For part of the assignment this week, we needed to play three different games from the Golden Age of Arcade Video Games wiki page and compare and contrast them. We needed to pay particular attention to layout, mechanics and controls.
The first game I decided to play was Asteroids. It sat pretty high up on the list and was listed as “Atari’s most successful coin operated game.” I can see why.
Extremely simple to play, engaging, and addicting. It has a single static screen and the graphics are basically a black background with white wire objects around it. The object of the game is to shoot at asteroids and/or UFOs coming at you, in order not to die.
You get three lives, and it’s basically survive until you die approach. There’s no winning the game. You basically go until you lose all three of your lives, and the “winning” aspect is based on highest scores.
The second game I decided to play was Elevator Action. The classic retro arcade game, it had 8-bit graphics, the typical arcade music and a simple plot line. Get on the elevator to travel through floors and collect objects that will give you points (I think). I liked the game and it seemed easy enough. Unfortunately, the keyboard controls were hard to figure out. I kept getting killed and having to start over, and didn’t have a chance to “tuck away in a corner” and figure them out before some bad guy come out from a door and shot me. I did see the video that runs through a demo of the game before you start, and it seems that if you get a hang of the controllers, it could be a very involved game.
For my final and third game, I decided to go with Tron. I’ve heard about it, been at lectures with Ken Perlin, saw the trailer for the movie…and yet, have never played it. My immediate reaction when I found it online was whether or not it was the right one. The graphics seemed very advanced compared to my other two games. Once I started playing it though, it was definitely not at all what I was expecting. It’s basically snake for two players! The strategy is to basically move through the screen, leaving a trail behind that will eventually lock and “kill” your opponent. You win by succeeding in this, and lose if you get trapped by your opponent. You get three matches per level, and as you move up on the levels, your opponent’s computer becomes more and more “intelligent.”
What I liked the most about all three games was the simplicity in the story line. As games have evolved, the plots get more complicated and convoluted. These games show the ability of having something be extremely successful, and simple at the same time. Even Tron, with better opening graphics, keeps the interface simple and easy to pick up. Out of all the games, the most difficult one to play was Elevator Action, and it’s only because of the keyboard control. I’m guessing that playing it in the arcade would’ve been easier.
So, even though none of these games had that, my dislikes are messy story lines, hard-to-pick-up games, and non-intuitive controls.