involved marksmanship.

There was one in Atlantic City where you had to shoot your way (against all sorts of demons and ghouls) into a haunted house scenario in order to rescue people and their souls, and whenever you saved human souls, you got additional ammo. That one was fun, I busted the top level. :-)

I'm completely lost in these latest games, though.

2:00 AM  
Blogger Gayle said...

I'm pretty good at pinball, Shoprat, but I would also have cleaned your clock at Centipede. LOL! I loved that game! I never heard of Paper Boy or Spyhunter though.

10:36 AM  
Anonymous Jake said...

I worked in a pool hall / arcade back when these paperboy and spyhunter were popular. In fact, I remember dumping $20 in quarters into those machines without thinking twice about it.

Of all the video games I've ever playing, Spy Hunter's music was by far the best

12:44 PM  
Anonymous Americaneocon said...

Ms. Pacman was my game, at the arcades.

Plus a few others, like Space Invaders, and foos ball. A lot of fun back then - and of course you had to go out to the bowling alley or the pizza parlor with your friends!

9:26 PM  
Blogger dons_mind said...

hmmmm pinball - musta been a sailor thing, i think we all played - seems like every em club in the world had 'em....

i liked space invaders...i remember staying up all night sometimes typing code into the TR60(?) and getting it onto the cassette tape memory so we could play games on the computer...course there was no code checker - it was trial and error...ahhh yes, green screen! lol lol

9:44 PM  
Blogger jgf said...

I have only played Pong. We got it when I was in jr high or so. The tiny town I lived in didn't have an arcade, besides I would have been too busy with my nose in a book.

BTW, I am glad your dad is doing so well!

10:44 PM  
Blogger shoprat said...

goat sounds like fun

Seth I find it difficult to believe, but it's true, that you had to be 18 to play pinball in so many states.

gayle I wasn't good at centipede but she was.

Jake Yes its music was cool and I had forgotten about that.

Americaneocon I was ok at Ms Pacman.

dm I think every building in the danged Naval Bases had them.
I tried to do centipede that way but ran out of RAM.

jgf yes he is doing quite well.

10:19 AM  
Blogger The Vegas Art Guy said...

I remember those old games as well and I think the one you can't remember the name was called Space War. I liked Omega Race quite a bit as well as Pole Position. The only fighting game I liked was Fatal Fury. Oh and there was one called Rampart which was a blast as well.

7:31 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I ruled at Battlezone, Tail Gunner, and Reactor. I had a buddy with whom I would play "Space Duel." I don't know if you remember it, but you had 2 ships connected together that had to blast away at asteroids of varying interesting (if improbable) shapes. He would take care of the thrusters, and I would man the shields. In 1982, we nearly beat the world's top score.

11:12 PM  
Blogger benning said...

The first computerized game I played was Pong. Dad bought it for us when it first was available - he worked at RCA and liked new technology - and we played often. I was never too good at Pinball, but when the arcades began adding computer games I tried a few and got good at a primitive Star Trek game. When I got my first real computer - a hand-me-down from a step-sister - it was an old DOS model, and it had Nine Dragons Mahjjong installed. I played that all the time. Sadly I can’t get it to work on the XP box I have now. Along the way I played Amok, and others, but I really enjoyed Commander Keen. And that is one game I can play on this box. Purely side-scroll action, cute graphics, and simple music and sound effects. I prefer my computer games simple.


8:16 AM  

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