Monday, April 10, 2017

Jaconian's Favorite Game of the Year - Part I: 1980s

Today's article will be part one of four, in a series that, for me, will run from today through April 21st.

When I was down south the other weekend, I was able to catch up with Dr. Potts for the evening.  He told me about something he saw/read somewhere that involved one of those lists that you could probably turn into a slide show, but since we're not about slide shows here, we're going to stick with the good old tried and true list format (but broken into parts because otherwise we'd end up with and unwielded article).  So this list involves listing your favorite video game from each year of your life, but broken up into decades here (it helps being born in 1980) because I cannot just list a game without giving some type of explanation as to the reasoning behind my choice.  At some point the list probably was turned into a "Best Video Games. . ." but since "best" is subjective, let's stick with "favorite" for this particular individual.  And even then, trying to select what my favorite game without being influenced by the more industry influential games was pretty difficult, especially I could not tell you when specific games came out during the early 1980s.

And lastly, while Dr. Potts was developing his list, he ran into the common occurrence of a game being released in Japan one year while it was released in the U.S. the following year (or years later in some cases).  Then in the early '80s, you run into games that were released as an arcade cabinet in one year, then ported to a console four years later.  And then there are some arcade games that I only played as a console port.  So which year to choose?  For the purposes of consistency, I am going to use only the year that a game was released here in the United States, be it the original year if it was released as an arcade cabinet as opposed to a console port.

So let us begin!

I played this game a lot on Mattel's Intellivision while on summer vacation in the early-mid '80s.  I know that Pac-Man or Missile Command could be more obvious or influential in the video games industry, but I have never been very good at Pac-Man and Missile Command is a game that I play a few times before putting in another game.  As a kid, I loved the fecal matter out of baseball (and a baseball video game was simply amazing!) and was a pretty ardent follower until the the strike in 1994 and my interest never recovered to the same pre-strike levels.

1981: Astrosmash
Again with Mattel's Intellivision, this time with Astrosmash, which is akin to Space Invaders meets Asteroids, meets Missile Command.  Along with Major League Baseball, this was a game that I played a lot of over summer vacation.  That's basically all there is to this game, blasting asteroids and objects falling from the sky in different colors and patterns, and eventually the game just becomes crazy and nearly impossible to not lose a your ground cannon.

1982: Pole Position (November 1982)
Jesus 1982 made things hard.  Between Pole Position, Pitfall!, and Demon Attack being the top contenders as well as other games that I have fond memories of such as Dig-Dug, and Donkey Kong Jr., I inevitably went with Pole Position for the following reasons: It was the first arcade game I played that had a steering wheel, a primitive gear shift, and an acceleration peddle.  Even today, if an arcade has Pole Position, I will give that game a couple of quarters before going to have my ass kicked at Killer Instinct.

I borrowed the NES port of this game from DellaƱos a lot in the late '80s and early '90s, and despite typically not being able to get past the fourth stage (or maybe the third?), I loved this game.  I remember (kind of), being excited when I found out that you are able to crush your enemies with the elevator (either above or below).  I have played the arcade cabinet a few times at a local arcade, but it just doesn't have the same appeal as the NES console port; but I will still play the game if I see it available.

1984: Tetris (June 6, 1984)
Tetris was first released as an arcade cabinet here in the US, although I first played it on the NES, probably around 1988 or '89, but since the concept is the same and the gameplay did not really change, 1984 it is.  I could never reach the level of Tetris Master that my Mom has been able to achieve.  I do not think that I am even able to beat Level 9 Height 5 (on NES or Game Boy), but something about the simplicity of the game and the addictiveness of the game play easily puts it at my favorite for this year.

1985: Super Mario Bros. (October 18, 1985)
If you read my previous post about Super Mario Maker for Nintendo 3DS, you will understand while this was my favorite game of 1985.  Back in the day of the late '80s, I would sometimes sit and beat this game two or three times in a single sitting, if only because I could.  Once the Goombas are replaced by Buzzy Beetles, it ups the challenge a bit, but not so much that the game loses its fun.

1986: Rampage
This was an odd year in that a lot of games were released in Japan, but did not reach North America until between 1987 - 1990.  I decided that Rampage would be my favorite game released in 1986, and I kind of feel bad that such a fun game won out only because other games were disqualified by my preset rules.  But being, in essence, King Kong or Godzilla (and a giant Wolf Man apparently) destroying a city is such a fun concept for any kid under 10 to come across.

1987: The Legend of Zelda (August 22, 1987)
The Legend of Zelda is one of those games that was first released in Japan in 1986, but didn't come to North America until 1987, hence its inclusion here in the 1987 category.  I cannot tell you how many times I beat this game and then attempted the famed Second Quest, although I was never able to beat it.  Perhaps I should probably get around to that.  But for LoZ, the combination of music and legitimate open world where you can attempt most of the dungeons in any order you want to is a thing of beauty.

1988: Zelda II: The Adventure of Link (December 1, 1988)

I did not play this game until a number of years (maybe one or two) after it was first released.  I recall being told by Dr. Potts Sr. not to either play his save file, or to save the game when I died, which sounds much harsher than the intent.  After I acquired my own copy, I understood how the game operated and I loved the inclusion of towns, citizens and the massive expanding of the Hyrule world/universe.

1989: Dragon Warrior (August 1989)

Admittedly, I did not play Dragon Warrior until after I received it as part of Nintendo Power's subscription promotion in late 1990, but next to The Legend of Zelda series, this was one of the games that helped cement my love of role playing games, a category  that I did not know existed by name.  To this day, possibly because of Dragon Warrior, role playing games in many different media are one of my favorite forms of story telling.

Well, that brings the 1980s to a close, although technically the official decade should have been 1981 - 1990, but for the sake of convenience, we will stick with '80 - '89.  I did not anticipate the mid to late '80s to be as difficult as they turned out to be, both in determining when a game was released in North America and which game had not only the greatest impact on my personally, but was a game that I loved to play.  In my next article, we will look at the agonizing years of 1990 - 1999 as the end of the NES, and the introduction of more Game Boy games, as well as the SNES, N64 and Playststion consoles.  Those are going to be some tough years considering I have multiple platforms to sift through as well as many more games being developed and released.

So until next time. . .um, keep it real. . .and um, keep that chin up m'lad.  I'm horrible with outros.

Your Beauty And Form Appears As Great Wonders

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