I thought of two subjects for a diatribe this weekend. One was about Olympic themed games from the 8-bit era (because err, the Olympics were on TV), and the other was about the recent “explosion” of gaming sites geared towards “grown-ups” (because I am one now). However, since neither one has 10 good entries, I’ve decided to combine them both into one list. Why? To save YOU time, that’s why. That’s the kind of guy I am. So, here you are: 8bitrocket.com’s Top-10 Grown-Up Gaming Sites And 8-bit “Olympic” Themed Video Games.
10. Summer Games (Epyx): (Atari 800, C64, Atari 7800) : Before Epyx made the Handy, (which became The Atari Lynx) and were financially destroyed in the process, they created some of the best 8-bit computer games from the 80’s. Along with games like Jumpman, Pitstop, Impossible Mission, the sports themed “Games” series was one of their finest moments. Summer Games included fairly well-done versions on running, diving, gymnastics, skeet shooting, swimming and several others depending on the platform. The game went on to sell over a million copies in various formats. This is probably the best all-around Olympics themed game ever made.
9. The Escapist (http://www.escapistmagazine.com/): If video games are ever going to be considered an “art form”, then it will take sites like The Escapist” to make it happen. They have a good wealth of fascinating interviews, articles on game design, short-lived back-page-of PC-Gamer writer Ben “Yahtzee” Croshaw’s Zero Punctuation video column, and lots of stories that go beyond the surface on subjects like indie game development. This site should definitely be on your “visit every 2-3 weeks” schedule.
8. Activision Decathlon (Activision) (Atari VCS): Activision pulled-out all the VCS stops for this one. Sure, there have been better, more technologically advanced Decathlon games in more recent years, but no one made the miracles happen like the original Activision on the Atari VCS. I recall being totally amazed that they crammed 10 games into one cart. I still am. The most interesting thing about David Crane’s game is that, much like Wii Sports, it took a lot of physical endurance to play. Much of the game involved moving the joystick side-to-side rapidly, which turned out to be much more physically demanding than some of the other button mashers on this list.
7. Fidget.com/QuarterToThree.com : Ever since Tom Chick wrote an accurate yet “against the grain” positive review of Roller Coaster Tycoon back in 1998, I have been a fan of his writing. Fidget is Sci-Fi’s gaming blog that is now edited by Mr. Chick. Quarter-To-Three pulls together most of Tom’s reviews in blog format and includes the best forums on the interweb for grown-ups to converse about games (although it is very difficult to get accepted as a user). Both sites should be on your “visit every couple days” schedule.
6. GameTheoryShow.com: This weekly show, hosted by Gary Witta, Kris Graft, and Colin Campbell is, hands-down, the best, most insightful gaming podcast on the interbaun. You will not find a more balanced, whine-free, non-fan-boy podcast anywhere. There is not much more to say, except to tell you to listen. It is updated weekly (usually on Wednesday).
5.Olympic Decathlon :(Microsoft) (PC/Apple II, Microsoft): Back when keyboards cost $100’s of dollars in 1981, my friend won this game from a Computerland computer store. We played this on his Osbourne PC XT clone. This was the first really violent button mashing sports game for the PC. The game contained all 10 Decathlon events in pure Monochrome/CGA glory. The controls were easy to understand and the game was incredibly fun to play as a multi player contest. Of course, my friend’s dad was not too happy about his broken keyboard, and were never allowed to play another game on the Osbourne, but it was still a a great gaming experience, and one of the first really good PC games ever made.
4. Track And Field :(Konami)(Coin-Op): This game was released in 1983, but was a hit through the Olympic Games into the summer of 1984. As I recall, this might have been the first coin-op that players inventing their own “peripherals” to use with the game. Most of the games required the high-speed mashing of two buttons at the same time to gain speed, and the arcades were filled with people who had devised ways to hit the buttons harder and simultaneously using pencils, rulers, popcicle sticks, etc. Subsequent home and emulated versions of this game do not do it justice. You HAD to play this one in the arcade.
3. GameSetWatch.com: GameSetWatch is a Gamsutra/GameDeveloper related blog that features daily updated stories with links to interesting articles for both grown-up game players and game developers. There is much support for indie games and game developers here as well. Set this one for “Daily”.
2. Edge-Online.com : From the rotting corpse of the best damned gaming magazine of the 90’s, Next Generation, and the now smoldering remains of one of the better gaming sites of the 21st century, Next-Gen.biz comes Edge-Online, the now current, best damned gaming site for grown-ups on the internet. With brilliant, well researched articles like Why Sierra Must Die, Edge-Online.com is much less about pontificating and much more about good, old fashioned research and reporting…just like its’ predecessors. This one is a must for daily consumption.
1.Video Olympics (Atari) (Atari VCS): Video Olympics you say? One of the original 9 Atari 2600 games? Why does this top the list, when it was only a collection of “pong” style games? Sure, but it was 50 games on one cartridge. 50 games that were basically an “f-you” to all the other pretenders to the video-game crown in 1977. Atari 2600 hardware engineer Joe Decuir programmed this game, and managed to cram every conceivable version of pong into 2K. Over a dozen previous Atari coin-ops were represented here. Every version of Pong, plus Hockey, Volleyball, Soccer Handball, etc. After this game, no one could get away with simply making a “pong” console and be taken seriously. Atari planted its flag with this one, and with it, gave birth to the first home video games arms race.