Film & TV of the 80sRemember Crocodile Dundee, 'shrimps on the bbq' beer ads, Ramsay St? We're all about celebrating film and tv of the 80s.
Robotron: 2084 is one of the most intense and revered games of all time. Released in 1982 by Williams Electronics, it was designed by Eugene Jarvis and Larry DeMar, both also of Defender fame. It was a huge hit in the first wave of arcade games, but has also gone on to develop somewhat of a cult following.
The game starts each level with the humanoid player in the middle of the screen surrounded by robotic enemies. The enemies shoot and swarm towards the player, who must dodge and destroy them all before progressing to the next and progressively more difficult levels. By surrounding the player in an enclosed space, Robotron moves away from the one-directional focus of shooters such as Space Invaders and Galaga. The intensity and speed of the struggle is made all the more powerful by the simple and intuitive controls: 2 joysticks, one for movement, the other for firing in an independent direction.
Added into the mix, is a ‘last human family’ that must be rescued. They provide an important conflicting goal that balances aggression with preservation. The screen is filled with so much danger that the player usually dies quite quickly. This is countered by the relatively generous issue of new lives every 25,000 points, but these points can really only be earned by saving most of the humans. Skillful play involves continuous ‘death management’, where one has to constantly finesse risk and reward every fraction of a second.
Robotron: 2084 has been described as a ‘twitch’ game. Each wave is over in a flash and the speed of the game seems to put play slightly ahead of conscious perception, as though the game takes place in the muscles. Long sessions leave players in a sweaty mess. The bright cycling colours and harsh electronic sounds (reminiscent of Defender) leave a mental ‘burn in’ that is hard to forget.
The world of competitive Robotron gaming continues today, with two variations currently recognised by Twin Galaxies. The first is Marathon settings, which are the default settings of the machine. This is because the most skillful gamers are able to play indefinitely; the only limitation being the need for sleep. This world record is over 300 million, set in 1983. There is a controversy however over this score as it ends in the digits ’80′ which is impossible in Robotron. Furthermore, the game would have to have taken about 67 hours, which is considerably longer than any other marathon gaming session on any video game. The matter is part of an ongoing investigation at Twin Galaxies.
The other variation is Tournament settings. This removes the free lives that normally come every 25K. For a long time Abdner Ashman, also the Ms Pacman world champion held the title but it was recently broken by John McAllister with 1.2 million.
Interestingly, a problem has started to emerge for contemporary players playing marathon sessions on early 80′s games. Twin Galaxies along with a seeming consensus of players considers games played on the original arcade machine to be in a separate category to those played on the emulator MAME using the original ROMs. The problem is that the aging electronics frequently cannot cope with marathon play and the machine ‘resets’ mid-game, ending the chance of a high score. Thus a number of classic games have high scores set in the early 80′s with no realistic chance of being beaten today. This was detailed in the disheartening documentary “High Score” about a Missile Command player suffering the same problem.
This problem could perhaps be overcome by manufacturing new original arcade machines with the same electronics. However this would be prohibitively expensive, and there would always be the possibility that slight differences in the circuitry would create minute timing changes that would change the difficulty imperceptibly, but that would have an effect over the length of an elite gamer’s game. Few would consider such records official and in the same category. This is probably the same reason why the MAME emulator versions, despite being logically identical to the arcade machines, are generally considered ‘different’, and their high score records not classed together.
Perhaps, even within the narrow confines of digital gaming, the conditions of the early 80′s will never be reproduced closely enough to allow us to make fair comparisons of high scores. Then Heraclitus’ maxim that we cannot step in the same river twice will continue to hold.
The evolution of gaming in the 80s is particularly fascinating, not only for the brisk pace at which new technology was developed but the fact that it all seemed to happen simultaneously. Dozens of enterprises and studios rose and fell over the years, and certain platforms and types of games came along only to quickly go out of fashion but by the end of the decade you could still play in the arcade, in the lounge-room, on the computer, and while in transit or on the toilet with your phenomenal new handheld device.
In the interest of complete historical accuracy, handheld gaming officially began around 1977 when Mattel introduced Auto Race, a game in only the most generous sense of the word, and virtually impossible to find in working condition today. Essentially you could control a bright blip on a tiny screen that was meant to represent a race car, and your goal was to race against the computer in the shortest time possible. To win, your time had to run under 99 seconds, as this was as high as the two-digit game timer display could go.
