Did you notice who the older brother was in that commercial? That is Ralphie (Peter Billingsley) from A Christmas Story! Update: Thanks to sharp-eyed reader Logan who correctly pointed that the older brother in the ad isn’t Peter Billingsley but Corky Pigeon from Silver Spoons!
So if you are now all fired up for taking on the challenge of Cosmic Ark you might want to watch this segment of How To Beat Video Games that the Retroist posted a few years ago for some tips on mastering the game.
I’m kind of riding on the Atlantis TV Commercial from yesterday but I thought this was just too cool of a documentary not to share. Thanks to Scottith Games over on YouTube we have this 2 part documentary on the Imagic game corporation from the 1982 PBS television show entitled Enterprise. In this documentary you’ll not only see the Imagic team discussing the creation of Atlantis but you’ll get a behind the scenes look at the Golden Age of game programming.
Atlantis for the Atari 2600 was certainly one of my favorite titles back in my youth, it might have to do with the “Missile Command” style of play as has been described in the How To Beat Video Games: Atlantis video that the Retroist posted last August. But to be honest I think it was the storyline that hooked me the most. I could easily imagine myself while playing as the last commander struggling to buy time for the citizens of Atlantis to escape the destruction by the evil Gorgon Armada!
Of course this classic 1982 TV ad might have helped in that role-playing.
[Via] Dig That Box Retro
Also of note as was mentioned by the esteemed Atari Adventure Square in the How to Beat Video Games post: “Always loved that you don’t die at the end of Atlantis, you escape into another video game.” The folks at Imagic had a sequel in mind, what would go on to become Cosmic Ark, they even hint at it in the Atlantis manual!
“Atlantis, its last installation devastated, explodes in a fury of fire and radiation.
But wait! A satellite streaks into space!
Where is it bound?
Has someone survived the Gorgon onslaught?
Can the Cosmic Ark repopulate the ocean metropolis?”
Even back at the dawn of the home gaming, some titles dared to scare. Or, at least tried to scare. And what better source material than the Lord of the Vampires, Count Dracula? But, given the limitations of early technology, was Dracula all that fearsome? Let’s explore some of the pioneering titles.
Dracula by Imagic for Intellivision
Released in 1982, Dracula offered some of the best graphics ever seen on the Intellivision system. You play as Dracula, biting terrified citizens and drinking their blood or turning them into zombies. You not only get to rise from a cool coffin, but you also have the ability to turn into a bat. On the downside, you’re hounded by stake throwing policemen, wolves, and vultures. What’s worse, when you’re biting someone, you resemble a muppet with a gaping mouth – not dissimilar to Sesame Street’s The Count.
Fun Factor: 3 stakes out of 5
Fear Factor: 1 stake out of 5
Transylvania by Penguin Software for Apple IIe
Also released in 1982, Transylvania was a text and graphics adventure that placed you in the role of an intrepid explorer trying to save a princess. Although the vampire you’re battling in this game doesn’t introduce himself as Dracula, I think given the location and other similarities, we can safely assume it’s him. This game has some random elements that significantly ramp up the tension. However, you’re much more likely to be attacked by a werewolf than Dracula himself. (This game has recently been re-introduced on the iPhone with a handy text wheel for common words – making it surprisingly playable.)
Fun Factor: 4 stakes out of 5
Fear Factor: 3 stakes out of 5
King’s Quest II by Sierra On-Line for PC
Released in 1985, the King’s Quest games offered some of the most impressive graphics of the era. In this game, you must travel to Dracula’s castle, located in the midst of a poisonous swamp. Once there, you must kill Dracula, but he doesn’t seem to hold a grudge since he later attends your wedding. Without the proper tools, Dracula is impossible to beat – but if you have the right items, staking him is a snap.
Fun Factor: 5 stakes out of 5
Fear Factor: 2 stakes out of 5
In conclusion – early games offered some fun opportunities to either be or battle Count Dracula. But, don’t look to them to scare your socks off.