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Vintage Games 159

Posted by samzenpus
from the read-all-about-it dept.
Aeonite writes "Featuring a subtitle that is almost longer than the preface, Vintage Games: An Inside Look at the History of Grand Theft Auto, Super Mario, and the Most Influential Games of All Time offers a retrospective look at those games which authors Bill Loguidice and Matt Barton feel were, in their words, 'paradigm shifters; the games that made a difference.' As the preface points out, these are not necessarily best-selling games, innovative games, or novel games, but rather titles that, 'in their own special way changed videogames forever.'" Keep reading for the rest of Michael's review.
Vintage Games
author Bill Loguidice and Matt Barton
pages 408
publisher Focal Press
rating 8
reviewer Michael Fiegel
ISBN 978-0-240-81146-8
summary A look at the most influential games of the past four decades
The book itself features 25 chapters, each devoted to the study of a particular title that best stands out as "vintage" in its particular genre. Those games chosen as particularly "vintage" are (in order): Alone in the Dark, Castle Wolfenstein, Dance Dance Revolution, Diablo, Doom, Dune II, Final Fantasy VII, Flight Simulator, Grand Theft Auto III, John Madden Football, King's Quest, Myst, Pac-Man, Pole Position, SimCity, Space Invaders, Street Fighter II, Super Mario 64 (covered in tandem with Tomb Raider), Super Mario Bros.,Tetris, The Legend of Zelda, The Sims, Ultima, Ultima Online, and Zork. In addition, nine additional "Bonus Chapters" are available online at the book's website, covering Defender, Elite, Pinball Construction Set, Pong, Robotron: 2084, Rogue, Spacewar!, Star Raiders, and Tony Hawk's Pro Skater.

Though listing the titles here seems a bit tedious, it does serve two purposes. First, it demonstrates the broad range of game genres and titles covered in the book, with selections made from across four decades of gaming history. Worth noting in this regard is that each chapter is not solely dedicated only to the titular game; related games that both preceded and followed the selected title are also discussed, and although I didn't keep count many hundreds of titles are at least mentioned, if not covered in some depth. Indeed, this broad range leads to one of the minor issues I have with the book, which is a slight feeling of imbalance and inconsistency between chapters.

By way of example, the first chapter on 1992's Alone in the Dark begins with a two page look at the title itself, followed by a brief peek back at other "horror" games such as 1981's Haunted House, 1982's Dracula and 1988's Splatterhouse. The chapter then dives back into a detailed overview of the introductory scene of Alone in the Dark (along with illustrative screenshots), followed by four pages covering the game's sequels and some brief mentions of Resident Evil and Silent Hill. Chapter 2, covering Castle Wolfenstein, follows more or less the same formula of focusing on the titular game, as do Chapter 7, covering Final Fantasy VII, Chapter 9, covering GTA III, and Chapter 15, on SimCity.

However, this "formula" is not followed in many of the other chapters, which makes reading the book from cover-to-cover a somewhat uneven experience. Chapter 3, covering Dance Dance Revolution only really devotes about four of the chapter's 11 pages to DDR itself, instead choosing to spend more collective time (and screenshots) on related subjects like Dragon's Lair, Video Jogger, the Nintendo Power Pad, Sega's Activator, and Karaoke Revolution (among others). Chapter 10, covering John Madden Football goes for over a dozen pages before it truly covers the title in question on five entertaining and screenshot-packed pages. Chapter 14, covering Pole Position and Chapter 17, on Street Fighter II are other notable examples where the focus is not as tightly aimed at the vintage title in question.

This is not to say that the writing is flawed; on the contrary, it is always entertaining and interesting, and frequently illuminating. Loguidice and Barton cover a lot of terrain, and they are not afraid to point out the warts as well as the beauty marks in their selections. For those who grew up with video games in their house starting with the Atari 2600 (or before), the book is like a trip through time, giving the reader a chance to reminisce about days gone by while also learning about the many titles he or she didn't even known existed. All of this material is written in an informative yet casual style that never feels stilted or pretentious, nor too fanboyish. Indeed, the only awkwardness is the inconsistency in coverage from chapter to chapter, which sort of feels like the authors — rather than co-write each chapter — sort of divided the book in half. I have no idea if this is the case, and there are certainly no glaring stylistic differences from chapter to chapter; all are equally entertaining.