A few years later board-game giant Milton Bradley released the very first handheld console with interchangeable cartridges – the Microvision. Jay Smith’s design was a massive leap forward from Auto Race, and despite the fact that it made an appearance in ‘Friday the 13th Part 2′, technical issues and lack of software support meant that it was taken off the market only a short time later in 1981. The Microvision design effectively looked like a miniature arcade machine, and featured a mini joystick at the base of the device for game control.
In 1980, Nintendo began releasing its ‘Game & Watch’ series of handhelds. Created by designer Gunpei Yokoi, each device featured a single game on a dual LCD screen and a clock with an alarm – hence the name “game” and “watch”. Yokoi’s design featured a cross shaped directional pad (D-pad) for controlling characters within the game, a feature that would become standard on gaming consoles across the industry. Despite the limitations of the device, the series proved to be immensely popular, and Yokoi eventually began work on a followup device that, like Milton Bradley’s Microvision, would feature interchange game cartridges. After years of development, that device was released in 1989 under the name Game Boy.
The success of the Game Boy was unprecedented. In the U.S it sold a million units within weeks of its release, and to date over 118 million Game Boy products have been sold worldwide. Initially bundled with the puzzle game Tetris, hundreds of titles were released for the Game Boy, including many of the classic Nintendo franchises like Super Mario Brothers.
The design featured many similarities to Yokoi’s Game & Watch, including the D-pad, rounded B & A action buttons (similar to the G&W jump/start button) and select and start buttons, which were essentially elongated versions of the G&W Game A, B and time buttons. Overall, the Game Boy’s design was typically stylish and minimal, while also being slightly bubbly and cartoon-like. The design also featured a trademark rounded right corner, which housed a stereo speaker. Like all their consoles, Nintendo’s Game Boy was a singular and unique design, unlike anything else on the market.
While the Game Boy was ultimately the most successful of the handhelds in the 80s it wasn’t the only device on the market, in fact many of its competitors boasted superior technology and features, not the least of which was a colour screen. Almost ten years later, a colour Game Boy would be released, but the original device was given a simple square screen with dot matrix graphics in four glorious shades of grey.
The Atari Lynx, an early Game Boy competitor, had a large, backlit colour screen, and a wide body with similar controls, however sales were hampered by poor battery life, an expensive price tag and a lack of compelling titles. The Sega Game Gear improved on all those fronts, however it simply couldn’t compete with the overwhelming hype surrounding the Game Boy. Sega infamously tried to battle this with an anti-Game Boy ad campaign but despite decent sales, they simply couldn’t overcome the console giant.
Sega – Anti Gameboy Ad
The Game Boy series also saw numerous ad-on hardware and upgrades which kept users engaged with the device, including a link cable for multi-player sessions, a printer and a camera. The success of handheld consoles and the demand for mobile entertainment continues today. The Game Boy has since evolved into the Nintendo DS, and new handhelds like the PSP and the iPhone have again revolutionized the industry.
Even in their most primitive text-only form, PC-based games have had a richness and quality in their storytelling that is almost unmatched by console and arcade games, at least during the 80s.
Text-based adventure games had begun to appear in the early 70s, pioneered by programmers like William Crowther who co-created ‘Colossal Cave Adventure’, regarded by many as the very first text-adventure. As there was no HDMI or progressive scan on early PC computers, the visuals of these games had to be comprised entirely of either green or white text on a black screen. Of course writers and developers refused to allow technological limitations hinder the development of games that were not only entertaining but also thoughtful.
Progenitor games such as ‘Zork’ (which went on to spawn numerous sequels and spin-offs) allowed users to explore relatively detailed and complex worlds, through text and command input. These early text games could largely be considered as early interactive novels and featured the ability for users to journey through the story using basic commands such as ‘open mailbox’ or ‘take lamp’ as well as directional short-hand such as N, S, E, W for compass points or U and D to move up or down.
In 1980, a software studio called Sierra On-Line appeared in the emerging PC gaming world. Sierra was owned and operated by husband and wife team Ken and Roberta Williams and the pair had been hard at work on a text-adventure that also featured graphics. After three months of solid development, ‘Mystery House’ was launched. Despite the fact that the graphics were static, limited to only a few colours and were essentially little more than crude line art, the game was a massive success. It sold over 15,000 copies and is now considered to be one of the most important and influential games of all time.
