First-person shooter, real-time strategy, sports, action, puzzle. These are just a few of the genres that every videogame falls under. Sometimes, however, these don’t tell the whole story. To call Katamari Damacy just a “puzzle game” is to overlook its charming ridiculousness. To call Zombie Nation a “shooter” ignores the fact that the point is to control an inexplicably large, disembodied zombie-head that destroys cities while simultaneously saving the people whose city you are in the process of destroying.
Genre labels have their purpose, but sometimes they overlook important quirks. That’s where I come in.
This months’ heap:
Growing up here in New Hampshire, I’ve found that most of the rest of the country knows us for three things—Adam Sandler, a severe lack of non-white people and an inordinate amount of man-on-cattle relations. What many people don’t know, and what makes the rest of the gaming community drool over our humble little state, is that we are also home to Funspot: the world’s largest functioning videogame arcade.
All my classic videogame systems are packed away deep in storage, so I decided that now would be a good time to take a trip to Funspot for some field research for this month’s heap.
FYI—Funspot isn’t much for anybody craving newer arcade games like DDR, but if you’re looking to play a game of Moon Patrol, Wonder Boy or KISS Pinball, then you’re in luck, because the third floor of Funspot goes by the name of The American Classic Arcade Museum, home to a metric-assload of all the classic games you can handle.
Since all the research for this article was done on location, that means my screenshots are going to be, shall we say, sub par, as they were all shot on my phone, which sucks as a camera.
Konami’s Dark Adventure starts down the slippery slope of Intellectual Property theft right off the bat with it’s obvious rip-off of Indiana Jones right on the marquee art:
Start up the game, and you’ll have to choose between three different characters, all of which wield different weapons, and fight hordes of monsters who infinitely respawn until their bases are destroyed, while a disembodied voice is constantly reminding you of your need for food.
Sound familiar? It should, because it’s Gauntlet.
As far as rip-offs go, though, this game actually does the original some justice by making improvements on Gauntlet’s relatively simplistic graphics and is still pretty fun to play.
Replay Value: 6
Originally created by Konami, The End plays like the bastard child of Space Invaders and Galaxian. The major difference is that you’re defending a wall of blocks that the aliens are trying to steal. Once the aliens grab enough blocks to spell out the word “END”, it’s game over for you.
The game may rip off a classic, but thankfully it doesn’t piss all over it, as many rip-offs tend to. The End adds a new twist on an old classic, and, though it may not be the most original game, thankfully, it’s still fun.
Replay Value: 5
Midway’s Gorf presents something of an imponderable: “Can one rip oneself off?”
I say “yes, one can,” and Gorf is a fine example of this.
You start out at the level of Space Cadet and work your way through five levels, at the end of which you start over with a higher degree of difficulty and also a higher ranking (Space Captain, Space General, etc)
Level 1 will look familiar, as it’s just classic Space Invaders with a force field arc rather than blocky barricades to hide behind.
Level 3 will also look familiar, as it’s yet another iteration of the oft-copied Galaxian with slightly fewer enemies.
The game itself at least borrows from classics and puts them together in a logical and fun way and is well worth popping a quarter into.
Fun fact: Level 4 plays suspiciously like Konami’s Gyruss, which was made two years after Gorf.
Replay Value: 7
That’s it for this inadvertent anti-Konami defamation suit waiting to happen.
The best copycat is:
It’s a rip-off, but it’s a damn good rip-off melding faithfully recreated classics together and adding a few levels of its own (including one of gaming’s first boss battles) to create a new game that plays like a sampler of some of the best games of the early 80s.