The more I play Blaster, released by Williams in 1983, the more the game amazes me.
Designed by Defender creators Eugene Jarvis and Larry DeMar, it features a startling 3D perspective as you soar over an alien landscape, blasting giant robots and rescuing floating astronauts. The visual effects are nothing short of astounding, especially considering the time at which the game was made. It’s no surprise that several designers at Williams would eventually move on to work on the ground-breaking Amiga computer at Commodore, known for its graphical and aural prowess. Added to the allure of this and several other Williams games, such as Bubbles and Sinistar, is that it came in an indestructible plastic cabinet, named Duramold by the company. Rumour has it, however, that the plastic would shrink over time, causing the monitor inside to eventually be ejected like a champagne cork. Talk about 3D effects!
Enjoy the following video we made of Blaster gameplay.
Grand Theft Auto V has hit stores, adding another chapter in the historic GTA franchise developed by Rockstar Games. Starting as a top-down, open-world pseudo-3d action shooter in 1997, the series progressed into full-blown 3D graphics in 2001’s Grand Theft Auto III and has continued forward in visual prowess and player interactivity ever since.
Old school vehicular slaughter: GTA 1997
GTA V continues this tradition of progress, offering a further advanced graphics engine that renders a spectacular and expansive landscape for gamers to traverse. It also offers a narrative featuring three separate protagonists, whose lives can be jumped into by the player at nearly any time. In 1980, arcade game Defender created a world where events transpired outside of the player’s immediate view, giving just a hint of being inside an actual place where things are happening elsewhere and you better do something about it. The appeal of open-world games such as GTA hinges on the complexity and verisimilitude of the worlds they construct, but none have succeeded in crafting such a living clockwork like GTA V. There is something truly wondrous about flipping back to a character you had left at one location and finding them somewhere else on the map and involved in some other bit of chicanery. It truly feels like Los Santos is alive. The GTA games have always lent themselves to hilarious situations that players report about the crazy goings on in their various cities. In GTA V… well, to paraphrase the opening of an old TV drama, there are a million stories in the city of Los Santos.
Moon over Los Santos, GTA V 2013
Such stories abound in the overwhelmingly positive critic’s reviews the game has received. As of this writing, the Xbox 360 version of the game is the highest ranked game ever on the Metacritic review aggregate site, with a score of 98. You only need to play for a short while to know all the perfect scores are not being thrown around lightly. It’s not a perfect game… I don’t know that such a thing could even exist. There’s still some weirdness to the controls, a lack of precision that has persisted all the way from the original GTA III. This is especially accentuated in GTA V, which has multiple actions mapped to the limited set of buttons and keys that consoles can offer. However, it’s nothing that you don’t quickly get used to as you ravenously consume this incredible feast that Rockstar has provided. “A living, breathing world” is a phrase often bandied about concerning open-world games. In GTA V, it’s enough to take your breath away.
Anyone who was into computers in the early 80’s and had even a tiny interest in gaming had to have tried the classic side scroller Choplifter, made by Dan Gorlin and published by Brøderbund Software in 1982. It was absolutely a seminal game for the Apple II, and was converted to countless other platforms. In it you piloted a helicopter into enemy territory, destroying tanks and fighter jets, and blowing up prison camps to release your comrades. As they milled around waving, you landed and loaded them up into your ride and headed back to HQ. After releasing them, back you went for more.
It definitely took its lead from the classic arcade game Defender by Williams, while putting its own clever twist on the premise. Developer inExile Entertainment has picked up the gauntlet to update the game as Choplifter HD. From the previews, it looks like a great remaking of the original, keeping the 2D scrolling feel while adding some new mechanics.
Look for Choplifter HD to land for PC, PSN and XBL sometime this fall. Below is a video featuring the original, followed by a trailer for the updated version.