Thursday, February 15, 2007

The Games 100: 1980 Edition, Part 2

Ok, on to part 2, as we look back at the top 100 games as selected by Games Magazine back in 1980.

The top of the page features two classics, Diplomacy, and Dungeons and Dragons. Not much needs to be said about these two. While, like most games on this list, I've never player Diplomacy, but it's pretty much the grand-daddy of negotiation games. What's frightening is that it's created in 1959. D&D pretty much invented the whole role playing concept (if not invented it, it exploded RPG's into public awareness).

We've got 3 electronic games, Electronic Space Invaders, Electronic Boxing, and Electronic Detective. And, strangely enough, all by three different companies; while I would've thought that someone would've tried to capture the "electronic" branding, just not EVERYONE.

I knew someone who had Detective and played it, which I remember not quite fondly, but it wasn't terrible either.

I might remember a friend having Space Invaders, which I suppose if I was more sure of myself, I would remember it as being a bad, LED handheld version of the real-life classic.

I knew noone with Boxing.

There's two Avalon Hill games here, both of which I have (through my parent's collection) and remember playing fondly.

Facts in Five probably is the first REAL good general trivia game. Even though, I think, it's pretty much based on a pen and paper game.

Feudal is sort of a halfway point between wargames and chess, with REALLY NEAT molded plastic figures (well, at least neat to a 10 year old at that time; they are still cool however), and enough colors for 6 players. The peices move like chess peices, but there's terrain to deal with, and each player can setup his original starting positions anyway he wants.

Finally, there's the completely unknown to me Epaminondas, which is as hard to type as it is pronounced. Boardgamegeek seems to rate it highly, for those few who are aware of it.

The next page is a little weak. I guess I can start on the electronic games, since I think that these are the remarkable games presented on this page.

Every boy in grade school in the late 70s/early 80s better have had Mattel Handheld Football, or he was just a wimp. Case closed.

Game of the Generals was a fairly sleek Statego variant, where you let a "computer" decide the results of a battle for you, without showing your peice to your opponent. So, unlike Stratego, you never really knew what the exact strength of your opponent's piece was. I had the version simply titled The Generals, but adding The Game Of to the front does make it sound cooler.

Anyway, it worked by placing pieces battling each other into a little slot off to the side; various forms in the bottom of the pieces would trigger various switches, which allowed the game to "see" what the pieces were. Simple LEDs bounced back and forth between the pieces, with a nice little electronic ditty/death dirge. Finally, the light would stop on the victorious piece.

Gunfighter, I assume, was a badly done LED version of the Gunfighter videogame that every system of that era had to have. Well, the description says "flourescent" display, which is most likly correct. But I bet is still looked crappy. Actually, I think that most of the handheld games on this time period used some sort of flourescent technology to allow for shapes that were better defined than "blips." But as a kid, you always thought of them as LEDs anyway.

Frisbee and Fore Par Table Golf both don't have entries into the canonical BBG database. Frisbee (and let's not forget Master Frisbee), I can understand. However, Table Golf seems like a relative to Crokinole, so that's kind of surprising that it isn't in there.

The ever-popular Grass ends the page just as the end of the happy drug-induced era of the 70's was ending, and crippling Crack drug-induced 80's were beginning. So that game seems just so homey and silly, compared to the downfall of civilization that spurred the "War on Drugs" in the Reagan years.

The ancient game of Go is nicely recognized. But it's inclusion seems odd, in that it leaves me wondering why you would add a generic game to the list, while leaving out others, such as plain old Chess, Checkers, Mah Jong, poker, rummy, etc.

At the top, there's Football Strategy by Avalon Hill (boy, they are in this list a lot), which I know little about, and 4000 A.D., which I know even less about, but those little ship holders look darn cool.

This next page has only one electronic handheld game, that being Head-To-Head Hockey. While unique in letting two players play truly head-to-head, nothing seemed to eclipse the Mattel juggernaut of hand held sports games.

Krypto, Marrakesh, Kangaroo, and Isolation all seem pretty forgettable, and they must be, since I don't remember them at all, or have ever heard of them.

I remember. However, I never played it. I assume I've heard of it basically by remembering the name in the Avalon Hill catalogs that cam packaaged with every AH game purchased.

Junta I am aware of only because I saw that someone somewhere is doing a re-print.

Of course, Labyrinth and Master Mind are both very well-known, and I would consider both of them to be classics. Not that I would have any inclination to play them again (I was always terrible at getting that little ball to move where I wanted to), but I think they both deserve some kind of praise for their success as mass merchandised products.

I believe that Master Mind was based on an old pen and paper game. Well, you can't invent the wheel every time, I guess.

And Labyrinth probably also strikes some geeks as a toy, rather than a game. LOOSEN UP PEOPLE!

Hmm, maybe I am talking myself out of rating these games so highly after all...

Finally, Leverage is a game that I think comes pretty close to being a classic. It had a cool gimmick (moving pieces around that would tilt the board), and was pretty fun to play as a 10 year old. But unlike the little train who thought he could, it just couldn't make it over the mountain.

All in all, looking back with the knowledge that we have now, this page is pretty weak.

Part 3 coming soon!

Labels: , ,


Post a Comment

<< Home