Remember when games were 8bit or less? I do (barely). I remember tottering down the stairs to have my grandmother turn the Atari on for me. Did I mention that the TV had a black & white or color switch? Yeah. This was before kindergarten for me. So, the question becomes which of these classic games is the best? Well, we can start by narrowing it down to the names that have survived through the ages and choose the top 5 to look through. Pong, Space Invaders, Pac-Man, Frogger and Asteroids will be the final list for review. Quite the impressive line up of stars, isn’t it? Lets see who comes out on top.
Pong – 1972
Oh, Pong, you are such a special little classic. Two colors…or maybe one color and a background, two players if you have two controllers and all to simulate ping-pong. So, lets see, first off the controls are simple but impossible. Second off, I swear to you the computer cheats. The graphics are so old that they’re adorable rather than bad but I still can’t get over the fact that the computer cheats. I really don’t know what else to say. So here comes the score. I’m sorry its so low, Pong, but well…stop cheating.
I love Space Invaders. I had this thing emulated on my graphing calculator, that’s how amazing it is. The aliens are adorable, there’s like three colors and you get more than 1 life. Plus there are levels. For being an old game, Space Invaders has a lot of the things you want in a good, simple game. Sure, its only a one-player game but you can take turns per life or even per game since its not very long. I also really like the fact that Space Invaders is one of the first games I ever experienced where you get a shield to hide behind and can make strategic use of it. I used to drill out a sniper hole in one of the bunkers to shoot safely. Plus, there’s just something special about playing it with a joystick that I miss…I don’t think any of the TVs in my house play nicely with the co-ax cable on my Atari… So, the score.
Pac-Man is an amazing point in gaming history, one of the first arcade games available in the United States that wasn’t a shooter (or Pong). Pac-man was a break in a new direction that opened up an entirely new genre for development. Its got very nice, simple controls and the graphics (in both the classic game and in this flash remake) are adorable. I really like the ghosts too. The gameplay is challenging, but not so hard as to be impossible. Unless of course you’re trying to take screenshots while you play. Then things get interesting. I also really like that the screen wraps left and right. I think this was one of the first games I ever played where that happened instead of having invisible boundaries. And so, the score.
Alright, it might just be me but I totally remember Frogger being way harder when I was a kid. I remember getting mowed down all the time. Especially by that stupid 18-wheeler in the last car lane. I love how cute the graphics are in this remake, but I remember sitting there when I was little and everything was much blockier and less colorful and yet still entrancing. Sadly, though, I think Frogger is just one of those games that didn’t stand up to my childhood memories. I was expecting a challenge. Not something I could nearly do blindfolded.
And last but not least, Asteroids. Now, I never had this one on the Atari myself, but I’ve played it at the arcade. I really like the way the controls work. Its like they couldn’t program normal controls so they just made them weird and it feels like you’re actually maneuvering in outer space. I also love the hyperspace button, but I can’t even begin to tell you how many times I’ve killed myself with it. Now, I know I gave Pong a hard time for being white on black, but look! Asteroids managed to make thin lines and irregular shapes. That’s impressive for being this old. Sure, Pong has 7 years on Asteroids, but dang.
And so, the final winner is: PAC-MAN. Not that anyone is surprised, of course. Pac-Man is a classic above and beyond the caliber of these others. Out of this selection of games, only Frogger and Pac-man spawned series and the Pac-man series was much more long-lived and had many more titles, even if Pac-Land was terrible.