Thursday 29 May 2014

Valkyrie needs food - badly!

I haven't really played video games (except for simple puzzle-type time-wasters like Solitaire and Doctor Who Legacy) since teenagerhood. This is not from any prejudice against them, just from the twin facts that I know how they would combine with my mildly obsessive personality in order to eat all my time, and that I have no computer powerful enough to actually run whatever the latest amazing reality-warping developments in gaming might be.

What I do have time for are short, clever books about the more interesting bits of pop culture. Examples are the 33 1/3 series (examples here and here) which examine single important albums, the sadly aborted Deep Focus series from Soft Skull (see here) about films on the borderline between genius and trash, and ECW's Pop Classics series (the first titles of which have examined the disastrous movie 'Showgirls' (see here) and the strange longevity of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles).

Now add to this Boss Fight Books, an ongoing series of short books about seminal computer games. What especially nice about these is that, instead of going mental with original digital images or lurid game graphics, they've chosen a sleek, minimalist series design (the work of Ken Baumann) that refers slightly elliptically to elements of the game under discussion, with small icons to demonstrate the relevant gaming platform (PC, arcade or console). Click for bigger images:

I haven't read any of these yet--Gallaga aside, none of them cover games I'm familiar with. But the moment they put out a volume on Gauntlet*, Brian Bloodaxe, Bubble Bobble or Ivan 'Ironman' Stewart's Super Off Road, I'm there.

* This classics swords-and-sorcery game allowed four players at once, and I had three friends also obsessed with it, so the amount of money we poured into this in Adelaide's Hindley Street Downtown during the mid-1980s was ludicrous. 

To this day I find myself saying things from the game--like the title of this post--more often than is necessary (ie at all). And Bubble Bobble! The Bridgewater Pub near where I grew up had one of those machines, and I read in a computer games magazine that some cunning combination of joystick waggling and button mashing would give you infinite free games, and it worked, and so my brother and I spent hours playing it while our chicken schnitzels were left to go cold and our traffic-light drinks to go warm. Why, in those days [strokes long white beard] you only needed a 20-cent coin to play, and [mind wanders] what was I saying, you whippersnappers? Why yes, it is time for my lie-down.


Anonymous said...

We did not have roller skating leisure centers in California. We had roller skating, but "leisure centers" were built around miniature golf. The game I poured money into was called Tempest. I'm not sure I'd read a book about it even a short one, but a long article in a magazine, yes.

lividlili said...

That Downtown ad is superb. Reminds me a bit of Pier 1 in Sydney, where we'd go on a Sunday and my dad would win hundreds of tickets which could be exchanged for ugly stuffed toys.