Our current Retro Spotlight forum topic focuses on Lunar Lander, Atari’s devilishly difficult arcade game from the Seventies. Inspired by the space race that saw the USA put a man on the moon in 1969, the game tasked players with balancing thrust, gravity and momentum to safely land a spaceship on the hazardous lunar surface. Failure to come in at the correct speed or angle would result in the destruction of the craft.
While Lunar Lander wasn’t a failure by any stretch of the imagination, and was noteworthy as the first Atari arcade game to use vector graphics, its popularity was eclipsed by that of Atari’s other vector space-based game, Asteroids. Despite that, it went on to inspire a whole range of similar games and named its own subgenre.
This week’s Retro Spotlight on the forum is Nintendo’s arcade classic Donkey Kong, which is a fascinating game for all kinds of reasons. In the Eighties it was subject to all sorts of battles, as Universal unsuccessfully sued Nintendo over copyright infringement, while Atari and Coleco clashed over conversion rights. In the arcades the game has been the battlefield for vicious high score competitions, featuring stunning victories and astonishing allegations of cheating, and even inspired the documentary The King Of Kong. Donkey Kong himself went on to become a huge gaming star in his own right, appearing across a variety of platform games and a series of bongo-based music games for the GameCube. Oh, and then there’s the small matter of the little bloke you play as, some guy named Mario. We don’t quite know what happened to him later on. If you fancy chatting about the game, just click here to go straight to the thread.
Incidentally, one of our favourite versions of Donkey Kong is the excellent Game Boy game, which starts off like the arcade game before becoming an astonishing original puzzle platformer. And issue 196 of Retro Gamer is out today, with Nintendo’s green-screened masterpiece on the front cover. Pick that up in all good newsagents, or order it directly via My Favourite Magazines here.
Many videogames have had plots involving a character having dreams of apocalyptic terrors, but few have been directly inspired by them. Yet that’s exactly what drove Atari’s Dave Theurer to create Missile Command, as the Cold War meant that the threat of nuclear destruction was an ever-present source of paranoia in Eighties America. Thankfully, Russian aggression is a thing of the past today (Are you sure? – Ed.) and rogue states haven’t been able to create their own nuclear weapons (Nick, please – Ed.), so we don’t have to worry about the prospect of a mushroom cloud on the horizon any time soon.
Thankfully the game itself was significantly more fun than radiation sickness, as you used a trackball to try to intercept missiles targeting six Californian cities. And if you enjoyed playing Missile Command in the arcade, or indeed an a home system, you might fancy discussing it in the Retro Gamer forum, where the game is our current Retro Spotlight. Click here to head straight for that topic.
If you’re a fan of Frogger, you’re in good company. The original arcade game was a smash hit that attracted a broad spectrum of fans, and the amphibious hero had a hugely successful comeback run starting in the late Nineties – and that’s not to mention his cartoon appearances or the classic episode of Seinfeld dedicated to George’s pursuit of a high score. And now he’s the star of this week’s retro gaming spotlight, kindly provided by community team member AllenTheAlien. If you fancy a chat about one of the best non-violent games from the golden age of the arcades, click here to visit our forum.
Of course, the company that brought Frogger into being was Konami, and this month we’re celebrating the company’s 50th anniversary with a special issue. As well as the regular magazine (featuring a gorgeous full art Castlevania cover), readers get The Mini Konami Companion, a guide to 50 of the legendary developer’s greatest games, and a sticker sheet featuring sprites and artwork from across the company’s history. To pick up your copy, visit your local newsagent or order directly from us at My Favourite Magazines.