E.T. : The Extra-Terrestrial – The Ready Player One Video Replay

The title screen for the ET video game, with the text ET and a picture of the alien's head

Released in December 1982, E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial is a notoriously bad game. Based on the Steven Speilberg movie of the same name, popular gaming lore blames it for the collapse of the video game industry in 1983 and claims hundreds of thousands of E.T. game cartridges were buried in a landfill. There’s some truth to this … Read more

Starmaster – The Ready Player One Video Replay

A dogfight with an enemy. White stars appear on a black background. A green enemy starfighter appears in the upper left.

Starmaster is Activision’s take on the emerging first-person, star-fighter genre. Released in 1982 and written by Alan Miller, it features gameplay similar to Atari’s Star Raiders (without the complexity of the “Video Touch Pad Controller” add-on hardware). It plays a minor role in Ready Player One, appearing in a single line. Quote Beside the Atari was a shoebox containing … Read more

Yars’ Revenge – The Ready Player One Video Replay

An insectoid 8-bit character appears to the left of the screen. A colored band appears down the middle. A red swirl has just passed the colored band.

As a kids, Yars’ Revenge was always one of our go-to games on the Atari 2600. Despite not being a two-player game, my friends and I would spend hours trying to get the highest possible score … and see if we could catch a glimpse of the Ghost of Yar. Atari released Yars’ Revenge in 1982. Created by … Read more

Radio Active #100: The Golden Age of Online RPGs

Cover art for Dungeons & Dragons, GURPS, Brindlewood Bay

On Radio Active’s 100th episode I talk about Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands, a shoot-and-loot video game based on the Borderlands franchise, go on a solitary, geeky retreat to work on RPG and podcast projects, and contemplate the golden age of online role-playing games. Nuketown News Radio Active’s 100th Episode It finally happened – Radio Active hit … Read more

Star Raiders – Ready Player One Video Game Replay

A first-person view out of starship cockpit.

Atari released Star Raiders for the 2600 in 1980. Somehow, someway … I never played it, yet based on Wikipedia’s accounting, it inspired many of the games I love including Wing Commander, and Star Wars: X-Wing. In the novel Ready Player One, it gets a single mention alongside such 2600 classics as Yar’s Revenge and The Empire Strike’s Back as well as the … Read more

Space Invaders – Ready Player One Video Game Replay

8-bit monster aliens appear against a black screen, descending toward orange shields. At the bottom of the screen is the player icon, shooting Space Invaders.

Developed by Tomohiro Nishikado and released in 1978 by Taito in Japan and Bally (via their Midway division) in the US, Space Invaders is one of the quintessential 1980s video games. And, if I’m being honest, a little misunderstood (at least by me). I rarely played the game in the arcade; my exposure was always through the … Read more

RPO Replay: Street Fighter II

Two combatants face off against each other in Street Fighter II

The Ready Player One Replay is an ongoing exploration of the games that inspired the novel Ready Player One by Ernest Cline. Love it or hate it, there’s value in revisiting our geeky roots. Quote Since then, we’d used Street Fighter II to settle our disputes. My Joust skills were a lot rustier than I thought. — Ready … Read more

Dungeons of Daggorath – Ready Player One Replay

A simple, dotted line rendering of a monster in one of Dungeons of Daggorath's rooms

Dungeons of Daggorath is one of the most important games in Ready Player One (Amazon). Located in one of 256 recreations of James Halliday’s hometown (and childhood home/bedroom) on the planet Middletown, TSR-80 version of the game provided to be the gateway to one of the keys associated with dead programmer’s Easter Egg hunt. Quote “Daggorath” (with … Read more