08 April 2008

Old-school gaming

Asteroids (1979, Atari) Of all the early monochrome classics, Asteroids was my favourite, because it's truly bleak. Rather than aliens or robots, your enemies are unthinking lumps of rock that are hurtling through space. Twirling somewhere in the middle of this cluttered void is your tiny, heartbreakingly fragile spaceship, armed only with a feeble electric peashooter. If Asteroids has a message, it's this: you are insignificant, the universe doesn't care about you, and you are definitely going to die. Brilliant.

Pac-Man (1980, Namco) Pac-Man himself may be an ultimately unknowable yellow disc, but his spectral pursuers had proper googly eyes and everything. And nicknames. And blood types. OK, not blood types. But this was one of the first games with identifiable characters, which goes a long way to explaining its success.

3D Deathchase (1983, Micromega) A Spectrum game in which all you had to do was avoid trees and shoot fellow motorcyclists. Simple, speedy pseudo-3D graphics meant suddenly you were starring in the bike section from Return Of The Jedi. Yes. You really bloody were.

Stop The Express (1983, Hudson Soft) A rare Japanese Spectrum game, this was an insanely breakneck combat/platformer in which you had to scamper along the top of a runaway train, fighting assassins and dodging obstacles. Best of all, when you beat it, your sole reward was a caption reading "Congraturation! You sucsess!"
- Charlie Brooker, 'The best videogames of all time (part 1)', Guardian, 5 April 2008

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