At this time, PC gaming was almost the exclusive domain of hobbyists and hardcore geeks, due largely to the cost of early microcomputers. Despite this, the success of games like ‘Mystery House’ propelled writers and developers to produce new games and the computer companies began to develop cheaper, better computers, which were targeted at consumers. By the middle of the decade home computer technology had started to hit significant benchmarks. Systems such as the Apple II had helped evolve PC games from monochrome text adventure to immersive 16-colour psuedo-3D environments.
In the summer of 1984, Sierra On-Line released ‘Kings Quest’, which became an immediate blockbuster hit and another significant benchmark in the development of PC gaming. ‘Kings Quest’ saw over 2.5 million copies sold and spawned eight successful sequels. The complexity of both gameplay and graphics as well as the richness of the storytelling were again unprecedented in computer gaming. Like ‘Mystery House’, ‘Kings Quest’ was written by Roberta Williams.
With these new advances in game engines and animations, text adventures had evolved into simply ‘adventure games’ and the mid to late 80s were a golden era for this type of game. A plethora of new titles and development teams appeared after ‘Kings Quest’, including George Lucas’ new PC division LucasArts, who began releasing cutting-edge film tie-ins as well as introducing all new characters and concepts.
New computer systems began appearing which offered users the ability to not only play games, but to publish documents, create computer graphics and organize their day to day lives. Atari, Radio Shack, Tandy, Commodore, IBM and Apple all entered or returned to the market with revolutionary consumer machines.
Many of these early personal computers possessed features that the consoles and arcade machines of the time lacked including more memory, better graphics and more sophisticated sound capabilities. By the end of the decade developers were able to build their games in full 3D environments such as those used in ‘Wolfenstein 3D’.
Additionally, PCs used floppy discs and cassette tapes instead of cartridges, which meant that gamers now had a writable storage medium which enabled them to save their gaming progress. Of course this also meant that games and programs were now able to be pirated and distributed.
Of all the PC systems that defined computer gaming in the 80s, the most prized and significant is perhaps the Commodore 64. The C64 emerged as something of a computer/console hybrid. While it was a more than capable spreadsheet and word-processing machine (as well as animation and music tool) the C64 was primarily used for gaming and numerous popular titles were developed exclusively for it.
The genius of the C64 was that it was stocked in retail stores rather than boutique electronic stores like most early PCs. It could also be simply plugged into an existing television, which made it extremely desirable for families without any computer knowledge. As a result of the successful marketing, competitive pricing and the quality of the machinery, the C64 went on to sell over 30 million units, making it the best-selling single PC model of all time. The C64 effectively revolutionized the industry and brought computer technology into the home.
The migration of gaming from the arcade to the lounge-room caused a huge sensation during the early 80s, although it wasn’t until the middle of the decade that the movement stabilised and began to grow into the billion dollar industry we know it as today. Leading the charge at the start of the decade was Atari, and their flagship console the 2600, which boasted game titles and industrial design superior to its dozens of imitators and competitors. The design that most people would be familiar with is the third generation of the console, released in 1980.
The casing was fairly minimalist, predominately black with wood-grain paneling and featured four switches and a cartridge port (the first to do so). In these pre-control pad years, the 2600 came with a joystick that featured one big bright orange button that was able to withstand furious thumb thrashings. While the console received numerous design refreshments and system upgrades during its time, this classic casing remains one of the most iconic from the decade.
The Atari logo was a carry-over from the 70s and is still one of the most instantly recognizable in the industry. It is made up of one straight line running down the middle and a curved line on either side, both joining the centre line at the end. The Atari font, which was also used on the majority of their game packaging is a bespoke design, largely influenced by the Bauhaus family of typefaces. It has that quasi-futuristic feel of science fiction books and films of the period. Packaging for the 2600 carries many of the hallmarks of the decade including the use of a rainbow motif. In the case of the 2600, it’s a fairly restrained single block line beneath the logo, however if you look at any console packing or advertising from the decade, you’re bound to see rainbow colours used (and overused) in some way.
Atari rose to prominence with their console adaptation of Pac Man, still one of the most recognisable and successful game franchises of all time. Pac Man became a cultural phenomenon and helped the Atari 2600 reign at the top of the console heap. While the Atari 2600 dominated the first half of the decade, it met its demise during the video games crash of 1983, a commercial disaster that Atari played a huge hand in. Ultimately the combination of rushed, poorly designed titles, such as the colossal flop E.T – an almost unplayable adaptation of the film – and a market which had become flooded by consoles, lead to the industry effectively coming to a screeching halt.
