Grandson: Grandpa, what were fantasy-adventure games like back when you were young? Way back in 1979?
Grandpa: Well, sonny, there was this one particular game on the Atari VCS called Adventure that was kind of like your own grandpappy but in video game form. Today we may show our age and may not look too impressive anymore but when we were young we were quite the catch. We also managed to sire a bunch of young ‘uns for better or worse (no offense to you sonny).
Grandson: Wow, that’s cool. I’ve heard about that game, is it epic like The Legend of Zelda?
Grandpa: No, sonny. It isn’t. However, what is epic is that it offered an open world experience in 1979 when no one was really doing that. If you weren’t shooting aliens in space or bouncing electronic balls back and forth across a screen, you weren’t doing it right.
Grandson: Sounds amazing…..kind of. Wait, was the game actually fun, Grandpa?
Grandpa: Depends on if you have a tolerance for annoying things like bats that steal your weapons and keys. Those goddamn bats…..oh, and really, really primitive graphics. As in, all the screens are monocolored and the dragons look like ducks. Despite these graphical limitations, the game is effective in how it offers mazes and castles to traverse in order to find a chalice and then take it back to the original castle you started in. There are different colored keys spread around the game that will unlock the different colored castles. Inside the castles are weapons, dragons and the chalice of course. Finding an arrow can help kill the dragons and finding the magnet will retrieve stolen items back from those bastard bats. Fuck those bats!!! Sorry for the language sonny.
Grandson: It’s ok, when I play online games I hear worse. But I don’t know Grandpa…..it sounds very…..basic.
Grandpa: Oh sonny, it is. But it had an innovative continue feature! When you inevitably would be eaten by a dragon and your little square body would struggle in vain to escape it’s hollow stomach, all you had to do was hit reset and the game could be continued. You’d start back on the opening screen but all the items would be where you left them! This was really cool in 1979! Trust me.
Grandson: Sure thing gramps. Did you say your character was a block? Really?
Grandpa: Yes, sonny. You controlled a block and you were a hero.
Grandson: Well, how is the music? You haven’t mentioned anything about it so far.
Grandpa: There was no music son, just sound effects mostly coming from the dragons. Adventure required every bit of code space for the ambitious game itself.
Grandson: It sounds easy.
Grandpa: Easy? Definitely not on 2nd and 3rd quests. The 1st quest is a warm up for newbies but the bats show up in later quests and the mazes sometimes are darkened so you can only see directly in front of you. With all of the screens looking pretty much the same, it made it very difficult to find your way around and you could easily get lost. Especially if you didn’t draw a map.
Grandson: Hmmm, drawing your own map huh? Sounds like a true adventure! It would be kind of like Lewis and Clark setting off on their quest to reach the Pacific Ocean! Around every corner could mean certain death! Only those with smarts, strength and a good sense of direction would survive. I haven’t had to use my imagination in years Grandpa, I sure hope it still works.
Grandpa: Don’t worry sonny. It will all come back to you. It’s not something you ever lose. Just think, players like myself had to use our imagination every time we played an Atari game. Do you see why this game is important, sonny?
Grandson: I do, gramps. I appreciate that this game existed to set the stage for all my favorite adventure games of the past 30 years. I guess I owe this game a certain amount of gratitude for paving the way and showing players that video games could make you think as well as work your hand-eye coordination. I guess this truly was the greatest generation!
Grandpa: Well, don’t go overboard there sonny…..
Currently in my collection: game, manual