The Video Games We Were Playing in June 1981

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Andrew Newton on the video games of yesteryear…

Where has the time gone my friends, it’s a new month and time to look back on another month of gaming goodness from 1981.  Normally, you can see the excitement in children’s faces as they know it’s coming to the end of the school year but thanks to you know what, nobody knows when the kids are in school or not.  Thankfully, we can escape to 1981 for a short while and bask in the warm glow of our memories as we remember some of the wonderful games of our childhood.

Parachute Game & Watch

There was nothing like a Game & Watch to pass the time and Parachute was the offering from Nintendo during June to help us do just that.  You’ll be forgiven for thinking Parachute involved players having to use one, but instead a passing helicopter (possibly a Chinook) is chucking people out like there’s no tomorrow and it’s up to people to save them from landing in the water.  Players take control of Mr. Game & Watch and guide the boat left and right to catch the parachutists before they hit the water.  You’d think they’d be ok landing in water but unfortunately there’s a great big shark swimming about and he’s eating everyone.  Let three people get eaten by this fish with an insatiable appetite and it’s game over man!

Parachute was referenced in Super Smash Bros. with Mr. Game & Watch gaining a special parachute based attack.


Super Cobra – Konami – Arcade

Developed from the engine of the hugely popular Scramble game, Super Cobra was a huge hit in arcades.  It had very few changes to Scramble with the most obvious one being that players controlled a helicopter flying through chasms and caves instead of the space ship.  Just like Scramble and was one wrong move meant the loss of one of the valuable lives, unlike Scramble however was the fact you could continue from where you lost your last life with more credits.

Super Cobra was extremely successful and was converted to a number of home consoles and computers, including Atari 2600, Atari 5200, Atari 8-bit computers, Intellivision, MSX and the Sord M5 home computer.

The video below, courtesy of Steve Benway, shows gameplay for Super Cobra on the Atari 2600…

Ultima, also known as Ultima I: The First Age of Darkness – numerous systems

In Ultima, the lands of Sosaria has been enslaved by the evil wizard Mondain.  Protected by the Gem of Immortality, all efforts to kill Mondain have failed and his minions terrorize the country.  Players take the role of ‘The Stranger’, a person summoned from another world and tasked with destroying the Gem of Immortality and end the reign of Mondain.  This quest to destroy Mondain would take players around the lands of Sosaria and even into space.

Players will be able to create their character in typical tabletop RPG fashion, they could choose from four races: Human, Dwarf, Elf and a hobbit-like creature called a Bobbit, then choose from four different classes, and finally have a set amount of points to add to various statistics.

Ultima originally released on the Apple II but after its success was ported to a number of computers.  Its success also led to a fair few sequels.


3D Monster Maze – ZX81 – written by Malcolm Evans and published by J.K. Greye

Finally for this month is a historically important game, although I’m not 100% sure it was a June release.  Regardless, it is an excellent game and I may forget to include it in a future article so it can come in now.   Why is 3D Monster Maze historically important I hear you ask: in short it is one of the very first games (if not the first) to use a first person perspective, and it’s also considered one of the earliest survival horror titles.

3D Monster Maze puts players in a randomly generated maze with only one exit and are tasked with escaping.  Only problem is the presence of a great big T-Rex that also happens to be hunting the player.  Information is provided to give players an indication of where the T-Rex could be but if it happened to be too close the screen gave a pretty obvious clue of what to do by flashing the word RUN on the screen, and yes it was possible for players to outrun it.  Should the T-Rex get you it was game over, no more lives, you were just dinosaur fodder.

Watch Steve Benway play 3D Monster Maze on the ZX81 below.

That’s the 1980s games covered for June, time to remove the rose-tinted specs for now.  Join me later this month when we take a trip back to 1991.

Thanks once more to Steve Benway for allowing us to use his videos, if you like your old games then give him a subscribe, hit the bell notification button and all that stuff.  He’s worth it.


Andrew Newton


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