Tempest is the Retro Game of the Day for 30 April, 2016

From Wikipedia

Tempest is a 1981 arcade game by Atari Inc., designed and programmed by Dave Theurer. It takes place on a three-dimensional surface, sometimes wrapped into a tube, which is viewed from one end and is divided into a dozen or more segments or lanes. The player controls a claw-shaped spaceship (named Blaster) that crawls along the near edge of the playfield, moving from segment to segment.

Tempest was one of the first games to use Atari’s Color-QuadraScan vector display technology. It was also the first game to allow the player to choose their starting level (a system Atari dubbed “SkillStep”). This feature increases the maximum starting level depending on the player’s performance in the previous game, essentially allowing the player to continue. Tempest was one of the first video games to sport a progressive level design in which the levels themselves varied rather than giving the player the same layout with increasing difficulty levels.

Brutal yet fun, Tempest probably needs a real control dial rather than the emulated options of a mouse or buttons to rotate Blaster precisely enough to do well at the game.  This game and Asteroids are the two that first come to mind when I think of vector graphics games, and the technology served this game very well.

The emulation also sort of dulls the vector graphics a bit, making it a bit more difficult to see, while the original was sharp and brilliant.  There are emulation options in MAME (what I used to emulate the game in) to adjust the vector graphics, but I didn’t bother since I would have had to spend longer tweaking than actually playing…

So yes, honestly, this is one of the few games where I wish I had the original hardware rather than having to emulate it.  Emulation is very nice and in many cases is just as good as playing the original, but not this time.

Sinistar is the Retro Game of the Day for 29 April, 2016

From Wikipedia:

Sinistar is an arcade game released by Williams in 1982. It belongs to a class of video games called twitch games. Sinistar was developed by Sam Dicker, Jack Haeger, Noah Falstein, RJ Mical, Python Anghelo and Richard Witt. The title is a play on the word “sinister.”

Much easier to play in an arcade thanks to its real joystick than at home with a little gamepad, but it still retains its fun and challenge, not to mention the thrill of being taunted by the titular Sinistar.  I was such a fan of this game that I created a voice pack for Unreal Tournament ’99 featuring the Sinistar taunts…

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy is the Retro Game of the Day for 28 April, 2016

Instead of watching me play it, how about YOU go play the game instead?

From Wikipedia:

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy is an interactive fiction video game based on the comedic science fiction series of the same name. It was designed by series creator Douglas Adams and Infocom’s Steve Meretzky, and was first released in 1984 for the Apple II, Macintosh,Commodore 64, CP/M, DOS, Amiga, Atari 8-bit and Atari ST. It is Infocom’s fourteenth game.

Sure, it’s not a game in the standard sense, but a precursor to today’s walking simulator “games” like Gone Home, except that the Infocom games made you actually read, think, and experiment, so absolutely nothing like today’s walking simulator “games”.

Also, don’t believe it when it says there’s an exit to port.

 

Klax is the Retro Game of the Day for 27 April, 2016

From Wikipedia:

Klax is a 1989 computer puzzle game designed by Dave Akers and Mark Stephen Pierce. The object is to line up colored blocks into rows of similar colors to make them disappear, to which the object of Columns is similar. Atari Games originally released it as a coin-op follow up to Tetris, about which they were tangled in a legal dispute at the time.

A wonderful puzzle arcade game based on color matching that is absolutely minimalist yet addictive to play.  There wasn’t a whole lot of puzzle games in the arcade, but Atari did this one right.

 

Cadash is the Retro Game of the Day for 26 April, 2016

From Wikipedia:

Cadash (カダッシュ Kadasshu) is a sword and sorcery video game which combines elements of both the role-playing video game genre of games and the platform genre of games. The game was originally an arcade game released by Taito in 1989, later ported to home video game consoles such as the TurboGrafx-16 in 1991, and the Sega Mega Drive/Genesis in 1992. The game was included in Taito Memories Volume 2 which was released for the PlayStation 2 in 2005. It was also included in the Xbox and PC versions of Taito Legends 2 which was released in 2007.

