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June 30, 2008 - Image 35

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
Michigan Daily Summer Weekly, 2008-06-30

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Orientation Edition 2008
The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

23

OLD SCHOOL
From Page 21
entertainment. Rumors of "Doom"
on the TI-83 Plus were never veri-
fied, but, much like the lost gold
of El Dorado, it was a rumor you
wanted to believe in.
It's a question of evolution.
While the modern gaming
industry is mostly involved in a
perpetual quest to recreate real-
ity as a means for survival and
relevance (the humans, dinosaurs
and the flu of the animal kingdom -
some thrive, some don't), the tried
and true are the simplest of organ-
isms (the cockroaches, sharks and
amoeba) that happily thrive at the
bottom rung of the hierarchy.
Game Boy will always hold a
special place in our hearts. Game
Gear won't. Nintendo over Sega
Genesis; "Mortal Combat" over
"Tekken." When the goal is tobe as
complicated as possible there is an
inevitably higher failure rate. You
can't fail with the ubiquitous. It's
already entrenched and familiar.
"Halo 3" and "BioShock" will
eventually look like "GoldenEye"
and "Sid Meier's Colonization,"
respectively - it's only a matter of
time. That end of the spectrum

- with PS3 and Xbox 360 games
mimicking the natural patterns
of rippling water, shadows and
human physiology - is the evolu-
tionary opposite of "Minesweep-
er." When the next nuclear winter
of 1 billion-bit entertainment fol-
lows an ice age of Xbox 360 prod-
uct recalls, you can still try to
"shoot the moon" against the com-
puter and you can still play a little
"Yahoo! Bridge" when the mood
strikes. Maybe it's far-fetched, but
there will always be a niche for
simple ingenuity.
Johnny Chung Lee, a doctoral
student at the Human-Computer
Interaction Institute at Carnegie
Mellon University, has a bunch
of YouTube videos that are step-
by-step, DIY Nintendo Wii modi-
fications. Using the Wiimote
technology (those magical sensors
that simulate bowling, golf and
other "physical" pursuits), Lee's
projects include a low-cost, multi-
point interactive whiteboard
(mmm, so geeky) and a head-track-
ing, virtual reality setup. Inno-
vative, simple stuff that sounds
complex but is made for laymen.
The gaming industry might feel
like CGI-saturated Hollywood
sometimes, but it's important to
remember the bread and butter of
computer-based distraction. Take

a second and wax nostalgic over
"Chip's Challenge," "Tecmo Super
Bowl" for Nintendo, "Spider Soli-
taire," "SkiFree" and "-___."
Don't deny it. We all have a
personal favorite to slip into that
blank spbt.
Long live the cockroaches.
DIGITAL ROOTS: PCs,
for all their bugs and failings,
have always dominated Macs on
the gaming front. That was espe-
cially true in the mid-'90s, which
witnessed the birth of dozens of
mind-numbingly awesome games
that, thankfully, can still be found
with a little Googling.
"SKI FREE": Everyone
remembers the first time that gray
stick figure Abominable Snow-
man hustled out of nowhere and
devoured your blue sweater-clad
skier, incidentally scaring the shit
out of you. "SkiFree" gave you
three options: slalom, tree sla-
lom and free style. And that's all
you needed to suck the life out of
countless hours in middle school
computer labs.
"PIPE DREAM":You'd think
the name "Pipe Dream" would
elicit more potty humor than it did
(or maybe that's just us), but really,

it was all about connecting pipes in
an unbroken line so the nameless
green sludge made it to the exit - to
the Atlantic Ocean!
"RODENT'S REVENGE":
You guided your rat to the cheese
while avoiding the cats. Bada bing.
Bada boom.
"MICROSOFT BOB":
Before Google Reader and Win-
dows Vista, "Microsoft Bob" was
the desktop organizer of choice
for, I think, no one. It consisted of
a guide (with your choice of a dog,
a robot or whatever - a total pre-
cursor of that annoying Microsoft
Word paperclip) and an interactive
house in which each room held
groups of programs for your enjoy-
ment. Yes, it failed. No, it wasn't
actually a game you played. Yes, it
was closer to the Berenstein Bears
then Linnux. But it went nobly into
that desktop organizer sunset.
RIP.
"TETRAVEX": Sudoku is the
bastard son of "Tetravex" - both
useless, boring and infuriating.
Oh, the hours lost to that damn
green screen.
"JEZZBALL": The game
wasn't nearly as eye-catching as

some of its comrades, but hell if
it wasn't well designed. Red and
white balls bounced within~a 2D
gray room and your goal was to
build walls between the balls,
trying to seal them off and shade
away 75 percent of the room. It
sounds complicated, but it's horri-
bly simplistic and addicting. After
every level completed, a new ball
is added to the mix and the game
becomes that much harder. There
may be no evidence but I'd bet that
around nine balls, more second
graders screamed the word "fuck"
for the first time than at any other
moment in their lives.
"CHIP'S CHALLENGE":
Little, geeky Chip gathered com-
puter chips to unlock doors in a
puzzle world. Apparently there
was a grand back-story involving
love, but we didn't care. There were
monsters and pixilated fire - that
was enough. But no one finished
thisgame. No one. Don'teventryto
tell us that you found all the right
colored keys to make it through the
100 different levels. Yeah, you jot-
ted down every new level code on a
post-it so that you could resume in
level 18 after spending seven hours
trying to beat it. You didn't getpast
it. But it's still the best original
time-waster around.

p I

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