It wasn’t until two years later when Japanese company Nintendo released their breakthrough device, the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES), that the industry began to roar back to life. This next generation of consoles were remarkably different beasts to those that came earlier in the decade, making those forerunners look like relics in just a few short years. Designed by Masayuki Uemura, the NES featured a much more futuristic look than the 2600, with the black and woodgrain superseded by grey, white and red, and the cumbersome, inflexible joystick replaced with a more logical flat control pad.
It was a little Italian plumber named Mario who helped Nintendo cement their place in video game history, and to continue as one of the world’s most successful console and game development studios to this day. Following his modest but unforgettable first appearance in the original Donkey Kong arcade game, the character and his universe was expanded into the game Super Mario Brothers, the first of many breakthrough hits for Nintendo. The graphic and sound design of this and other new titles blew away anything that came before. While still primitive by today’s standards, they featured sprites and animation that actually began to resemble real life objects and interactions. These developments combined with advances in plot and characterisation were ultimately more immersive and enjoyable for the gamer.
Numerous studios and developers soon jumped on this new wave, with even Atari introducing new consoles in an attempt to climb back to the top. Their 7800 model, the result of thousands of focus groups and market studies, featured much sleeker design, expansion ports, and the ability to play 2600 games. Newcomers Sega would release no less than three major consoles before the end of the decade, the Master System, it’s successor the Mega Drive and finally the Genesis. While all three units were technically superior to the NES, boasting better graphics and sound quality, they simply didn’t have the blockbuster titles of Nintendo. Sega also seemed to lack the design finesse and clear vision of Nintendo, and both systems looked considerably more dated than the NES.
Both Sega and Nintendo launched highly desirable accessory upgrades over the years, including steering wheels, 3-D glasses and laser guns. Most famous (or infamous) of these was the disastrous Power Glove, a cumbersome, imprecise and hard to use controller that was literally worn as a glove. Despite the poor critical and commercial reception of the glove, the technology behind it paved the way for the revolutionary Nintendo Wii.
While the start of the decade was all about funky colour and cartoony design, the second half seemed more concerned with presenting a vision of the future. Nintendo had a particularly active and aggressive campaign, which featured bolts of lightning, exploding televisions, eerie mists and the message that you the gamer could harness the power of new technology. It may seem incredibly cheesy now, but ultimately it must have worked, as the company continued to dominate the Japanese, American and world markets well into the early 90s.
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The history of the arcade machine spans nearly 100 years, with its roots in coin-operated, turn-of-the-century amusement park midway games. By the 1950s pinball machines (sans electronics) had well and truly become a phenomenon, setting the foundations for both the burgeoning youth gaming culture and the billion-dollar games industry. While the revolution had been slowly gathering momentum, it become a juggernaut by the end of the 70s following the introduction of the computer chip and Nolan Bushnell’s revolutionary cabinet design.
Attempts to harness the seemingly limitless potential of computerized gaming began in earnest in the early 80’s. Leading the charge was PacMan, not only a massively popular game but a worldwide cultural phenomenon spawning every conceivable form of spin-off merchandise. While the graphics and gameplay had evolved only slightly from 70’s classics like Pong and Space Invaders, the real jump in evolution was character design. In many ways PacMan set the template for the game franchise.
Following PacMan was another gaming legend, Donkey Kong. Again only a small step forward in both graphics and gameplay, but a leap ahead in storytelling and character development. Donkey Kong also featured the first appearance of Mario, then known simply as Jumpman. From these humble beginnings, Mario went on to become a fully realized character, arguably the most endearing in gaming history, with his own universe and cast of supporting characters. Mario continues to to sell dozens of his own titles, and has appeared in an endless stream of merchandise tie-ins, including a feature film.
The enormous success of these early arcade pioneers saw massive developments in all areas of game design. The limitations of the early games, which largely consisted of pushing a joystick around to move a pixelated character around the screen and out of danger, soon became far more sophisticated and immersive. Games such as Pole Position, Street Fighter & Dragon’s Lair all contributed to revolutionizing every aspect of gameplay. The minimalist, two button machines of the 70’s with their Bauhaus inspired typography and monochrome interface swiftly became antiques, replaced by bold and brash game franchises, with rich pixelated worlds to explore and joysticks, guns and steering wheels with which to explore them.
