There’s not much more enjoyable than standing around in a garage full of coin-op arcade machines set to free play and singing along to classic 80’s tunes. Oh wait, the yard was full of arcade machines too, as well as an array of classic console and computer games! A projector was set up near tables and chairs playing retro game commercials, news stories, videos – pretty much anything and everything about video games in the 70’s and 80’s. It’s crazy how even then they were trying to decide if video games were a bad influence on kids, HA! There was pizza, snacks, soda, and a personal love of mine, hot apple cider so I was completely won over. Thanks Southern California Classic Collectors (SC3)!!
I could spend all night talking about the variety of games that I had the opportunity to get my hands on but I feel like I should stick to highlighting the most…interesting.
Of course I loved Star Wars (1983) where you play as Luke Skywalker piloting an X-Wing and Wikipedia tells me the record for this game is 300 million points after 49 hours of gameplay set in 1984. Fuck.
The most frustrating yet intriguing game there was this comical contraption entitled Badlands. It felt like watching a crazy wild west cartoon, except there was a single, giant button that needed to be hit at precise moments to act as your gunshot. This was insanely difficult as there was no way to predict when you would need to fire your gun where as in the similar game of Dragon’s Lair, the main character’s sword would blink if you need to hit the button or an arrow would flash on screen if you needed to move the joystick. Badlands was far too particular for this and if anything were to light up you’d already be dead. The funky cartoon had me returning every so often to try again though and I’m not likely to forget this game any time soon. Fuck you, rattlesnake.
I fell in love with this game called Zookeeper (1982) which involved you as the Zookeeper running around the outside of a brick square which cages in your animals. As you run, brick layers generate beneath you, continuously creating a thicker wall. The apparently insane, super animals are running around their entrapment busting down the brick walls from the inside while you’re trying to build them up. They can escape, but you can jump over them to avoid being hit or catch a special net to recapture them. Each level is timed and you’ll score points for every animal inside the entrapment at the end. It was incredibly simple yet completing addicting.
I also played this really bizarre game called Turkey Shoot (1984) in which you shoot at bank robbing turkeys and if you pass the round, feathers fly around inside the machine but the gun makes an awful obnoxious popping noise when you shoot.
My favorite game of the night was Crystal Castles (1983). This is apparently also the name of a band, as I learned when I searched online about the game, and all of their albums are self titled. Awesome. Anyway, in this game you play as Bentley Bear and you collect gems in a world that reminds me so much of Reprisal it made my heart melt. You race creepy creatures to collect those gems, such as Ent-like trees and scary old witches, but you must jump over enemies to avoid them and if you collect the last gem you score mega extra points. Plus it places really cool “you fucking WON this level” music. The coolest part about this game is that you play with a trackball and jump button.