Quick: Remember the ’80s. What do you think of? Turned-up collars, pink and green, good greed, boxy cars?
Well, when I think of the `80s, I think of video games: the bleeping, blooping, pinging siren calls of the best computer graphics you could make using quarter-inch-wide dots.
“Game On,” an incredible collection of video game and computer memorabilia, is now touring Europe and will start its run in the United States next year. (For a preview, check out www.gameonweb.co.uk .)
But you don’t have to wait until 2003 to see some of the best golden-oldie video games from your (or your kids’) childhood. Instead, hit some of the archives of old games on the Web.
Start with Macromedia’s Shockwave.com (www.shockwave.com/sw/games/arcade), which has some of the titles I can remember plunking down too many quarters on: Defender, Joust, Rampage, Sinistar (“Run, run, run”) and more.
Assuming you’ve got the free Shockwave add-on to your Web browser loaded on your PC, you won’t have to do a thing to get these games running. Just click on the game you want, click on the quarter to add credits (remember that?) and away you go, using your computer keyboard instead of a joystick or other arcade controls.
For new versions of classic games, check out the Arcade Outpost (www.arcadegamesonline.com) and click on “Classic.” You’ll see 3D versions and knockoffs of everything from Asteroids to Pong to Tetris to Q-Bert.
One of the better collections, complete with an only mildly annoying Pac-Man that follows your cursor across the screen, is online at Triplets R Us (Why triplets? Don’t ask, and don’t mention that store with a similar name).
The games are at www.tripletsrus.com/80s/80sgames/arcade.htm and include everything from Centipede to Frogger to Pac-Man to Pitfall. Most are set up to play on screen with no additional downloads, using either Shockwave or Java (which most Web browsers display automatically).
Some older titles, including Dig Dug, Galaxian and Space Invaders, do require you to download and install DOS software, which may or may not work well with Windows. Downloaders beware.
Game-play on all of these sites is amazing, or at least as good as it was in the arcade. (Come to think of it, the controls in the arcades often weren’t that great.)
Some games suffer from having their custom trackballs or other controllers turned into keystrokes or mouse clicks, but most will be just as you remember them.
The graphics look crude and adorable, just as they did then, and they’re still remarkably addictive. Set aside some time to play if you decide to check these out. You’re likely to look up and discover you’ve spent an hour or two reliving the `80s.