The Antstream Arcade Years: 1984
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 third of this 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 1984, a period when the arcades and 8-bit home computers ruled.
Proving that the arcades in the Eighties weren’t all about shoot-‘em-ups and driving games, this novel platformer from Tecmo re-invented the jumping genre with its bomb collecting twist. Taking control of the yellow-caped hero, the player guides Jack throughout various famous locations around the world, such as a French chateau and the Parthenon in Athens, defusing the bombs that litter each screen. Picking up the bombs in lit order warrants a big bonus but watch out – bad guys are inevitably out to stop Jack and must be avoided if he is to collect all the bombs and save the world.
We continue the platform mayhem with this ZX Spectrum game, originally released by Melbourne House in 1984. In a marked difference to its peers (such as Manic Miner which featured in the Antstream Arcade Years 1983), Sir Lancelot is a fast-paced platformer that requires quick reactions as well as pixel-perfect jumping skills. Our intrepid knight is endeavouring to recover the Holy Grail, but in order to do so he needs to collect the many useful objects that lay within the 24 rooms of this vast castle. With an array of enemies both common (guards) and weird (Pac-Man?!), Sir Lancelot has a stiff challenge ahead of him in this quest-tastic 16k Speccy game.
We venture back into the arcades, and another outstanding coin-op videogame from the Antstream Arcade Year of 1984. Released by Tecmo, Star Force is an expeditious shooter that, while not the most original of games, is such fun to play that we couldn’t not include it here. Jumping into the cockpit of the Final Star spaceship, there are no secondary weapons or upgrades beyond the two levels of fire power. What Star Force does have – in buckets – is frenetic and addictive gameplay, making it another worthy game from this particular year.
Another visitor. Stay a while – stay forever! So begins Epyx’s Impossible Mission with a chilling warning from the evil Doctor Elvin Atombender who is attempting to hack into the national security computers and kick start World War III. Sent to his devilish lair to foil the dastardly plan, the player must negotiate killer robots, vast chasms and a strict time limit of six hours to reach the villain. Searching everyday objects such as tables and lamps can reveal parts of a pictorial code and once assembled these will reveal the location of Atombender. But watch out: every time the agent falls or is caught by a robot, ten minutes is deducted from the timer. With its amazing animation and compulsive gameplay, Impossible Mission is a true legend of the Commodore 64 and 1984!
16 hazardous caves await Rockford, a valiant potholer who risks life and limb in order to plunder the underground realm for treasures. Each of Boulder Dash’s 16 levels contains rocks and diamonds, the collection of which reveals the exit to the next cavern. Rockford can tunnel swiftly throughout the game but must watch for the falling rocks that result from his incessant excavations. This fantastic 8-bit game is available on four formats on Antstream Arcade and is a well-deserved entry into the Antstream Arcade Year of 1984.
We’ve featured the schoolyard antics of Eric before on Antstream Arcade, but no list of 1984 games is complete without the inclusion of this ZX Spectrum classic. An early example of sandbox gaming, the player guides Eric throughout the school day, hitting shields to ultimately extract the code for the headmaster’s safe from the various teachers. Only then can Eric pilfer his damning report and make the necessary changes to ensure he doesn’t get a rollicking from his parents. With his fellow students only too keen to land Eric in hot water, this is one mission that will require considerable skill – and some crafty catapult shooting!
Peter Pepper’s Ice Cream Factory
Peter Pepper, the frazzled chef from Data East’s BurgerTime is back! Now in charge of his own ice cream emporium, Peter is making sweet-tasting frozen treats by kicking the ice cream into the waiting cones. But as with BurgerTime, those pesky ingredients just can’t leave Peter alone; fortunately our hero chef now has a useful jump and can temporarily disable the enemies by rolling ice cream into them. Leave the burgers behind and get lickin’ with Peter Pepper’s Ice Cream Factory!
Our final game from 1984 is an arcade game from Data East that lets you slide behind the wheel of a yellow taxi. Also known by the frankly worrying title of Kamikaze Cabbie, the aim of the game is to pick up passengers and deliver them to their destination as quickly and as safely as possible. Other motorists, police cars, trains, tractors, road rollers and more are all out to try and stop this maniacal cabbie – how many fares can you pick up? And what about a tip, mate?