Video Game Hunter
It was a short ride to his house and I entered with excitement. It was still early in my collecting days and I think I may have had close to 150 different video games for the Atari 2600. So the idea of doubling my collection made me ecstatic. And the idea that most of the games were complete made me even more excited. I did not have many complete games at this time, maybe about thirty total. My mind raced as I tried to guess all the different games that may be part of the collection. Would it be some rare and expensive game like Swordquest Waterworld or Crazy Climber. Or possibly Chase the Chuckwagon, which was considered one of the holy grails at the time (or at least the newsgroups gave the impression).
As I greeted him and entered, I was taken to a room with a fireplace and there was his Atari 2600 collection lined up on a mantle around the room. He had them all lined up in alphabetical order. The first thing I noticed was the games were not complete. They were all loose. There was a box full of manuals at the end of the mantle and about a dozen boxed common games. I asked him where were the rest of the boxes as he said the games were complete. He said he had the manuals for almost all the games and that made them complete. This was the first misrepresentation and far from the last.
I then proceeded to count the games and came up with a few more than 200 carts. A third less than the 300 that he told me about on the phone. This was the beginning of a trend that I found in buying classic games, people often inflated the number of games they had. They seemed to round up to the next hundred, no matter how low the number was. So 202 carts turned into 300 carts, instead of 200. I learned quickly to count each and every cart before buying as it gave me some bargaining power.
With the number exaggerated and the completeness also fabricated, I went about looking at the variety and rarity of the games. Sure, I was getting less, alot less than advertised, but if the quality was there, then it would still be worth it. Let's just say it was strike three. His mention of 300 different games turned into 200 games with quite a bit duplication. His idea of different games was label variations. So while most people would look and see four Asteroids carts, he would see four different label variations and so they were four unique games. This went on and on as I saw numerous copies of Space Invaders, Pong, Combat, Missile Command and other common games. So the number of unique games was significantly lower than even the 200 that was the new number.
But he did have one rare game in the collection, or at least it was the first time that I ever seen it. It was the King Kong game and it did have the manual. But this was the only game that I did not already have. After I told him of how much off he was from his original numbers, I asked him how much less he would take. He remained firm at $500.00, citing how rare his King Kong cart is. I told him that I could not go anywhere near that and asked if that was the best price. He said he was firm at $500.00. With that, I thanked him for the opportunity to see his collection and left.
The local arcade was always getting new video games in. It became an event when a truck brought in the new video games. This was the case on a Wednesday when the truck delivered a few new games to the arcade. I still remember gravitating towards the new game called Food Fight. With the colorful marquee, it attracted my attention. Everyone else was circling some maze game and a random arcade shooter. But I wanted to be the first to play Food Fight.
Once it was plugged in and it went through its initial setup, the title screen came up and I dropped my quarter in. The game was fun as I enjoyed throwing food at the chefs who came after me. I found the first few levels pretty simple and it was not hard to get past the chefs. Then the game ramped up as I found the chefs not so easy to defeat. But along came food like the watermelon that gave you unlimited food to throw.
Suddenly as I barely made it through a level and reached the cone before it melted and I lost my life, I was greeted by replay of the level. It featured some funny music and it was sped up a bit to make it more comical. I laughed and laughed as I saw this, which drew others over to see what the fuss was. I had no idea at the time what caused the instant replay and for days afterwards, I tried to replicate it.
As much as I still enjoy getting an instant replay on Food Fight, nothing will ever top that first one. It made me laugh so hard that I almost lost the rest of my lives. To this day, I still get a chuckle when I think about that WOW moment.
Sites of the Month
American Classic Arcade Museum
Tapper World Tour
I will not go into the gameplay as anyone reading this most likely knows how to play Tapper. The same mechanics are in place, sling drinks and collect empty glasses. The only real difference is later on, they have patrons ask for specific drinks, which makes it like some cross between Tapper and Diner Dash. But it does not ruin the game, only makes it a bit more hectic.
One of the best features of the game is that the artwork is done by Don Bluth of Dragon's Lair fame. The bars and patrons are colorful and a feast for the eyes. You really want to see all the different bars, just to see what the next one looks like. You can check these out from the original game that is the original game with new graphics or a new story mode that has you going around the world, slinging drinks. Another new addition is you can choose to play as the original male bartender as a pretty female bartender. While they don't really differ, it makes for a nice change.
While one may wonder how a game like this would handle on an IPAD, I can say that is works really well! The touch screen seems made for a game like this as you can move your bartender around better than you could with a joystick and a button. It does take a few times to get comfortable with it, but once you do, it plays like a dream.
When you consider that it costs $2.00 for the game or what would have been 8 games of Tapper in the arcade, it is a steal. And if you are really cheap, you can wait for it to go on sale for a buck. Well worth it for a game that improves on the original.
The game offered various themes to play. There was the classic theme which was exactly like the original arcade. There is a modern theme that is the classic game with improved graphics. Then there are a bunch of interesting themes like Pirate, Ice, Space and others. Each theme has different boards, new enemies and its own look. While they all play the same, it is nice to try the different boards.
One nice touch is they give you choices for controls. You can move Q*Bert by moving your finger and he follows or you can use a virtual joystick on the side of the board. Either one works well, once you get used to it. Not as good as the arcade machine, but pretty good for a touch screen. It took about five games for me to really get rolling, but once it clicked, I was able to match my old high scores.
While the new levels are fun, I still find myself playing either the classic or the modern as I enjoy the original game the most. Maybe it is the familiarity of the game or the desire to try and put up a better high score, but at least 75% of my gaming on Q*Bert Deluxe is done on these two levels. Though I do wish they added Q*Bert's Qubes on the game. While I never played it much, it would have been a nice addition.
Overall, the game was a worthy purchase and one that I was glad that I added on my IPAD. It is a shame that it is no longer available for purchase. It was one of the rare apps that really got it right. It offered the original game for fans and it added a selection of new variations of the game for people that want variety. I wish more classic games would take this approach. It seems to be one or the other, but rarely both.
Youtube Classic Videos
Tom Zjaba (This issue was written while listening to Maria Muldaur, Marmalade, Michelle Branch and Jan & Dean.)
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