donkey kong and donkey kong jr. are well designed games. gameplay, sound, the art- well the art is not the best but the design and application of the art is fantastic. nintendo cabinets always felt like the cheapest of all games, even compared to the “kit” games that were generic cabinets that operators could buy to stick in the latest games (if they didn’t already have existing ones that weren’t moving as many quarters anymore).
the coin returns on nintendo cabinets didn’t have a good feel and the super flat t-molding (that plastic stripping to protect the edges of the particle board) made it feel more cheap.
but they are actually well-made cabinets. everyone was scrambling to keep up production. i still feel the same way about the cheapness but i override that sensation these days with the good qualities i know to exist.
i have a list of games that are “peripheral choices.” meaning that they are games, for myself, that i wouldn’t necessarily play/have to have on a desert island – but that are necessary for the full arcade sound or experience. or that would go well with the games i do like to play. so like centipede- i actually like this game but it’s one that has a good overall presence. cabinet art (though one wouldn’t see much of it when side by side), marquee bezel and control panel art, game attract mode, and sounds- great stuff. other games like this but that i wouldn’t play so much (either because i ain’t good or i don’t feel to play for a long time on them) are: zaxxon, frogger, congo bongo, defender, joust, spy hunter, gorf, wizard of wor, moon patrol, etc.
when i think of the ultimate representative for golden arcade games i go to games like burger time or tempest, space duel, asteroids, q*bert, bubbles. maybe others don’t know these games as intimately as i do. maybe they can look some of them up to get a better feel of what i’m expressing.
pac-man, ms pac-man, galaga, defender, donkey kong may have been the tops as far as coin goes, but i’m able to think outside of popularity and base human instinct reactions. pac-man is alright but the better incarnation for it is “pop-man” with hangly mazes. that is, a special chip with popeye’s head replaces the pac-man sprite and a bootleg version of “pac-man plus” referred to as “hangly man” is installed to create three changing mazes, one of which disappears when you eat the power pill (just like in pac-man plus). it is a super rare oddity, that version(since it’s made from now unavailable custom parts). but i think it has the kind of presence that a classic should have.
galaga suffers from very poor cabinet art-design. the art is fine. the design is fine (by this point midway had a template cabinet design- you can see it in galaxian, pac-man, galaga, ms pac, etc.), but it’s the art-design that is lacking. the cabinet is all black except for the printed or kit-decal that is applied to the side. the kick panel is ok – it has dynamic colours and shapes but it’s not enough to make up for the poor side art-design or presence. the bezel (the decoration that frames the monitor) doesn’t do much either. it’s a repetitive space pattern – yeah it has cool space ships but just like the kick panel, it’s not enough to make up for the overall quality. the gameplay, it’s design, and sounds, and song are what make galaga such a presence. but i feel that it doesn’t hold up to my standards of a all around good classic game. none of the top popular games do.
i guess it’s like disney or pixar where “accessible” and “easy on the audience” doesn’t affect my judgment. i take into consideration all aspects, and am not befuddled by comfort candy.
asteroids is a pretty good all around game. it gets bonus points for it’s cool cardboard bezel insert and overlay (though it wasn’t ingenuity as much as it was status quo for the time). many video games around the mid 70s accented the monochromatic and simple games with not only beveled printed cardboard frames around the monitor but also an additional “foreground” cardboard frame that would fit just behind the glass. asteroids was at the end of all of that cardboard stuff. some games like gyruss(1983) used the cardboard frame but they were exception and most likely due to cost and turnaround time of production (easier and cheaper to insert a cardboard frame than to print one on plexi or glass).
but so what? so what that the designers most likely put the cardboard because it was what everyone was doing of the time. i’m not talking about the execution or ingenuity of the makers, what they were thinking; i’m talking about the overall idea or concept that is represented in the game as a whole. it’s lasting.
it is a legacy game.
legacy. it’s a good word. though it can mean different stuff.
q*bert would also be legacy. but aside from popular motivators (like king of kong or some celebrity having it or talking it up) games like asteroids and q*bert- black widow, burger time, or space duel don’t have forefront awareness or popularity. they were popular for their time and today some people may remember them (by whatever reason) but those games fail to earn or be given the representation of how good of an example they are.
fame doesn’t necessary represent overall good; maybe just the overall good to the average human cultural aggregate. but, i guess that means that it’s not good if it isn’t what the overall human race responds to, cares about, likes, gives attention to, etc.
there’s many things in history and today that are good ideas that would benefit the various aspects of human life, but are squandered and forgotten in favour of comfort candy smoke and mirrors.
we need some sleight of hand to subvert the comfort smoke of the majority.
or maybe we need to stop drop and roll to avoid the nonsense . . .
[we’re all on the floor rolling under the smoke and dick van dyke rolls by “hey guys” – i slow down and look over at gabi who is still rolling. “keep rolling” she says]
haha, i pictured her squirmin’ up like a floppy caterpillar when she said “keep rolling” to me. like if she hurries up frantically it’ll make up for me slowing down after the dyke distraction.