Ready Player One Video Game Replay

Welcome to the Ready Player One Video Game Replay!

Ernst Cline’s dystopian novel Ready Player One (Amazon) is set in a cyberpunk-ish future in which climate change, economic upheaval, pandemics, and other catastrophes have transformed our world. Poverty is rampant, with many people living on the fringes of big cities in the hopes of scraping together enough resources to get by. Much of the world finds relief from their personal hells in the virtual reality of the Oasis. Like Neuromancer and Snow Crash before it, Ready Player One imagines a digital world that’s bigger, brighter, and more addicting than the real one.

Eccentric programmer James Halliday created the world, and before he died, spent years crafting an elaborate Easter egg hunt. Halliday’s Easter egg was inspired by the famous Easter Egg in the Atari 2600 game Adventure(which allowed to find the programmer’s digital signature hidden in the depths of the fantasy proto-RPG). The reward for finding Halliday’s Easter Egg would be ownership of his company and the Oasis, a prize worth billions of dollars.

The book (and later, the movie) follows the quest of Wade Wilson to find the Easter Egg, which in turn means navigating hundreds, maybe thousands, of 1980s pop-culture references. With Nuketown’s Ready Player One Replay, we’re going to play every game mentioned in the book. It’s a great opportunity to revisit classic video games, many of which we haven’t played in years (or decades). Others are games we never played (or even heard of).  Where possible, we link out to emulators where you can play the games yourself, as well as links to reviews and commentary about the games.

And, of course, we include our high scores.

The replay is broken into two parts. Level I represents the first phase of this replay, beginning in November 2020 and ending in March 2022. Level II began in March 2022 and is ongoing.


Game Review Index & High Scores

Game High Score
Level I
Adventure N/A
Galaga 20,830
Defender 7,500
Asteroids 7,760
Robotron: 2084 23,000
Dungeons & Dragons N/A. This is D&D
there is no high score.
Contra 65,000
Golden Axe N/A (that said, I beat the
game multiple times)
Heavy Barrel
Smash TV 1,936,990
Ikari Warriors
Tron – Deadly Discs 2,170
Swordquest N/A
Akalabeth Made it to Level 3, then starved to death.
Zaxxon 2,750
Tomb of Horrors N/A
Joust 5,570
Street Fighter II I didn’t make it past the first round.
Dungeons of Daggorath I died. Early and often.
Level II
Combat I blew up my son’s tank. A lot. And then he did the same to me. A lot.
Space Invaders 1,340
Pitfall 8,686 with 16:31 minutes remaining.
Star Raiders Novice, Class 3 (29 kills)
The Empire Strikes Back 416
Starmaster 3,279 (beat Ensign Level)
Yars’ Revenge 85,345
E.T. I died. A lot.
Raaka-tu 5 of 50
Bedlam I gave up.
Madness and the Minotaur 0
Star Wars Arcade (1983) 60,013
Battlezone 5,000
Tennis for Two N/A
Spacewar! N/A
Donkey Kong 6,900
Pac-Man 19,850
Dig Dug 19,190
Colossal Cave
Time Pilot
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