Saturday, May 20, 2023

1983 in Review

In many ways, 1983 was over very fast, in others just long enough. I started with 96 games and ended up playing 22. Which is roughly 1/4th of what I wrote down. What happened? I start more aggressively culling things I had no point in talking about. After all, we're now right in the middle of the industry going on an economic downturn, most strongly affecting consoles and action games. For every game released this year that feels like some incredible leap, there are a dozen more that have rightly remained forgotten.

Could you tell this came from 1983 without checking?

So, I don't really have a different opinion on the games of 1983 than I have for proceeding years. That said, we are getting to the point where the standouts aren't just merely good for the time, they're getting to be fun period. By the same token, being old is becoming a lot less of an excuse for getting a low score. Games have reached the twenties, a trend I foresee becoming a lot more common soon.

Any other suggestions for things you think should be in this kind of chart, feel free to make them, I lack the middle management gravitas towards charts.

I have prepared this handy little chart. Doesn't really tell you much you didn't already know. 1983 was better than 1982, but only because I pruned out a lot, sure, it did get a better high score and a better average score, but only just. The same number of games might even have resulted in a lower score than 1982. The cause of a partial gaming crash and all that.

It's not necessarily the systems themselves that are creating a score of retro shooter black hole of quality. Outside of maybe the Apple II and the Atari 2600. We're not really seeing the best these systems can do most of the time. Obviously with strategy and adventure games there's more leeway with making games that are not as smooth to control, but I don't think we've seen the best these systems can do. Ironically enough, the best these systems could do seems to all be from the early '90s, which is exactly the worst time for them to work to their fullest. Although there is always the chance that these later games prove to be cases of style of substance; most games from the '90s and onward definitely look good in screenshot form, but nobody rarely are their gameplay virtues discussed.

Game of the Year  -  The Dreadnaught Factor
The game I ended up enjoying the most this year is also a game that basically nobody has ever played. The Dreadnaught Factor is a game about fighting against a squadron of dreadnaughts, posed to take out your home planet. To accomplish this task, you have a series of starfighters, each with lasers and bombs, who make attack runs against these dreadnaughts, until it is destroyed or you are destroyed. Time is a factor, but you can increase your chances by taking out engines, the game's party piece. Each ship is big and consists of many independent parts, some which shoot at you, some which are important to the ship's function. Some components are vital, others decrease the ship's fire rate or engine speed.

Underdog of the Year  -  The Dreadnaught Factor
Not really much point otherwise, The Dreadnaught Factor is both obscure and the best game by a large factor.

Technological Advancement of the Year  -  Encounter
Encounter is a surprising game, just another Battlezone-clone at first glance. But this is 1983, a year when a fast paced FPS is unheard of, especially on home computers. It is outrageously primitive today, yet practically witchcraft even considering someone released a FPS just as fast the year before, just, you know, without any enemies. It's worth a short trip today, if only to see what the Atari 800 was capable of doing, before the constant one against one fights on slightly different planets becoming repetitive.

Let's update the games of note...

Good Games:

Historical Games:
Asteroids (1979)
Berzerk (1980)
Castle Wolfenstein (1981)
Defender (1981)
Robotron 2084 (1982)
Wayout (1982)
Encounter (1983)

Personal Favorites:
Bosconian (1981)
Night Stalker (1982)
Sinistar (1982)
The Dreadnaught Factor (1983)

Rather short this year, but oh, well.

Unfortunately, 1984 has quite a lot of games, and I have already culled it of any obviously awful titles. Its all "quality" from here on out. There's not a lot I recognize, to the point that what I'm holding out hope for are licensed titles. Yeah. I've barely played anything from the year before this, just Elite and SunDog. I think that this year will take much longer to get through than past years, not just because there are many games, but because I'm going to take more breaks from the current year. When I first started this I expected the more annoying end of the scale to be populated by shovelware FPS titles and now unappealing flight sims, not what I've gotten.

That said, I expect stuff to start hitting the 30 point range next year. Impossible Mission seems to be a really beloved title and I'll be replaying F-15 Strike Eagle on a proper platform rather than a lazy DOS port.

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