March 31, 2017

Arcade - Time Pilot

A strong contender for my favorite arcade game of all time is the unassuming Time Pilot. We used to have an arcade in Boise called Pojo's Nickel Palace. They had a swath of older arcade games which you could play for a nickel (or two). They had newer, more expensive games also. For ten dollars worth of nickels, you could play Time Pilot for a long time.

In the game, you command a fighter jet, equipped with a time travel device, and guns. The game is a multi directional scrolling shooter, where your jet is positioned in the middle of the screen, and you control the direction of movement with a joystick. The jet is always moving, like an airplane does to stay in the air. There is one button, for shooting your guns. And the game requires shooting continuously.

You must fight your way through different eras of aerial combat. From biplanes, to fighters, to helicopters to jet fighters, to UFOs. As you progress in each level, you eventually destroy enough of the little planes to summon the boss airplane. After destroying the boss, your time travel equipped jet is warped to the next era. After the UFO's you warp back to WWI and the biplanes, but with harder combat. Occasionally, you can pick up a parachuting ally for bonus points. As well, squadrons will appear, and destroying the whole will grant bonus points.

A classic button mashing shoot-em-up favorite

March 29, 2017

Biblical Theology & Reading

I've been quite busy reading for my courses this spring. For one course, Understanding Biblical Theology, I've been reading several books about Biblical Theology. Among the many books are the New Dictionary of Biblical Theology, Christ-Centered Biblical Theology by Graeme Goldsworthy, Biblical Theology in the Life of the Church by Michael Lawrence, Understanding Biblical Theology: A Comparison of Theory and Practice by Edward W. Klink and Darian R. Lockett, and God’s Kingdom through God’s Covenants, by Peter J. Gentry and Stephen J. Wellum. All of the books for this course I went Kindle/digital with, except the dictionary.

For the other seminar course that I am in, Biblical Theology of Worship and Ministry, there are many books as well. Engaging With God: A Biblical Theology Of Worship, and Encountering God Together: Leading Worship Services That Honor God, Minister to His People, and Build His Church by David G. Peterson, Christ-Centered Worship by Bryan Chapell, True Worshipers: Seeking What Matters to God by Bob Kauflin, Recalling the Hope of Glory by Allen Ross, and For the Glory of God: Recovering a Biblical Theology of Worship by Daniel I. Block. For the seminar course, I went physical paper, as we are required to bring our books with us to the class (and it's nice to have paper to share a reference).

March 27, 2017

Apple ][ - Sabotage

One of the earliest games for the Apple ][ that I remember playing by myself was the game of Sabotage. After a fair bit of training, I loaded the 5 1/4" floppies into the machine and turned it on, listing to the clunking of the drive heads in the floppy disk drives, as they read data.

The game of sabotage was relatively simple, you operated a canon. You could pivot the canon left or right, and shoot. The game used either the keyboard, or the analog input from the apple paddle controller. The less rounds you shot, the higher your score. The goal was to defend your base from incoming paratroopers. You could shoot the paratroopers, helicopters, jets, and even bombs. But when four paratroopers landed on a side of your canon, they would jump up and demolish your canon.

The game did have an alternate play mode, where pivoting the canon would also cause the bullets to steer. This was helpful as shooting the parachutes off of incoming paratroopers, plummeting them to the ground, sometimes smashing troops below.

Shooting off the parachutes of the incoming paratroopers may be some type of virtual war crime. .

March 26, 2017

Arcade - Moon Patrol

On of my all time favorite games is the arcade masterpiece Moon Patrol. Moon Patrol brought together good music, interactive side scrolling parallax game-play with multiple areas of focus, and driving a moon buggy. A six wheeled moon buggy with loaded guns!

There were two main areas of concern in the game. One area was the terrain, which featured craters, rocks, mines, boulders, and speeding alien ships. The other area was the skies, which featured an array of different bomb laden spacecraft. The spacecraft came in stages, with the grape looking craft launching bombs that created craters.

The player controlled the speed of the moon buggy with a two direction left/right joystick. You also could make the buggy jump, and fire its guns (which fired unlimited shots both forward and upward). The player progressed through checkpoints, from A towards the goal of the letter Z. After the first course (blue), the player then progressed to the challenge course (pink), with a repainted red moon buggy. Always a fun game to be had driving the moon buggy through alien landscapes!
Moon Patrol had an awesome soundtrack for the golden age of arcade games.

