Sunday, December 25, 2016

Ultra Obscure

Over the years I've accumulated some completely trivial bits of video gaming knowledge.  It's pointless, and in some cases nearly impossible to confirm, but if you (dear reader) will indulge me for a moment I'd like to share a few tidbits here.

Missile Command started as an arcade game, but was also ported to a large number of other platforms.  Most of these adaptations are more or less true to the original with the possible exception of the version made for the 128k Macintosh home computer.  This black and white version of the game had an unusual feature to its design.  The Anti-missile system at the player's disposal is capable of launching low angle intercepts that will destroy the cities they are charged with protecting.  For some reason the designers made it so explosions that shave off enough of the skyscraper tops count as a destroyed city during the end-of-round tally.  As far as I know this is the only version of Missile Command to have such a peculiarity, although I suppose its inclusion makes sense.  Apparently Apple didn't believe in fail safe mechanisms.

The Atari 2600 version of Defender is hardly the best port of that game, but it does have a presentation that is fitting for the console.  Unlike the arcade version, which takes place on a series of barren moons, players have what appears to be a city skyline at the bottom of the screen.  Here, they can rescue hapless inhabitants, who don't seem to be stranded astronauts like the original.  Rather they are surviving residents in need of a pickup.  Here's the weird part, the player's ship will drop behind the cityscape making it a form of refuge since the enemies in the game cannot go there.  In essence the player can escape harm by breaking into the third dimension.  I believe this is the first game to utilize this mechanic, although it has been copied in many other side-scrolling games since (Lone Survivor being the most recent example I can think of).

Breakout featured box art that gave the impression that it was some kind of weird take on tennis.  Super Breakout did something similar, but moved the location to outer space.  Normally, if you want to play one of these classics you're going to have to buy a "greatest hits" collection online or else get an emulator and visit some websites of ill repute.  However, folks who use Google Chrome can take advantage of a little Easter egg embedded into the web browser code.  Just type "breakout" in the search box and click the image tab to narrow the search results.

Voila!  The game, or a rough approximation of it, is available here for anyone to enjoy free of charge.

Merry Christmas!

No comments:

Post a Comment