DynaMicro's Dungeons of Daggorath, released in 1982 for the Tandy CoCo, is one of the earliest examples of a first-person computer role-playing game. I recently had the chance to play this innovative title a few weeks ago as part of my research on the Tandy CoCo, and I must say that I'm impressed with the title--and can easily see why the game has managed to retain such a devoted cult following that's lasted nearly a quarter of a century. So, what makes the game so great? What I want to talk about here are three features--the immensity of the game world, the intensity of the action, and the creative use of sound. Although Tandy's CoCo arguably suffered from a rather dismal game library, DoD really stands out as a true classic.
Essentially, DoD is a game in the tradition of first-person "D&D" games in the vein of Richard Garriot's Akalabeth (1980, Apple II) and Sir-Tech's Proving Grounds of the Mad Overlord (1981, Apple II). All three of these games focus on exploring 3-D wire-frame dungeons, killing monsters, and picking up various goodies along the way. The basic story behind DoD is of the usual ilk; an evil wizard has built his home deep in a monster-infested dungeon. A terrible curse has come upon the village, and the only way to lift it is for some foolhardy warrior to saunter down there and liquidate him.
Although Nintendo fanboys like to act like the Wii's new remote controller is only a wee bit short of a revolution (sorry, couldn't resist), the real future seems to lie in something a bit more radical: Say, controlling a game of Space Invaders with nothing but your brain. Some clever spudboys at the Washington University of St. Louis decided that the best way to help them treat a severe case of epilepsy in a 14-year old was to hook his brain up to the game and watch what happened. In no time at all, the kid was clearing whole levels just by thinking about where he wanted the ship to move and fire--as easily as moving a hand! You've got to see this video!
American history buffs and folks just interested in weirdo history have probably heard of witch prickers. These were basically traveling charlatans who made their living providing "expert testimony" during witch trials (think Salem). The idea was that a real witch had a "devil's spot," or a mark somewhere under the skin that wouldn't hurt if pricked with a needle. Sound dumb? Well, you're talking about people who actually believed in witches. At any rate, now "witch pricking" is making a come-back in the form of a really bizarre Japanese game called DOKIDOKI MAJOSAIBAN (NON-WORK SAFE LINK. In what might sickeningly be called "innovation," you use the Nintendo DS's stylus to "prick" teenage girls to see which ones are witches...!
A site called College Humor has a really well-done and funny video up called Street Fighter: The Later Years. The video picks up 10 years after SF 2, and shows what life is like now for two SF characters--Zangif and Dhalsim. It appears to be part of an upcoming series of shorts, and I'm already looking forward to the next installment.
Secondly, though it can't compete with Bill's massive retro studio, you should definitely check out Jeff Kinder's Gameroom. Kinder is a Dragon's Lair freak with one of the sweetest basement arcades in the US! Bill--Kinder lives in northern New Jersey. Coincidence?
If you enjoy playing interactive fiction (aka text adventures), you should know that the 12th Annual IF Competition is underway. The games have been submitted; now it's time for you to download the 44 games and vote for your favorite entries. You can either download the whole collection via Bit Torrent or check out individual games. The time limit is six weeks (November 15th, 2006), so you'd better get a move on if you want to be a judge in the contest.
I bet everyone here has heard the news about the Left Behind games. These games are based on the best-selling Christian novels by the same name. The appeal of these novels isn't hard to fathom. They take place after the "Rapture," when all the good people are suddenly whisked away to heaven and only sinners are left to deal with the Antichrist and the Apocalypse. It's one of the most fascinating and compelling stories in the Bible, and even if you're a devout atheist, it's hard to deny the possibilities for really interesting stories set in this time period. Everyone finds diabolical and thoroughly evil figures like the "Antichrist" fun to think about! However--will any self-admittedly "Christian" game ever hope to succeed in the marketplace? Or will this game be another "Mama bought it for me" cull that you got instead of Grand Theft Auto?
I've been so busy lately that I haven't been able to keep up with my blog reading...And boy, have I missed some cool stuff. Let me run through some of the most interesting posts. First off, from Kotaku comes this snippet of A Mr. Roger's Neighborhood episode featuring Donkey Kong. Fred Rogers reveals himself to be a true hacker, asking not just to play the game but to see inside the box to see how it works. Fun! And, by the way, anyone who thinks Fred Rogers was a pedo is truly sick. Next up, Racketboy runs through the best games for Sega's Master System, starting off with Phantasy Star. Psycho Fox, anyone? Thirdly, buried in this site is an announcement that Epyx will be releasing some of its C-64 titles for the Wii. Sorry, no titles as of yet...!
One of the major selling points for Nintendo's Wii system (at least for retrogamers) is its ability to easily play games from older Nintendo systems. For awhile, it seemed like Sony's PS3 system would counter by offering gamers access to the Sega Genesis/Megadrive lineup. Worthplaying is now reporting that this may not be the case after all, and that Sony is only "considering" this option.
I have some info that's sure to please many folks here at Armchair Arcade: Midway is offering ten classic games playable for free right in your browser. These conversions use Macromedia Shockwave to very good effect--there's even support for joysticks. The games are Bubbles, Defender, Joust II, Rampage, Robotron, Satan's Hollow, Sinistar, Spyhunter, and Tapper.