I am a gamer who began playing in the golden age of gaming - the period where every game was something new. My first computer was a Commodore Vic 20 but soon moved up to the hugely powerful Commodore 64. Games were great back then, despite the limited visuals and sound. It was like reading a book - you had to use your imagination a bit. During those early years between 1980 and 1984, my favourite games all came from one developer/publisher, Epyx. Below are my favourite three from that era.
Summer Games (1984) – Epyx, Commodore 64
Growing up as a normal kid, I loved to try my hand at any sport I could. And when I wasn’t outside playing sports, I was probably inside watching some on TV. One of the big sporting events of the time was the Los Angeles Olympics. And with a burgeoning computer games scene, along came a game to cash in on the Olympic Sports hype and that game was Summer Games.
Summer Games allowed up to a whopping (for the time) eight players to compete in a series of Olympic events. Each player would choose a country to represent, and then takes turns competing in various events for the ultimate Olympic glory. There were a number of various events to choose from, most of which involved some express joystick-waggling. Fun times indeed, especially when played as a group.
Oil Barons (1983) – Epyx, Commodore 64
Coming from an era where board games were the main form of family entertainment (apart from TV), it wasn’t long before game companies started moving from that original form to an electronic form. Oil Barons was one of those early games that was basically an electronic board game. Indeed the game even included a game board and game pieces so that you could keep track of your progress.
Oil Barons was a turn based strategy game for one to eight players with the object being to accumulate the most wealth by locating and drilling for oil. During the game, players needed to survey different lands ranging from the Arctic to the desert for oil potential, choose the best sites and drill. There were certain constraints thrown in such as bills that were passed forbidding drilling in parks and other reserved lands, as well as auctions for parcels of land. Desert land was highly sought after.
Pitstop (1983) – Epyx, Commodore 64
I feel the need – the need for speed. And Pitstop was one of the first video games that allowed you to put the pedal to the metal. Pitstop was a racing game featuring six different race tracks. Your goal was to earn as much money as possible by winning races in the Grand Circuit, which consisted of a race on each of the six tracks. Completing a race resulted in earning money depending on how you placed and the number of laps completed. Driving was pretty easy, but gamers had to watch for tyre wear and fuel usage. And that’s where the pitstop came in. During a pitstop, gamers controlled a pit crew and could replace tires and refuel whilst the race was in progress. This forced you to work out a viable refuelling and tyre replacement strategy, which was almost as important as your driving skills.
Keep your eyes peeled for the next installment of “Eras of Gaming”, 1st of January 1985 to 31st of December 1989, coming soon on 3 1/2” floppy disk.