Over the weekend there were a pair of articles that caught my eye. Both had similar themes in that they were asking the question of whether classic arcade games can stand the test of time. Our answer is of course a resounding yes, but it was interesting to see the thought process that each journalist used to come to the same conclusion.
The first article was a retrospective trip down memory lane and took a look at Ms. Pacman. With it being one of the biggest commercial successes in the history of arcade games, it’s not surprising that the game is loved by many. It’s one of the games that we simply can’t keep in stock and we have at least a half a dozen Ms Pacman cabinets that we own at this point. It was originally created without the permission of Namco, but after discussing things over with it’s creators, they decided to release the bootleg version as an official game. I think part of the appeal has to do with the protagonist being a female. There aren’t a lot of video games that were designed for women, let alone that have their main character as a female. This helped to expand the audience for Pacman to both sexes. In his article for Gamezone, David Sanchez writes “Even after playing the superb Pac-Man Championship Edition DX (which I consider to be the absolute best incarnation of the series), I couldn’t help but become enamored with the fruit-gobbling, maze-running antics of Ms. Pac-Man.”
He later goes on to write “Ms. Pac-Man includes a total of four mazes. Not a whole lot, sure, but still more than the original game’s singe level. Additionally, the ghosts that give chase don’t follow a specific pattern. Instead, their movements are slightly randomized, forcing you to rely on quick decisions rather than memorization. Not only is that a big game changer when compared to original Pac-Man, but it keeps the game interesting longer.”
Modern video games are often judged by the complexity of the game, but there’s something about a game being simple that adds to it’s replayability. I think Ms. Pacman hit this formula on it’s head. The ghosts giving chase fuel an adrenaline rush, but limiting it to 4 mazes allows a player to become familiar with the game. No buttons to mash or complex combos to pull off, just one 4 way joystick and a maze to overcome.
The second article that hit our radar this weekend was on VentureBeat. In it they compare the original Frogger game with the recently released Sharknado game. If you’re not familiar with Sharknado, then you’ve probably been living in a bus. It’s a campy thriller that combines sharks with tornado. Hard to go wrong with that formula no matter what you end up producing. To help raise awareness of the sequel coming out they created a iOS video game that plays suspiciously like Frogger. In it you must dodge other sharks, cut things up with a chainsaw and jump from shark to shark.
In her article, Heather Newman compares six features from both games and ultimately crowns Frogger the winner. The categories that Frogger won were Main Character Likeability, Biggest teeth and Death scene drama. They tied on replayability and Sharknado scored the advantage on Road Realism and Transportation,
Despite the obviously lead in from the article, she never told one of my favorite jokes growing up . . . What’s red and green and goes 175MPH?
Answer: A frog in a blender
All joking aside, I think it’s neat to see the classic games inspire a new generation of video games and to see journalists still writing about them nearly 40 years later. We’ve got a lot of cool games in our collection from the 90’s and 2000’s, but its the games from the 80s that seem to be the best. Whether it’s zapping aliens in Galaga or taking on Donkey Kong, 40 more years from now, these games will still be worth dropping a quarter in to play.