Man, that Coleco Football game took up a lot of hours of my youth, and I know I’ve eaten more than my fair share of Hostess Cakes through the years. This ad from 1982 combines both of these wonderful treats in a nostalgia overload! Seeing the old packaging for the Twinkies, Suzy Q’s, and Cup Cakes really takes me back. And even though you can find ways to replicate the Coleco games today, nothing beats having that old game in the palm of your hands. It makes me want to call up my cousin Tim and see if he wants to come over for an afternoon of football and Ho Ho’s.
Galaxian may have been first, but Galaga was the title that defined the series. What had begun as a simple take-off on the popular Space Invaders theme turned into one of the most popular and long-lasting hits of the arcade’s golden years.
Like Galaxian, Galaga put your spaceship at the bottom of the screen, ready to blast at the waves of aliens who swooped down to attack in formation. The aliens now looked more insect-like, flying onto the screen at the beginning of each stage before lining up in their usual formations.
As you passed through waves of alien fighters, special bonus rounds would pop up regularly, offering chances to score extra points without the fear of getting dive bombed. The sound effects and graphics were also improved, but none of these changes were what kept gamers flocking to Galaga machines for years to come.
Galaga’s real hook was the infamous “tractor beam,” a power possessed only by the Boss Galagas, the winged beasties at the top of the screen. At random intervals, the Boss stopped in mid-dive and fired off its tractor beam, sucking your ship up into the alien fleet. But that was only half the gimmick. As long as you had another fighter left in your stable, you had a chance to get that fighter back. When your captured ship made its next dive, if you shot the Boss that captured it, the stolen vessel would descend to join your current ship, giving you double the firepower. It was a brilliant move, one that actually encouraged players to waste their lives in the hopes of expanding their power.
The new features made Galaxian instantly obsolete, as Galaga machines began to command long lines in arcades around the globe. A handful of sequels followed, but none could match the phenomenal success of Galaga. Like Centipede, Ms. Pac-Man and a handful of others, the game became a living legend, a permanent fixture in many arcades. Almost two decades after its original release, Galaga remains one of the most playable games in arcade history, still pulling in spaceship jockeys after all these years.
- Play Galaga on your television at home
- Play Galaga online for free
- Play Galaga on your phone with the Galax app
- Check out more on Galaga at Rediscover the 80’s
- Listen to the Galaga episode of The Retroist Podcast
I never knew that a Mario Brothers game appeared on Atari before Nintendo. Mind blown.
It’s safe to say there’s never been a game quite like Marble Madness. In a world of clones and knockoffs, this game was a true original, a testament to the creativity and innovation of Atari’s golden years.
The game’s concept was almost Zen-like: roll a marble down a hill. Using Atari’s famous Trak-Ball control, one or two players guided their marbles down chutes, over ramps and around bends to the finish, racing a dwindling clock. If your marble fell off a high cliff or was dashed to pieces from a strong impact, a magic wand would grant you another one, but precious seconds would be lost.
Don’t let the simplicity of the premise fool you. Marble Madness kept players plenty busy with endless tricks, turns and little surprises. To start with, the courses themselves were littered with giant ramps, secret passages, narrow paths over large drops, tight corners and more. One particularly tricky course completely reversed the laws of physics, forcing players to roll upwards in a bizarre, gravity-twisting environment.
Deadly hand-to-hand combat, digitized graphics, special moves, splattering blood… Mortal Kombat, 1992? Nope. Pit-Fighter, 1990. This lesser-known Atari fighting game may not have grabbed the gaming world by its head and pounded it into submission like Mortal Kombat would two years later, but Pit-Fighter was a dark, violent preview of things to come.
Set in a crumbling, crowded warehouse, Pit-Fighter matched tough guys and gals against each other for glory and money. Players took control of one of three fighters—kickboxer Ty, shades-wearing wrestler Buzz or black belt Kato—then tried to knock the living daylights out of an opponent to two. The characters were all created from digitized pictures of real-life actors, a la Mortal Kombat (but with less detail and animation). The same technique was used to capture the game’s array of powerful enemies—The Executioner, Southside Jim, Angel, Chainman Eddie, Mad Miles, C.C. Rider, Heavy Metal and the champ himself, The Masked Warrior.
Unlike the next generation of fighting games, Pit-Fighter actually allowed players to team up on their foes, with up to three players joining in the same battle. This was no easy way out, however. The more good guys there were on the floor, the more bad guys would show up to the brawl. Not only that, but the game frequently pitted its human players against one another, forcing them to fight “Grudge Match” bonus rounds, with the last fighter standing earning a hefty load of extra cash (the losers did get to keep playing, but there was always the shame factor). And if the good guys managed to fight their way to the final round, they’d have to face each other in an “Elimination Match” to see which one earned the right to take on The Masked Warrior.
Battles went on until a fighter’s life bar was drained, after which the victor was given his winnings, including bonuses for knockouts and/or excess brutality. The brutality wasn’t strictly in the arena, either. The Pit-Fighter crowd was a hostile one, and if players accidentally slipped out of (or got thrown out of) the ring, the fans would rough them up a bit before tossing them back in.
The arena itself was rather unfriendly as well, with several blunt and sharp objects lying around, waiting to be used as weapons. The occasional knife, barrel, stick, bar stool, crate or even motorcycle made a handy weapon in a pinch, but the bad guys could use them as well.
Pit-Fighter was actually quite a success in its day, helping players quench their blood lust with a little one-on-one (or three-on-three) melee. Unfortunately for Atari, however, the game had a severe case of bad timing. Street Fighter II hit arcades the following year, and every fighter before it was suddenly obsolete.
After the success of the NES Classic Edition, this Christmas season will see the release of a SUPER Nintento Classic Edition! Sadly, I missed out on the NES Classic, but if the rumors of an SNES Classic prove true, I will definitely pick one up if the game selection looks good. With that said, thoughts turn to what games may or may not be included on the system. I know there are a lot of licensing issues with some games that keep them from being included, but for the sake of this post, I’m going to ignore all of that and just focus on the games I WISH were included on it, whether it could ever happen or not. At the end, be sure to drop a line in the comments section about what games YOU want to see included.
Super Mario World
I don’t know how you could release a mini SNES classic and not include the flag-ship game of the original console. Mario IS Nintendo, and Super Mario World was not just the flagship title, but one of the best games on the system. It’s a shoe-in.
Super Mario Kart
Another Mario title, and the last one I’m including in this list. I know there are plenty more great Mario based games on the system, but I never really got into them. Mario Kart on the other hand is a classic with a quite a pedigree in the world of gaming, and is my personal favorite racing game on the system.
The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past
The Zelda franchise is synonymous with the Nintendo brand, and this game has a reputation as being one of the better incarnations of the game. I played it a few times, and really hope it’s included in the mini version so I can finally get to sit down and play all the way through it.
Mega Man X
Another icon of the Nintendo era was Mega Man, and any system looking to capitalize on its history needs to include a Mega Man title. I never played this Mega Man for some reason, but I always loved the various Mega Man games on the NES, so I’d like to see this included to relieve those days.