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video_games | utter randomonium

Category Archives: video_games

Childhood Video Games: Part 3

Inspired by KateKintail‘s recent posts about favorite childhood video games (here and here), I decided it was high time I blathered on about mine for a little while.

This is the third and final post. The first was about TI-99 games and the second about PC games. This one is about Nintendo Gameboy games.

A Gameboy is not the sort of thing my parents would ever have purchased on their own, but my dad won one in a raffle. It came with Tetris, of course, which we played a bunch. (We were already familiar with Tetris because we’d had it on our PC.) Soon my mother discovered that garage sales were a great way to find new games on the cheap, so we played a somewhat odd assortment:


Super Mario Land

This was our second game, and one we played endlessly. I never beat it, though I got close. I can still sing all the music, which is markedly different from any other Mario game. My husband brought it on our honeymoon and sometime during the plane ride home he finally beat it. Not bad considering you can’t save your game.

Super Mario Land game play video



Kwirk

I always thought this was called Kwirk the Chilled Tomato but evidently it’s just Kwirk. Anyway, it’s a puzzle game where you push blocks around in order to escape a room. I got pretty far but I don’t think this is the sort of game you ever win. I’ve found that endless puzzle games, where you just play until you lose (Tetris, Bejeweled, Arkanoid, Dr. Mario, Bust-a-Move, etc.) seem to be my favorite games. I’m sure that says something about me, but I don’t know what.

Kwirk game play video



Gargoyle’s Quest

This game was hard. I got frustrated pretty quickly because I couldn’t seem to get anywhere without dying thirty times.

Gargoyle’s Quest game play video



Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Fall of the Foot Clan

Back in the day, I loved all things TMNT, so it’s no surprise we had this game. I think I only made it past the second boss (either Rocksteady or Bebop) but I played it doggedly nonetheless.

TMNT game play video



Final Fantasy Legend II

My husband is a Final Fantasy Fanatic but he refuses to play this game because the English translation is so awful. Which is something I never noticed as a kid. Anyway, I liked the RPG aspect of it, but I always got stuck fighting the boss at the end of the body level – I just couldn’t beat it, and I couldn’t go back and level up either because you can’t “run away” from boss battles. Dang.

Final Fantasy Legend II game play video


I still have a Gameboy. It’s not the original – the screen on that one got so bad you couldn’t see Mario half the time – but a green Gameboy Pocket I purchased sometime in the late ’90s. I don’t play it much anymore, but at this point I doubt we’ll ever get rid of it.

Did you have a Gameboy or other handheld growing up? What did you play?

Childhood Video Games: Part 2

Inspired by KateKintail‘s recent posts about favorite childhood video games (here and here), I decided it was high time I blathered on about mine for a little while.

This is the second post. The first was about TI-99 games. This one is devoted to PC games. We played these somewhat less frequently (Dad’s IBM was not always available) but just as passionately. These are the ones I remember playing the most often.


Ultima V

Pretty sure I traveled just about everywhere in the Ultima V universe but never got anywhere close to beating it. I got the boats and the horse and the flying carpet, and even managed to get to Lord British’s castle but still no dice. After a while we just started messing around, like killing everyone in a village that happened to have no guards (though often you’d get arrested elsewhere). It was fun to explore but ultimately got frustrating when you couldn’t make any progress. I read a walk-through years later and learned that we’d skipped a crucial step: grinding until you reached some impossibly high experience level we’d never gotten close to.

Ultima V game play video (though the version I played didn’t have music)



Return to Zork

I sucked at the original, text-based Zork. My sister was really into it, drawing maps and all that, but I was constantly getting eaten by a Grue. Return to Zork had graphics and a surprising number of celebrity cameos, and I played it endlessly. I eventually had to buy a walk-through guide to finish it, but I enjoyed it just the same. “Want some rye? Course ya do!”

Return to Zork game play video



Battle Chess

We loved Battle Chess, and it was the first thing I thought of when Harry Potter played Wizard’s Chess. Mostly we tried to play in such a way to see all the different ways various pieces killed each other. I loved how the rooks turned into rock monsters, and how the king and queen smooched before he stabbed her in the back with a dagger.

Battle Chess game play video



Lemmings

You have a certain number of lemmings (little purple dudes with green hair) you have to get to safety, and a certain number of each kind of special one (like one that makes stairs and one that blocks the lemmings from passing and stuff like that), and sometimes a time limit. Oh man, I played this game like a fiend. I got pretty good at it, if I recall correctly, but it’s still a little traumatizing to see the little guys plummet to their death, splashing(!!) on the ground.

Lemmings game play video



King’s Quest IV: The Perils of Rosella

This was the only KQ game (at the time) with a female main character, and my friend and I played the hell out of it. She was a lot better at it than I was, getting way farther, so I liked to watch her play so I could see all the lands I’d never managed to get to. We loved the fairy tale/fantasy theme of it, and having a fairy with butterfly wings didn’t hurt any. Looking back, the graphics were actually pretty good and interestingly designed.

