Adventure (Atari VCS, 1980)
Okay, I"ve started this entry about six times! I'm trying to keep myself from babbling but what I keep writing is a long and pretty uninteresting description of the different elements of Adventure. I'm failing to capture the essence of the whole which is so much greater than just a listing of the separate parts.
Rather than make another attempt at objectively describing Adventure, let's just activate Fanboy Mode.
I think that it's safe to say that this is my favorite console game of all time.
People look at it now and very often say the same thing they said in 1980: "those Dragons look like ducks".
They see ducks, I see a whole freakin' eco-system.
There are countless moments created by this simple little universe that are exciting and funny and interesting in unexpected ways. Dragons will suddenly find you defenseless, only to themselves be carried away by the Bat. Lucky Happy Accidental Dragon killings. Entering a room and *gulp*! Fighting all three dragons at once and surviving! Flying over the Kingdom in a Dragon stomach being carried by the bat... it's just awesome. If you allow yourself to be immersed in this game, you can still enjoy it 28 years after you first played it. I'm speaking from experience.
I regard this game with reverent awe. I cannot begin to get into how many hours I've played it, over and over and over again. When I play, I am that square, running through the landscape, wary of what could come swooping in to swallow me up. When I was 13 and playing for the first time, I remember how my heart raced and my hands shook as I held the joystick and crept through the Blue Maze, (back when I didn't know my way around the Blue Maze!). I remember the jolt I would get when a Dragon would find me, and how desperately I would try to get away. The terrifying sounds of its "chomp" would cause me to visibly startle. The pathetic sound of its death (if I was lucky enough to have the sword with me) would fill me with relief rather than triumph. I would breath a quiet "I survived!" and would continue on knowing that there were still two out there...
Adventure represents my first real videogame "high". To follow the drug metaphor, Odyssey 300 was my "gateway" game system. It wasn't enough to get me addicted, but enough to get me interested. From the moment I first saw Adventure being demonstrated in a Sears, I wanted an Atari. No games prior to that filled me with such a drive to play them. Adventure was my first "hard" addiction. It is the game that led me to embrace videogames as what other people consider to be merely my "hobby". The truth is, it isn't a hobby, it's my way of life. To this day I still seek to reclaim from new games that thrill I used to get when playing Adventure. Sometimes, I get close.
Next entry, for no reason other than the cart is next to the Atari at this very moment, we'll do Stellar Track.