The above chapter list also demonstrates that the titles are arranged in alphabetical order, as opposed to release date or genre. While this certainly makes a sort of structural sense, it does feel a bit awkward while reading the book cover-to-cover, as the reader is constantly dancing back and forth through time, from 1992 to 1981, followed by five titles released in the '90s, a title from 1980, and then 2001's GTA III. In addition, the decision to alphabetize The Legend of Zelda and The Sims in the T's, rather than the L's and S's respectively, does feel a bit odd (especially since the titles are listed under L and S in the index). Whereas Ultima and Ultima Online, and Super Mario 64 and Super Mario Bros. are in adjacent chapters, The Sims and SimCity are separated by six chapters. This is an admittedly minor quibble, however.

If there is a more-than-minor flaw with the book, it is the same flaw that seems to beset all books covering the video game industry: the screenshots, and their inconsistent placement throughout the text. Occasionally, a screenshot will actually fall on the same page where the game it depicts is being mentioned, but in many cases screenshots appear a page or two away (a mention of Second Life comes to mind in this regard. In several cases, screenshots actually overwhelm the text (most notably on pages 312-313), and fewer would have served better. There are also a number of "back of box" shots, which hardly seem as interesting to the reader as an in-game screenshot would be; in one case, almost an entire page is given over to a blown-up back-of-box shot of Maxwell Manor, which otherwise barely gets a mention in the main text.

Also worth mentioning is that screenshots do not always guarantee title mentions, and vice versa. In some cases, the vintage title being covered in a chapter is given many screenshots, whereas in other cases there are only one or two devoted to that game title. Some other mentioned titles are given a lot of text but no screenshot, such as Resident Evil, Metal Gear, and Half-Life. Other screenshots depict titles that are not even mentioned in the text (though they are still relevant to the subject at hand, as the captions generally make clear); examples include Silent Service, Blades of Steel and Mario Kart: Super Circuit. In places it often feels as if the authors are "making do" with the art resources available to them, rather than placing the images that would best suit the topic.

Whatever the reason for these sorts of issues, they present only the occasional bump in what is otherwise a very smooth and entertaining ride. The somewhat inconsistent coverage of titles means that readers looking to read about their particular favorite game may be in for a treat, or may be disappointed, depending on which particular game they're looking to read about. However, this is not that book. What Vintage Games is, is a four-decade retrospective on 25 games that have truly made a difference, and readers who expect just that (as you now do) will come away wholly entertained.

You can purchase Vintage Games from amazon.com. Slashdot welcomes readers' book reviews -- to see your own review here, read the book review guidelines, then visit the submission page.

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Vintage Games

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  • by sys.stdout.write (1551563) on Wednesday June 03, 2009 @02:12PM (#28198809)
    That game revolutionized insult sword fighting!
    • It and Maniac Mansion are listed on page 160 of the book [google.com] in the chapter on King's Quest. The author regards Monkey Island as one of the "greatest adventure games." I guess there's a difference between 'great' and 'vintage' although vintage usually means "having an enduring appeal; high-quality, classic."

      I have a minor qualm with the title, I think it should be "Vintage Digital Games" as when I saw the title I thought "well, this should be difficult." But the cover sure illustrates they mean video games.
      • by gnick (1211984) on Wednesday June 03, 2009 @02:27PM (#28199025) Homepage

        Haven't read the book yet (just requested from library - too cheap for Amazon), but it's interesting that some of the iconic arcade classics missed out. Sure, we have Space Invaders, but what about Tron, Asteroids, Centipede, Dig-Dug, Paperboy? I donated a heckuva lotta quarters to my local Chuck E. Cheese as a kid just for the privilege. As far as the Atari games go, I might toss in Break-through and Warlock too just for helping open the door to more innovative controller ideas (like Centipede did for the stand-up arcade boxes). Somebody should be tossed to a lurking Grue.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by fm6 (162816)

          Notice that all the games listed are best known for their home console or computer versions. All the games you mention are arcade games; they did get ported to other platforms, but lost something in the process.

          Still, you have a point. A book that claims to be about the most influential electronic games but completely ignores the arcade is kind of missing the boat.

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by gnick (1211984)

            There was a lot of overlap - Even as popularity went. I played Super Mario Brothers (total Pitfall Harry ripoff!) mainly at home, but years after dumping a bunch of quarters into the arcade box. I only ever played Asteroids on my Atari, but I'm aware that it had an arcade presence.

            Tron and Centipede, however, were pretty strictly arcade boxes for me. Break-through and Warlock I'm not sure I saw anywhere except for Atari.

            • by jank1887 (815982)

              arcade Asteroids was much better than the atari version. something cool about the ghostly vector graphics

          • by Xtifr (1323)

            Actually, I think Defender and Robotron:2084 are better known as arcade games, even if they were eventually ported to consoles and/or personal computers. Granted, those are listed in the on-line "Bonus Chapters" section, but even so, it makes gnick's point stronger.

