9/21 Reflection: Arcade visit

I have not been to an arcade in years, so this visit brought back nostalgia from my childhood. Despite not visiting one in a long time, I have always loved arcade games such as Pacman, Mappy, Dig-dug, and Bosconian; so I was very happy to see some of those there. It as very cool to walk through the VHS rental entrance and to see the living room. I have never seen a VHS rental store, but I will probably return since I still have a VHS player at my house. The basic features of an arcade was there, the dim lighting and the multitude of games with their distinguishable sound effects. A very nice addition was the music playing in the background, their choice of music was also adequate since they played hits from the 70s and 80s. One of they key differences was that all of the games were free. This is a liberty that many people who played in arcades back in the day did not enjoy. I was really glad that it was free since I would not have been able to have so many attempts at some of the games.

I did not have much time to be there, since I had class in an hour so I only got to play a few games. The game that I chose to focus onwas Centipede, developed by Atari and designed by Donna Bailey and Ed Long. Something interesting that I found afterwards is that this game was aimed for female gamers since one of the designers was a woman. The cabinet has that standard arcade cabinet shape similar to many others in the arcade. The design on the cabinet is really comic-like, with a giant centipede on the side being shot at by the ship (us) from the bottom. There are three buttons and a ball like roller on the game. Two red buttons are dedicated to either choosing one or two players, with the last being the button pressed to shoot the gun on the spaceship. The interesting control is the roller, which is one that I have not seen before, that was used to control the ship. The cost is 25 cents per play, which is the norm for many arcade games. The game uses raster graphics and the game’s attract mode is just the game being played.

The game’s graphics are similar to that of other games at that time. It has 8-bit graphics, and the enemies are insects which have basic shapes. The centipede is comprised of circles with two small moving dots as legs and small red dots for eyes. The other insects form representations of what we think about them in real life. The spider looks like an 8-bit arachnid and is very pesky since it moves around very quickly. The lizard appears every once in a while going across the screen and it slithers at slowish speed, while the fly looks like another circle with some smaller circles for details, the same goes for the mushrooms riddled through the area.

This game’s genre can be best described as sci-fi similar to Galaga since you have to presumably destroy aliens using guns from your ship. It has a high score list and I was able to take the bottom five scores out of the eight in total. The highest score that I got was 25,355, while the high score was 57,397. I probably would not have been able to reach that even if I stayed all day! The objective of the game is to destroy the centipede by shooting out each segment. There are many things that awards points in this game, shooting the centipede, shooting the mushrooms all around you, killing the spider and the fly, and killing the lizard, which can also give you a life, that moves across the screen periodically. Interestingly, after every level the spider gets faster, but it maintains the same pattern. The lizard randomly rewards a life when you kill it, otherwise it just gives points. It is also ideal to kill the fly since it falls creating more mushrooms in a vertical line. Lastly, there is not really any specific design intended to keep you playing other than it keeps getting more difficult. The perspective of the player is looking from above to give a birds eye view of all of the arena.

The game is about killing the centipede and other insects and amphibians in order to defend what I assume is Earth. Although I do not believe we are on Earth since some game art shows the setting which look to be an alien planet, perhaps the centipede’s planet. This makes me think that perhaps this game is about us invading their planet, while the enemy is simply trying to defend it.

9/20

Brandon R

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