March 24, 2017

Arcade - Joust

One of the best two player games of the golden age of the arcade was the game of Joust. Joust put the player (or players) against wave after wave of flying knights armed with lances. The players rode an flying ostrich or a flying emu. The computer players rode upon buzzards. The players could attempt to work cooperatively, but had to take care not to dismount the other player; which then may escalate into a discordant spiral of retribution between the players.

The game had relatively simple input controls. There was a joystick that allowed for left and right movement, and a button that would flap your mount's wings. It took great practice to be able to hover your mount effectively.

If you wren't fast enough in dispatching the computer enemies, the screen would be invaded by speedy and near invincible pterodactyls. There was the lava troll, that would attempt to reach up and snag you into the lava.  You could attempt to break free, by feverishly pound the flap button. As well, after every few levels, a platform would disappear until you were left with a laissez-faire aerial melee. The enemies got faster and more adept as the levels went on. This game kept its players on their toes.

Some high scores from long ago and far away...

March 21, 2017

Apple ][ - Castle Wolfenstein & Beyond Castle Wolfenstein

In the History of video games, Castle Wolfenstein and Beyond Castle Wolfenstein, marked the first time I remember of a computer making somewhat analog voices. We used to play the games on the Apple II, and the shouting of the guards over those apple speakers was something else. In the first game, Castle Wolfenstein, you were to escape from the Nazi prison, Castle Wolfenstein. In the second game, Beyond Castle Wolfenstein, you were to infiltrate the Fuehrer's underground bunker, find a hidden briefcase bomb, find the secret conference room, set the timer, and escape! You have to use security passes, bribes, gunfights, elevators, alarm tool-kits, and your memory (to remember your way out). All of which make for an exciting game on the first personal computer, the Apple ][!

Ihre papiere, bitte!

March 20, 2017

Ding! 40!

It happened!  I have chalked up 40 trips around the Sun.
It's been interesting so far!
It will be exciting to see what lies ahead.

March 19, 2017

Atari 2600 - Missile Command

Early arcade games had different genres of input methods (such as: buttons, paddles, steering wheels, joysticks, pedals). The arcade version of Missile Command used a giant trackball to move around your cursor, which would direct and range the flak cannon anti-ballistic missiles. In the game Missile Command, the player commanded a battery of defensive missiles. The player directed the launch of a limited set of defensive missiles against incoming ballistic missiles (raining down from above), hoping to save their six protected cities. The game was intense, as the pace quickened, defenses were limited, and the number of incoming missiles increased. On occasion, the would be cruise missiles, which may sidestep your defensive missile's explosion, and could only be stopped by a direct hit. The Atari 2600 version didn't have the giant trackball, but it did have a frenetic pace!

Launch defensive missiles!

March 17, 2017

Apple ][ - Your Tour of the Apple IIGS

One of the first mouse based games that I got to experience was the very appropriately titled, Your Tour of the Apple IIGS. This introduction/game was designed to usher the user into the era of graphical based computing. The tour was essentially and introduction to using the computer mouse. The early Apple mice had a single button (until eons later, when Apple went with non-mechanical touch pads, and eventually decided multi-touch was the future).
Your Tour of the Apple IIGS was not much of a game, but it was an experience using the mouse to interact with the computer. Analog input had come a long was from the paddles of the Apple ][, and the Apple ADB mouse was a well designed peripheral.

March 15, 2017

Atari 2600 - Bezerk

Battle against the robots in some distant future! Bezerk, for the Atari 2600 was a bit of a nightmare scenario, where the player is stuck in a maze battling robots, and being chased by an invincible bouncing smiley face robot.
There were different versions of the robots. There were apparently different versions of the game, with different versions of the robots. The game version we had only had four types of robots:

  1. Malicious
  2. Malicious and armed with some type of gun
  3. Malicious and armed with two guns 
  4. Bouncing and invincible 
Oh, and lest I forget, the walls of the maze were electrified. Our hero could only shoot one bullet at a time, so if he missed, he might not have another chance. Yikes!

One of the more memorable aspects of Bezerk was the stark and intense sounds effects of the game.