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Old School Video Games and Systems

Updated on March 26, 2014

Old School Video Games and Systems

Do you love old-school gaming systems? Do you pine for the days - and nights - when you would be huddled around your television screen playing the latest games on your Sinclair Spectrum, Atari ST, Commadore 64. Intellivision or Colecovision Systems?

I know I for one do, and I long to get that 'innocence' back, that defined video games in the past. I remember the very first gaming system I owned was Pong. Pong, for those of us who are old enough to remember, was a very early video game system, which came out around 1972. Back then, it was the height of technology and those who owned this system felt very proud to own one.

The games were merely a series of football, tennis, squash, themes. However, the graphics were simply 2D blocks. So the ball, wasn't round, it was square, the bats, were oblong, and the 'net' in tennis, was an electronic line drawn across the middle of your television screen. However, this gaming system proved to be a success, with spawns sprouting up all over the place to replicate the original Pong gaming system.

Retro gaming for me brings a certain nostalgia back to the gaming world. And this, I feel, has been lost for quite some time now. I feel that the innocence of the games, back then, has been replaced in the present day, with gratuitous violence, cynicism, and an almost depressing line of 'games' that nearly all have a kind of apocalyptic feel to them.

Retro gaming may be in 2D, may be platform, and shoot-em ups, and may be simple adventure/action games, but they held an innocence that I simply do not find in video gaming now.

I have listed video games and systems from yesteryear that you yourself may have spent hours playing. . The game systems are in no particular order, other then they all played those games we loved so much in the past.

Do you remember games such as, Populous, Dungeon Master, Paperboy, Cadaver, Gods, Xenon, Gauntlet 2, Civilization, Star Wars and many others? All of those games held a certain 'innocence' about them. And the gaming industry, back then, was nowhere near the conglomerate gaming Frankenstein it has become now. As good as the graphics are in the present day - in reference to video games - they still, I feel, cannot compete with the sheer enjoyment and innocence of those video games of yesteryear.

This is something, I believe, that we will never get back again. Although there are many of us still, who do our best to keep the genre alive, through our love of retro video gaming, I still feel we are fighting a losing battle. The video games industry has now become a multi-billion dollar/pound industry, and will never go back to what it originally was. The legacy of this, however, is something that we will all have to live with.

Commodore 64
Commodore 64

Old School Video Games and Systems

Retro gaming systems and games are making a comeback. As big as the gaming industry has become [whose income far surpasses that of the film industry] with its CGI graphics and film/like quality games now, people of a certain age are returning to yesteryear, and the 2D video games they so loved back then. This was a time when video games WERE games, I feel. And a time when there was not so much gratuitous violence as you would find now in the gaming industry.

Within this article I have listed the games that I myself loved to play back then. Although I am a pinball buff, and always will be, I was not adverse to playing the odd video game or two...or three for that matter, on my trusty old Atari St. I would literally spend hours playing these games, and the entertainment value, for me, far surpassed the high-end graphics of today's video games. For me, it is all about 'playability'. You can have the best graphics in the world, but if the gameplay isn't there, the game will fail, it's as simple as that.

Old School Video Games and Systems

Atari 520 ST Power Supply - C070099 DSP-1501
Atari 520 ST Power Supply - C070099 DSP-1501

Obviously, you cannot fire up your Atari ST without a power cable to go with it. This power supply is ideal if you want to play those old Atari 520 St retro games deep into the night.

 
How to Program Your Commodore 64: BASIC for Beginners
How to Program Your Commodore 64: BASIC for Beginners

This is a really great book for all of those who wish to learn BASIC programming on their Commodore 64. It is easy to understand and to follow. BASIC was the language used to create many of the old-style retro games of the past.

 
ColecoVision Video Game Console
ColecoVision Video Game Console

I actually had this gaming system many years ago. It was a hardy and rugged system that played some really great games.

The games are cartridge-based and slot into the top of the system. With the games themselves is supplied a games card.

This plastic card slides into the front of your controller. On the card there are little diagrams that will help you play the game you are playing.

The controllers themselves are sturdy and are similar to push button telephones.

With numbers on the keypad ranging from 1 through to 0, star and hash too.

The Cord of the controllers are plastic and flexible - a bit like the old telephone cords of the past.

Overall, you are getting a really good solidly made retro gaming system here, that I myself owned many years ago.

 
Sinclair ZX Spectrum: BASIC programming
Sinclair ZX Spectrum: BASIC programming

Hands up all of you who remember the Sinclair ZX Spectrum? This was the system that many classic video games were created on, using the BASIC Programming Language. This book will teach you all about BASIC and once learned you could be creating your own, retro style video games too. Great value for money this.

