These days it seems like we’re always waiting for the next epic RPG, the next finely tuned shooter, the next edition of Madden. But I happen to think some of the greatest, most unique ideas for games have already come and gone, and I’m not talking games born of a home console.
No, I mean great ARCADE games, games we spent quarter after quarter playing, hours on end. Games we played even if the graphics on them would make us laugh hilariously now or the simple game play could only hold our attention briefly these days supersaturation with games filled with open-world environments just as their starting point in design.
These classics deserve another look, and although there are some more obvious choices that may come to mind to get a fresh update, there are some others that might either only get a second thought, or some not at all. Here’s a list of some of the classics that have never been given a proper resurrection, some that got half-hearted shots at rebirth, and some oddball quarter chompers you might have only played once or not at all.
Ah, yes, we’ll start with one of the more obvious choices, more than likely a familiar title for fans of the many moving pixels. Defender was the ground-breaking, generation influence spanning 2D shooter from Williams Electronics released in 1980. Just in case you somehow missed the 80s…or maybe were born in them-Defender placed you in space in a mission to protect astronauts on a planet from pesky aliens that have diabolical plans for the abducted astronauts. If you fail to protect your astronaut friends on the planet below your speeding ship-the aliens will capture them and then return them to the planet as MUTANTS that will now be on a mission to destroy you. But if you defeat all the aliens while protecting your buddies on the planet below, you go on to the next level to face more of the same. A great basic concept that worked back in the 80s, and a concept that influenced countless games after it.
I know what you’re saying, Defender has had plenty of re-makes/sequels since it’s coin-op days, but if you look at all those games that came after the arcade, they basically play it safe and stick to the basics established in 1980. Flying a ship, saving your buddies, fighting aliens, flying a ship again, etc. But none of those games made for home consoles ever knocked people’s socks off for innovation, so if you weren’t a fan of the brand name or genre of game you probably couldn’t name one of those sequels that came out after the arcade (or, ok let’s give credit where credit is due, Atari) version. So what does Defender need to break through all the noise of other cockpit shooters and space epics already out for home consoles? Drama.
People these days, and I’m including myself, demand a lot from the games they spend good money on. I don’t think just setting someone in a spaceship and telling them who to kill and who to save is going to cut it anymore. So my suggestion for a revival of the trend-setting classic is this-keep all the great basics we love plus add what was provided in some of the sequels (better graphics obviously, 3-d environments)-but after that’s over, add in some story. Something good, interesting, nothing cheesy and no need to get complicated with a hundred characters across a solar system. Maybe just a really good story of a one heroic spaceship pilot that allows you (if you wish) to take on side-missions to further your character’s experience, and to learn more about just who these aliens are and what it is you’re fighting for. Just add a little RPG to Defender, give us the latest, best looking graphics for ships, laser beams and mutants and there you have it-a game set to the alive with a breath of fresh air.
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This article was first posted on May 8, 2013