This day in History – 1st August 1981

On this day in 1981, I think the delivery of digital media changed forever – MTV started broadcasting at 12:01am.

The first music video it played was the Buggles – Video Killed the Radio Star. How appropriate!

Enjoy the video:

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Handheld games of the 80s – Game & Watch

The 80’s were the decade that started the trend in what we enjoy today in handheld games – thanks to Nintendo.

These very simple games took the world by storm. The size and simplicity made these very addictive to all. It was always a challenge to beat the highest score – even if it was only by one point. There were normally ‘Game A’ and ‘Game B’ options on these units, with the latter being a much harder and quick paced game (nearly impossible to master in my opinion).

Although googling the history of these devices reveals a few titles I have never heard of or seen, I think Game and Watch’s first game to stardom was Parachute:

This game was released in 1981, and the aim is to move your rowboat left and right to catch the parachutists that are being dropped from the helicopter. You need to ensure that they are caught, otherwise the shark in the water eats them up. As time gos one, the parachutists become more regular and more of them are released.

Also released in 1981 was Octopus:

The aim of this game was to guide your diver down to the treasure chest and get the gold, and then bring it back into your boat. Sound easy? Oh, I forgot to add that there is Octopus with long tentacles trying to stop you 🙂

Many other titles were released, and Nintendo also then released multi screen games that were still simple but required keeping an eye on the action on both screens whilst playing. The most popular no doubt was Donkey Kong:

No need to explain what you need to do in this game, which came out in 1982.

Also in 1982, Oil Panic came out. Although not as popular as Donkey Kong, it wasn’t a bad game. I had one of these, and kick myself now for not keeping it all those years ago.

The idea behind this game was to catch the leaking oil from the pipes above with your bucket and drop them into your bosse’s oil drum. Missing oil or dropping onto motorists below caused you to lose a life.

If you wish to relive the fun of these games, some online versions can be found here.

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Play Galaga online here

A very popular arcade game of the 80s was Galaga. It was the sequel to Galaxian and was released in 1981 by Namco.

I’d call Galaxian a typical space invaders clone but taken to the next level where the aliens have much more movement when flying around.

Galaga goes one step further. The aliens fly in more daring flight patterns but are in no way random. Regular players know where to sit so the aliens can be shot when they initially appear.

A cool, new feature in Galaga is where a “boss Galaga” attempts to capture the player’s fighter using a tractor beam – if successful, the fighter joins the formation and must be freed by the player (using another ship and costing him/her a life), enabling him/her to control two ships simultaneously. That doubles the firepower but if you miss in capturing it, there goes (in effect) two lives.

Play it here:


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Play Qix online

Qix was released in 1981 by Taito. The aim of the game was to claim a majority (75%) of the playing field with your little marker. You could draw fast or slow (thus gaining more points) lines to claim your land.

Trying to stop you was the Qix, a randomly moving object (and quite adavnced for it’s time) and two sparx that would travel along the same lines the you would move your marker on. The Qix could only touch you while you were drawing a line, and once you started you could not stop otherwise the fuse would get you.

The were many strategies used in claiming your land/trapping the Qix and required much planning ahead of time in trying the avoid the Qix and sparx.

Play it online here ….


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