#34 Joust

Posted: 1st October 2013 by Jeroen in Games
Tags: , , ,

274th played so far

IMG_4198Genre: Action
Platform: Arcade
Year of Release: 1982
Developer: Williams Electronics
Publisher: Williams Electronics

The reason this game is (apparently) included in the list? Its pure insanity. The reason is simple: You’re a knight riding a flying ostrich, defeating other knights riding on buzzards. Player 2 if, they’re playing, rides a stork. I miss the eighties.

Yes, I was five year olds when they ended. SHUT UP!

Our Thoughts

So the basics of this game are fairly simple. Run into enemies while you’re higher than they are. Height depends on how fast you tap the ‘flap’ button. On its own that’s already a pretty decent gameplay idea. It takes a bit of time to get used to the system – the first few games were just trying to see how to get the right height and avoiding the other enemies you can’t defeat.

The first wave has three enemies and is fairly easy to keep track of. The second is the ‘survival’ level and gives you bonus points if you survive without dying. The difficulty increases from there. To score big you need to collect or destroy the eggs left behind by the enemies. In earlier levels these are benign but later on these hatch into more enemies if you don’t get to them first. Add to this faster hawk-like foes and things get harder quite quickly.

It makes for a good progression – although it starts tough in the first few games, when you get some experience after that the basic jousting mechanism becomes familiar and makes it easier to jump in and get a few levels in. The twists start coming in at the third level, which become nasty enough to start providing the real challenge. For example, the third level removes the bridges covering the lava pits, meaning you can’t run around or stop flapping.

As bad as the graphics are, to a point, as indicative of the era, somehow their weirdness actually makes what’s going on clear. Sure, the prompting helps, but the ostrich looks like one, and the buzzards are that, with some human of sorts on their back. It’s possible the characters and types were picked for that, but the oddities are a fun touch and make the game that much more memorable. As much fun as the game mechanics are, the odd setting is the thing that elevates it above any other action game.

Final Thoughts

Now there is nothing wrong with a jousting game where your steed is an ostrich… apart from the laws of physics. It’s a short game and would have required a lot of quarters in order to get to grips of the whole “higher ground = death” idea (like one of Shunsui Kyōraku’s shikai powers in Bleach) but once you are there it is a nice little game. Already makes me glad we bought this arcade compilation for the PSP.

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