Retro Gaming Podcasts

I spend a solid 90 minutes on the road every weekday commuting to and from work, so I spend much of that time listening to podcasts.  I’ve always been a fan of gaming podcasts, but recently I’ve been listening to several geared around older consoles and computers.

This list is by no means comprehensive, just some of the ‘casts I’ve found to be both entertaining and informative:

Dreaming of Missile Command

The Polygon has published a great retrospective on the arcade classic Missile Command and it’s creator Dave Thurer – a game inspired by, and the inspiration for, nightmares of nuclear armageddon.

While I had experienced the arcade version of Missile Command (1980) at the local movie theater, my definitive version was the Atari 2600 port. It was the first cartridge I purchased with my own money – a big deal for a kid who hadn’t reached double digits yet.

I spent hours upon hours playing it, taking down the incoming missiles as they approached faster and faster.  While there were limitations compared to the original – only one missile base, fewer enemy types, no trackball – it is one of the more faithful 2600 arcade ports.

At this point in my life, I was still trying to convince my family to partake in my burgeoning video game hobby.  My brother was too young, and my mom had absolutely no interest. Though my dad would play with me occasionally – he enjoyed Galaga, and join in for a round of Combat with me from time to time.

I remember watching him play Missile Command in our living room, but after a while he said he was done.  While I don’t remember his exact words, he conveyed a sense of unease with the game’s premise – probably for the same reason the game haunted the dreams of its creator.  While I may have known that “Russia” was something to be feared, the concept of nuclear war was not something I was capable of grasping at my young age.

For me it was just a fun, albeit tense, video game.  For baby boomers who grew up under the specter of mutually assured destruction, Missile Command was less a game and more a bad dream come to life.

PLAY Missile Command for free (Atari’s Greatest Hits iOS/Android App)

Pac-Man CE DX & Choplifter HD free on Playstation Plus

Pac-Man Championship Edition DX

At E3 last month, Sony announced their Instant Game Collection promotion for Playstation Plus subscribers.  Basically, it entails a rotating collection of 12 downloadable games, ranging from “excellent” to “meh” which are yours to keep for as long as your subscription remains current.

For July, they added Pac-Man Championship Edition DX, which falls on the “excellent” side of the scale.  A follow-up to 2007’s Pac-Man Championship Edition, both games successfully bring the classic Pac-Man gameplay into the 21st century.  Highly recommended.

Leaning more to the “meh” side of things is Choplifter HD with a thoroughly mediocre Metacritic score of 71%.   The arcade version of Choplifter was one of my favorites back in the day, so I’m willing to give it a bit more latitude.  It’s a decent update to the classic Choplifter gameplay, and worth a look if you’re a fan of the 80s incarnations, but ultimately it’s nothing special.  Here’s hoping developer inXile will be bringing their A-game for the upcoming sequel to Wasteland.

Atari’s Greatest Hits – 100 free games, today only!

As part of their 40th Anniversary celebration, Atari is giving away their Greatest Hits collection (iOS) for free, today only.  That’s 100 classics (and quite a few not-so-classics), normally $9.99 as an in-app purchase.

Download the app from the iTunes store, then launch the app and download the games.

The catch is, once you delete the app from your device, the games are gone as well, unlike normal in-app purchases.

There’s also an Android version of the app, but I can’t tell if the free games are available on that platform or not.

Atari is also giving some swag away via a Facebook sweepstakes.

There is no Frogger vanity board – George is getting angry!!

Seinfeld - "The Frogger"

As I was flipping through the channels last night, I ran across one of my favorite Seinfeld episodes – “The Frogger.” George discovers that the Frogger arcade machine he got the high score on years ago still has his initials at the top of the vanity board.

As I was watching this, it hit me – Frogger never let you enter your initials for a high score!  While most arcade games did let you enter your initials or your name,  Frogger wasn’t one of them.

Of course, they had to use Frogger for the payoff at the end of the episode where George is pushing the arcade console across the street and subsequently gets destroyed by an oncoming truck.