Arcade cabinets also received numerous design revisions. Hoods became recessed, screens became larger, and more sophisticated controls were added. By the end of the decade there were entirely new game machines including ride on bikes as well as ski and boxing emulators. More attention was also given to graphic design and illustration, with cabinets literally covered in game franchise art. While these advancements in design and technology were fully embraced by gamers, a great part of the arcade experience was standing before one of the more traditional machines with a crowd of people behind you cheering you on.
The culture of arcade gaming exploded throughout the decade. Arcade machines were everywhere – shopping centres, take-aways, bars, movie theaters and of course in their own arcade stores. It became a social sport, with high scores as the ultimate goal. Towards the middle of the decade, the console revolution began to take gamers out of the arcades and back into the lounge-room, however the massive popularity of arcade machines and amusement centres like Playtime continued into the early 90s. While the home gaming experience offered numerous advantages, anyone who stood in front of an arcade machine during the 80s with a pocket full of change will fondly recall the sensory overload of flashing lights, buzzing noises, and the thrill of getting your three-letter name abbreviation in the high score charts.
Nick Montfort is Associate Professor of Digital Media, Writing and Humanistic Studies from MIT University. He kindly extended his stay here in Australia to attend the Sydney Global Game Jam weekend and speak at the opening night about 80s retro gaming. In the vox pops that follow, Nick and Seb Chan discuss text adventures, the independent gaming scene and that rad cover art from the 80s.
An army of terrorists have seized control of a nuclear missile facility and players must infiltrate the heavily defended base and face an array of soldiers armed with cutting edge military gear. Heavy Barrel is a one or two player co-operational, scrolling shoot ‘em up. It was one of the few games which featured a rotary (or dial) joystick, allowing the player to shoot in eight directions while moving.
Heavy Barrel has a great soundtrack and cool sound effects that create an immersive game environment. You hear the electronic grunts of enemy soldiers as they are hit with machine gun fire or sizzled by your flame thrower. Another interesting element which was probably borrowed from Gauntlet is that when you kill certain soldiers they drop keys which can be used to unlock chests containing weaponry or rotating shields. These chests also contain parts to build the special supergun called the Heavy Barrel. Whichever player collects the final piece of the six parts would be awarded the massive gun; at this point the game excitedly shouts ‘Heavy Barrel!’ The gun lasts for 30 seconds and wipes out most foes with a single shot and if used strategically, can be assembled before an end of level boss to make winning the fight easier.
This was one of my favourite games from the era and a real step forward in graphics with its colourfully rendered science fiction imagery. Game Designer Koji Akibayashi also went on to create Midnight Resistance (1989), one of the last rotary joystick games and another excellent run and gun shooter. This game ramped up the amount of keys players could gather and even featured alternative endings depending on how many prisoners you released.
DJ Ali Reza is going to be spinning some 80s inspired electronic music at the late night opening of the Retro Gaming Weekend on Friday January 29.
Seb Chan spoke to him about his memories of the 80s and the connections between gaming and music.
Q – What is the connection between 80s videogames and electronic music? What sounds or ‘sonic aesthetics’ connect the two?
One connection was that sampling ‘traditional instruments’ in this era was prohibitive so the electronic hardware – sound synthesis – in gaming machines was used to generate this incredibly exciting new form of music. The music was such a huge attraction and reason I loved these games so much. Just play the Galaga theme to most 80s arcade nerds and in all likelihood they will get excited.
The sounds created by these gaming machines were made by Japanese electronics companies who were creating the hardware (electronics boards such as the Yamaha YM2151 and 3012) and also the electronic synthesisers sold to musicians, therefore lots of the sounds would often come from the same place. A significant number of the 80s children who grew up with computer game music generated on the Amiga or Commodore 64 – especially in the UK – would go onto create or DJ electronic music that was directly inspired by these computer game tunes.
Q – Tell us some of the tracks you’ll be dropping. Are they all from the 80s or are you sneaking in some that ‘sound like they are from the 80s’?
I’ll be playing tracks such as Bodenständig 2000 – In Rock (8-Bit), Computer Rockers – Galaxy Defenders, Cylob – Living In The 1980s, and some computer game themes sampled directly from my own arcade machines. This is in addition to some ‘proper’ 80s pop electro classics like Paul Hardcastle – 19, some Saturday morning cartoon theme snippets and a little 80s Italo disco. I will definitely be sneaking in some tracks that sound like they are from the 80s; it’s some of my favourite music. For example DMX Krew wrote a whole album that was supposedly created in the 80s under the name David Michael Cross – Cold War, though we know it was really created in 2003.
