Sunday, March 14, 2010

Retro Game of the Day! Assault

Retro Game of the Day! Assault

Assault by Namco, released to the arcade in 1988.

All right! Assault was a man's game. This got spit into the arcades during an interesting time, when there was some apparent backlash against home console popularity (everyone had an NES, and it was full of great games - why would anyone in their right mind wanna go to the arcade to feed quarters to the machine when you had all you needed in your living room?) The answer was simple - complicated hardware!

Sega Arcade fans knew this well - lots of Sega arcade games in the late 80s were blisteringly good-looking, with powerful scaling graphics that just could not be duplicated on the home formats. That was largely their domain, and not many other companies stepped on their toes - but that doesn't mean some other capable efforts didn't manage to trickle out.

Assault was one of the more notable ones. Very similar to legions of "top-down shooting games," the gimmick here was the massive use of hardware scaling and rotation going on. You piloted a powerful little tank, but rather than driving it around the playfield, the screen would "drive" around it. This was a wonderful effect not seen before, and the feeling was quite fresh and instantly addicting. Additionally, you could hit special "jump points" which would launch your weapon briefly high into the air, giving you temporary superiority over your targets; line them up in your crosshairs and take out a whole mess of them in easy pickings.

Assault was a wonderful game with a novel gimmick, a unique two-joystick control system (very satisfying in its execution), and steady difficulty that kept a player coming back for more. I think it eventually made an appearance on the psOne several years later, but back in the day it was games like these that dragged you away from your home console to go out and see what some real hardware could muster. It may look drab and pixelated now, but in it's day, Assault was the king!

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