Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Pac Man fever: the epidemic

I have made a cancerous discovery.

That is to say, with all due respect to those who have suffered from the true affliction of cancer, I've found something that is consuming all of my time.

You see, the summer of 1982 was, for me anyway, the time when video games broke wide open.  Quarters were being plunked into arcade games by the bucket and the Atari home system had cemented video games as a permanent recreational activity and far from a passing fad.  Yes, I am old enough to have been in the final days of elementary school during that time and I scrimped and scrounged every quarter that I could so I could plug them right into an arcade game like Asteroids.  Damn, do I remember those awkward transitional days between boyhood and puberty, attempting to drown it all out with arcade games and slushies.  Geez, I can smell Hickman's Ice Cream Shop right now.

While rooting through a few things this long weekend, I found two games I had forgotten that we had for the old XBox.  They were back behind a few other games, they were covered in dust, they were called "Arcade Classics."

In other words, many different games from the infancy of computer or rather arcade-style gaming.  Titles such as Gauntlet, a pseudo Dungeons & Dragons game that is far more of an 8-bit shooter than an RPG.  It's fun to slay the undead with your axe while crying out, "die varlet!" but it gets old after a while.

There are a few car-related games, including the classic Pole Position.  Never could figure it out.  Spy Hunter is a bit easier for me to handle, not to mention more entertaining with all of the Bond-style gadgets on your vehicle.  Locate a version of Spy Hunter online.  You owe it to yourself.

Anybody remember Rampage?  It's an arcade action, kaiju-style game of mass destruction.  Choose from blatant approximations of Godzilla, King Kong, or a giant werewolf (??) as you destroy a city.  In fact, you start out in my home state of Illinois, destroying first Peoria, then Joliet, and on finally to Chicago.  Fun, but again it grows old.

Defender!  Now there's a game.  I love watching someone else play it, seeing them race their spaceship amidst the adversary-filled canyon in outer space.  I on the other hand could never master the controls.  Still can't.

Of particular enjoyment is Galaga.  ("That man is playing Galaga!")  It's quite similar to Space Invaders but a bit more challenging.  Enemy aliens will not simply inch their way down to you, they will peel off and attack like dive bombers.  I can't believe nobody has made this into a movie yet.  Give it time.  Nothing's too dumb to work these days.

Most addictive of all for me is classic Pac-Man.  I'll manage to clear and entire screen and then get killed.  "One more game" I tell myself as I hit the controller button for "restart."  It's all hot air and vanity.  I know it will be more like "just ten more games."  Each time I get closer, each time I devour a few more ghosts that are pissing me off.  Just one more game...right.  They didn't call it "Pac-Man Fever" for nothing, those wily bastards Buckner and Garcia.  That's right.  I started out playing it for just little while this weekend...then the little got more and more.  Just keep trying to do better than the game I played before it.  Just want to get a little bit further in the game.  Just one more try...

Ok, this may require serious detox.  Not only is Pac-Man addictive, it may be only the first step in my active attempts at regression.  Next, I'll be buying action figures.  Wait, I already do that.  Then it'll be comics.  Uh, ditto.  Or I'll be wearing Pac-Man jammies to bed.  Damn.  I have those.  I'm wearing them now.

Oh well, I can't worry about this.  I've got a game to play.
Oh Pac-Man, you wickedly seductive and enticing devil...

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  1. Defender was/is awesome! Love the sounds and the manic pace of it!

  2. Ahh Gary. You sir, are a man of discriminating tastes. :)

  3. On Facebook, Dr. Rich posted the link to the Buckner and Garcia song from 1982. It has been stuck in my head ever since. I now give you the same: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kBdAPkk8yMM


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