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Post by JaySevenZero »

Here is where you can leave your thoughts regarding Joust for possible inclusion in the podcast when it's recorded.

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I had a good time with this game as a youngster!

Post by BlueWeaselBreath »

When I was a little skipper, I used to rent NES games on the weekends from the local video stores. One such spot was called Curtis Mathes, which I always thought was a mom-and-pop, but have recently learned was an electronics company chain that was in decline by the late 80s when I was there. The store adjoined a video rental section and the two shops were internally connected, but the video rental bit may have had a different name. I hadn't started reading game magazines yet, so I used to pick games based on whether the boxes looked cool, and whether I'd played them yet.

One day I picked up Joust, thinking it looked interesting, but I was too young to have the word "joust" in my vocabulary, so I presumed it was a made up word like "Galaga," and I'm almost positive I pronounced it "Juiced," as if it rhymed with "Proust" (which I had also never heard of). I had not yet seen the game in arcades, so as far as I knew, it was an NES original. The game was probably 8 or 9 years old at the time, so definitely not cutting edge, but I don't recall being disappointed.

Rentals in those days practically never had I instruction manuals, so I had to figure out the game as I went. The game mechanics were different than anything I'd ever played, but also, in retrospect, very intuitive, because there were only a couple of buttons to try, and only a couple of things that the bird-rider would do. Once I smacked into the vulture dudes a couple of times, the mechanics became clear, and I remember having an increasingly groovy time with the addictive gameplay as I went along. One recollection I have was trying to figure out how close I was to beating the game, which in hindsight was folly. I saw the wave numbers increasing each time and would think "Oh, 10 waves, I'm almost done!" Or "Ah, there must be only 30 waves, I won! Oh, no, wait, here's Wave 31." I don't remember how far I actually got, and can't even provide a rough guess, but since I've always been a fairly middling gamer my whole life, I have to imagine it wasn't anything impressive over the course of a weekend.

I THINK I took the game over to my neighbor-friend's house, and we played cooperatively, but I don't have many specific memories of this, so this may be a confabulation.

Looking back, I don't recall if I ever rented Joust again, as I probably figured I had gotten out of it all that I was going to. I saw the arcade cabinet a couple years later in a Pizza Hut or wherever, but I only watched the demo screen, I think, and didn't actually play it. Thinking back, though, it doesn't seem right that the only time I ever played Joust was on a single 2-day weekend over 25 years ago, so I looked online just now to see if there was a PC version I might have played, and found a screenshot of Joust VGA for DOS that rang a bell. Now I remember! I definitely played that version for a few hours, over a number of days or weeks, a couple years after I first played the NES version. It seemed like a fine conversion, although I wasn't conversant enough with the mechanics of either the arcade or NES versions to note if anything was off. There certainly were no frills or additions. I respect that choice -- but then again, the setting of the game, with its fantasy medieval trappings but also the suggestion of a post-apocalyptic future, has always intrigued me, and I would have liked to see some backstory elements introduced in an enhanced version that filled in some of those gaps. (The NES manual only says that the game takes place in an alien future in "hyperspace.")

Overall, Joust is an elegantly simple classic game that is addictive on the basis of its clever mechanics and gameplay, and while it might be repetitive for today's gaming market, I'd play it again for a little while even now, and probably have a damn good time!

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