Retro Game of the Week: Joust

Joust. How can we talk about retrogaming or more specifically, retro arcade gaming without talking about Joust?

When Joust first arrived in 1982, it was clearly different from a lot of the games that you’d find in the arcades at the time in that it didn’t include spaceships or shooting. Joust was designed with a medieval/fantasy theme in mind, hence the idea of using knights riding ostriches.  Now where ostriches cannot fly in our world, they can in Joust, and the flapping mechanism was groundbreaking at the time (decades before Flappy Bird) because it required skill and precision if you were going to best the enemies as they motor around the playing field. ‘Motoring’ is actually a fair descriptor as the enemies sound like they are propelled by engines when they fly, whereas the protagonists (Player 1 or Player 2) produce a more pleasing flapping sound.

The premise here is simple: in order to beat the enemies, you need to collide with them, but you’ll only be successful if your height exceeds theirs, so you need to sort of hit them from above. If you succeed, they’ll drop an egg which you need to collect before they hatch…into a fresh enemy. It all gets more and more stressful because the pesky “unbeatable” pterodactyl is always waiting in the wings (pun intended) if you take too long to complete a level.

Joust‘s unique gameplay was only part of what made this game so successful and adored over the years. A huge part of Joust‘s look and style can be attributed to the late Python Anghelo‘s brilliant contribution in art and animation to the game. In fact, if we were also reviewing pinball games, we’d have to start a whole new category as Anghelo contributed to so many 80’s and 90’s classic pinball games such as Pinbot, Taxi, Bad Cats and Jokerz! to name a few.

Anghelo‘s artistic dna is everywhere in Joust: from the detailed medieval artwork on the cabinets, to the running and flapping motions of the ostriches. Honorable mention has to go to the Lava Troll  because come on: having a gnarled hand ready to pull you into hot lava is all kinds of awesome (except when it grabs you). And now, back to some Joustin’!

Watch yourself some classic Joust gameplay:

Year: 1982
Developer: Williams Electronics
Publisher: Williams Electronics
Designers: John Newcomer, Bill Pfutzenrueter, Janice Woldenberg-Miller and Python Anghelo
Genre: Platform

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