            I suppose one could argue that Asteroids wasn't really much of an innovation after Spacewar! (covered) and its years-ahead-of-its-time arcade version Space Wars [wikipedia.org], but then that same argument could be used to eliminate Diablo in favor of Rogue, ye

          • by umeboshi (196301) on Wednesday June 03, 2009 @03:31PM (#28199763)

            Not only that, but they seem to have missed the boat on the older computer games as well. I can think of quite a few that should probably be on the list.

            Questron - An interesting mixture of interface styles, embedded mini games, and probably the best finale in any game for years to come.

            Karateka - A very interesting game with great music and graphics. Between this and the arcade game Kung Fu, we get the Street Fighter games, etc.

            Project Space Station - A very good strategy/simulation/management game which had an easy to learn and use interface. Many strategy games of this era were unattractive due to the interface, but this program seems to have set the bar here.

            Leaderboard Golf - A lot of my friends were really addicted to this game. It had 3d graphics and a decent physics engine. All of the extra courses and sequels to this game is a testament to it's innovativeness and popularity.

            Hacker - A game before it's time. An exciting game where you break into a remote computer and send a robot on an involved spy mission. I'm not really sure how popular this game was, but I thought it was something that hadn't been tried before done well.

            Wild Wild West (I'm not too sure about the name) - I think this is one of the first games with dialog and characters, which idea made it's way into future adventure games like Monkey Island. Depending on how you interact with the "npc", you would either satisfy it, scare it, or be drawn into a gunfight.

            Elite! - I'm not going to bother to describe this, as I know most of y'all know what this is, and are probably wondering why it's not listed.

            Little Computer People - It's possible that there would be no Sims games today if this nice program was never made.

            Superbowl Sunday - I think that this was one of the games that influenced the sports team management games that have been seen since. (A lot of the Avalon Hill games and some of the SSI games suffered from difficult interfaces, which is something that I noted about with PSS.)

            This is just a few from the top of my head, and I'm only thinking about c64 now, there are quite a few others games on other platforms that dramatically influenced future games.

            • by StikyPad (445176)

              Of that list, I only remember Leaderboard Golf and Superbowl Sunday. Little Computer People sounds familiar, but nobody I knew had it.

              I do remember Bounty Bob Strikes Back [bigfivesoftware.com] though. I'm pretty sure it's mostly to blame for my inability to complete anything I start these days.

              • by umeboshi (196301)

                I remember that game, the sequel to miner 2049'er. I only played the first one.

                There was a pretty nifty game for the c64 called Wizard, which was a puzzlish platform game. It was one of the first ones that I'm aware of that allowed you to create your own levels. The features of that game, spells obstacles and layout of the platforms, was something I thought to be very revolutionary at the time.

            • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

              by Chordonblue (585047)

              I think any collection not mentioning 1987's amazing 'Dungeon Master' from FTL is incomplete. That game was well ahead of it's time. It was terrific on the Atari ST and Apple II GS, but it positively SHONE on the Amiga.

              As if the gameplay weren't enough to get it into a list of this nature, the user interface itself should have.

              • by umeboshi (196301)

                1987 is about the time I stopped playing with computer games. I held on to my c128 as my primary computer up until 1998. In fact, one of the reasons that I bought my first PC ten years ago was the fact that I had just found out that it would run a c64 emulator.

                As a result, I missed out on many of the old DOS games, excepting the ones that I got a chance to play at a friends' houses. In a way that's been good for me, as I can now go back through and play ten years of games that I had missed using dosbox.

            • Wow.. I haven't thought about Project: Space Station in something like 20 years. If only I could've figured out how to keep my scientists from bickering with each other, I could have been a 9 year old director of the entire space program.

              Might be 'Law of the West' for the gunfighting game. There wasn't a lot to do, but I remember it had a catchy tune.

              • by umeboshi (196301)

                Wow.. I haven't thought about Project: Space Station in something like 20 years. If only I could've figured out how to keep my scientists from bickering with each other, I could have been a 9 year old director of the entire space program.

                lol :)
                It really was one of my favorite games at the time.

                Might be 'Law of the West' for the gunfighting game. There wasn't a lot to do, but I remember it had a catchy tune.

                I think that you're right about that. You do start the game as the new town's sheriff.

            • by Pluvius (734915)

              Wild Wild West (I'm not too sure about the name) - I think this is one of the first games with dialog and characters, which idea made it's way into future adventure games like Monkey Island. Depending on how you interact with the "npc", you would either satisfy it, scare it, or be drawn into a gunfight.

              I believe you're referring to Law of the West. Pretty nifty game, though I've never gotten around to playing through it.

