Category Archives: Retrogaming

Retrogaming 1983

1983 is the year when it all starts to fall apart. The crash. Caused in part by Atari, its effects ripple through to push hundreds of arcades out of business.

1983 Arcade Games

Despite the closures and loss of many arcade venues, the manufacturers soldiered on, releasing Gyrus, a new revolutionary space shooter game, Mario Bros. which introduced Luigi and cemented the Bros as plumbers rather than the carpenters Mario had been in Donkey Kong, cocktail-cabinet classic Crystal Castles, and Konami’s Track and Field, the first in a long line of sports-themed games.

1983 Atari 2600 Games

As the company collapsed and brought the industry down with it, Atari kept pumping out games of variable quality. Among them were arcade ports of Frogger, Battlezone, Pole Position, Donkey Kong Jr, Moon Patrol, Dig Dug, and Joust. Also notable was Activision’s racing game Enduro.

Unfortunately, it just wasn’t enough to save the system.

1983 Apple II Games

Apple found itself facing heavy competition from the C64, ZX Spectrum, and IBM PCs, and tried to compete with the release of the Apple III. However, not even Apple could kill the Apple II, with major releases including Load Runner and the Infocom classic Enchanter.

1983 C64 Games

Without a doubt Commodore’s pricing and marketing strategies were in part responsible for the video game crash, but they came through the chaos relatively unscathed, sales of their machine making up half of the year’s microcomputer market. Despite this success the games themselves – Burning Rubber, Sword of Fargol, Necromancer, Godzilla, and more – remain mere footnotes without significant long-term impact.

1983 ZX Spectrum Games

Across the pond where the Commodore 64 had less market penetration the ZX Spectrum was seeing similarly strong sales with more classic, if regional, titles like Atic Atac and Lunar Jetman.

1983 Dos Games

The IBM PC game market continues to be dominated by garage-crafted “gems” and unlicensed knock-offs like Ario Brothers, Snake and Bert, Catacombs of Nemon, and Spyder.

But fear not, DOS fans – it does indeed get better!

Retrogaming 1981

Continuing our retrogaming adventure on into 1981 with the birth of new series and the first appearance of one of video gaming’s most iconic characters.

1981 Arcade Games

Mario, I’m talking about Mario. The Italian plumber’s first appearance is in Nintendo’s landmark platformer Donkey Kong, though in this game I believe he’s some sort of carpenter.

1981 turns out to be a power year for gaming franchise births as we see the first Frogger, Defender, and Centipede games as well – all classics, alongside Ms. Pac-Man – arguably more popular than her predecessor and the first game with cut-scenes, and Vanguard, slightly less well known but with a slapping musical score.

1981 Atari VCS games

1981 saw the release of the best game for the system, Yar’s Revenge, and their port of Pac-Man, one of the worst. Other notable Atari ports this year are Asteroids, Defender, and Missile Command. We also see the release of Kaboom, a remake of the game Avalanche, and Haunted House, a VCS original.

1981 Apple ][ Games

The big debut in 1981 is Richard Gariott’s Ultima, first in a series that eventually spans over a dozen games, spinoffs, and even an MMO. We also see Castle Wolfenstein, itself largely notable as a footnote as predecessor of one of the first FPS games. Other 1981 Apple II releases include Olympic Decathalon, the racing game Autobahn, graphical adventure Cranston Manor, and the movie monster game Crush, Crumble, and Chomp.

1981 TRS-80 Games

Tandy’s TRS-80 continues bravely struggling along with a port of Zork II, the graphical adventure games Institute and Asylum, text adventure Dragons of Hong Kong, and the scrolling shooter Sky Warrior. The system has really started to show it’s age, however, and next year will see the final nail in the TRS-80’s coffin – a competitor so fierce that it quakes the entire microcomputer industry to its knees.

Retrogaming 1980

Continuing this series with our first real entry into the golden age of video games, a glorious time that lasts until Atari goes and screws it all up. We see a lot of important “firsts” this year.

Arcade Games of 1980

It truly is the Golden Age of arcades as we see the launching of some of the most popular franchises in Pac-Man, Berzerk, Battlezone, and Rally X. Add to the mix milestone titles like Phoenix – the first game with a ‘Boss’ – and Space Panic – the first platformer – and you can see why this was a banner year.

