Vic-20 - Believe your eyes.

Poor, poor computers. Due to the basic reality of Moore's law, the laughability of old computers progresses in direct proportion to the power of new ones. As much of a superstar the newest, powerfulest machine is right now, it'll be the butt of jokes in, say, twenty years or so, when someone comes across advertisements proclaiming it's power.

Those CAN'T be actual Vic-20 screens, you lying bastard! The graphics are hyper-real! Actually, they're not too bad for 1983, considering that your TV's remote probably has more computing power than a Vic-20.

Click the image to enlarge, and anyone over the age of twenty should be able to name the games being ripped off here. From left to right, they look like Galaga, Defender, Something with squares in it, and Donkey Kong Junior.

The airbrushed eyeballs at the top are pretty terrible. Remember how everyone in the eighties was convinced that airbrush was the ultimate medium? Here's an example of a bright-eyed young artist trying his hand at sprayed art. Ug. Shading human skin requires a lot of different colors delicately balanced. Lots of finesse. This guy painted some salmon orange color and shaded with brown. See the highlight on the right side of the nose there? Never spray white directly onto your base tone. You need to go through a yellowish color before you get to white or the white will look chalky and blue. Ah well, video games were a small industry back then, and Sierra probably didn't pay much.

Sierra On-Line is remembered with a moist eye by many computer game old-timers. They were a husband and wife team who made some of the greatest graphical adventure games like King's Quest. They took the classic text-based adventure game format (like Zork) and added graphics. Since text-based games made your imagination work to create the pictures, adding graphics to stories of similar quality was a big leap in immersion. Compared to pure text, graphics of any kind were mind-blowing. Sierra never leaned too heavily on graphics. They (almost) always emphasized compelling story telling.

So what's with these arcade game knock-offs? I think the popularity of games like Donkey Kong and Defender -  and the sweet sweet cash they earned -  were too tempting to ignore.


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