Category Archives: visual cortex

Images from the TDE databanks

The Visual Cortex: An Ad for Aztec

The Apple II was a solid gaming platform in 1982, but Paul Stevenson’s graphically astounding and highly interactive action-adventure games for the computer really pushed the envelope of what was possible. Having slashed his way through the pirate genre with Swashbuckler earlier in the year, he moved onto his magnum opus. We feature a magazine ad for it today in the Cortex: Aztec.

Ad for Aztec, a computer video game by Paul Stevenson and Datamost, 1982

Indiana Jones eat your heart out

Nothing like it, indeed.

The Visual Cortex: Joust An Ad

Today the Visual Cortex hatches an ad for the Atari 2600 and 5200 versions of Williams’ arcade hit Joust: 

Click to enlarge

Running in periodicals in 1984, it’s short on actual screenshots of the game, and heavy on artist renditions of the action. I also find it humourous how it tries to sex-up the “beasts of the air” you fly in the game, the ostriches from the original arcade game.   The ad copy starts off with an unusual, confusing take on the classic opening words of the Star Wars movies:

Well, which is it?  Long ago, or a distant future?  Anyway, I don’t think I want to purchase a game that spits eggs out of my TV screen, from whence evil, sharp-taloned dragons attack me.

The Visual Cortex: Remembering Christmas Wishes

I’m fairly certain that heading into the Christmas season, a lot of kids in 1983 were lying under their blankets at night with a flashlight, pouring over the video game section of that year’s Sears Wishbook.  Crammed full of every important video game of the era, it was a cornucopia of gaming goodness.  It also has a tinge of doom with all the price slashing, a herald of the collapsing market that would lay waste to the video game landscape the following year.

In the Cortex today is a page from the 1983 Sears Wishbook, featuring what was considered a great, shining hope for the continuation of the industry, Coleco’s 3rd-gen powerhouse ColecoVision.  Sadly, the great “arcade in your home” system sank with the rest of them in the great video game crash.  A page of history, forever turned:

For more on the history of the ColecoVision, consult your local Dot Eaters entry.

The Visual Cortex: Covering TRON

Today this surfaces in the Cortex: a scan of the July, 1982 cover of Electronic Games magazine.

EG was the premiere video game magazine of its time.  I remember strolling into the drug store with my mom and spotting the second issue of EG on the rack in 1981.  It bothered me forever more that I missed that first issue.  EG was published from 1981 to 1985, the year its name was changed to Computer Entertainment in order weather the big video game crash and focus more on the burgeoning computer game market.  EG helped form video game journalism, and its influence lives on through the myriad of print and online coverage of the scene that exist today.
The feature story here is, of course, the release of Disney’s video game extravaganza TRON, which promised to transport the audience into the inner-world of these new fangled computer boxes.  The hype for TRON was pretty intense, and helped seal the fate of the movie as a curious social artifact when ticket sales were considerably less than expected.  The movie itself is fun, but muddled and disjointed.  You can read the history of it, and two other seminal video game films from the early 80′s, in my TDE article here.
EG was also the reason I stubbornly always called them “videogames”, before Google’s search algorithm convinced me the combined term never caught on, and would punish me in search rankings if I used it.

Without further ado, the July, 1982 cover of EG:

The Visual Cortex: Beautiful Skye


Where I flip through my image archive and ruminate on what pops up.

This time we land on Lady Deirdre Skye, leader of Gaia’s Stepdaughters. She is one of the faction leaders of Sid Meier’s Alpha Centauri, the stunning turn-based strategy game that also served as the first product from Firaxis, the development house that was formed by game legend Sid Meier, along with Brian Reynolds and Jeff Briggs. Meier and company had created gaming history (literally and figuratively) with the towering Civilization TBS games for Microprose; when that company changed management, Meier and his crew vacated to greener pastures.
The Lovely Lady Skye
One of the victory conditions of Civ was the colonization of Alpha Centauri by the players’ civilization, so it was a natural fit that Firaxis follow up on how mankind was fairing in its new home. It’s been awhile since I’ve played SMAC, so I can’t talk much about the game, beside the fact that it had a truly massive tech tree. Also, that it was a tonne of fun to play. I don’t think I ever played as Lady Skye, but Gaia’s Stepdaughters were tree-hugging environmentalists whose weapons usually consisted of marshalling the semi-sentient planet’s wildlife against the enemy.
In the tradition of the excellent research Firaxis puts into its games, Gaia was the ancient Greek personification of Mother Nature.