Tuesday, July 16, 2002

Let's Talk Games - Old School, Baby

Well, I finally got my game controller installed and it works okay, so I've been doing just a little gaming. First stop was Shockwave.com for a game of Defender II (known in the arcades as Stargate Defender) , which I'd been dying to play lately. Usually when I do play games I fall back on the old 80's stuff. They're easy to learn, tough to master and there aren't a zillion different controls or ridiculously in-depth storylines. Basically you jump in, start blasting, chomping or running from stuff and if you get hit you die - three strikes and you're out, unless you get an extra man. Back then an extra man meant something, too - you had to earn that last chance for gaming glory. Also, most games you could take turns at and unless you were hanging out with some seriously talented arcade freak, you wouldn't have a chance to get bored before he crashed and burned and you got your turn.

I'm not saying I don't care for any new games. My friend Chris has the new Spiderman game on his PS2 and I thought it was awesome. However, with it's lack of a time limit and huge areas to cover, you could pretty well die of boredom waiting on your turn while your buddy flips Spidey around aimlessly on some rooftop trying out his funky spider powers. In the 80's, though, when games were games and men were men and brightly-colored pixelish aliens ruled the arcades, there was no such dilly-dallying. When Player 2's ship crashed, well, there were no two ways about it - it was time to grab for the controls and get your act together, fast - or you'd share the same fate in about a half a second. Sometimes, like in real-life, it wasn't even fair. When you hit that hyperspace button in Defender or Asteroids, you didn't know if you'd wind up somewhere safe or come out the other side amidst a swarm of alien attackers who were on top of you before the neural synapses in your brain could even fire off a "damn."

Anyway, after a few games of Defender, I got to wondering whether there was a Flash version of Galaga. Normally I'd just play Galaga on my MAME emulator. Defender is emulated too, but the gameplay is different on MAME's exacting recreation of the arcade version - lacking the up-down stick and thrust button of the actual game itself can be frustrating on a joystick, whereas Shockwave's version has been tweaked so that thrust is incorporated into the directional pad - move right, ship goes right, etc. Galaga is simpler to play on an emulator, since it only involves left and right movement and fire.

Still, I was curious if someone had attempted it and I did find a Flash version of Galaga. However it wasn't the straight-up Galaga I know and love and played obsessively as a kid. The sounds are different, there are no bonus rounds and you don't have to lose and recapture your ship to get dual fire, all you have to do is finish the wave. They also added a shield, which you get after you've won your extra firepower. Not exactly purist, but it was fun for a little while, I guess. No joystick support either, but if you've never played the original or just want to try a new twist it's worth a spin.

I miss this kind of thing...I'm such a fossil :)

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