The Critical 'I'

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Wednesday, February 19, 2003

I'M OLD, AND MY CHOICE OF VIDEOGAMES SHOWS IT
the classics never die, mon
I bought the Xbox edition of Namco Museum this past weekend. I have not been able to stop playing it.

I'm afraid I've officially entered old-geezer-hood. Or the beginnings of it, anyway. I just find these low-tech games from 2+ decades ago to be so much more satisfying than the supercharged, studio-quality productions that are standard fare today. They're more satisfying on a gut level. (Relatively) simple pleasures for (somewhat) simple minds, I suppose.

I can't find the article, but I read a piece a while ago on some computer geeks around my age who were still writing programs for the Commodore 64 and other old-school computers. (Incidentally, some 20 years after it hit the scene, it looks like the C-64 is getting an (unoffical) upgrade.) One of these guys summed up what he liked most about the old 80s-era games: Namely, that with such a puny amount of computing power to work with, there's no place for the programmer to hide. In other words, these old games couldn't cruise on pretty graphics or other gimmicks; they had to be playable, and actually fun. Which they are.

The games on this Namco Museum disc--all in their original low-tech glory, not updated at all--are:

- Pac-Man
- Ms. Pac-Man
- Galaga
- Galaxian
- Dig Dug
- Pole Position

Gotta love it! Pole Position is the only one I don't care for; I didn't like racing games back then, and I still don't. Also included are sequels to some of these games. I originally thought they were upgraded versions produced just for this disc, but it turns out that Namco did put out these sequels back in the mid-to-late 80s. That explains the long-rumored Galaga sequel, where you could line up 3 ships....