July 3, 2017
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Bang, Bang! Shoot ‘Em Up
In 1976, there was a video game released by Atari called Outlaw. It was one of the early games I bought for the 2600 next to Asteroids, Combat, and Missile Command. Outlaw had the principle to be one cool-ass (for mid-’70s standards), shoot-’em-up multiplayer. The duels consisted of two gunslingers, one on either side of the screen with a cactus in the middle. Sometimes you could shoot the cactus and blast holes through them. Other times you could not. Like all Atari 2600 games, the case artwork is light years more detailed than the pixelated minimalism that is Outlaw.
It was our portal into Spaghetti Western escapism. The duel was a tectonic shift from the sports and space games much like the Western was an escape from serious drama or schlocky humor. For the genre, it was both. Everyone loves a good duel scene, right? That is why whenever Lee Van Cleef makes an entrance everyone takes notice.
For a Few Dollars More – Lee Van Cleef’s Entrance
We may perpetually give the bad ass award to John Wayne and Clint Eastwood, but for Flint Eastwood, the tough guy lies in the devilishness of Cleef. And she does not just channel Cleef through wide-rimmed hats but through the defiance in her demeanor.
To The Ships!
Sure there was Taito’s 1975 release of Western Gun that beat Outlaw to the draw by a year. But in the early stages of the Japanese company’s legacy, when I think of Taito I think of Space Invaders. A timeless game that launched the company into an influential piece of video game history. Their legacy gave us gems like Elevator Action, Arkanoid, and Bubble Bobble, among many others.
What was just as important to Taito’s innovative graphics and gameplay was their soundtracks. Leading innovation and treating the music more than simple background noise, these games were carefully planned and executed in film-like fashion. Ship To Shore Phone Co. found an opportunity to bring back the legacy of video game music by giving Hisayoshi Ogura’s score to Taito’s DARIUS a 30th-anniversary resurrection. Did you ever play DARIUS? The game was massive! Volume two in the arcade releases, this is only a glimpse into the parallel universe Ship To Shore created.
Back In Time
Movies were a great synonym for video games. From Raiders of the Lost Ark to Robocop to Ghostbusters to Back to the Future, it was a sure-fire formula to incorporate a blockbuster into a riveting pile of adrenaline, even if that meant get the ankh, go back to find the key, put the key in this device, run out of the room, run back in the room, wait for the sun, place the ankh in this specific space, and the map is revealed. Of course I am badly paraphrasing, but you get the idea.
Back to the Future had a slew of schlock. One of them was to throw sodas at teenage goons. The other was when Marty McFly is playing guitar, you have to catch the notes. There was something a little too Moonwalker about it all.
As you are moving around the town to do specific tasks to help enhance the mission of the game, you experience a rather minimal 8-bit version of Huey Lewis and the News’ “Power of Love.” You have to stretch your mind to tap into the aura of its pixelated glory. Once you get there, it has its charm. Of course, you could always play the human version. I wonder what the band thinks of that game, 28 years later.
Even though they came through Indy to perform at The Lawn, what would have been a real trip in the Back to the Future continuum would have been for Huey Lewis and the News to perform a concert in Los Angeles, October 21, 2015. And as they were performing (hell, it could have been “Back In Time” or “Power of Love” for posterity) Michael J. Fox (McFly) and Christopher Lloyd (the professor) would show up in a Delorian, along with some special effects and do a skit. Fans would have gone absolutely nuts. Some fans did take a tour of the film’s location relics. Not as exciting.
Rise From Your Grave
There was a rift in the ’80s. The battle between Nintendo and Sega. Christmas 1989, I was awarded a Sega Genesis. What came with every Genesis was the game Altered Beast. The game was simple. You an Odysseus like hero, fighting various incantations of Greek monsters like the Cyclops or Medusa. Being a fan of Clash of the Titans, this game was. . . epic! The impact was felt throughout the pop culture spectrum all the way to Mr. Bungle sampling the infamous line in the game.
Sega went from cartridge to the Sega CD. One of the innovations Sega experimented was interactive movie games. The movie did not come to you. You became the movie. It was basically a next level version of Choose Your Own Adventure story where you had a series of choices to make. Based on those actions were a reaction, be it positive or negative.
Night Trap was the survival horror game for the Sega CD. Everyone wanted a copy of the game after it got the attention of the United States government. Too bad after its initial print run, the game got yanked from shelves.
Night Trap was unique that it unconsciously pushed survival horror into another realm of gaming. It was not until Resident Evil came out for the Playstation that survival horror gaming changed and Night Trap was but a distant memory, contained as its own limited-run branding. If it were not for the federal government, survival horror gaming may be completely different today.
When it comes to survival horror video games, it is all about the element of surprise. The shock of the art. The Dahmers combine that shocking allure with the recklessness of a Grand Theft Auto-like scenario. The adrenaline is worth the ride.
Thank you for digging into the crate of Selective Memory’s new format. We hope you enjoyed it! Be sure to check out all the content on selectivememorymag.com. Until next time, hit us up and let us know what your favorite video games are, as well as your favorite video game music. Here’s Forbes’ list.