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1977 Retroview

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1977 in the Retroview Mirror

 

Okay, for a combination of lack of funds and lack of any sense of timing with eBay there were some home videogames that I missed in 1977. The only ones I vaguely care about are:

 

Stunt Cycle (a.k.a. Motocross)

Video Pinball (a.k.a. Pinball Breakaway)

Ultra PONG Doubles (a.k.a. PONG Sports IV)

 

EDIT: I completely forgot about Coleco Combat and Telstar Arcade. I still want to try those, too. END EDIT

 

I'm sure I'll be playing the "as good as or better" equivalent on the Atari soon enough, but that's not really the point of this exercise which is for me to appreciate the improvement of home videogaming slowly over time. So, there ya go. Really, my focus is on programmable systems, so I'm not mourning the miss too much. The other main point of the exercise is to have fun exploring.

 

So, to the fun. We have a Good year in videogaming in 1977, perhaps, the best yet.

 

Let's compare 1977 to 1976. First here's a picture of all home videogames for programmable systems available to excited videogamers in 1976.

 

blog-1571-1128622453_thumb.jpg

 

Next, here are all the home videogames for programmable system available to excited videogamers during 1977. All, except for RCA's Bingo, that is. (godammit)

 

blog-1571-1128622741_thumb.jpg

 

Here are the "Big Three" systems of the year 1977 and/or their offspring.

 

You'd think I'd have these things memorized by now, but with so many lists around it is easy to be lazy.

 

RCA Studio II

 

blog-1571-1128622809_thumb.jpg

icon_neutral.gif Bowling / icon_sad.gif Freeway / icon_neutral.gif Patterns / icon_neutral.gif Doodles / icon_sad.gif Math (These were the built-ins)

icon_smile.gif Space War (TV Arcade I)

icon_sad.gif Fun with Numbers (TV Arcade II)

icon_sad.gif Tennis / Squash (TV Arcade III)

icon_neutral.gif Baseball (TV Arcade IV)

icon_mad.gif Speedway / Tag (TV Arcade Series)

icon_mad.gif Gunfighter / Moonship Battle (TV Arcade Series)

icon_neutral.gif Blackjack (TV Casino Series)

icon_neutral.gif Biorhythm (TV Mystic Series)

icon_rolleyes.gif TV School House I icon_rolleyes.gif Math Fun (a.k.a. TV School House II)

 

Fairchild Video Entertainment System

blog-1571-1128622799_thumb.jpg

Left the system out of this picture because it already came out in 1976.

icon_neutral.gif #4 Spitfire

icon_neutral.gif #5 Space War

icon_rolleyes.gif #6 Math Quiz I

icon_rolleyes.gif #7 Math Quiz II

icon_smile.gif #8 Magic Number (NIM, Mindreader)

icon_smile.gif #9 Drag Race

icon_smile.gif #10 Maze (Cat & Mouse, Blindman's Bluff, Jailbreak, Trailblazer)

icon_neutral.gif #11 Backgammon / Acey-Ducey

icon_smile.gif #12 Baseball

icon_smile.gif #13 Robot War / Torpedo Alley

icon_smile.gif #14 Sonar Search

 

Atari Video Computer System

 

blog-1571-1128622788_thumb.jpg

 

No, it's not a six switch, so I lose points for accuracy there and the fact that some of the carts are picture labels. (They certainly were not available with those labels in 1977.) Let's not dwell on that, shall we? icon_wink.gif

 

icon_smile.gif!!! Combat (a.k.a. Tank Plus)

icon_smile.gif! Indy 500 (a.k.a. Race)

icon_smile.gif Video Olympics (a.k.a. Pong Sports) (Yay! Four Players!)

icon_smile.gif!! Surround (a.k.a. Chase)

icon_smile.gif! Air-Sea Battle (a.k.a. Target Fun)

icon_rolleyes.gif Basic Math (a.k.a. Fun With Numbers)

icon_rolleyes.gif Blackjack

icon_smile.gif Star Ship (a.k.a. Outer Space)

icon_smile.gif Street Racer (a.k.a. Speedway II) (Yay! Four Players!)

 

With the exception of Basic Math and Blackjack all of these games get smileys in my book. Even Star Ship which, by myself, wouldn't normally get more than a neutral, gets a smiley because the two-player modes were pretty fun (for a little while). "Just a smiley" no longer seems to cut it, now that we're entering a new age of videogames. I added "excitement marks" for some of my favorites where a smiley didn't convey how much more we enjoyed certain games over their other lesser smiley brethren. Certainly, when one end of the spectrum is the stuff on the RCA Studio II and the other end is on the Atari VCS, I need more of a range than angry, sad, neutral, happy and happy plus plus. I want to do it without going all numbery on you, though.

 

Okay, 1978 starts in the next entry unless I take a tangent between years as I sometimes do.

 

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Atari did pretty well, didn't they--especially considering that the early cartridges were all 2K (most carts on the Atari are 4K, and some much bigger than that). It's interesting how much stuff was packed into something like Combat or Street Racer. Even for today's programs, writing those games in 2K might be hard. Something like "Basic Math" is pretty trivial, though perhaps its real raison d'etre is to let kids pursuade their parents the 2600 is "educational".

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Something like "Basic Math" is pretty trivial, though perhaps its real raison d'etre is to let kids pursuade their parents the 2600 is "educational".

