Say it with me: "Elf needs food badly. Valkyrie shot the
food. Wizard is about to die." Wizard was always about to
die, because Wizard was a big loser. At any rate, the designers
of Gauntlet were among the first to realize that as long as
you don't make them start over with every game, video game players will
pump money into the machine until their joystick hands cramp up.
You didn't get three lives; you got one life. And even if nothing
evil touched you, said life drained away like oil from a '74
Dodge Dart. Death was inevitable, but so was hitting the change
machine for another roll of quarters. A
Another pioneer of a video truism: it's more fun if you can
"accidentally" kill a dear friend. "Oh, sorry about that, Bill.
I certainly didn't mean to come barreling at you like
a chicken from a jet engine testing cannon, whomping you into
nothingness faster than you can say Struthio Camelus.
I was just distracted by a sudden flashback to the time when we
were six and you pushed me off the swing. My bad." It's also
more fun when a game has little flapping sounds, but that one
hasn't endured as well. A-
Okay, maybe I'm getting a bit obscure here, but man this was
a freaky game. For those of you who got some sun in the late eighties,
Sinistar was a game where you try to keep evil aliens from building
a big metal face which then hollers at you and tries to eat your
spaceship. Fair enough. But what made this game stand out was
the voice of the evil metal face. When it is first completed,
it says "I live!" in this deep foreboding voice that
makes James Earl Jones sound like Shirley Jones by comparison.
And when it roared in pain -- man, first time I heard it
I leapt three feet, repented, and bit hell out of my tongue, all at once.
It seemed like an okay game, but it was tough on the nerves.
This just goes to show you how easily impressed people can get
with new technology. This was a game so advanced, when you dropped
a quarter in the slot the machine made a noise like a quarter
being dropped in the slot. An astounding display of technical
wizardry! Genuine simulated quarter-dropping noises! It's almost as
if you're in a real arcade, wasting actual money!
It also made a mechanical thump when you dropped your little fuzzy
orange guy off the edge of his video ziggurat. I assume this was
an equally realistic recreation of the noise little fuzzy guys
make when impacting concrete at terminal velocity, but I've
never checked. C+
This is the one where you attack a wireframe Death Star in
your wireframe X-Wing while a presumably wireframe dead
Obi-Wan provides you with useful digitized wisdom chunks like "Let go."
Letting go, obviously enough, was not a great strategy. This
took a lot of liberty with the Star Wars mythos, giving
us a Death Star where towers sprout up like snail eyestalks and
where the trench is lined with what appear to be big tubes
from a McDonald's Playland. Not to mention that there are multiple
Death Stars, lined up for the plucking like grocery store
cheese samples. But you know, it's fun. You shoot TIE fighters.
They blow up. The Death Star explodes. Han Solo validates you.