Rampart, Arcade

Atari Games1990 arcade game Rampart is a strange but compelling single-screen castle-building action game, with artillery-based shooting sections.

You start off in round one having to quickly build a 2D castle using bricks that you can rotate and place on the ground. The castle’s walls must be completely enclosed otherwise you lose the game. Round two sees you placing cannons inside the walls of your castle. And round three is the artillery shooting section where you must blast away at an invading armada at sea in seingle-player, or your opponent of playing with others. The enemy ships (or your opponent) fire back and damage your castle, so you must then repair your walls before the cycle repeats itself.

Up to three players can play Rampart simultaneously – against each other – and a full-on three-player game is something to behold (and rare). The original arcade cabinet featured three individual trackballs for fast analogue movement, so you had lots of elbows during three-player games! The cabinet – and screen on this arcade game – were pretty big though, so there was just about enough room for three players to play comfortably.

Playing Rampart now is still a blast – especially with friends. The analogue controls of the original arcade cabinet are not absolutely necessary (as they are in something like Arkanoid), Rampart can still be played okay with a digital controller because there’s also a joystick version available.

More: Rampart on Wikipedia

Rampart

Millipede, Arcade

Millipede is a direct sequel to Atari‘s Centipede and was first distributed into video game arcades in 1982.

It’s basically the same trackball-controlled gameplay as before, but with a few changes and enhancements.

You control a small elf (yes, an elf – called Archer) who can move anywhere within a small area at the bottom of the screen. Millipedes – long, multi-sectioned insects – move side to side and down the screen, turning when they hit a mushroom (or the side of the screen). What this basically means is that hitting mushrooms makes the millipede move down the screen quicker, so shooting the mushrooms and removing them from the millipede’s path helps keep it higher up the screen for longer. The ‘elf’ fires constantly if you hold the fire button down, but – crucially – he will not fire another bullet until the last one has gone. So shooting becomes tactical at certain times.

Differences to Centipede include: DDT bombs that can be shot once and will kill any insects caught in the blast radius; a bonus level where a swarm of bees replace the usual millipede; the choice of whether to start at an advance level before the game starts; and the introduction of a variety of new enemy bugs. The millipede itself also moves faster than the centipede in the previous game, which makes it harder to hit.

Millipede is a fast and enjoyable shooter from the early days of video game arcades. It’s also been converted to many home systems and is still popular today. Considering that it’s been 37 years since it’s release, that is quite remarkable.

More: Millipede on Wikipedia

Basketball, Arcade

This is the 1979, black and white arcade game, Basketball, as developed and manufactured by Atari Inc. It had two trackballs on the cabinet – one for each player.

Atari Basketball is a one-on-one game with ridiculously simple controls and objectives. For a single coin you got a three minute game, and either played against the computer or a second player. Adding more coins gave you more time, and the aim was simple: score baskets; score points; be the highest scorer.

Compared to video games now Basketball looks a bit ridiculous, but – believe me – when this was in arcades in 1979 it was pretty dazzling stuff. In fact, this was one of the earliest video games I remember playing, and I also remember hurting myself on the trackball by nipping the skin on my hand between the trackball and the cabinet! It hurt a lot, which is why I remember it so well after so long has passed (40 years ago!)…

Atari Basketball was also one of the first two-player games I remember playing – against both my brother and my dad (my dad used to play basketball so this game was attractive to him). It’s definitely fun two-player, for a short while at least.

While this is nothing like the basketball games of today, it was an early, important seed in the genre. It was the first basketball game to use the side-on, high-angled view of the court, which you see all the time now. It wasn’t uncommon to see Atari Basketball cabinets in video game arcades up and down the United Kingdom in the early 1980s and it almost certainly had an considerable influence on other video games that followed it. Even if it does look a bit lame by today’s standards… 🙂

More: Basketball on Wikipedia

Centipede, Arcade

Designed by Ed Logg and Dona Bailey, Centipede is a superfast fixed-screen shoot ’em up from the arcades of 1981.

You control a bullet-spitting head at the bottom and must shoot the Centipede as it trundles down the screen. Shooting any piece of the Centipede turns that segment into a mushroom. If the Centipede‘s head hits a mushroom it’ll turn around and move one place lower on the screen, so shooting the mushrooms can give you time and keep the Centipede higher up the screen.

When the Centipede reaches the bottom it can hit and kill you, so the game’s designers give you some leeway and allow you to move up and down within a small strip at the bottom of the screen. If you do manage to avoid the Centipede and it reaches the bottom, it will then stay in that portion of the screen until either you or it are dead.

Of course: completely eradicating the Centipede spawns a whole new level, a new, more difficult Centipede, and a colour change.

Centipede arcade cabinets were mostly fitted with a trackball, for fast, fluid, analogue control of the head. It was one of the first shooters to feature extremely fast gameplay and movement. A simple shooter from Atari, but pure and tough and influential.

More: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Centipede_(video_game)

Missile Command, Arcade

Atari‘s 1980 arcade hit, Missile Command, is a frenetic and chilling race to destroy nuclear warheads raining down on your cities.

Using a trackball controller (or a mouse, if you’re playing in an emulator), the player must move a cursor to the correct place, and fire defensive shots towards the oncoming missiles, although the timing has to be right, to enable you to catch them within the blast radius of an explosion.

You have six cities to defend, and when they are all destroyed it is game over.

Missile Command is an extremely challenging and tense game, made even more difficult by the fact that the incoming missiles speed up as the waves progress. It’s easy to lose control in all the mayhem…

Always relevant, while there are nuclear missiles (and madmen controlling them), throughout the world.

More: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Missile_Command

Marble Madness Arcade

Marble Madness, Arcade

Atari’s 1984 arcade hit was a very early proponent of isometric (meaning: “equal measure”) graphics, with a viewpoint that takes an overhead, three-quarter perspective of the game play area, and as a result was a huge influence on many games that followed it. It wasn’t the FIRST isometric game ever made, but it was certainly one of the first really popular ones. Marble Madness still stands up extremely well today, being very playable and beautifully constructed.

More: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marble_Madness