Action/hack and slash/adventure/RPG arcade game?  You know I was obsessed with this one, even if it was a severe quarter-muncher.  Thank goodness for MAME, right?

Heretic is the Retro Game of the Day for 25 April, 2016

From Wikipedia:

Heretic is a dark fantasy first-person shooter video game released in 1994. It was developed by Raven Software, published by id Software, and distributed by GT Interactive. The game was released on Steam on August 3, 2007.
Using a modified version of the Doom engine, Heretic was one of the first first-person games to feature inventory manipulation and the ability to look up and down. It also introduced multiple gib objects that spawned when a character suffered a death by extreme force or heat. Previously, the character would simply crumple into a heap. The game used randomized ambient sounds and noises, such as evil laughter, chains rattling, distantly ringing bells, and water dripping in addition to the background music to further enhance the atmosphere. All of the music in the game was composed by Kevin Schilder. An indirect sequel, Hexen: Beyond Heretic, was released the following year. Heretic II was released in 1998, which served as a direct sequel continuing the story.

Not only is this game one of my favorite FPS games of all times, it has probably my favorite FPS weapon of all time: the Gauntlets of the Necromancer.  Sure, it’s a reskin of the Doom Chainsaw (as are most weapons and monsters in the game to some extent), but the sound effect, the visual, and the awesomeness of what they bring to the game is just incredible.  Add an inventory system to the cool medieval aesthetic and you have a solid, fun game that everyone should play.

Zombies Ate My Neighbors is the Retro Game of the Day for 24 April, 2016

From Wikipedia:

Zombies Ate My Neighbors is a run and gun video game developed by LucasArts and originally published by Konami for the Super NES and Sega Genesis consoles in 1993.
One or two players take control of protagonists Zeke and Julie in order to rescue the titular neighbors from monsters often seen in horror movies. Aiding them in this task are a variety of weapons and power-ups that can be used to battle the numerous enemies in each level. Various elements and aspects of horror movies are referenced in the game with some of its more violent content being censored in various territories such as Europe and Australia, where it is known only as Zombies.

A nice and simple yet fun zombie-themed game from back when zombies weren’t over-saturated in entertainment media.  A game I really didn’t pay much attention to back around its release, I’ve really come to enjoy its simple run-and-gun mechanics and crazy enemies since then.

Eye of the Beholder is the Retro Game of the Day for 23 April, 2016

From Wikipedia:

Eye of the Beholder is a role-playing video game for computers and video game consoles developed by Westwood Associates. It was published by Strategic Simulations, Inc. in January 1991 for the DOS operating system and later ported to the Amiga, the Sega CD, Game Boy Advance and the SNES. The Sega CD version features an exclusive soundtrack composed by Yuzo Koshiro. A port to the Atari Lynx handheld was developed by NuFX in 1993, but never officially released.

One of the greatest dungeon crawler RPGs ever, Eye of the Beholder featured tons of punishing levels with mind-boggling puzzles, traps, monsters, and well-hidden secrets. Absolutely one of my favorites of all time, it also made appearances on consoles and did really well, especially the Sega CD version with its excellent soundtrack.

 

Track & Field is the Retro Game of the Day for 22 April, 2016

From Wikipedia:

Track & Field, known in Japan as Hyper Olympic (ハイパーオリンピック Haipā Orinpikku), is a 1983 Olympic-themed sports arcade game developed and published by Konami. The Japanese release sported an official license for the 1984 Summer Olympics.

A great little game that was mostly about slapping buttons as fast as you possibly could for the most part.  Exhausting and incredibly fun at the same time, you definitely heard the game’s presence through the arcade when someone furiously pressed the buttons in an event.  Its sequel, Hyper Sports, was more of the same button-slapping insanity.

Still remember this game giving me hand cramps in the arcade like no other and was probably partially responsible for my eventual carpal tunnel syndrome.  Worth it.  Also, I could never get past that high jump at the end.