I’m sure Alex (my 13-year-old niece) and I (a tragic, 30-year-old video game expert/snob) are not the only ones to have bridged that gap between the videogame generations, but we are the only ones with a soap box from which to shout about it, so here’s our run down of the best games to help old people get back in touch with the gaming scene and for whippersnappers to learn about games the way they used to be.
PS2 (as part of Taito Legends)
by Alex Spencer
Bubble Bobble is a good choice to play with a friend or a relative who just isn’t into the more violent or serious kind of games, and is a good way to just sit and relax together. You play as either Bub or Bob who are two cute, bubble-blowing dragons. In the game, you have to catch things like robots, ghosts and other peculiar creatures by capturing them inside a bubble. As they float off toward the ceiling getting angry and red-faced, you must chase after them and pop their bubblebefore they escape, from which you gain points. Points mean lives, so you need to be fast and make sure you share the goodies with the other player. Touching one of the enemies without a bubble means you loose one of your three lives, although it’s worth it at first to see your dragon go all dizzy and fall over.
There are one hundred levels in total which keep getting harder, but each level is nice and short, so you can play it if you have only a few minutes to fill. Spanner might blow a fuse at this one, but I think Bubble Bobble is as good on the console as it is on the arcade machine, so I really recommend Taito Legends.
Remember how Double Dragon turned out to be the best game ever? Well, it was in a photo finish with Final Fight.
Originally intended to be Street Fighter II, Capcom released Final Fight in1989 in its own right when test audiences complained about its lack of similarity to the original Street Fighter. The historical relevance of Final Fight is it’s introduction of the “attack” button to the beat ’em up genre, whereby the player no longer had to learn button and joystick combinations to perform the game’s attack sequences, they just pounded rabidly on a single button and the game engine filled in all the Jackie Chan type moves.
Although the (S)NES has its share of Final Fight conversions (good ones, too), this is definitely one for playing on the arcade floor. The thumping bass and cracking bones need to be experienced first-hand through the tactility of excessive audio volume, while an irresponsible disregard for the cabinet and its controls provide a warrior with exactly the kind of aggression relief their overworked psychiatrist might recommend.
Plug’n’Play TV game
By Alex Spencer
Tetris is another oldie-but-goodie, that I’m sure doesn’t need an introduction. I first played a one-player version on Kirsty’s (that’s my auntie andSpanner’s wife) original Game Boy. Spanner recently bought one of the “plug directly into your TV”-type Tetris games that allows two players to battle it out. He said it was for Kirsty…
In the TV game, the different shaped bricks still fall from the top for you to fit into the spaces below, only this two-player version allows you to make it a real block war. Completing a single line, as you might do more often when playing on your own and just want the points, doesn’t have any effect on the other player. Completing two, three or four (Tetris!) lines at once adds the same number of lines to the bottom of your opponent’s pile, taking them closer to the top of the screen.
There are several different types of gameplay available, some that offer more of a challenge than others. This game is enjoyable because you really get to bond with the other player; since it is so simple to play, you can chat while playing.
Quest for the Rings
Philips G7000 (AKA Magnavox Odyssey²)
The pinnacle of the G7000’sgaming delights came in the form of the “Master Strategy” series; a combination of video and board games. Of the three released, Quest for the Rings was undoubtedly the finest.
Based on the J.R.R.Tolkien book, the game used a separate board to determine what format the on-screen battles would take. As the players made their way along the winding path of the board game, they would encounter castles containing all manner of fantasy nasties protecting a magic ring. The real genius of this game was requiring the players to choose their teams carefully when entering a battle. Often, it was necessary for one of the players to use special abilities to fight off enemies while the other used powers to get the ring. Choose the wrong players or fail to work as a team and the prize was easily lost.
A great game for those long winter evenings, and although it was technically a two-player game, any number of heroes could happily share the burden forming a triumphant Fellowship all of their own. Historical gaming at its finest with nothing a modern system could add to its wonderful, cooperative gameplay.
