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The Golden Age of Video Games

During the Golden Age of movies, Clark Gable was the biggest movie star in the world. In the 1980s, without a doubt, the star of the Golden Age of Video Games was Mario. Is is just coincidence that two charming, mustached leading men helped usher their craft to a new level? Maybe.

Real ladies men: dashing, charismatic and hopping from place to place in search of a girl.  

Most hardcore videogamers agree that the Golden Age of Video Games existed in the 1980s. If you disagree, remember this was an age of emerging technology. Games had just evolved from squares and bleeps. Programmers were actually learning how to make video arcades do amazing things. Mall-based and stand-alone arcades were pilgrimages that required rolls of quarters and entire Friday nights. This was the first generation of video-game consoles, when Mario and his 80s pals dominated arcades and home televisions. Characters like Pac-Man and Q*bert. Don’t remember them? It’s okay; we do:

Centipede (1980)

“You can’t hide! I’m coming to get you!”

Players used a roller-ball controller. The distinctive sound of the game’s centipede sprinting across the screen could be picked out of an arcade full of noise.

Frogger (1981)

“Go Froggy, go, you got to keep hoppin’ til you get to the top!”

The frog that became an arcade icon. The goal of Frogger was simple: guide the frog across a busy street and river. The game even inspired a classic episode of Seinfeld.

Galaga (1981)

History in the making: The shooter that stole a million quarters.

The sequel shooter to the arcade dud Galaxian. Challenging stages and tractor beams make this classic still one of the most popular classic arcade game on console services like Xbox Live.

Tron (1982)

The lightcycles were controlled with a glowing joystick. 

Based on the Disney movie of the same name, this game was like Star Wars, because it was one of the first video games to truly transport you into the world of the film. Playing a random round of lightcycles made gamers feel directly connected with the very pixels they controlled.

Burgertime (1982)

Sure, it looks simple. That’s part of the problem. 

The goal: make hamburgers by climbing a multi-leveled playfield. Gamers would walk over sandwich ingredients, dropping them in order to build a burger and (at the same time) avoid getting destroyed by the dreaded pickle, hot dog or eggs. This game devoured quarters.

Super Mario Bros. (1985)

“He’s on fire!” Boy, was he ever! Mario has sold more video games than anybody. 

Like Gable was the grand marshall of his industry for a time, Mario was the ambassador for his, too – and the Nintendo Entertainment System. Mario also did a short stretch as an arcade hero. This isn’t a full list, of course, but a partial list of stand-outs. We left out Mappy, Donkey Kong, Pole Position and so many more. What video-game developer made your favorite game from the Golden Age of Video Games?


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posted by DMA Jordan in News Blog and have No Comments

App of the Month: Galaga 30th Collection (Review)

Game: Galaga 30th Collection
Developer: Namco
Rating: 3 out 5 stars
Price: $7.99 for the collection, $2.99 per game

1981. Prince Charles marries Lady Diana…the first Space Shuttle (Columbia) takes flight…and Cabbage Patch Kids dolls are all the rage in toy stores. On July 23 of that same year, Namco shakes up the game world by introducing Galaga in arcades. The game goes on to become one of most beloved shooters of all time.

To mark the game’s 30-year anniversary, Namco has released Galaga 30th Collection for iOS. The game collection brings together Galaxian, Galaga, Gaplus (aka Galaga 3) and of course, the first updated version of the classic shooter, Galaga ’88.

Playable on both the iPhone and iPad the Galaga 30th Collection features reworked graphics that lean more toward a modern remixed feel than their retro cousins – the games also feature (oddly) an optional scan-line filter and score-tracking HUD.

Four servings of Galaga await you in the 30th anniversary collection.

As far as gameplay goes, not much has changed in 30 years. Players still blast away at insect-like aliens that attack from the top of the screen, while trying to make it to the challenging bonus stages and collect extra ships. The game still delivers solid shooter thrills with two modes of controls that are similar to the arcade version. The “virtual joystick” mode moves your ship left and right across the screen at a speed similar to the arcade originals, while a “slider” mode moves your ship as fast as you can swipe your finger back and forth across the screen.

The History of a Classic
Galaga (pronounced as “gyaraga” in Japanese) was released in Japan by Namco and released to arcades in the U.S. by Midway. The game was part of the shooter craze that tried to capitalize on the success of Space Invaders, which was released in 1978.

Galaga was actually a sequel. It was based on Galaxian which was released in 1979. Galaxian took the invader concept and expanded on it, with insect-like aliens breaking off from the main formation and attacking the player independently. Galaga also spawned sequels of its own, like Gaplus (1984) and Galaga ’88 (released at the end of 1987).

The original flyer that was sent to arcade owners to convince them to buy the game. Note the cocktail table in the lower left corner; recently Galaga cocktail tables have sold on eBay for $4,000. 

Since its release in 1981, the game has been remade countless times. In 1995, Namco’s PlayStation version of the arcade game Tekken featured a side game consisting entirely of challenging stages. The game developed such a following that it has been paid homage to frequently in pop culture: on the ABC TV series Lost (in which a submarine is named “Galaga”), the show’s writers were such fans of the game that they played it between writing sessions; and in the 1982 film WarGames, the game machine makes an appearance alongside star Matthew Broderick. The greeting-card company Hallmark even released a Christmas tree ornament shaped like a Galaga arcade machine – complete with sound clips from the game.

The original arcade game was available in two versions, a standing upright cabinet and a sit-down cocktail table. Original Galaga cocktail tables are highly collectible now and command prices of up to $4,000.

Making Your Own Video Game
Today, a simple shooter like Galaga can be developed easily. Learning to make video games isn’t as hard as you think, provided you receive the right training. Plus, in the casual games age we live in, simple addictive games like Galaga have regained popularity. Who knows? Thirty years from now, we could be celebrating your videogame creation.


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posted by DMA Jordan in App Development,iPhone News & Tips,News Blog and have No Comments