King’s Quest IV game play video



Other Sierra Games

I’ve lumped these all together because I didn’t get far in any of them and graphically they were all pretty much interchangeable: King’s Quest III (dammit, Manannan!), Space Quest I (I never even got off the ship), Police Quest I and II, and Leisure Suit Larry in the Land of the Lounge Lizards (which probably would have been more titillating at a higher resolution – mostly it was just silly). I liked playing them but not often because I always got stuck in the same place – not because I couldn’t figure out the puzzle, but because I didn’t know how to find the next puzzle to solve, so I ended up just wandering around until running into someone telling me I’d lost/died/whatever because I hadn’t done something I didn’t know how to do.

Game play videos for King’s Quest III, Space Quest I, and Police Quest I



Apogee Games

At some point I discovered the joys of shareware. On one disk we had two games: Secret Agent: The Hunt for Red Rock Rover, and Cosmo’s Cosmic Adventure. Secret Agent was a fun side-scroller puzzle game, where you had various obstacles to overcome and enemies with predictable and repetitive patterns of movement. Cosmo was more Mario-like, jumping on enemies and setting bombs and stuff like that. I played it so obsessively that I actually beat it several times. Come to think of it, it may be the only video game I’ve ever beaten in my entire life. Huh.

Cosmo game play video
Secret Agent game play video



Castle of the Winds

I take that back. I beat Castle of the Winds. This Windows 3.1 shareware game was so addictive that my sister and I ultimately convinced our parents to purchase the second part. It’s pretty simplistic: you’re a little icon running around villages and dungeons made of other icons and you kill things by walking into them. There are traps and monsters and treasures. This was my first encounter with the Enchanted Pack of Holding, though I know now that Bag of Holding is an old D&D term. I think the best part was when we were able to combine this game with an icon creator program, meaning our hero could look however we wanted. We did a few, but the one that sticks in my memory most was the Floating Radioactive Banana of Doom. (Long story; don’t ask.)

Castle of the Winds game play video



Tetris and Faces…Tris

You all know Tetris and the only thing interesting about the version we played was the change in backgrounds each level. Faces…Tris was something else entirely. You had pieces of face (chin/mouth, nose, eyes, hair) and you tried to match them up. It was crazy-hard but we enjoyed all the weird faces we could make by mixing up the people.

Faces…Tris game play video


There were others, of course, that I can’t recall now. A generic horse-racing game we’d get all riled up over, Dig-Dug (which I only played a couple of times), some weird fly game where the fly moved way faster than your cursor so it took more luck than skill to swat it…and surely many others. Mostly I recall the grind of the disk drive being a warning that something awful was loading on the next screen and you’d probably have to back out as fast as possible or else die immediately.

What PC games did you love back in the day?

Childhood Video Games: Part 1

Inspired by KateKintail‘s recent posts about favorite childhood video games (here and here), I decided it was high time I blathered on about mine for a little while.

I’m going to split this into three posts. A lot of the games in this first post will probably seem almost-but-not-quite familiar to you, because our main gaming console was a TI-99 computer, and thus most of our favorite games were blatant Atari rip-offs. We never owned an Atari or Nintendo, so this is all we knew (though I remember watching friends play Q*Bert, Legend of Zelda, and Duck Hunt). And I say “we” because it was usually a group of us huddled around the computer, watching someone else play and not-so-patiently awaiting our turn.


TI Invaders

It was only several years after playing this game that I was even made aware of the existence of Space Invaders. I did pretty well, even getting to levels where new aliens were added, but of course it’s not a game you ever actually beat.

TI Invaders game play video



Tunnels of Doom

My first real RPG, and we just loved it. Watching actual gameplay on YouTube is excruciating, though – I’d completely forgotten how you had to wait a few seconds for the screen to reload every. single. time. you took a step. This is one I don’t recall ever winning, but I do know we often played as a group, each claiming a character and telling whoever had the controller what they wanted to do next.

Tunnels of Doom game play video



Blasto

Another one that’s super annoying to watch now, as the music restarts every single time there is another sound. Which was a lot, since this entire game is about tanks blowing things up.

Blasto game play video



Munchman

TI’s answer to Pac-Man, only instead of eating dots you leave a chain in your wake, and the monsters change every level.

Munch Man game play video



A-MAZE-ING

You play a tiny mouse trying to get through a maze without getting eaten by a gigantic cat. (Seriously, the mouse was about the same size as the cat’s eye.) I got pretty good at it, but I preferred to make the cat dumb. I was kind of a wimp. (Still am.)

A-MAZE-ING game play video



Alpiner

“You forgot to duck!” The theme music to this game was Anitra’s Dance from Peer Gynt by Edvard Grieg, and you can imagine my excitement when I later played it on the piano. What was most memorable about this game was the reasonably sophisticated (if maddening) voice synthesizer. We often would protest, “But I can’t duck!”

Alpiner game play video



Parsec

A side-scroller with a ship blasting its way through the cosmos while trying not to crash into rocks. That’s…pretty much it, actually.

Parsec game play video



Car Wars

Cars making horrendous noises as they race around a squarish track until they smash into each other. We had simple pleasures back then.

Car Wars game play video



Hustle

Pretty sure this game is a rip-off but I don’t know the name of the real one. It’s the game where you’re a snake and every move you get longer and the idea is to last longer than your opponent without running into them or yourself.



Return to Pirates Isle

I only mention this one because we played it – or at least tried to. We never could figure out the proper commands to input in order to actually accomplish anything beyond finding the glasses.


What did you play in the 1980s? Did you have a TI-99, or was it an Atari or Nintendo or something else? What were your favorite games?

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