Star Ship (a.k.a. Outer Space)
As I've often said, one of the greatest entertainment advantages of videogames is that they can let you and your friends engage in pretend deadly combat in the comfort of your living room, without having to deal with "fresh air", "sunshine" or even "running around".
The second greatest entertainment advantage is letting you pretend to fly around in space doing . . . well, whatever. You are able to play games that take place in space without having to worry about vaccuum decompression! Who cares what your goals and objectives are? Space videogames eliminate the need to build a spaceship out of appliance boxes and wear them while running around your backyard yelling "pyu! pyu!". Not that I've ever done that and especially not recently!* (EDIT: Not recently as of the time of the original writing this. I decline to further comment.)
I like the idea of games taking place in space. I like the idea of games that put you in the seat of a space-vehicle which can shoot other space vehicles. Most of all, I love it when a space game hands me the morally unambiguous opportunities, such as, killing a space robot or murdering the population of an entire planet. (Um, I did say "morally unambiguous", I didn't say "non-evil". I'm just saying I appreciate it when my actions can be interpreted as clearly "non-evil" or clearly "non-good".)
I had Star Ship "back in the day". I didn't "get it", or at least I don't remember playing it long enough to "get it". What I remembered is a lot of blinking objects and some really big blocky graphics.
Sometimes, my memory does serve.
The sound is okay -- quite appropriate to what one might hear in an imaginary spacecraft. Beeps. Engines firing. Weapons firing. Collisions with other space objects. I like the sound effects just fine.
The controls are like an airplane stick. Pushing forward moves your viewpoint down and the opposite is true. Right moves you right and left is not a surprise. I find these controls hard to use. I move up when I mean to move down, etc. I admit that this is my problem, not the game's.
For that "foward moving"-feeling, you are given "stars" that move from the distance to closer up (by getting bigger) and then off to the side. In Star Ship, you fly forward through these stars while, regularly, waaay far away, a tiny object appears. It blinks around your screen moving closer (by getting larger and more distinct). You try to move so that it's in the center of your screen (your target area) and you shoot it OR you try to move so that it dissappears off the side of your screen. You can kill Space Robots, Space Fighters or Flying Saucers. Robots are worth the most. I don't know why. You get points for shooting and hitting, not for avoiding. Avoiders never get points. Okay, in some games they do, but not this one.
This gets old kinda fast, mostly because the harder versions of the game are, well, harder, and that doesn't mean "more fun". It just means "more frustrating". Maybe I just suck and need practice, or maybe this is just hard.
Warp Drive is another one-player game. You fly as fast as you can while steering around asteroids. Pressing the red button (a.k.a. only button) makes you go faster and you gain "parsecs" more quickly. Every collision with an asteroid loses you an earned "parsec". Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't a "parsec" used to measure cubic area in space? Doesn't it equal a cube roughly 3.2 light years on each edge? Why would they measure distance in parsecs and not something linear like lightyears? or megameters? Yes, I know what we play are called videogames and not documentaries. Still, this makes the second "parsec" mistake to come out of 1977. I don't even want to talk about the first one. (Oh, and by the way, Han *SO* shoots first!) EDIT: I stand corrected! http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parsec END EDIT
Lunar Lander was a dissappointment. Move your lander over to the thing that looks like a giant Honeycomb in space. Press your button to fire your landing rockets. Do it again. Do it as many times as you can in 2 minutes and 16 seconds. Avoid the stars, um, I mean, asteroids. Yawn.
Mostly, you'll remember the flashing objects and the blocky graphics.
There are two-player games, too. In fact, you could make them all two-player by just comparing your scores, but some are two players at the same time. Lunar Lander two-player lets the second player move the moon around while the other tries to land on it. This seems it would be about as fun as Tag on the RCA Studio II. The two-player version of Star Ship, gives one player the opportunity to control a "space module" that the first player is trying to shoot at. As the prey, player two does have one advantage, and that is the ability to turn invisible at very convenient times. I still have to coax my son into playing these games with me, so I'll update this entry when we do.
EDIT: Two-player update. My son and I played a few of the Space Module and Lunar Lander two-player games. He enjoyed them. He laughed out loud a few times during it too. Giving the Space Module the ability to become invisible was a good idea and makes the game fun for the 4 minutes and 32 seconds it takes to play. The addition of other targets and obstacles is also "okay". Again, I wasn't crazy about it, but my 7 year old had a pretty good time. I don't think he would survive it I ran him through the guantlet of each and every game on the cartridge, however.
Two-player Lunar Lander was, indeed, a version of Tag with a science theme. My son also thought the moon looked like an off-color Honeycomb. There were moments he laughed out loud during this game as well, especially when he was the lander and I was the Honeycomb. The thing that makes this game "okay" is the wrap around screen -- makes you have to think about which side of the screen is the moon on? Will it be quicker to go straight to it or faster to cut around the screen" Anyway, that's done. END EDIT
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