Games of the Twentieth Century. The year 1986

In 1986, for the thirtieth time, our planet was visited by Halley's Comet, which comes close to Earth once every 76 years. Since ancient times, this was considered a bad omen, not once in connection with the arrival of the comet foretold the end of the world and other troubles. And so it happens that 1986 fully justified the comet's notoriety: the Challenger space shuttle disaster and the Chernobyl accident. Don't believe in omens after that. The wind from the West is... Well, not a breeze yet, just a slight breeze, but it is getting easier and easier to get games, and we enjoy playing in...

Ninja Mission

  • Genre: arcade
  • Developer: Sculptured Software
  • Publisher: Mastertronic Group

This game wasn't the first, it wasn't even the best of its kind. It's been called Ninja Mission, just Ninja, and even "...the one with the ninja running around and throwing knives". Uncomplicated, devoid of shadows and halftones EGA-graphics, uncomplicated story, which is even the story is difficult to call. A ninja walks on the broken lines of the eastern landscapes (tatami, torii, pagodas). He walks to the right or to the left, sometimes bouncing, sometimes crouching. You can throw what you've got in your pocket (at the beginning of the game you have one "asterisk" and one "knife"), you can kick an enemy (something like a mavashi), you can jump up to land a blow to the head, and you can crouch down to bash your opponent in the shins with your heel.

Ninja Mission Screenshot 1

This game has become one of the symbols of an entire era. The era of the Sinclairs, the Atari, the Spectrums, the strange structures that plugged into tube televisions. The era of games downloaded from a cassette recorder, and joysticks made out of a thin water pipe and a doorbell button...

Do you remember what it was like? An incomprehensible device, reminiscent of a flattened typewriter (now we would say "reminiscent of a keyboard," but the word "keyboard" came into use much later), connected to a worn-out TV set by my own soldered cable. Instead of an operating system, it was Basic commands. Another bundle of wires connects the clumsy contraption to an old cassette recorder, the cover of which is always falling off and is wedged in with a screwdriver. Sizzling, squealing, and scraping, all in order to fit about 200 kilobytes of information into the tiny RAM.

figure> Ninja Mission Screenshot 2

Back then, I never saw Ninja Mission on a full-fledged PC. Still, their rare owners could afford more complex games. But among the owners of Sinclairs or even just self-made PC games it was a success, a real martial arts action game. All it took was a little bit of imagination.

Oddly enough, even in this, let's face it, not the most complicated game, had its own tricks and even its own mystery. For instance, it was very disadvantageous to use throwing projectiles against other "ninjas" (little men wearing the same masks as your character): they were in debt, and having picked up the knife they could easily throw it at you. And they also said that there was a combination that could be used to pull out a sword and kill any enemy with one blow. But not everyone could repeat it!

figure> F-15 Strike Eagle Screenshot 3

What happened next: the "arcade battle against a landscape" genre blossomed over the next few years. There was the Double Dragon series, the more sporty International Karate and Bad Street Brawler, and many, many others. The "invisible ninja warriors" theme was also mercilessly exploited. And then... then the tide went out and went somewhere in the direction of consoles.


  • Genre: arcade
  • Developer: Jordan Mehner/li>
  • Publisher: Broderbund Software

"Karateka" was undoubtedly a legend of its era. Written by a Yale student for the Apple II, it was soon adapted for the Atari 800, the ZX Spectrum, of course - for MS DOS and for several other systems that hardly anyone remembers now. Even when EGA was replaced by the more colorful VGA graphics, Karateka never gave up.

The villain Akuma (actually, "Akuma" is a Japanese word that simply means "demon," of course, adjusted for the peculiar Japanese bestiary) has kidnapped and imprisoned Princess Mariko in his fortress. And our hero, armed, as befits a karateka, only with his own hands, rushes into battle. He has to fight his way through castle guards, traps (er... one trap, to be honest) and, of course, fight the main villain.

Karateka Screenshot

It's just amazing how, using only the meager capabilities of the EGA format, Menher managed to make the game's graphics and animation so expressive. The little figure on the screen would run, stand and strike just like a real person. And then there were no special tricks: sat down, drew sprites, made up their animation.

Simple-looking toy that can be completed in fifteen minutes (so that there was no hurry), however, it concealed a lot of tricks. The character had only one life, there was no possibility of saving, so if you failed, you had to start from the beginning. We stormed through Akuma's castle over and over again, hissing with overflowing emotion.

There were some very tense moments in the game. For starters, in the courtyard (the very beginning of the game), enemy fighters just run out to meet you at regular intervals. So if you sneak out cautiously without leaving your stance, you'll have to fight a good dozen warriors on your way to the castle gates. However, with a minimum of caution, the same distance can easily be covered in three to four duels.

The next stage is the castle. After we kill the first guard, we are shown how Akuma sends forward an eagle sitting on his shoulder. And sure enough, now the nasty bird will appear after every duel, risking to catch us in a vulnerable state. It's no good at all - it's hard as hell to hit an eagle, so we come up to each new opponent a little battered.

Karateka Screenshot

But the biggest meanness awaits us at the end of the level. The grating, from behind which your opponents run out, when you try to pass it falls on your head and... And you're back at the precipice, in the castle courtyard. Insult to tears, you have to repeat the whole way, only this time slowly, one step at a time, not leaving the rack, come to the grille, each time waving his foot. As soon as the lattice slams shut, you have to quickly get out of the rack and run forward.

