Tutankham, but I just think it's too easy. What if there were a version of Tutankham where the walls kill you?" Well, Len Dorfman's 'Erg' is just what the doctor ordered. (Mushca disk 32) It's also a grim reminder of the limited sound capabilities of those old Atari computers. But for some reason, I found that typing 'SOUND 0,0,0,0' into Atari Basic was much easier than, say, learning how to play the piano. Gruesome, huh? Eighty-eight keys, my ass.
Now, if you go to the official Atarimania home for Len Dorfman's 'Erg', you might notice that its Atarimania community score is 3 out of 10. For comparison, Boulder Dash has an 8.6; not to mention all the glowing comments from people who grew up with it. Anyway, at first blush, 3 out of 10's not good. Also, a '3' means 'Really mediocre,' according to the drop-down menu that lets you select a number. But do bear in mind that only one Atarimania user even bothered to cast their vote for it. Think of the hundreds out there who hate this in silence! And '3' is surely much more preferable to '2' (Incredibly poor) or the dreaded and lonely '1' (Pathetic). Yes, in the gamer's word cloud, the word 'pathetic' is probably one of the larger ones. But I did just rewatch half of that Scorsese documentary about George Harrison, so I feel like I'm floating above this ethereal plane, asking the big questions. Maybe all these video games with non-lethal walls have just made us soft gamers! What if, say, Pac-Man had killer walls? Berzerk certainly does! We'd have a different kind of gaming world if it were full of hypervigilant Pac-Man players, being extremely extremely careful about guiding the big yellow softie in between the deadly, narrow walls, having to engorge on those hundreds of dots in constant fear of instant death by wall. There's already a certain amount of dread in those last few dots you have to get, way on the other side of the maze. But having to navigate through five hundred feet of electric fence to do it? ...actually, I'm kind of glad we live in the world we do with the softie Pac-Man we do have. We've already got enough to be vigilant about in the real world as it is. Maybe that's why Len Dorfman's 'Erg' is so unpopular.
Oh, and the bad guys fly above the maze, rather than being forced to navigate its walls. Reminds me of Jens Woehrmann's "Labyrinth." (Mushca Disk 43) Same principle, but with a page flipping maze instead of horizontal scrolling... oh, and "Andromeda." (Mushca Disk 108)
Official Atarimania home for Len Dorfman's 'Erg'