THE BEST/WORST VIDEO GAMES OF THE 80S THAT I PLAYED THE SHIT OUT OF
PUBLISHED 06 March 2018
When I was a little kid - before I figured out how to do my thing & thought I was largely powerless to the forces in my life, escapism was the name of the game. Escape into psychedelic electronic mazes of ecstatic anxiety. Praise the creator I was blessed with good taste at such a young age or I would not have been able to construct the Goblinko methodology out of random pieces of cultural garbage like these inane video games. Noting their qualities & blocking out their lesser elements, I operated like a some kind of terrifying combination between a vulture, a surgeon & Andy Warhol - picking apart everything in front of me for the eternal elements & leaving the rest to rot. Playing video games used to feel like taking drugs - specifically like taking mushrooms & snorting speed. I had a very psychoactive response to the games & felt like I was tripping when I got into a really good one. It was a pretty great escape being 8 & living in the incredibly boring children's version of 1984 with my parent's separation & divorce looming on the skyline. The video games were so abstract & empty of detail I would fill in everything. Me & my brothers would create elaborate stories about the games, naming totally disposable characters & attributing bizarre personalities to them. My dad, Philip Aaberg wrote music for video games in the early 80s & so we had computers around the house & thankfully he let me have full reign with them. Because of this I also paid particular attention to video game music. Here are some of the Best/Worst Video Games of the 80s That I Played The Shit Out Of.
3-Demon -1983 - PC Research
3-Demon was a first-person 3D Pac-Man bootleg where you paranoiacally race through a green-line maze trying to eat the dots & escape from the enormous, terrifying, screen-filling ghost monsters. It even had an Alien-like radar so you could track the ghosts & the power pellets since you couldn't see a birds-eye view of the map.
Toy Bizarre - 1984 - Activision
Toy Bizarre opens up with this insane little song that is disturbingly epic & makes you feel like the world is ending & then you play an idiotic child who is running around a toy factory that has gone completely insane. You are being pursued by a Robotic Davey Crockett who is letting the factory's plastic balloon machines endlessly produce little hopping robots. You have to stomp on bumpers which can launch Davey Crockett into the ceiling & pop the balloons & it is just NUTS.
Moon Patrol - 1982 - Irem & then licensed by Williams
The funkiest tune in video games drives your Moon Patrol rover across the pock-marked surface of... the moon. Meanwhile - large rocks & then alien crafts menace you. The game has a lot of speed & momentum & gets you feeling like you are really racing across the moon.
Flash Gordon/Captain Zzap - 1986 - Mastertronic
This game wasn't fun at all - but the music was RADICAL. Composed by the masterful Rob Hubbard - we would wait for the load scene - sometimes a half-hour just to hear the opening song.
Realm of Impossibility - 1984 - Mike Edwards & EA Games
The box of this game reminded me of the scene in Time Bandits when Kevin & his band of midgets are captured & hanging by chains in cells in the blackness of Hell. The game itself is a nightmarish run through an acrophobic series of psychedelic caverns straight out of Gerald McDermott's Arrow To The Sun. Check that out really quick. I was mostly familiar with the children's book - but here is the animated version.
Castle Adventure - 1984 - Kevin Bales
I have been obsessed with castles & Medieval stuff ever since I became cogniscent & so I was extra stoked to play this weird Castle Adventure game for our DOS computer. These basic ASCI games always made me extra anxious because you would encounter these letters & have to figure out what they were, what their attacks were, what the hell was going on - as you are being pursued by an angry ampersand.
Miner 2049er - 1982 - Bill Hogue
Taking the structure of Donkey Kong & dropping them into the nuclear waste dump of 2049 - you play a the Miner 2049er & you've got to color in all the squares while avoiding the evil nuclear chickens & toxic waste bins. The game is almost painfully difficult & drove me to defeat its toxic terror over & over again. Watching this video reminded me of the panic I would feel as I played this absurd, psychedelic video game.
Wizards of Wor - 1980 - Midway
Wizards of Wor tickled all of my science-future-fantasy funny bones completely. You play a Heavy Metal sci-fi blaster who battles through maze after maze being pursued by enormous demons & teleporting Wizards.
Archon: The Light and the Dark - 1983 - Electronic Arts
Archon is fighting fantasy chess & it was the best. As you battle through an ordinary game of chess, your pieces are represented by a menagerie of nasty monsters, wizards & beasts - instead of just knocking into & taking your enemy's pieces you enter into a battle screen where the monsters must fight each other!
x Sean Äaberg