• Graeme Mason

The Antstream Arcade Years: 1983

With the Antstream Arcade search facility capable of narrowing the selection of retro games by year, there’s a great way to discover all the particular releases from a time you remember especially fondly. In the second of a regular series, we take a look back at one such year and the noteworthy games that make it a fantastic time worth travelling back to on Antstream Arcade. This month, we pop into our retro time machine and zip back to 1983, a period when the arcades still ruled and computers such as the ZX Spectrum and Commodore 64 were beginning to invade our homes.

Exerion

We head to the arcades first, and this underrated shooter from Jaleco. Taking control of a flowing star ship, infused with realistic inertia, Exerion scrolls beautifully over various landscapes as hordes of aliens approach the lone fighter. The ship has two weapons in its armament: a slow twin shot and a rapid fire beam that has a limited charge boosted every time the player shoots down an enemy with the twin shot. This exciting mechanic is the heart of Exerion, making it an innovative shoot-‘em-up. Take up the battle on Antstream Arcade!



Night Gunner

While it garnered a deserved reputation for accurate and fun flight simulations over the years, British developer Digital Integration also produced the odd pure arcade game such as Night Gunner. Programmed by DI co-founder Rod Swift, this WW2-based shoot-‘em-up originated on the ZX81 before Rod expanded it for the ZX Spectrum, the version we host on Antstream Arcade. With its multiple sections – you need to defend your bomber from enemy fighters as well as attack your ground targets – Night Gunner is relentless mission after mission with squadrons of enemy fighters constantly harassing the slow moving Lancaster.


Flip And Flop

We flip over to the Atari 800 computer now and flop down with Flip & Flop, two loveable animals trapped inside a tricky isometric maze. The levels alternate between Flip (a kangaroo who jumps on panels) and Flop (a monkey, swings underneath) and soon the pair will have zookeepers and ghostly nets chasing after them in their mission to get back to the circus. With sticky squares and the divergent controls to master, this is one devious platform game from 1983.



Attack Of The Mutant Camels

Time for a touch of surrealism, 1983 style, with Jeff Minter’s bizarre yet immensely fun Commodore 64 game, Attack Of The Mutant Camels. Giant yellow camels have invaded the planet and are stomping inexorably towards your base! Hop into your fighter craft and take them down before they reach it and the game ends. Fast-paced and unremitting, this is one of the most gripping and energetic games available on Antstream Arcade.


Encounter

We stick with the Commodore 64 with our next game from 1983, Novagen’s Encounter. Coded by Paul Woakes (who would go on to achieve fame with the 8-bit wireframe masterpiece Mercenary), this is a first-person game of cat and mouse with kamikaze flying saucers and drones attacking the player – get them before they get you! With its rapid and remarkably solid graphics, Encounter is a true early classic on the Commodore 64.



Manic Miner

It would be remiss of us to exclude this ZX Spectrum star from our list of 1983 videogames available on Antstream Arcade. Manic Miner is the game that introduced the world to the brave potholer Miner Willy, stuck in a dangerous underground world of manic mining robots and worse. Help him navigate his way out of this perilous realm, but don’t forget to nab some treasure in the process!


Elevator Action

Both Elevator Action and its sequel, Elevator Action Returns are available on Antstream Arcade. Released in 1983, the original Taito arcade game sees the player assume the role of Agent 17, a secret agent who infiltrates a tall building in order to pilfer some valuable documents. But beware! There are enemy agents located throughout the building and ready to pounce from behind the many doors on each level. A definitive and timeless marvel of arcade gaming.


Jumping Jack

Finally we present one of the most wonderful yet infuriating games on Antstream Arcade. Coded by the father-son team of Albert and Stuart Ball, Jumping Jack is the tale of Jack as told gradually in the poem, The Ballad Of Jumping Jack. The objective is simple: guide Jack up the screen by jumping through the holes in the ceiling. Sound easy? Well it isn’t! Soon holes are appearing in the floors as well and nasties patrol each level, looking to squish our leaping friend. With a life lost each time Jack returns to the bottom of the screen, this is one hectic and stimulating Spectrum game that will have you constantly hitting that play button!

Easter Egg

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