Atari VCS Games of 1980

Atari sees its own industry firsts with the formation of the first third party company – Activision – made up of former Atari employees who quit because they weren’t getting credit for their work. They went on to produce Dragster, Fishing Derby, Boxing, and Skiing this year.

Another big first was the first developer easter egg in Atari’s Adventure release. The company also released Night Driver and Video Pinball.

1980 Apple ][ Games

Apple’s firsts include the first graphical adventure game from the company that will eventually become Sierra On-Line, Mission Asteroid. We also see the first title in the Zork series and the first release from Infocom, boasting a for-the-time advanced text parser. A third first is Temple of Apshai, the first game in the Apshai series of action RPGs.

1980 TRS-80 Game

The humble TRS-80 continues to chug along, with notable releases including His Majesty’s Ship Impetuous, an interactive fiction work with a very different sort of text parser, Tunnels of Fahad, a reskin of Sega’s arcade driving game Head-On, and Project Omega, a space-station management sim.

Retrogaming 1979

We covered the Atari VCS’s 1979 offerings last time, so check that out if you missed it.

Arcade Games of 1979

In 1979 our arcade sprits get a lot more colorful, as you can see with Bomb Bee and Galaxian. Asteroids is perhaps the most persistent classic from the year, but Lunar Rescue and Sheriff are some games that are perhaps a bit underrated – the latter being one of the first twin-stick shooters.

Apple II Games of 1979

Microcomputer games, meanwhile, limp along with limited functionality. Many of them are hugely popular – as with Lemonade Stand, a simple but ubiquitous economic sim, and Apple Trek, a port of an already famous (and famously unlicensed) Star Trek game that has the Enterprise flying around and blowing up Klingon ships. You know, like on the show.

But the big historic game to come out from 1979 is none other than Akalabeth, Richard Garriott’s precursor to the landmark Ultima series. It isn’t just the connection to Ultima that makes Akalabeth notable, it presents a number of impressive technological firsts in the genre of computer role-playing games, despite (or due to) its largely procedural nature.

TRS-80 Games of 1979

The TRS-80 started off at a bit of a disadvantage and never really pulled itself out of it, but it does get ports of a number of famous classic games released in the late 70s and early 80s. The notable release in 1979 is Datestones of Ryn, an action adventure game in the Dunjonquest series and prequel to Temple of Apshai.

Another surprisingly robust TRS-80 release this year was Galactic Empire, a game that gives the player a surprisingly hands-off approach to control and conquest. The delegation to NPCs here really appeals to me, and it’s just darn impressive what they managed on the TRS-80.

Retrogaming: Blown Cartridges

I’m an author, game dev, podcaster, and all-round creative professional, so I don’t have a lot of time for hobbies that are just hobbies. I also don’t have a lot of free time to hang out with friends unless I make a project out of it.

So I did. A buddy and I started a retrogaming YouTube channel as an excuse to get together and hang out. Once every other weekend or so we meet to record ourselves riffing on video games that we’ve played, record it, and upload the resulting video.

Check out this boss channel trailer we made.

It’s fun. I follow the development of the channel and its increasing subscribers out of habit more than anything else – seeing that people care about our nonsense warms the heart – but really it’s just about reconnecting with an old friend and swimming in the nostalgia of the games we used to play.

I can’t just leave it at that

I’ve been at the creative professional game for seven years now, so I can’t bring myself to just upload the videos and leave it at that. No. I have to build a platform for what is ostensibly not a professional project, because if I don’t do my due diligence it nags at me. So of course I need to make a twitter for the channel.

You know, to announce new videos.

And a facebook page. And a linked Twitch account, so we can stream the games as we play them.

More

And, of course, a single video every other week is no way to grow a channel. I had to come up with more content, so naturally I go and make year by year and platform by platform videos of the classic games released each year.

Naturally.

Anyway, this is my latest project, so if you want to hear two old-ass gamers ramble on about old-ass games, make funny voices, and complain about the good ol’ days consider subscribing to the channel or tossing a dollar into the Blown Cartridges Patreon.

Because of course there’s a Patreon.