Computer Golf

I think this could be the very first ever video game of Golf. I could be wrong but I do struggle to find details of anything that predates this. The other major contender being the Atari 2600 version of the same game. From what I can make out the G7000 does predate the Atari version but there’s a lot of very obvious similarities between the two games and honestly the copying of ideas usually went in the other direction.

You play an overgrown stick figure with what appears to be a sizeable penis extension in place of a golf club. You guide this, er, big man around a very miniature 9 holes of pitch ‘n’ put. It is supposed be a very basic par 3 affair for each hole. A round of 27 which I completed in, well, erm, 44.

You guide your man around the course so his, er, ‘club’ is touching the ball at the right angle for the shot you wish to make. Then hold fire to set up the strength of the back swing and away you go. Hopefully avoiding the two of three trees laying around for hazards.

Trees are a bit of a bug bear for this game. Getting entangled with one cause your stick guy to throw several fits until the ball is finally moved to a save position for the next shot. Thankfully tangling with the trees doesn’t effect your play count, just slows you down.

All in all, especially for the time (circa 1980), this plays a fairly competent and enjoyable round of Golf.

4/5

Gunfighter

This is easily one of my favourite games from the earliest main era of video gaming. The late-70s arcade period supported by very basic home consoles like the Videopac, VCS, and Channel F but before games like Space Invaders, Pacman and Donkey Kong lifted the Atari machine above its rivals.

The game is very simple, as they all where, and very Pong-esque. You play one of two wild west gunfighters and must simply be quicker on the draw than your rival. Known as Boot Hill in the arcades, you must guide your cowboy around the screen and quickly press the fire button when you think you’ve lines up the perfect shot on your opponent. First to 10 wins.

One nice feature of the Videopac version is the choice of opponents. The default is a straight two play match against a friend, one on each joystick. However without a friend you can use either joystick to play and the Videopac will detect the other joystick is not being used automatically and take over control of the rival gunslinger, giving you a single player computer controlled opponent.

More interestingly, start the game without touching either joystick and the Videopac will play against itself!

5/5

Race

One of three games included on the pack-in cartridge given away with every Videopac console purchased. This game simulates, or tries to, the excitement of some fast paced Formula One action.

You take you red car, at the bottom of the screen, and tear along the track at blistering speeds for two minutes. Your objective simply to avoid collisions and successfully overtake all computer drivers for two long minutes.

The issue with Race is really down to its pure simplicity. You’re simply dodging left and right for two minutes and on Level 1 you get to know exactly how long those two minutes really are since the pattern of the oncoming cars is incredibly easy to manage and the fastest speed it fairly pedestrian.

On Level 2 there is a bit more of a challenge since you can travel a bit faster and so the timing of the pattern becomes ever so slightly harder to navigate. Scoring is simply a case of amount of time you’ve not collided with another car. That said scoring does increase faster at high speeds so for the best scores a flawless run at Level 2 is needed at breakneck speed.

It’s a fun enough game given the era and the fact there are two other games on the cartridge as well. But even so it is all just a little too basic and lacks any real long term appeal.

3/5

Cosmic Conflict

If you can get over the high pitched whine that is supposed to pass for lazer fire then you can relieve your inner Luke Skywalker fantasies and dispatch passing emperial Tie-Fighters from the comfort of your Millennium Falcon cockpit. Cosmic Conflict is a basic 3D first person shooter. You have our crosshairs in the centre of the screen, Enemy ships will appear from almost any direction and you simply line up and press fire.

You have 1000 shield points that are counting down continuously and loose 50 points every time and enemy ship crashes into to you. All you need to do is dispatch 15 enemies before you loose all your shields.

It’s a fun enough game but, common complaint for Videopac games, without any real scoring there’s little real point in the action. Ultimately Space Monster is a little more interesting for blasting aliens.

3/5

Ten Pin Bowling

One of two games on the sixth cartridge released for the early Videopac games console. It’s a fairly basic implementation of this popular sport. A ball moves from side to side at the bottom of the lane. The player presses fire when they are ready to release the ball and then can move the stick left of right to add spin and alter the shot direction slightly.

It’s all fairly simple stuff even for this era of gaming, barely more advanced than the Tennis/Pong games of the previous era. Still it was on par for what was being released during the first couple of years on contemporary systems such as the Atari 2600 or Fairchild Channel F.

It’s a competent enough version of bowling giving a full ten frames and both one or two player options. A couple of minor gripes around how scoring/play is worked for spares and strikes, and the impossibility of the 7-10 split. But given an 8Kb game cartridge on a late-70’s 8-bit system it’ll be a bit much asking for a full on simulation.

3/5

Space Monster

1980 was a turning point in home video gaming. Proper games consoles like the Atari Video Computer System and the Philips Videopac G7000 had been on the market since the height of the Pong craze back in ’77 but a combination of high price and lack of killer app largely kept them out of the wider public consciousness. This all changed with Space Invaders.

Space Invaders was the breakthrough Arcade hit from 1978. The game sees you defending the Earth from the titular alien invaders in a manor that bears more than a passing resemblance to Atari’s 1975 Arcade smash Breakout (and from their the roots firmly go back to Pong).

With the cost of these gaming systems moving into the affordable £100 category and the release of Space Invaders type games to these systems meant the time had finally arrived for a new entertainment media.

Space Invaders itself, through licencing with Taito, was an Atari property and only (officially) available with their home entertainment system. To get around this rival manufacturers produced their own Space Invader like games for their respective systems. Space Monster was Philips/Magnavoxs answer.

The game is very noticeably Space Invaders but with equally obvious differences that unfortunately, in this case, do detract from the original. Not that Space Monster is in anyway a bad game, it’s just it doesn’t manage to live up to the source material. The issues really stem from two places. The first is the barrier between you and the enemy. This makes lining up and timing shoots more critical and hence leaves you more open to attack.

But it’s the second problem, when combined with the first, that is the games ultimate downfall. There’s no player scoring. Sounds like a simple thing and very common to the majority of the Videopac game library, but in this instance it’s a major obmission. Instead you play best of 10 against the computer. Either it kills you 4 times our you clear the screen. There’s no reward for hitting the alien monster, stopping lasers, having bases or completing a screen. No kudos. No bragging rights. Nothing to challenge your mates to better.

3/5