The Brunching Shuttlecocks Ratings

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. B-

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+

Star Wars
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. Nifty. A

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