 
Mattel Intellivision System
Mattel Intellivision System

This was a system that I owned for many years.

Again, this was cartridge-based and the cartridges fitted into the right-hand side of the system.

The vast majority of games for the Intellivision were devised for two players, so keep this in mind if you decide to purchase.

 

Colecovision Gaming System

Really good review here of the COLECOVISION gaming system.

Another good review, this time of the Atari 2600, which came out around 1977. This system was one of the most successful gaming systems of all, and yet the games themselves were very basic. Nevertheless, some of the games were addictive and proved a hit with the public back then.

Old School Video Games and Systems

This module asks the simple question, which video games and systems do you prefer? Old School, or High-End Games and System of today?

Compared to the two, which video games and systems do you prefer to play

Old School Video and Games Systems

Atari 2600
Atari 2600

Retro gaming is making a comeback, I feel. Those of us who are of a certain age, and who well remember playing on the old gaming video games systems, long for the days when gaming was 'innocent'. It was something we did to pass the time away. The games didn't leave us 'addicted' 'sullen' 'miserable' 'bad tempered', as many kids of today are, playing the high-end video games of today.

No, playing the video games of the past, was something that was done in all innocence. The gaming industry, back then, was nowhere near the multi billion dollar/pound industry it has become now. This is why this article is dedicated to all those who wish to play the old games again.

Games such as Space Invaders, Galaxian, Gorf, Donkey Kong, Pong, Manic Minor, Dungeon Explorer, Speedball, Xenon, Stunt Car Racer, Chucky Egg, Populous, and many more will never truly die away. These, I feel, were the forefathers of the gaming industry today, along with the gaming systems they were played on, such as: Atari 520 ST, Amiga, The ZX Sinclair Spectrum, the Atari 2600, Colecovision, Intellevision, and even the old Nintendo systems.

But the gaming system that began it all, was the daddy of them all, 'PONG' back in 1972. This system kick-started, for me, my love of video gaming that has never truly gone away. The sheer joy of playing those retro games of the past, really brings back so happy memories. And the great thing about those games too, I feel, is that those who grew up playing them were not all left, 'brain-dead' like the vast majority of kids are today when they play on their high-end gaming machines.

Intellivision Gaming System

Great review here of a games system I owned for quite some time, the Intellivision games system.

ATARI PONG
ATARI PONG

PONG

The birth of home video games began with a system called simply, 'PONG'. Coming out around 1972/73, the success of the Atari Pong Home Video Game System cannot be underestimated. Who would have thought all those years ago, that the birth of a multi-billion dollar industry would begin with a system such as this?

The graphics were vector, and looking back now, it is hard to imagine anyone being entertained by playing such games, compared to the high-tech computer games we have these days. But this is what retro gaming is all about. It is about the past, and about people of a certain age reconnecting again with their past when playing those video games.

Retro video games and systems - such as Atari's Pong - harks back to a day when games were much more simpler, and less cut throat. And yet this is what the Video Game Industry has become now and, like everything, it is driven by money.

NINTENDO GAME BOY

Nintendo Game Boy
Nintendo Game Boy

The best-selling portable handheld game system of all time. Released around 1989, the Nintendo Game Boy, with its grey screen, [which were simply four shades of grey] became an absolute phenomenon. This unit sold, on it release, in excess of over 150 million units around the world. The glare you got from the screen was a problem, when playing in bright sunlight, however, the sheer playability and portability of the games made the console a massive success.

The game that was bundled with this system was Tetris, a simple falling block game in which the player had to manipulate various shaped blocks into empty slots. Sounds easy? But it was far from it. Addictive was not the word for this game, as it too became a worldwide sensation. This is retro gaming at its best.

NINTENDO GAME BOY

Good review here of the Nintendo Game Boy - which came out around 1989. All those who remember the Nintendo Game Boy will be taken straight back to the late eighties and early nineties when watching this.

The best-selling handheld of all time. I had one, and played on my religiously, every chance I got.

Atari 520 ST

Atari 520 ST
Atari 520 ST

The Atari 520 ST - which was the computer I owned way back in 1986 - was an all-in-one unit. The unit I owned, I had to hook up to the back of my television. Although some owners of the Atari 520 ST, had the Atari Monitor that went with this machine, there were many of us who did not.

However, this did not really matter, as playing the games on an Atari monitor or television did not make much of a difference to the overall gameplay and 'feel' of the games. Looking back now, I have to say that I was addicted to this machine. The games were varied, and consisted of simulated sports - such as snooker and Formula One motor racing, to wire-frame graphic games such as Stunt Car Racer and Novagen's Damocles.