Q – What are your favourite memories of old arcades and consoles? What made that era such a golden age?
I remember going to Parramatta bowling club with my dad most Thursday nights. He would bowl in his comp and my friends and I would play in the arcade, $5 worth of 20c coins would usually last the whole night.
Double Dragon, Super Dimension Fortress Macross and Heavy Barrel were some of my favourites. It was always so exciting seeing which new games they would bring out each month. I also have fond memories of playing Ultima V on the PC, and numerous Commodore 64 and Amiga games. I can’t really say what made it such a golden age; perhaps it was the hardware limitations that forced the creators to come up with innovative games.
Q – Do you still hear a connection between music and contemporary video games?
I do and I think that connection between electronic music and video games will be around for a few more decades at least. So many electronic music producers are gaming nerds or at least like computer game music, but I think it depends on what kind of music scene you are talking about. I’m a big Burial fan and also a huge fan of the Metal Gear Solid series, but I wasn’t aware of that one Burial sampled Metal Gear Solid in one of his best known tracks, Archangel. I’m a retro game freak but Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots is probably the best computer game ever.
Q – Favourite music of the 80s? Ten tracks?
Some of my favourites but in no way a definitive list:
Kid Frost – Terminator / Atari Battlezone
Strafe – Set It Off (Original Club Remix)
Charlie – Spacer Woman (1983)
Vangelis – (Blade Runner) Main Title
Public Image Ltd. – Order Of Death
Kraftwerk -Numbers/Computer World
Public Enemy – Miuzi Weighs A Ton
Man Parrish – Hip Hop, Be Bop (Don’t Stop)
MODEL 500 – No UFOs
I used to hang out at Angus & Robertson in the computer and wargames section after school in the late 80s. A bunch of us would pester Dave – the affable and knowledgeable guy who ran the section and had an unhealthy obsession with rotary engines and role playing games – to load up the latest and greatest on the newly released Commodore Amiga. For a fair while in 1987, the game of choice – used to convince people to part with their hard earned – was Defender of the Crown. Developer Cinemaware released a swathe of fantastic games over the late 1980s (especially the b-movie homage It Came From The Desert) and Defender of the Crown was their first.
A mix of strategy and action game you play a lord vying for territory across the England, Scotland and Wales. Sporting what they called at the time ‘cinema quality’ graphics (looking more like a badly compressed pirate DVD from Thailand nowadays) there was a great siege sequence which involved breaking down enough of the castle wall to lob in ‘disease’ and fire to weaken the inhabitants; a sword fighting ‘raid’ allowing you to capture a princess; and a terrific first-person joust. Combined with a well composed stereo soundtrack it all served to show off the best of the Amiga.
While the game was ported to other platforms – I had to make do with the Commodore 64 version – the game itself was not strong enough to hold its own without the superior graphics of the Amiga. Still, playing this today brings back a lot of memories even if, once you figure out where to fire your catapults and stab and jab, raiding castles and stealing princesses becomes far too easy.
Now with the advances of modern technology, Cinemaware lets you play it and others of their classics online on their website and you can even legally download disk images to play with the various open source emulators out there.
Octopus was one of the thoroughbreds in the Game & Watch stable and certainly for me, one of the most addictive. Created by game designer Gunpei Yokoi for Nintendo, this game was released as part of the widescreen series, being slightly wider than the previous ‘silver’ and ‘gold’ editions. The single Game & Watch consoles, such as Octopus, had a small metal stand which allowed it to be displayed upright. Each of the games had a clock and an alarm, which was the basis for the title, Game & Watch.
The goal of the game was to scoop the gold coins from the sunken treasure into your bag and get back to your boat, while evading the Octopus’ probing tentacles. Each dip into the treasure chest to fill your loot bag earned you one point and upon return to the surface you were awarded with a bonus three points for your efforts. At 200 or 500 points, additional lives can be gained which equated with significant scooping and evading action. If you were unlucky to be caught, a life would be lost and those remaining divers in the boat above would be deployed until none were left, at which point it was Game Over.
The interface for this game was very simple, with two buttons ‘left’ and ‘right’ to navigate. The Octopus had only 7 tentacles on display, where only 4 were used at any time to try to grab you. The game steadily increases in pace over time however there was a brief respite at every 100 points when it momentarily slowed down.
Without doubt one of my favourites from the 80s Game & Watch dynasty.