              Rob

            • by macshome (818789)
              Hacker was such an awesome game. It came in a box with just a disk. No instructions. It loaded to a prompt that looked like it had dialed into a system. We tried a few things and then we "hacked" in and the real fun started.

              There was a sequel too, but it wasn't as good.

              Overall your list is good, and I played almost all of those on my C64 as well. No C64 list is complete without Project Firestart though. I still haul out the C128 every now and then to play that one!
              • by umeboshi (196301)

                There was a sequel too, but it wasn't as good.

                I had a friend who bought that game. I tried it too, and also didn't like it as much.

                Overall your list is good, and I played almost all of those on my C64 as well. No C64 list is complete without Project Firestart though. I still haul out the C128 every now and then to play that one!

                I remember the title, but I don't think I've ever played that one. I just looked it up on wikipedia, and learned that there has been a remake of the game made and is supposedly available at retroremakes.com, but it's probably not the same as the wikipedia article mentions the remake is 3d. While searching for it on the remakes site, I found this remake which looks interesting:

                http://slashx.googlepages.com/adventure2600re [googlepages.com]

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by kenp2002 (545495)

          In defense of the author the games you listed with the exception of Paper Boy were not "game changing", popular yes, but game changing? Not so much.

          Space Invaders didn't have any game changing aspect to it. Plently of ASCII console games existed prior to SI that had stuff like that. Compare missle command, Arkanoid, Space Invaders, Robotron, and at the most base level, still have a fundamental and common 2D structure. The top down shooting concept was not much different then any other 2D game. Centipede was

          • by umeboshi (196301)

            Centipede was innovative for the track ball, but you didn't see a deluge of track ball games as a result.

            This may be because Atari had a patent on the trackball. IIRC, I think it was only Atari games that had them in the arcades back then, i.e. Crystal Castles, Millipede, Atari Football, Missile Command.

            I'm not real sure about the patent, but the fact that all the trackball games of the time were Atari games seems to indicate this.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by geekoid (135745)

            Space invaders changed the arcade forever.
            It was a huge game changer. Ask any pinball historian.

            It also brought a more person feel to the game. With pinball there was always a slight randomness to it. In Space Invaders, if you missed, it was all you.

            Yeah, Space invaders was a game changer. You just ahve to remember what the game was like then.

            We are talking about 1978. Space invaders laid the path for Pac-Man.
            Prior to Space Invaders, video games were strictly a novelty. in the corner of the arcade. Space In

            • by Chris Burke (6130)

              I remember the Arcade changing during that period. It was a pretty quick change. Either arcade owners saw what Space Invaders was leading to and began grabbing new video game, or there were sticking with pinball. By 1980 if you went with pin-ball, you where probably out of business.

              Damn. Well kinda ironic then that for those arcades that are still holding on by the skin of their teeth, pinball is one of their mainstays.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    Where's Larry? The title that revolutionized sex gaming. Come on!
    • by mattack2 (1165421)

      That is 'just' a graphical redo of a previous game.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by andrewd18 (989408)

        That is 'just' a graphical redo of a previous game.

        Ah, yes, the days of meticulously programming "a/s/l?" on punchcards.

        • by mattack2 (1165421)

          Hardee har har.. I was referring to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Softporn_Adventure [wikipedia.org]

          • by Jarlsberg (643324)
            Yeah, you can read the story on allowe.com. It's nothing new. However, Softporn adventure is shit. The parser is horrendous, and playing it is not very funny, even for someone who like text adventures. Larry is very funny, and it's laced with Al Lowe's brand of humor (which was not a feature in Softporn). So while it's a rewrite, Larry is significantly better than Softporn.
  • That title arguably kept Electronic Arts going during a rough patch. Also missing is M.U.L.E. No list is perfect, but those are major omissions.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by GPLDAN (732269)
      Dammit - READ!

      Pinball Construction Set is there. M.U.L.E. is not.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by bennomatic (691188)
      MULE was certainly super-cool, but I'm not sure that it changed the industry. I guess I could stretch to say that all resource-management games, like Warcraft, etc., inherit something from that game, but I'm not sure that it's true.

      From that set of games, I'm surprised you left out Arcon. It also didn't change the industry as it didn't spawn its own genre, but man, it was cool. Like chess, but you've gotta battle it out for every space? How cool is that?!
  • This is basically a list of my favorite games of all time, with the notable exception of John Madden Football. Seriously, what the heck? How is it they make 1 every year, and its a top seller? I've never understood this phenomenon, especially because they only record him saying about 5 things.