The Sims 2
By Alex Spencer
The Sims 2 is technically a one-player game, but it is good to play with someone else as there are aspects appealing to the older player which kids might not be as good at, and vice versa.
The day-to-day running of your Sims’ lives doesn’t seem to be as interesting to older players, but making bigger decisions about their lives, or building and decorating a new house, seems to catch their interest. Perhaps adults enjoy it because it’s like living out one of those “home makeover” type of TV programs!
The Sims can be a very long game, so it’s ideal for those rainy afternoons when you want to go somewhere where the sun is always shining. It can also be a good way to get rid of a bad mood, as you can take out your frustrations on your Sims’ families it can be a laugh seeing what weird things you can make an unhappy Sim do!
Dance Dance Revolution
A short while ago, I noticed a crowd gathered around a couple of odd looking, behemoth games machines that required the players to strut their funky stuff on floor mounted controllers. What was particularly unusual was how the crowd were all dancing along, practicing routines until their turn on the dance floor came around. An entire entourage of prospective pop stars was acting out detailed choreographies in the middle of an arcade with impeccable timing; all expertly taught by a video screen and a quid’s worth of credits.
I realized I’m not quite the hot stepper I assumed myself to be, although once the rising arrows on the screen are associated with aesthetic step routines, the patterns encoded within the music began to present themselves. The purpose of this game, which makes it quite unique, is not one of competition with the computer but harmony with the music and the step arrangements contained within. When two gamers, and a crowd of trained onlookers, successfully unite in a composition of refineddexterity, I can’t help but feel that a simple harmony of two players has been transcended to also include the game, its elaborate cabinet and the rest of the arcade; participative gameplay in the extreme!
In time, this gadget will prove to be a defining moment in videogame history, as it single-handedly discovered a way to get players out of their square eyed atrophy and start earning – physically earning – their points. Half an hour on EyeToy Play and a lazy person (ahem) will feel the effects for a couple of days. Of course, the annoying side effects of getting exercise while playing your video games is nothing compared to the hilarity of watching your grandmother beating imaginary drums with all the passion and vigor of an African tribesman.
The EyeToy deliberately allows the fun to be provided by the players rather than the played. This kind of quiet, background genius is a rare thing indeed and should not be missed by anyone who enjoys games, video orotherwise. It’s the perfect way to get fit, have fun and worry your neighbors in one neat package.
If you ever find yourself in a mental institution, however, be sure not to use an EyeToy as part of your therapy. Should the doctor see you playing it from outside the window (just as your neighbors might), he’ll double your Thorazine and move you to the secure unit.
EyeToy Play (so great, we’ve reviewed it twice!)
by Alex Spencer
EyeToy Play is just great because it’s so unlike any other type of game and places you right on the screen. I was going to say it’s best to play with people who don’t get embarrassed seeing themselves on television, but actually it adds a lot to the enjoyment when it’s someone who feels really silly jumping up and down and waving their arms about.
This game is hard work and is ideal when you want some exercise or you want to relieve stress from the day. EyeToy Play is a multi-player game, so it’s perfect when the whole family comes around for a visit (and you feellike embarrassing them). The games are all quite short, so no one gets left out of play for very long and there is a variety of games so eventually everyone finds something they are good at, whether it’s sprinting down the race track, dodging spotlights, heading footballs or smashing bricks.
Because it’s so much fun, you don’t realize how much hard work you’re doing, so it is a brilliant way to get fit. If you have young children or someone in your family who doesn’t normally like to play videogames, EyeToy Play is ideal as the games are very simple, don’t use ordinary controllers and can be played by anyone willing to jump about the room waving their arms like an idiot.
Alex Spencer is a teenager with about twenty five years of video game experience under her belt, and a healthy supply of old Yorkshire sass to boot.
Spanner has written articles for several publications, including Retro Gamer. He is a self-proclaimed horror junkie, with a deep appreciation for all things Romero.