 

Y'know, you're probably right. It was a way of sneaking the VCS into the home as an educational tool. I wonder if there was ever a conversation with the programmers where they offered resistence and were told, "look, the launch line-up has to have something we can describe as 'the first of many educational titles'. Don't make it fun, just make it."

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Y'know, you're probably right. It was a way of sneaking the VCS into the home as an educational tool. I wonder if there was ever a conversation with the programmers where they offered resistence and were told, "look, the launch line-up has to have something we can describe as 'the first of many educational titles'. Don't make it fun, just make it."

 

It's probably worth noting that there were some popular toys around that time which provided similar drills to Basic Math (Texas Instruments "Little Professor", some space-robot thing, Digitor, etc.) though I don't know whether they came before or after the 2600. What's disappointing with the 2600 is that it's Basic Math cartridge fell short of what many of those toys could do. Some of them had cool numbers games, and I see no reason the 2600 couldn't have done likewise. I also know of no reason the 2600 had to have such blocky graphics for Basic Math; that game uses zero sprites.

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I'm not a big fan of the blog phenomenon, but I'm finding enjoyment in reading yours, thanks! :sad:

 

Can't wait for the class of '78 games :x

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Hi there!

 

Congrats on completing 77! :sad:

 

Looking forward to read your views about my 78 favourite: Sky Diver :x

 

Greetings,

Manuel

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Hi there!

 

Congrats on completing 77! :sad:

 

Looking forward to read your views about my 78 favourite: Sky Diver :x

 

Greetings,

Manuel

 

Thanks!

 

Sky Diver was 78? Y'know that would make sense. I guess I need to check my lists it was a while ago when I made them.

 

EDIT: Okay, the Sky Diver instructions say copyright 1979 but the Dare Diver cart says program contents copyright 1977. Argh! To be "safe" I think I'm going to keep it in 1979 but acknowledge that it might have been a '78 game. (I am looking forward to this one, too. My son and I like the way the legs kick after the splat. Heh.)

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I'm not a big fan of the blog phenomenon, but I'm finding enjoyment in reading yours, thanks! :sad:

 

Can't wait for the class of '78 games :)

 

Thanks! I'll always say that I'm doing this for my own "journey of exploration" but it's comments like yours that make it so much easier to keep doing it! :x

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BTW, going through all the 1977 carts, it seems there was exactly one which redefined sprite shapes mid-line: Blackjack.

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Hi there!

 

Sky Diver was 78? Y'know that would make sense. I guess I need to check my lists it was a while ago when I made them.

 

Hm... I got this info from http://www.mobygames.com but they certainly may be incorrect here :sad:

 

Greetings,

Manuel

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I'm curious with the RCA Studio II games, would they be more enjoyable if they used a more 'traditional' joystick rather than the numeric keypad ? Or are they just awful full stop ?

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I'm curious with the RCA Studio II games, would they be more enjoyable if they used a more 'traditional' joystick rather than the numeric keypad ? Or are they just awful full stop ?

 

I think it could help some of the games, but overall the gameplay itself is bad and it's not just a controller issue. Also, the graphics are black and white when the Channel F and the Atari 2600 have colors, so that's pretty bad. Oh, and the sound is also terrible.

 

Okay, 1978 starts in the next entry

 

I can't start 1978 yet. I still have to read about a few 1977 consoles (you mention some) and also the computers that were launched that year - such as the Apple II. It shouldn't take me long to reach 1978 as only a few games were included or released for these systems in 1977.

 

Talk to you soon! (Not that we've talked so far, heh.)

 

EDIT: I just remembered that I also have to go through the arcade videogames and pongs of 1978 before joining you in the console world. So, yeah, this can take a few days.

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The controller was definitely a fun-subtractor but 8 years in my rearview mirror and I still remember my feeling of indignation over the apparent lack of "quality" control in them. Of course... I've never programmed anything decent looking in my life. The only game I ever successfully completed looked very blocky (It was a knock-off of Tetris, so I guess I can be forgiven.) A joystick would have certainly made some of them less physically painful, but the raw aesthetic anguish (in this context, on a relative scale, the word "anguish" is appropriate but certainly not in real life.)

 

Nelio, my friend, I hope you are doing well and may I say again how helpful those prev-next links are for fixing these articles up? Thank you!! ^ ^

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Hey!

 

It's been a long while since I've posted here. I've been stuck in 1979's games for a while. In fact, I'm just one game away to move forward to the 80s! YAY! But there are still quite some posts you haven't replied to me yet! :(

 

This has been a crazy year for me. Things at work have been bad aaaaaaand... I got divorced! lol :|

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Hey!

 

It's been a long while since I've posted here. I've been stuck in 1979's games for a while. In fact, I'm just one game away to move forward to the 80s! YAY! But there are still quite some posts you haven't replied to me yet! :(

 

This has been a crazy year for me. Things at work have been bad aaaaaaand... I got divorced! lol :|

!!

 

Wow, I hope that 2014 is going better for you. And what I hear about divorce is that "happy marriages don't end in divorce" so it's a new beginning for you both and I hope it's going well!

 

Yes, I'm very behind in anything to do with this blog, though I've recently been forced to relocate my stuff. I'm hoping it will get me doing something again. ^ ^

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Hey there. :-)

 

Yes, 2014 has been gentle on me so far. Things at work are getting there aaaaaaand... the divorce was for the better. ;-)

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