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Monday, October 17, 2016

In search of GOTY for 1984

This is a work in progress post for selecting Game of the year for 1984. I figured it was a good year to start with since it's the first full year after the Famicon's release in July, 1983. Despite never owning a Famicon or NES, surprisingly I've played quite of few of games including Pacman (let's pretend Atari version doesn't exist) and Duck Hunt of course. (The surprising part is I had friends at the time with a NES.) As for Sega's SG-1000, well, I'm going to be mostly ignoring it, as I'm not really into arcade ports.

I've even played games such as Nuts & Milk, which instantly brought back nostalgia with that darn music you can never, ever forget. Given that I DEFINITELY didn't own a Famicon as a kid to play this Japanese exclusive title, I most likely played it on some unlicensed, shady Korean console with a 100 games in one cartridge. (This game technically first came out in 1983 for the MSX, Sharp X1, etc. but I played the FC version which is significantly different.)

Umm, yeah I owned this game... TECHNICALLY.
Now if I were to stick with the Jhipster theme, I would probably pick some silly Japanese arcade port like Pacman for GOTY but I must remind you, a REAL Jhipster appreciates ALL games and is only particular about playing Japanese games in their pure, unaltered form. In terms of pure fun, I would have to pick Tetris as GOTY for 1984. Even though I have not played the original version, the core gameplay remains unchanged from the original 1984 release as far as I can tell.

Yup, looks like Tetris but way more Russian

The highlight for me was playing against my friend on 2 player Tetris via that janky ass cable for the original gameboy. It even has the same dull green color scheme of the original so can't get more authentic than that. Right?

Sierra On-Line: A start of an era

While I have tons of great memories of Tetris and it has a long line of puzzle games that expand and extend the original concept, King's Quest has far more personal significance for me. If you compare the games that came out around 1984, you can truly appreciate how revolutionary and ahead of it's time the graphics were in King's Quest.

Believe me, for its time, this is fucking amazing.
I originally left this game out because I was a bit confused on the release date but this nice video explains that while it was shown in 1983, the official public release was indeed in 1984. So if you consider what games look liked especially as early as 1983, you can see why King's Quest is easily GOTY in terms of its sheer technical marvel and hey, it's not a bad game either to boot.

Whoa, an informative youtube video??? WTF is this shit?

While I did not play King's Quest around the time of its original release, to me, this marks a whole series of franchises and the golden years of a company that pretty much made up most of my childhood. Yes, I might not be retro hipster enough for the first King's Quest but I was there on my friend's Tandy (I was poor, remember?) with EGA graphics for Police Quest. I was also a fanboi of Space Quest and have fond (painful) memories of trying to get the mouse to work using HIGHMEM and various, ancient incantations from my AUTOEXEC.BAT and CONFIG.SYS spellbooks for the VGA version of Hero's Quest.

I did try out a later version of King's Quest on Steam. Sure, the story is a bit primitive and some of the puzzles are the usual type of stuff from those days that are pretty much impossible to figure out without calling the Sierra hint hotline aka "1-900-OHMYGOD-TIMMY-WHAT-DID-YOU-DO-TO-THE-PHONE-BILL!!!!" However, even today, it was still fun to walk around in a full graphical map and explore and... stuff.

Other games I tried

北海道連鎖殺人 オホーツクに消ゆ
Scenario is by Yuji Horii and story wise, this is the best game of 1984 (so far).

The Death Trap
Was meh.

Dragon Slayer
Nihon Falcom's 2nd ARPG. I played the Saturn version for 20 minutes, plenty of time to get a feel for the mechanics. It's a great game for masochists I guess. Ugh, not even as good as Ultima I.

Zarth (ザース)
Oddly enough, this is a game from Enix and not the one by Yuji Horii. Entering text via Kana input on a PC88 emulator proved too much for me so I watched a let's play on youtube. Can I join the cool kid's crowd now?

If only the rest of the game looked like this... (spoiler: it doesn't)
Wingman
Another 1984 game from Enix. Better than Zarth, visually the best game of the year.

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
A text adventure game that I remember giving up on in about 5 minutes back in the day. I am a Douglas Adam's fan so I tried playing again via flash but this game is brutal. PASS

> fuck this game
I type this command in just about every text adventure game I've played

Here's a list of games I'm thinking of checking out released in 1984 that I have NOT played yet. I hope the 0 people who read and comment on this blog can provide some additional suggestions.

Hydlide
The Black Onyx

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