Oh how bountiful is the overflowing goodness that is the list of arcade machines that start with the letter F that I remember playing!
Flying Shark, Frogger, Final lap, Final Fight, Fire Shark…ok so with the exception of Frogger maybe not household names but these are some of the games that I played a lot of. I bloody love vertical scrolling shooters and games like Flying Shark still float my boat to this day. You don’t really get a lot of games like that now, and to be fair its hard to improve of some of those that came out in the eighties such as Xevious and terra Cresta…to this day they remain perfect to me.
Pretty sure most folk remember frogger. Do you remember how hard it was though? Such was its bastardry that your 3 lives could be gone in less that 30 seconds. I kid you not. It may have good memories but just you try to play it today. You’ll realise how hard it was. Cross the road and you think youre doing great, then onto the logs, thinking yeah I got this.
No you don’t, ok. You don’t got this. You don’t got shit. Frogger got your 20 cent piece and you are going to be feeding it more if you want any sort of reward. Frogger was unforgiving and brutal, and don’t you let nostalgia tell you otherwise!
The cupboard is somewhat bare, and populated with games that I have memories of, good memories, but hardly games that made me steal coins from my mums purse and sneak off to the shop to play.
In many ways they sum up quite nicely those games which were just always about, not the top draw ones, but the space fillers. You could always get a go on them because most kids were keeping the hard earned coins for the ones they really loved.
Elevator Action was ok I guess…up and down you went, evading what seemed to be spies of some sort, probably Russian – it was the eighties after all – in search of stuff behind red doors. That was kind of it. Sometimes lights went out, and other times it would slow down and the agents sped up if you took too long.
Actually it was pretty shit. Not that I didn’t play it a lot though – I still did.
Exerion was in the same mould really. Fly along, shoot things, explode. The machine was everywhere, so you played it. Felt like it was a predecessor to GYRUS, and had this slow cumbersome side to side that left you feeling ridiculously exposed, but an ok distraction on the way home from school I guess!
I put enduro rider in because I remember you sat on a bike and actually had to pull up on the handle bars to effect a jump as you went through the track. We used to play it at Fotis Cafe, but it didn’t last long as I remember it was always out of order. I think, perhaps, because it took a right hammering from kids piling onto it. I do remember mailing a jump though and it felt bloody amazing…Funny what sticks with you isn’t it because I can barely remember the kids being born…
Oh this is very much about the Double D’s! There are no weird stories, no shenanigans, just the joy of…actually no wait. Let us start with the nearly rans, and maybe a wee smattering of shenanigans, because they are absolute corkers indeed.
You have to start with Donkey King, right? I first played this in 1982 inDurban in South Africa. We had moved from the UK in the December and soon after went down to Durban for 3 weeks. I remember the smell of the hotel to this day whenever I smell a plastic beach ball, and I recall as clear as day having these little pop cycle motor bike toys you pulled a rip cord on and fired them down the hotel hallways. It was also the first time I had a Samosa. Oh and I got my first Album – Eye of the Tiger, because it was the year Rocky 3 came out with Mr T! Funny what you remember isn’t it…
And sweet baby Jesus, Mary and Joseph I remember Donkey Kong in the hotel foyer! Everyone knows it I know, but what a game. It was so bloody hard though, do you remember how hard? And of course it gave us our first introduction to Mario. Pacman, Space Invaders, Donkey Kong – it is up there in the pantheon of greats and rightly so.
I was pretty shit at it mind, but that did not matter. It was a bloody work of art and persists as a thing of beauty to this day! I played it again this morning and yup, I am still as rubbish as ever and completely panic when those oil barrels come careering after me!
A ore significant game for me though is this beauty, Dig Dig. It was just always around and even now I can hear the theme music in my head. The thing about it was that when you started you could achieve something. You would inflate enemies or drop rocks on their heads and you felt like Billy Big Bollocks. You felt like you could conquer it. And then it just got faster and faster, with no other real change in dynamics and you were well and truly screwed. the music sped up to and it filled you with a pure terror as you knew you were finished.
But oh baby there is a reigning champ that cannot be defeated in the D category. The Double D. The game that I played for so long with my mates Granville and Mouse, a game that was just there down at the Palm Tree shops for what felt like forever.
It was clumsy and brutal, and I wasn’t great but I just loved it. Kicking, elbowing and crowbar face smashing my way across the screen after school every day was such a joy.
Like a lot of the games I love, I think it was just the right game at the right time. It isn’t that special for many reasons, but it was to me and my god those brutal whip wielding bitches in purple were packing some ass in those jump suits!