Shaun Southern‘s Trailblazer – I’m reliably informed – originated on the Commodore 16; not the Commodore 64 (on which it is probably better-known).
Trailblazer is a well-regarded, ball-based racing game written and designed by the prolific Shaun Southern of Mr. Chip Software and published by Gremlin Graphics in 1986.
Trailblazer did apparently originate on the Commodore 16 and was expanded to take advantage of the Commodore 64‘s extra memory, and the result is a suped-up version of the original game.
Taito‘s Arkanoid was released into arcades in 1986 and did for bat and ball games (often referred to as Breakout clones) what Mario did for platform games. That is: revitalise them with new ideas and features.
Atari‘s Pong is a legendary black and white ‘bat and ball’ game from 1972, and was one of the earliest video game successes.
It’s basically a two-player table tennis simulation, with two ‘bats’ on either side of the screen, moving vertically to return a bouncing ball. If you fail to return the ball your opponent scores a point, and the first to eleven points wins.
I do enjoy a game of FIFA Street 2 on my XBox from time to time. It doesn’t have all the pompous dramatics of a regular FIFA game, although it does have the players.
Costa Panayi‘s Revolution was published by U.S. Gold in 1986. It is an isometric puzzle/action game with well-designed, monochrome graphics and a bouncing ball that you control around a series of rooms, levels, and puzzles.
IJK Software released Rocketball on the Commodore 64 in 1985. It is based on the infamous 1975 film, Rollerball.
Just like in the film, Rocketball is played on a oval, inclined rollerskating track. Two teams of skaters must collect a rolling ball that is fired into the arena and throw the ball into the correct hole to score a goal.
There are four teams to choose from in the game: Houston, Madrid, Tokyo, and Moscow.
One big downside to Rocketball is the fact that there are two goals, which is very confusing and often leads to own goals (I scored a last minute own goal to give my opponent the match on one occasion). The goals are colour-coded, but it’s not clear at all which is yours. Rocketball would have been better with one goal, but then again: it’s ridiculously simple anyway and removing one goal might have made it too simple.
Rocketball is an entertaining distraction for an hour or so, but not much more than that. It would obviously have been better with motorbikes in it (like in the film), and it might have benefited from a few more player moves, or at least a bit more depth to the gameplay. As it stands, Rocketball is alright – nothing special.
Note: It’s funny to see the advertising boards in the game, including one for the now defunct fizzy pop brand “Quatro”. There’s an ad for IBM, Kodak and one for Coca Cola too, so I’m guessing they were paid-for slots.
Although it’s not quite Leaderboard, Chip Shot Super Pro Golf is a decent enough golf game on the Intellivision console. Arguably even the best.
Graphically it’s quite nice, with the golfer represented as a sprite in a black box and the various courses shown from an overhead view.
Making shots is easy enough; you rotate a direction cross; choose your club, then make a double press on the fire button to decide shot strength and amount of ball slice/hook. That said: there does seem to be an element of luck involved as wild shots are the norm when first playing. Eventually (if you practise enough) you’ll get the hang of it and start getting the ball onto the green.
On the putting green the view switches to a closer overhead view of the hole; markings on the ground indicate whether there are any slopes on the green. Sand bunkers and water traps must obviously be avoided.
Chip Shot Super Pro Golf can be played solo, or with one other human opponent, and there are plenty of courses available to play, and even a built-in course designer. It’s very simple stuff, though, so don’t expect too much and you won’t be disappointed.
Zany Golf was released by Electronic Arts in 1988. It originated on the Apple IIGS but was quickly ported to 16-bit computers, including this fine Atari ST version.
Zany Golf is a crazy golf simulator, with simple controls and complex courses. Up to four players can compete at once.
You make a shot by left clicking and dragging on the ball, then letting go of the button. If you’re skilled (and lucky) the ball will go where you want it to go. Invariably, though, things do go astray…
There are nine holes – plus a bonus hole – in total. Some holes have weird animated objects on them (like the iconic giant hamburger) which you have to deal with, and some have special abilities (like the magic carpet, which allows some control of the ball with the mouse). You have a limited number of strokes per hole, but can pick up extra by touching fairies or hitting certain other targets. Getting to the ninth hole can be quite an achievement.
Zany Golf is a classic physics-based golf/maze game. I have fond memories of playing it back in the day, and still find it fun to play now.