Cornfield Meet

Things collide here.

Shall We Play A Game?

IGN’s posting a list of the Top 100 Games of All Time, and even though so far most of the entries are outside of my own video-gaming era, I have to say I was pretty psyched to see Archon right off the bat. Archon goes back to the time when we had our Commodore 64 hooked up to our old TV in the basement and play while on the worn-out couch that used to be in the living room. Long after our Atari (it was just an "Atari" even then, screw that after-the-fact "2600" designator) was shuffled off to the side, we still used its joysticks and wore them out playing games on the Commodore, and Archon was a big contributor.

The great thing about Archon was the way it combined some of the strategy of chess with video gaming skills: Yeah, your pawns were slow and weak and armed only with swords or clubs, but now and then it was still possible to take down even that hyper-speedy unicorn that shot frickin’ laser beams from its horn. (Worst battle: Phoenix vs. Shapeshifter. Yeah, two birds flying around trying to get close enough to burst into impervious flames and burn each other. It was either a matter of tremendous timing and tricking the other guy into lighting up, then hitting him in the dead time after he dimmed, or a long battle that ended with a "screw this, you can have this one.")

The only other games on the IGN list that I identify with so far are the Atari version of Star Wars – at No. 88, although they use a home video system screenshot instead of the vector graphics arcade version – and Space Invaders at No. 81, which I remember being the first video game to grace our local Noble Roman’s pizza place in Canton.

The cool thing about Noble Roman’s when I was a kid was that the place had a little viewing area with a window into the kitchen where you could watch them make the pizzas. My friend Trevor and I were there once with a little deck of cards, playing "War" on the ledge by the window, and one of the cooks picked up some pepperoni slices and fanned them out in his hands like playing cards. We thought this was funny and mimed the question, "Can we come in there?" And he came around the counter and gave us a tour of the kitchen, which completely blew us away. Come on: We were little kids, and seeing the pizza ovens and the freezers and everything was awfully damn neat.

And then Noble Roman’s put in Space Invaders and I don’t think I ever watched them make another pizza again, unless I’d already run through my quarters for the night. After Space Invaders came Asteroids, then Asteroids Deluxe (Noble Roman’s only ever had one game at a time), and then Pac-Man, and then some others, I’m sure, but the last one I remember was the original Mario Bros. game. I remember how great it was that instead of having to take turns, I could team up and play right alongside Dad or my little brothers.

Noble Roman’s was converted into a dentist’s office years ago, but the company says they’re trying to get back into Northeast Ohio with their new franchises. I’m guessing it won’t be quite like I remember.

November 20, 2007 Posted by | 1980s, Current Affairs, eighties, Games, geek, video games, Web/Tech | Leave a comment


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