The last stage of the journey, the dungeon, is divided into rooms. Each room has a fighter, there is no hurry here. The more so that it is better to approach the closed doors in a standing position. If you just run into them you will die, and in a standing position if you get too close you can lose some health. Doors are opened, as it should be - a kick. After four rooms out of the door flies the familiar eagle, and here you just hang on: he will not leave you alone. Willy-nilly has to adapt to kick the creep in the beak.

Do you think that's all? Well, it's not! If you've had enough trouble with the eagle and thoughtlessly scampered through the open door, you've ended up getting kicked squarely in the forehead by Akuma, who's decided to give you a beating in the neck. Bam! And you're out, so you have to start all over again. No, you've got to be careful how you approach the door, not out of your stance...

Karateka Screenshot

But that's not all. After defeating the main villain, it seems as if all that is left is to embrace the rescued princess. But it's kind of scary, after so many times getting hit in the forehead from behind the door. Still, don't forget to get out of the counter before you go to the lady. Otherwise, bang! And a knockout. At the time, a lot of people I knew had already gone through Karateka from cover to cover. Do you think any of them warned about this final feature?

What happened next: and next was, of course, the legendary Prince of Persia. Look closely at how much, in fact, the Prince looks like the hero of Karateka, how similar they move! In five years he's learned not only to run, but to jump, pull himself up and sneak around, armed with a sword and, back on the monitors, provided his author with immortality.

Space Quest 1: The Sarien Encounter

  • Genre: quest
  • Developer: Sierra On-Line
  • Publisher: Sierra On-Line

Back then, computers were scarce. I mean, there were few set-top boxes like the Sinclair, and even fewer personal computers. You could find them in computer centers, institutes and other state institutions. You had to have connections to be able to get close to them.

If you had acquaintances or relatives who had a computer at work, you belonged to the upper caste. The rest of us had to make do with something downloaded from a tape recorder. But if, say, "Karateka" can still be found in the performance of "Sinclair", then a number of games you can play only on this full-fledged computer, with a monitor instead of a TV and DOS instead of BASIC ...

Space Quest 1: The Sarien Encounter Screenshot

This is exactly the kind of game that opened, I dare say the word, the stellar Space Quest series. The space janitor's adventures begin on board the "Arcade" spaceship carrying a stellar generator and attacked by the evil Sariens. Our hero, who missed all the fun (including, as luck would have it, the mass shooting of the Arcada crew), finds himself in an unenviable position from which he must extricate himself...

"But let me say! - Someone will object. - There must be some mistake! You know perfectly well that this game came out in 1991!"

That's right. The thing is that the EGA version of the game was released in 1986. So it was later on that they started to say it was a "version", back then it was actually a game. But soon a new graphics standard appeared - VGA, much more colorful. Many games began to be redesigned to take advantage of the new features, just as flat games were then redesigned for 3D. That's when Space Quest, now commonly referred to as "the first", was born. The game experienced its second-birth in 1991.

Space Quest 1: The Sarien Encounter Screenshot

The very first Space Quest was very different from its second incarnation. You have to start with the fact that the then-renowned Roger Wilco was not Roger Wilco at all: the player entered the name of the character himself. Secondly, of course, the graphics: the first incarnation of the hero was built on the principle of "a stick stick, a pickle, and a cap on top". Thirdly, the controls. Few people heard about the mouse then, and all controls were based on the standard for the then standard principle of quests: the player had to enter commands in words from the keyboard! Sometimes you had to work hard to find the right wording to describe their actions.

This is interesting: the name of the hero, which appeared only in the third part of the game, but then became an integral part of it, itself "with spice. The word "Roger" in radio conversations means "understood". In the same radio jargon, "wilco" is short for "will comply", something like "will be done". When the first part of the game was re-released in 1991, it was called Roger Wilco in the Sarien Encounter.

Space Quest 1: The Sarien Encounter Screenshot

The game's designers, Scott Murphy and Mark Crow, talk about the conception of Space Quest this way. Sierra has released several quests before, and each time it was, to quote Scott Murphy, "...something medieval and creepily serious." This time the developers decided to turn things upside down. No medievalism - give us high technology and open space. Instead of a noble prince - a slob, instead of a shiny sword - a mop. The whole game is filled with hokum, not too sophisticated - but fun. Even the death of a hero (and you can easily get caught up) is accompanied not by a mournful obituary, but by caustic banter and is always comically arranged.

It must be said that at first the Sierra executives, represented by Ken Williams himself, were very skeptical about the idea of a new game, but the designers, having built a small demo version of the game (the first four rooms), convinced him. Ken Williams gave the go-ahead to the project - and he did not lose. In many ways, it was this series that brought popularity to both Sierra and the entire quest genre.

Space Quest 1: The Sarien Encounter Screenshot

What happened next: Next came the second and third installments. Then, in 1991, the series takes its final shape: the interface that later became a classic appears. Interestingly, only the first part of the game was re-released in a new format, the second and third have remained with the text control and EGA-graphics (but, for example, the series King's Quest was re-released in full). A total of six episodes of Roger's Quest were released, and a seventh was already in development... But then the era of quests came to an end. Still, the fact that in September 2006 the Space Quest Collection for Windows XP was released speaks volumes about the popularity of the series.

While we were playing Ninja Mission, Karateka and Space Quest 1: The Sarien Encounter...

  • The computer virus Braine has been recorded for the first time.
  • Pixar Studios opens.
  • 33 American bombers strike Tripoli and Benghazi.