Yars’ Revenge is, it’s fair to say, one of the most well-known and respected Atari 2600 games out there.
Indeed, back in the day it was one of the platform’s best-selling games, being one of several examples from the 1981-1982 period that actually broke a million copies sold. This was, as you might imagine, a pretty big deal back in the early days of video gaming.
Every gaming genre out there has that one title that helped to codify — if not establish — conventions that would continue to be followed for many years to come.
For the beat ’em up genre, that game was Technos’ Double Dragon, a title that is widely regarded to have kicked off something of a “golden age” for the genre with its innovative mechanics, simultaneous two-player action and large, chunky sprites. It also got an NES version developed by Technos themselves which doesn’t get talked about nearly as much. Which is a shame, because it’s an interesting game and most certainly isn’t just a straightforward attempt to ape the arcade machine on limited hardware.
Fortunately, we can now enjoy this intriguing take on a classic in a couple of readily available ways if you don’t have an NES to hand: via the Double Dragon and Kunio-Kun bundle released for modern consoles by Arc System Works, and as part of the Technos Collection 1cartridge for the Evercade retro gaming platform.
It was an exciting time when racing games moved from sprite-based “fake 3D” visuals to full polygonal 3D — and one gets the distinct impression that a lot of developers found the changeover a blessing, too.
For one, we started to see lots more attempts to simulate the experience of racing things other than cars; and many of these developers elected to explore a more “sim-like” approach, too, taking some cues from the well-established flight simulation genre.
One fine example that I hadn’t come across previously is No Second Prize, an impressively speedy motorcycle racing game. Check it out in the video below, and don’t forget to subscribe on YouTube for more!
I’ve been more excited for the PC Engine CoreGrafx Mini (or PC Engine Mini, or TurboGrafx-16 Mini depending where you get it from) than any of the other “mini” consoles that have appeared over the course of the last few years.
The reason for this is that I know very little about the PC Engine platform as a whole. I know things in passing, from second-hand information and from occasional enthusing in multi-format games magazines from the ’80s and ’90s — but I’ve never experienced its library for myself.
With the PC Engine CoreGrafx Mini offering a fine curated selection of Japanese and Western releases all loaded up and ready to go, it seemed like an ideal opportunity to start exploring. So let’s do that!
At this point, most people know that Super Breakout is a bona fide classic of the early days of gaming. But no-one really talks about how monstrously difficult its original arcade incarnation is.
Well, I’m here to change all that today! Super Breakout for the arcade is really, really hard, primarily because the paddle you control is such a stingy, pathetic little size that it’s very difficult to actually return the ball once… let alone enough times to clear the damn screen.
Doesn’t stop me coming back for more, though… particularly with three different game modes to take on in the vain hope I might be good at one of them!
The Nintendo Switch has seen a real renaissance for classic-era Sega.
The launch of the Sega Ages collection on the platform has brought a host of the company’s most beloved titles to a whole new audience. Even better, these releases have brought these titles up to date with modern conveniences without sacrificing what made the originals great in the first place; a true example of “enhanced retro” at work.
The latest title from Sega’s golden age to get this treatment is Virtua Racing, so let’s take a look at where this influential title came from… and how the Nintendo Switch incarnation honours its legacy.
It’s time for another simple but addictive game from the early days of Atari today: this time around it’s the turn of Skydiver.
Skydiver is slightly more complex than Canyon Bomber, which we saw a few episodes back, but it’s still simple enough that anyone can pick it up with minimal explanation. Mastering it is, of course, another matter entirely, but it was ever thus in these early arcade games!
Skydiver is also one of the noisiest games Atari ever created. Be sure to turn your volume down a bit if you’re playing this one yourself!
Don’t you hate it when you just can’t get your thing in the hole to blow your payload?
It’s especially troublesome when the fate of the free world is at stake and those pesky Cold War Russkies are flinging inter-continental ballistic missiles at various landmarks. Why, what did you think I was talking about?
Hopefully in the event of an actual nuclear war, the pilots of the small blue aircraft tasked with protecting us all from high above the Earth’s surface will be piloted by someone a little more competent than yours truly…
It might be hard to imagine now, but there was a time in gaming history when it was considered to be a seriously impressive technical achievement to get more than two or three things moving simultaneously on a screen.
Atari’s 1977 release Pool Shark is an early example of the company continuing to push the fledgling medium of video games forward. Not only was it a game that demonstrated the power of microprocessor-based hardware rather than the earlier transistor-to-transistor logic technology, but it also had, like, a whole mess of balls flying everywhere.
And like many of these early Atari arcade games, it’s simplistic… but really rather addictive! Be sure to give it a try.
The best of overlooked and underappreciated computer and video games, from yesterday and today