The 30th anniversary of Kirby’s Dream Land was just last week, and that got me thinking that there must be games worth celebrating that are now 40 years old! So, I hopped on the google machine to see when my favorite arcade games were ported to the Atari. Lo and behold, many of the Atari’s best games came out in 1982! (If we wanted to go really deep, the world’s first ever video game, Spacewar!, came out in 1962 – 60 years ago!!!!!). To celebrate, I sat down to draw some of my most cherished characters from the early days.
Sequel to the original Donkey Kong (1981), Donkey Kong Junior put a spin on the story by having you go up against the first game’s main protagonist. I remember playing this game in the arcade and being drawn to the colorful screen full of vines, fruits, and the great caged ape at the top of the level. Of course, clearing the first stage was a rare occurrence. Its biggest challenge? Falling more than 2 feet!
Who knew fast food could be so chaotic? Avoiding Mr. Hot Dog, Mr. Pickle, and Mr. Egg was a nightmare in this game where you control Peter Pepper as you try to piece together four giant hamburgers by walking all over the ingredients. Something tells me that the customer is going to want to speak the manager.
If you recall, I talked about Q*Bert back in my Odd-gust post about weird games. @!#?@!, indeed! I always found the hardest part about playing Q*Bert was knowing exactly which way the little snouted fellow was going to jump on the 3D isometric grid that was inspired by M.C. Escher paintings. Nonetheless, we were all enthralled with seeing the colors change every time our hero landed on a new ledge. Crazy to know that Q*Bert is now officially part of the Adam Sandler universe!
Here’s another game that showed up in my old Descent-ber article. Dig Dug is one of those classics that I can’t help but play if I see it in an arcade. One of the things I loved most about this game is that the music coincided with the character’s movement. So, if you stood still, you heard nothing. But if you moved, the music played in full force! I also found it incredibly satisfying to blow up enemies with an air pump – and even more satisfying to smash them with a rock!
I actually played the Atari version of this game before I ever knew that Kangaroo was in the arcade. Also, I was miserable at the game. If I recall correctly, I was able to finagle my way up to about the third set of platforms on the first level before I’d have to deal with an angry monkey that threw apples (or, in the case of Atari graphics, a brown blob that threw brown dots). The Kangaroo Mother’s only attack was to punch (as indicated by her giant boxing gloves on the cover art), but she had the unfortunate handicap of only being able to punch one inch in front of her. So, if your timing wasn’t exactly right, be prepared to start over. Start over, I did. So much start over.
Pitfall! defined the platforming genre and went on to inspire every similar game that followed. Most Atari games at the time involved just a single screen where all the action would take place. But in Pitfall!, the player traversed over several screens (255, in fact!) on a grand jungle adventure to collect treasure just like Indiana Jones. I loved the sense of exploration – especially so with the option to tackle obstacles above ground or to go subterranean when the crocodiles looked too menacing. And who could forget that classic Tarzan call every time Harry grabbed onto a swinging vine?!
Did you know that Jack Black was in one of the first commercials for the game when he was a kid?? Neither did I! Watch it below:
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