All the games came in floppy disc format, in which you simply slid the disc into the dedicated slot at the side of the machine. There was a bit of a wait before the game would fire up but nowhere near as long a wait as there would be playing on a Sinclair ZX Spectrum.

There were literally hundreds of titles to choose from, for the Atari ST, and some of the absolute classic games I used to play, consisted of 'Speedball' [both 1 and 2], 'Dungeon Master', 'Gauntlet 2', 'Gods', 'Populous', 'Xenon 2', 'IK+' and many more.

The hours of gameplay from those games kept me entertained constantly. However there were certain games for the Atari 520 ST that really stood out back then, and these, for me, were 'Speedball' which was a kind of American Football/Pinball/Rollerblade type game.

This was a game in which your metal-clad warriors had to score points against the computerized opposition. You did this by keeping possession of a metal ball, and you would have to throw this ball to your metal-clad computerized team mates, whilst heading toward the opposition goal.

Points were scored either by actually throwing the ball past the goalkeeper and into the goal, or by gaining point from the stars on the side of the arena, [which would light up when hit with the ball] or by knocking out an opposition player, thereby forcing him to leave the game, injured. Of course, the opposition team would be trying to do exactly the same to you, if they gained possession of the ball.

It was a fantastic game, and really was ahead of its time. It was fast, furious and frenetic. And the sampled sound effects of the crowd, and the ice-cream sellers, were fantastic. Other games which really stood out for me, was 'Stunt Car Racer' which was you [ the driver] taking possession of a stunt car in which you had to compete against other computer drivers of various driving abilities.

You did this by having to drive your car over roller-coaster type tracks, whilst keeping control of your stunt car at all times. The tracks were high off the ground and consisted of loops, breakages in the tracks - which meant you went flying through the air, to land on the other side of the track, and other barriers you had to overcome to beat the time of the other drivers.

Again, this was a fantastic game which really, for the time it came out, gave a perspective of height, speed, and the feeling that you were actually inside the stunt car driving it. The graphics for Stunt Car Racer were a kind of wire-frame graphics, but do not let this put you off, because Stunt Car Racer was very very addictive.

Then we had, Dungeon Master. This game, if I am correct in thinking, actually won an award for the best adventure game at that particular time. This game alone resulted in one of the main reasons while people back then, purchased an Atari St. The game was in 3D real time. and I spent literally hours playing it.

Although the graphics were very beautiful, they tended to repeat, but this was only a small negative against the game. The game was controlled by the mouse, which made it extremely simple to move around. Your mission in the game is to take possession of an orb, which is called the 'Power Gem'. To do this you must gather together your motley crew of explorers to help you in your quest.

Entering the Hall of Champions, you have to make your choice. This means that you can choose up to four characters to help you look for and retrieve the gem. On the walls of the dungeons are mirrors. These mirrors contain the souls of previous explorers who failed to complete their mission.

You could choose which explorer/s you wanted to help you by resurrecting them back to life. Dungeon Master gave me many hours of enjoyment on rainy days, and it really took me away to another world for the time I played it.

'Populous' was a kind of 'Sim City' type game, in which you chose to play either God or the Devil. Whichever one you chose, you then had to take control of your 'followers and get them to worship you, by answering their prayers or punishing their misdeeds. Another fantastic game, with simple graphics but great gameplay.

Gauntlet and Gauntlet 2 was exactly like the arcade version you played in the arcades. You took control of a wizard, a warrior, a Valkyrie, or an elf. Then you would wander around various mazes, picking up treasure, looking for potions and food, destroying monsters and searching for the key that would take you to the next level. Simple gameplay, but fast, frenetic, and it came with speech too. These were just some of the games I loved playing on my Atari 520 St.

Microvision Handheld Games System
Microvision Handheld Games System

The Microvision Handheld Games System

Long before the days of the Nintendo Game Boy, there was another handheld games system. This was named the 'Microvision' - for those of us old enough to remember owning one. It was designed by Jay Smith and released in 1979 by the Milton Bradley Company.

The Microvision gained relative sales success, but it was befuddled with technical problems that eventually saw the demise of this system. The relative success of this system, however, was mainly because of its portability. Also, the games came in cartridge form - and not tape [as in the Sinclair Spectrum], which was another reason why Milton Bradley grossed $8 million dollars of sales within the first year.

However, technical problems put paid to this handheld system. The LCD screen, which was small, was often prone to 'leaking'. This meant that the screen would gradually become darker, because the LCD would leak. This made it impossible to play any game on the system when this happened - although the game would still work, it was useless if the player could not see what he or she was doing.

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