    Now to be completely fair, in real life he only uses about 5 phrases, but they could have mixed it up a little.

    But overall, it looks like a good read. I think I'll try to hunt down a copy.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      Oh don't hate on Madden..

      Let's see if I can explain the phenoninom using an analogy you'll relate to. Let's say you're a really big fan of Bangbros pornography. All day all night, you watch those lovable fellows have sex with women who apparently have no qualms about getting in a stranger's van with a bunch of sweaty men.

      Now you really like the videos you have, but at some point you think to yourself "wow, it'd sure be great to watch different women get into this stranger's van filled with sweaty men!"
    • Why Madden? (Score:4, Informative)

      by mu51c10rd (187182) on Wednesday June 03, 2009 @03:01PM (#28199425)

      I admit I have not played the Madden line of games since the 90's, but I can tell you why we preferred Madden to anything else starting in 92. Madden football focused on realism in the game, above how hard you can hit (NFL Blitz) or how well you can guess the other player's play (Tecmo SuperBowl). Madden in 93-94 even allowed various play formations, and tried to mimic the sport as accurately as possible. As technology improved, the game continued with trying to portray football as real as possible. That is what drew myself and my friends into it years ago. Although many football games have tried since (the 2K series, Joe Montana football, etc.), they were already behind the curve. I think EA made their sports niche with just that...realism.

  • Come on: those two games *defined* an entire culture of horizontal scrolling shoot-em-ups and God's-eye view dungeon rapid-fire raiding. For *fuck's sake* how many quarters did I blow on those two games in teh 80's? Prolly close to eight-thousand dollars worth....and the friggin' Baiters won every time.... '-(

    And my green elf; he needs food...badly.

    =Smidge=

  • GTA and Sims for the price of one!

  • No Sword of Fargoal? (Score:2, Informative)

    by anjilslaire (968692)
    I still play Sword of Fargoal today. http://www.fargoal.com/ [fargoal.com]
    • by retchdog (1319261)

      It's quite not the same. I can actually finish the new one...

      • by jank1887 (815982)

        agreed. you can cheat the death feature with the save game if you do it right.

        • by retchdog (1319261)

          I've noticed the save game occasionally glitches, but apart from that it just seems much easier (I think that the monsters get less movement per second).

          If you're going to cheat, use the source (which is very well-commented and easy to read), and go whole-hog! I added descend/ascend keys which was kind of fun, for like 30 minutes. I also think that the amulets are far too rare, esp. amulet of light, so I upped the drop rate a bit.

  • Well the computer games I played at the beginning were:
    Empire, which started the Civilization path
    Sentinel, which started nothing I know of
    Populous, which started the concept of "god perspective games" for me
    There were other games but these were too .. unique, odd and incentiveless to start something.
     

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Culture20 (968837)

      Populous, which started the concept of "god perspective games" for me

      You never played Life [wikipedia.org] then?

      • by umeboshi (196301)

        I think that the Life game involves a deist philosophy, whereas something like Populous depends on divine intervention.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by LotsOfPhil (982823)
      I haven't heard of Sentinel or Empire, but Populous is one of the earliest I remember playing. Add to the list Scorched Earth and Deathtrack. I remember getting a 286 and not being able to play Deathtrack because it was too fast :)
  • No Darklands either. This game consumed a lot of nights during high school. Super customizable characters and gameplay for that time. I'm trying to find a copy that I can run on DosBox or something similar. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Darklands_(video_game) [wikipedia.org]
  • Myst? Certainly one of the defining moments of its' short-lived genre, but I think I would have picked The Seventh Guest instead for that slot.

  • by Culture20 (968837) on Wednesday June 03, 2009 @02:40PM (#28199177)
    Grand Theft Auto III is only six years old. How's that Vintage? Especially with the rest of the list hovering around 15-20 years old, and each of them being more fun than GTA3 to boot?
    • And I'll bet some of you were hoping to finish High School before you grew old...
    • The book is about games that had the most impact, not the most fun games. Besides, the amount of fun that a game provides is highly subjective. Personally, I had a blast with GTA3 and I'm sure I was more entertained by that game than at least some of the old school classics.

      I do agree that GTA3 being vintage is definitely stretch though.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by justinlindh (1016121)

      Small difference, relatively, but GTA III is actually almost 8 years old and not 6 (it was released October 2001).

      Vintage is an ambiguous term, so he gets to play loosely with it. Regardless of whether you thought the game was fun or not, it WAS the first notably high selling game that did an open world sandbox well. There are countless games today that mimic the design (the new Red Faction game released yesterday, for one example).

      Like it or not, GTA III was very influential for its design and the controve

    • by Patch86 (1465427)

      Little known fact- vintage does not mean old.

