At the risk of giving away my age, my first console was an Atari 2600, and I spent untold hours wasting time on the likes of Asteroids and Pitfall, to name only two games. This was when I was home and not in the local arcade wasting quarters (and more time) to play many of the same games in an environment more fitting than my parents’ living room.
The days of both the Atari 2600 and the arcade have faded into the mists of time, but those classic arcade games continue to live on in the form of emulators and even the Chrome web browser.
There are a number of versions of those old 8-bit classics, but many of them have been modernized, losing that nostalgic feel. If you have the Chrome web browser, and want to play the authentic games, with that same 1980’s look and feel, then there are a few out there if you search around.
If Asteroids is not the quintessential 80’s game, then it certainly ranks near the top. Things do not get much simpler than this – a tiny spaceship floating in the center of the screen while large rocks float past and towards it. Your mission is to shoot them, in an attempt to break them into increasingly smaller fragments until they eventually disintegrate.
Control your ship using the arrow keys – left and right rotate your craft 360 degrees, allowing you to take aim at any of the space rocks. The up arrow propels your ship to other parts of the screen, while the down arrow initiates hyperspace, causing your ship to disappear and then reappear on another random part of the screen. Use the spacebar to fire shots.
2. Missile Command
Your city is under attack, and its your job to protect it. Incoming enemy fire is raining down from the sky, and you must send up ballistic missiles in an effort to protect your home.
Use the arrow keys to fire from your various underground missile locations, while the spacebar can help to shield the city. It takes practice, as missile command can be deceitfully difficult to master – the enemy fire is rather small and your positions are limited and can not be moved around the way your spaceship in Asteroids can be.
Along with Asteroids, Centipede was perhaps the biggest time and quarter waster for me. You control a gun at the bottom of the screen and you are under attack from the centipedes snaking their way through the mushrooms and down the screen towards you.
This is one the easiest games to control – left and right arrows move you back and forth along the bottom of the screen, while the spacebar fires your shots. You’ll need to watch for spiders suddenly appearing on the screen and objects that drop rapidly towards you. It’s fast-paced action, and it only gets faster as you go.
The object here is simple. You are a frog on a mission to make it across a busy highway and a river without becoming roadkill or drowning – though how a frog drowns remains a mystery.
Choose your path carefully so as to avoid being flattened by the speeding traffic. To cross the river you will utilize a series of turtles and logs moving past you. Use your arrow keys to move and be decisive once you get to the river because if you float off the screen then you will be starting over.
5. Space Invaders
One of the biggest games of the 80’s, Space Invaders was perhaps the top reason many customers purchased the Atari console. It’s simple enough to understand – move back and forth beneath your shields while firing shots through the openings in an effort to prevent the invading crafts from landing.
This is the only one of these five games that is controlled via the mouse. Move back and forth and tap the left button to fire, while trying to avoid the missiles dropped by the invaders. Get bonus points if you hit the UFO that sometimes moves quickly across the top of the screen.
Atari is only one of the famous 80’s game makers that is releasing its classics again for a new generation. Activision recently issued a game pack for Android, as well. Of course, there also always emulators and ROM’s, but that is a post for another day.
All of the classic arcade games above stay true to the originals and, in the case of the three from Atari, actually come straight from the source. Now all you have to do is worry about how you will get any work done.