Category Archives: space invaders

The Namco Museum and Xevious

Just to show you all what a big old fart I am, and how out of touch gaming-wise I am, the very first free download I ever got from the PlayStation Store was this – Namco Museum. Yeah, I’m old. Deal with it.

As the name might imply it’s a small collection of old games from the 1980s, namely Pac-Man, Dig Dug, Galaga, and Xevious. To be fair, it’s actually the trial for Namco Museum Essentials, and has much more available but I haven’t purchased the whole package yet. And I have looked, but there doesn’t seem to be an option to buy it. One problem with this one is that the games are presented in their original arcade form – vertical, on a horizontal screen. Oh well.

With the exception of Pac-Man, these are all games I spent a generous amount of time with at the arcade. I was never big into Pac-Man, but the others I loved. Dig Dug I’ve talked about before, everyone knows about Pac-Man, and Galaga is really just a color evolution up from Space Invaders. Xevious is the one I want to talk about today.

Xevious was a vertical scroller from back in the day, 1982, known for its bouncy tunage and unique breaking glass sound effects when you blasted the disc things that spun through the air at you. That effect is recreated here but the controller again makes what was easy on the arcade game difficult here – shooting and bombing simultaneously.

Xevious is a fun game without becoming too monotonous, although it remains much the same throughout. I remember the ship you pilot is called oddly the Solvalou, and that the sides of the arcade game showed pics that didn’t exactly match the game itself. Always fun, even in this format.

Barcade and the Frustration of Getting Old

A few months back The Bride and I attended a birthday party for two friends, at a place in the Philadelphia/Fishtown area called Barcade. Barcade is exactly what it sounds like, a bar/arcade. It has a couple dozen old school arcade games, and an assortment of local and obtuse brews, all for a quarter – the games, not the beers, that is.

I was stunned to how close to an arcade of the good old days this place was, what with the variety of games and their placement around the bar area. They even had high scores posted. They had a bar menu, but no fries. But it’s all good, they carded me, the first time that’s happened in years, so I was very happy.

When I looked around at the selection of games, at first I had little interest, then as I walked around, and got a closer look my memory kicked in… I realized I had done time, serious time, with all of them at one point or another in my younger years. Among the games at Barcade: OutRun, Gauntlet, Ms. Pac-Man, Mr. Do!, Golden Axe, Track & Field, Frogger, BurgerTime, Centipede, Double Dragon, Punch-Out!!, Tetris, and Robotron 2084, just to name a few. A full list can be found here.

Spy Hunter, Rampage, Tempest, Dig Dug, Paper Boy, Space Invaders, Galaxian, Joust. I knew them all intimately. And yet I was no longer capable of playing them. The muscles and reflexes honed to each particular set of skills for each game had deteriorated over the years of disuse. Man, playing videogames sure wasn’t like riding a bike, you can’t just get back on. In other words, I was old.

Lead photo by John Donges.

The Non-Gamer

The non-gamer – that’s me. I’m old, horribly horribly old, almost fifty. Gosh, it hurts to even type that. Like I said, I’m old, and I’m not a gamer, at least not by today’s standards. So if I’m not a gamer, why am I writing this blog? Good question.

My background in videogames is being around for the birth of Atari, specifically Pong. Yeah, you remember Pong, and if you don’t, you probably saw pictures of it painted in animal blood on cave walls. Pong was the first of the Atari 2600 videogames, and the shot heard round the world that triggered an electronic revolution in the world of games and hobbies.

Pong was followed by fun stuff like Space Invaders and later personal favorites Starmaster, Adventure, and Yar’s Revenge and even Donkey Kong. That last one was a keeper. It triggered the jump to the next generation of videogame, and also the point where I got lost. I had an Atari 2600, but I didn’t get a Nintendo system until 1998, way beyond when it was cool or even cutting edge – and even then it wasn’t my idea to get the system. I was dragged kicking and screaming into the videogame age.

A Super Nintendo system followed later, but only so I could play geek favorites of mine – Justice League Task Force and Super Godzilla, notably the only two games ever purchased for the system. Up until a few weeks ago, that was as cutting edge as I got. Then the PS3 came into the house.

This was a surprise, but apparently something The Bride had been thinking about for a while. I had initially asked for a Roku or a Blu-Ray player for Christmas but Santa was not accommodating. The Bride thought a PS3 would service both functions and have games so she got one. And here we are.

There’s an old joke that the only thing that separates a full-time freelance writer from an unemployed bum is a videogame system. To keep that balance from claiming me, I’m starting this blog, recording my impressions as a decisive non-gamer into the gaming world of PlayStation. I’ll try not to be too stupid or naïve, and maybe we’ll all learn something. Welcome to my nightmare.