      In wine, vintage is just the term for the age of a wine. There is a 2000 vintage, a 2008 vintage, a 2009 vintage...every year is a vintage. When wine has a really good year, people say things like "2002 was a good vintage for French merlot" or something similar.

      When people use it in common speech, what they really mean is "good vintage". A "vintage game" is just a sort of metaphor for "really notably good game". Nothing says it has to be old too.

      • by umeboshi (196301)

        Vintage is also not tied to a year as much as the vine it came from.

      • In wine, vintage is just the term for the age of a wine

        ...and yet when referring to anything other than wine in inevitably means old. I mean, you wouldn't refer to "Portal" as a "vintage" game or "The Dark Knight" as a "vintage" movie, would you? I guess, in computer years, 2001 is old.

        If you think words mean precisely what you intend them to mean then don't come over all surprised when people misunderstand you.

        • by Patch86 (1465427)

          Like I said: "Little known".

          I'm not implying that you can't use it to mean old if you want. Just that the proper usage is as the book is using it- so lets not rip into the book for using the term correctly.

    • Grand Theft Auto III was not the first GTA, believe it or not...

      Although, GTA (the first) is only twelve years old. I wouldn't consider that "vintage".

    • Vintage [askoxford.com] - referring to something from the past of high quality.
      • by Culture20 (968837)
        In more regular use:
        Vintage [reference.com] - old-fashioned or obsolete
        To use it in a sentence: Oxford dictionary is full of vintage definitions.
        I rarely hear "Vintage" applied to something of good quality. It's mostly synonymous with "antique" these days.
  • ...I'm listening to the music of Warcraft II, just for the awesome! The Fury of the Furries Amiga Forest theme, another such classic. The only games I play are games of yore!
  • Does it mention Tunnels of Doom? [bellsouthpwp.net] This was a game ahead of it's time. There's rebooted version here. [dreamcodex.com]

  • by vjmurphy (190266) on Wednesday June 03, 2009 @02:51PM (#28199295) Homepage

    I picked this up at the book store, noticed nothing about Nethack, and decided it was one of those books in which the author just wanted to talk about old games he liked, history be damned. That's not a bad thing, but that's also not what the title would lead one to think.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Xtifr (1323)

      Well, he covers Rogue in the online chapters, and much as I love Nethack myself, I would quickly agree that Rogue was the real trendsetter and innovator here.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Chris Burke (6130)

      In the review it says it talks about Rogue, progenitor of Nethack and all "Rogue-likes" (der). So who's just talking about their favorite games, history be damned? Okay, those were online 'bonus' chapters. Anyway.

      There's only so much room in a book about an area of entertainment to mention/discuss all instances of that form of entertainment. And frankly the list presented here is one of the most varied and comprehensive I've seen in anything of this sort. Not everything can make it in, and focusing on

  • I was always a big fan of Syndicate. At the time it was pretty revolutionary in that you could pretty much interact with the entire environment in one way or another long before you hit the GTA series and what not.

    I'm sure there'll be a lot more that folks can think of out here in Slashdot land.....

    • You know what had another thought. What about E.T. for the 2600? Didn't that set the precedent for totally retarded games?
      • I don't know if it was first. Didn't the rock band Journey have a game first that was totally moronic?
  • Dune II, not C&C (Score:3, Insightful)

    by SlashdotOgre (739181) on Wednesday June 03, 2009 @02:57PM (#28199367) Journal

    I find it interesting that Dune II was chosen over C&C. Dune II is definitely the origin of a lot of concepts in RTS, but I always found C&C (also by Westwood Studios) to be the more significant title of the genre (and I did own/play both on DOS). Recently I got the original C&C (now freeware) running in wine, and it still feels close to a modern RTS (I had just beaten C&C3). A couple years ago I tried playing Dune II again, and didn't get that feeling.

    Overall that seems like a good list of vintage games. I would have like to have seen a representative from a couple dead genres like Mechwarrior (mech games) and something like Night Trap for FMV's games. Also, I do hope they mention Sonic in the Mario section.

  • I saw no mention of M.U.L.E. [wikipedia.org] in there anywhere. It is a vintage game and in my opinion introduced some interesting game mechanics, one of them being the simulated economy.

  • by synth7 (311220) on Wednesday June 03, 2009 @02:59PM (#28199395) Homepage

    For example, CRPGs don't all trace back to Ultima. Within that same age of gestation there were also such luminaries as Wizardry, Bard's Tale, Might & Magic, Phantasie, Questron, and others. In fact, I always kind of disliked the single-avatar system of Ultima/Questron and preferred the controlling a party of players ala Bard's Tale/Wizardry/Phantasie. Also, Questron was one of the first games that I came across that used mini-games for certain tests, which was quite novel.

