Asteroids (1979, Atari) Of all the early monochrome classics, Asteroids was my favourite, because it's truly bleak. Rather than aliens or robots, your enemies are unthinking lumps of rock that are hurtling through space. Twirling somewhere in the middle of this cluttered void is your tiny, heartbreakingly fragile spaceship, armed only with a feeble electric peashooter. If Asteroids has a message, it's this: you are insignificant, the universe doesn't care about you, and you are definitely going to die. Brilliant.
Jet Set Willy (1984, Software Projects) Back in the day, you needed only a single programmer to create a game - and since said programmers were often geeked-out stoners, said games were often weird. Jet Set Willy's blend of flying pigs, in-jokes, Python and Freak Brothers references encapsulates the homebrew quirkiness of the cottage industry software scene of the early 80s. We shall not see their like again.
The Sentinel (1986, Firebird) You played a nomadic consciousness that had to absorb parts of the 3D landscape, then transfer itself inside a series of motionless avatars in order to travel - your goal being to ascend the highest peak before the ominous Sentinel stared you to death with his huge, cycloptic eye. In other words, it makes sense only when you play it.(I vaguely remember that on the Commodore 64. Mostly in the context of it being somewhat unsatisfying to play. I imagine that, recontextualised as an interactive art installation or similar, it could perhaps have been more fulfilling.)
Kato Chan And Ken Chan (1988, Hudson Soft) An import-only title for the PC Engine (a tiny Japanese console), Chan And Chan was a below-average platform game - but one that revolved, startlingly, around shitting, farting and pissing. The point at which I first grasped the illicit joy of off-kilter Japanese imports. (Also for the PC Engine: Toilet Kids, a shoot-em-up in which you fired turds at flying penises.)
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