    I agree that the arcade was the birthplace of a lot of great titles and ideas, but the Apple ][, C=64, Amiga 500, and Atari ST all were fantastic petri dishes for the wild growth and speciation of all the games we know and love. I think some of the titles mentioned in the book can be traced back to much more fundamental roots and that in many cases those roots are plural, in the form of several good games that were synthesized into a transformative game title that broke through to the mass market.

    I also agree that some of these games really aren't "vintage." If you can play it without digging out old equipment of finding an emulator, then it doesn't really qualify.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Creepy (93888)

      Wizardry, Bard's Tale, Might and Magic derived from Akalabeth's dungeons (Akalabeth was the prequel to Ultima and released in 1979). Questron and Phantasie mostly derived from Ultima, though yes, that was the first I remember mini-games in.

      A couple of influential games I think are missing are Choplifter and Pitfall! Both were influential in gameplay and Choplifter was the first game to start as a computer game and become a video game (albeit rewritten and MUCH harder) and influenced some other games like

    • by snuf23 (182335)

      Akalabeth = 1979
      Ultima = 1980
      Wizardry = 1981
      Questron = 1984 (actually licensed the game style from Richard Garriott)
      Bard's Tale = 1985
      Phantasie = 1985
      Might and Magic = 1986

      I believe Wizardry was already in development concurrently with Ultima. The later games you mention definitely were influenced by Ultima and Wizardry. They expanded on the genre in many ways but basically were close to formula.

      • by Creepy (93888)

        On a side note, Akalabeth was not officially published until 1980, though you could buy it in baggie form in 1979. I believe it was actually published slightly after another game with a similar view called Odyssey: The Complete Apventure (but that didn't have a dungeon view).

        It wouldn't surprise me if Wizardry was developed concurrently with Ultima, but it was derivative of the dungeon view in Akalabeth (which was also used in Ultima). The first three Ultimas also used the same basic game engine (at least

  • rating: 8
    8 / 10 ?
    8 / 100 ?
    8 / 5 ?
    8 / 8 ?
  • Console Only (Score:5, Insightful)

    by kenp2002 (545495) on Wednesday June 03, 2009 @03:12PM (#28199553) Homepage Journal

    It would appear that the title would be better read "Vintage Console Games"

    VGA Planets and L.O.R.D (Legend of the Red Dragon) where some of the earliest Time Share MMO type games only now being ressurected in the form of Mob Wars\Mafia Wars on places like Facebook.

    Oddly one of the first "3D" space flight games "Star Voyager" for the NES is missing and would have even settled for Descent or Wing Commander for the first space combat games to really change the nature of flight games. Especially with the mention of Ultima but laps the Wing Commander series...

    The Gold Box series of D&D games is also absent.

    But most of all, oddly enough, where are the edutainment games from Math Munchers, Carmen Sandiego, and Oregon Trail? The edutainment section is absent...

    Just some thoughts for the second release.

    Also Battle Chess made Chess accessable to millions of players over the years and took Chess from stuffy to damn near cool as the Fonz for its time...

    Lets not forget the niche area of historical sims that kept KOEI staff employed with Romance of the Three Kingdoms and Nobunga's Ambition.

    Another lacking one is Populous now I think of it...

    Dungeon Keeper, Tecmo's Deception...

    Shin Mega whateverthehell it is called (Devil Summoner series) broke some new ground...

    And let us not forget several games (regardless of theme) that contributed:

    Password based continues
    Battery Backup saves
    light zappers and other specialized periphrials
    First game with multi-layered backgrounds
    Paper Mario being one of the first games to switch the whole perspective concept

    What no gauntlet on of the first 4 player games I can think of?

    Killer Instinct for first major use of pre-rendered 3D environments?

    Mortal Kombat for the first grusome death option (fatalities) and as far as I can tell one of the first to have an option (hidden or not) to FINISH an opponent?

    Rush series of arcade games I think were the first to use a force feedback steering wheel.. In fact I think the arm wrestling game was the first to use any form of force feedback....

    If we are looking to measure games that 'change the nature of gaming' they have missed quite a few story telling options and some very odd exclusions.

    Case in point, Bowling. One of the first games to use the over-grown track ball that golden tee owes it's sorry ass too...

    Ikari warriors to use a rotating joystick?

    I don't even know which game was the first to use analog controls for a joystick rather then digital...

    How about the first arcade game that allowed players to save their game data on a card?

    Such a minor sample of game changers...

    Even from a content standpoint:

    First to swear?
    First to have someone die?
    FIrst to have someone have children in the game?

    Breaking the old literary norms of games change a lot and opened up a historical chance that game developers took to expand their story telling.

    Lots of missed opportunities... I wait till a second revision...

    • by Pinckney (1098477)
      Off the top of my head, Diablo, Doom, GTA3, Myst, Rogue, Sim City, and the Sims were all on PCs.
  • I keenly remember jealously watching my Mac fanatic roommate playing Marathon while I was playing Doom on my PC. Doom deserves to be on the list for its wide impact, but Marathon, I think, has had a far bigger impact on today's game world. It went much further in combining the puzzle and FPS aspects of gameplay, and the legacy, continued in the Halo series, is tremendous.

  • No Sokoban?
  • I remember there being a game for the commodore 64 that was a text-based adventure game.

    Questions like: You are standing in a cave and it is dark. What do you do? Answer: Light torch. Response: You do not have a torch. etc....

    Anyone remember the name of those games?

    • by jDeepbeep (913892)

      I remember there being a game for the commodore 64 that was a text-based adventure game.

      Questions like: You are standing in a cave and it is dark. What do you do? Answer: Light torch. Response: You do not have a torch. etc....

      Anyone remember the name of those games?

      That's not Zork is it?

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by umeboshi (196301)

      Ha ha!! There were so many of those, it's impossible to list them all.

      The best, and most popular were the Infocom games, where failure to light a torch, lantern, match, etc. would put you in danger of being eaten by a grue (a theme that spanned the whole lineup, regardless of genre).

      You can find the Infocom games here:

      http://thepiratebay.org/torrent/3398113/Infocom_Universe_Bootleg [thepiratebay.org]

      Pirated, but it's very hard to get the actual copies of the games these days, and the items that came packaged with the game wer

    • Before Zork, there was Adventure, a port of a mainframe-based game that I knew as EEB, which I enjoyed playing on the terminal of one John Holdren, Obama's science advisor, when my family would visit his place when I was a small child. It allowed only two-word inputs, and inspired many, many games, including the Zork series referenced by others.

      Shortly after moving to my new home town, I found myself looking for a friend's house and getting hopelessly lost, going through one intersection three times fro
  • Madden-ing (Score:3, Informative)

    by neo (4625) on Wednesday June 03, 2009 @04:14PM (#28200403)

    He seems to have missed the very heart of Madden, which was Bethesda Soft's Gridiron. Most people are unaware that the original engine for Madden was bought and it's extremely hard to find the original Gridiron on any abandon ware sites because of this. The heart of Gridiron was it's inertial engine. Players were represented as dots and accelerated at a speed based on of their Speed stat (one of two stats, the other being Strength). You could create you own plays with a way-point system and a flexible set of commands like run-block-right or call from the pre-set plays in the game. The entire game was revolutionary, but is sadly lost to the legacy of it's licensing.

  • I'd think you should at least mention some other important games:

    pong: Really started the whole video game thingey.
    Commander Keen: Showed what graphics could really be done on a PC.

    • Commander Keen: Showed what graphics could really be done on a PC.

      Ah, Commander Keen. One of the few platformer franchises that really rocked on the PC.

      Used to be quite a few of them, actually. Duke Nukem I and II (I especially like II), Hunter Hunted (an updated version of this on a console would be sweet), Biomenace, etc. They kind of died off; I guess those sorts of things are just done in Flash these days.

  • Talk about a game that made a difference! I actually went out and BOUGHT a brand new joystick to handle all of the different input requirements just so I could run and gun while turning the torso. That's what made me unstoppable! Man, I still miss that game.
  • Just because a game influenced YOU doesn't make it an industry game changer, or even particularly influential.
    Just becasue it's past playability has been overly exaggerated with time doesn't make it influential either.

  • Hey, guys, thanks for the comments and the support. One thing I should point out is that the vast majority of games you're saying that are not in there, are in fact in there, and then some (in fact, games and even systems never mentioned in any other book are in there). Utopia, Civilization, Pong, Pinball Construction Set, Tecmo Bowl, Nethack, etc. The content covers countless hundreds of games. Consider the 34 main games the launch pad to talk about all the other games that both came before and after in
  • Changed? Into what? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Chelloveck (14643) on Thursday June 04, 2009 @11:06AM (#28209937) Homepage

    As the preface points out, these are not necessarily best-selling games, innovative games, or novel games, but rather titles that, 'in their own special way changed videogames forever.'

    Just for the record... If a game is not immensely popular, not innovative, and not novel, how can it "change videogames forever"?

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