Looking for more indoor activities? Plex has retro gamers covered with a new game streaming service called Plex Arcade. Beginning today, Plex Pass holders will be able to access classic Atari games for $2.99 a month.* It’s a great way to get your nostalgia on while staying warm during the winter season.
Check out a few titles below for an early look at what Plex Arcade has to offer.
Basketbrawl is a title that asks the question: Can you dribble and punch someone in the face at the same time? If the game is anything to judge by, it’s actually more challenging than one would think.
As the name implies, this is no ordinary basketball game. After players pick a character from a lineup of fictional b-ballers, each with different strengths and weaknesses, they’re sent straight into a round that’s half-brawl and half-ball. As they dribble and shoot the basketball to score against their opponent, the other team will try to beat them up to take it back. And they’ll do anything to get it — including using weapons or hitting the player with the ball.
Released in 1990, Basketbrawl was one of the last eleven games released for the Atari 7800 before the company dropped its support for the console.
Breakout was another influential game that spawned an entire genre of brick-breaking clones like Arkanoid. In this game, players use a paddle to knock a ball against layers of colorful bricks at the top of the screen. The bricks disappear once the ball hits them. Your goal is to clear out the entire screen of bricks with a limited number of balls.
But it’s not easy; the difficulty kicks into high gear as the ball careens into bricks, walls, and your paddle at increasing speeds.
Fun fact: the original Breakout was built by Steve Wozniak at the behest of Steve Jobs. It was meant to be a single player, Pong-like game that would be perfect for people playing alone at home. Wozniak was the engineer while Jobs was a breadboard and tester. The two would later join forces to found Apple Inc.
This unique shoot-’em-up game sets players against an invasion of centipedes, spiders, scorpions, and fleas. The primary enemy, a centipede, descends from the top of the screen, weaving between mushrooms to get to the player. Your goal is to shoot the centipede to defend yourself, all while killing the fast-moving spiders, scorpions, and fleas that arrive to impede your progress.
The centipede will break into separate segments whenever you shoot it. This makes things complicated as the screen gets busy with more mushrooms blocking your way and insects bouncing around. If parts of the centipede make it to the bottom, they will speedily rush at you until they finally kill you.
Centipede was first released in 1980 for arcades and was popular enough to see re-releases on the Atari 2600, Atari 5200, and Atari 7800. Its sequel, Millipede (also available on Plex Arcade), introduced additional insect enemies that made the game even harder.
This cute game sticks players in the role of a boy named Charlie Chuck. The goal is to cross a room full of food to get a delicious ice-cream cone. But there’s a significant obstacle in the way: Four angry chefs that are determined to catch the player before they can reach the frozen treat. Worse yet, the ice-cream is melting, and Charlie will fail the level if he takes too long to get to the other side.
Thankfully, there’s food scattered all over the screen that Charlie and the chefs can use as weapons. Stun the chefs with fruits, peas, and pastries, then run as quickly as you can to get to the ice-cream.
Food Fight released on the Atari 7800 in 1986. The developers later went on to create Ms. Pac Man.
If you’re curious to know what a retro survival-horror game would look like, then check out Haunted House. Released in 1982 for the Atari 2600, it has all the elements necessary for a spooky game: pitch-black darkness, spiders, bats, and a ghost. The player character is represented by a pair of wide eyes as they walk through a haunted mansion to find three pieces of an urn. These pieces can only be found with the small light emitted by your matchsticks, so use them wisely and beware of any monsters that will snuff out your matches. In the end, the player will win by recovering the urn and escaping the house.
The game also features nine levels that become increasingly difficult to navigate around. Haunted House’s graphics and sound effects are simple, yet effective. It’s a really interesting title for any survival-horror fans to see; the setting and gameplay is fascinatingly similar to some modern horror games.
Lunar Lander is another vector style game taking place in outer space. In this game, players control a moon lander with a limited amount of fuel. The goal is to land on the moon without crashing, which is easier said than done. This is because the landscape of the in-game moon is jagged and mountainous as hell.
Finding a safe spot to land on is tricky. Wide, flat spots are the easiest places to land. But you get more bonus points for landing on small, narrow areas that are right up against a mountain peak. The more difficult the landing, the more points you earn. If you run out of fuel, the lander stops responding and simply crashes.
For a quirky and insanely unique game, look no further than Ninja Golf. This is a colorful, side-scrolling, beat-‘em-up game that combines golfing and ninja duels into one bizarre concept.
Players start each round by teeing off like any other golf game. After whacking the golf ball, the player character has to run to the spot where it landed. On his way there, you have to fight off enemy ninjas and wickedly aggressive creatures to get to the ball. The wildlife varies depending on the environment; enemy animals include gophers, snakes, sharks, birds, and frogs.
Once the player’s ninja reaches the green, the perspective then changes into a sort of shooter-style battle with a dragon. Do this for nine holes and you win the game.
The golf sections are really simplistic, but Ninja Golf is still a fun game to play just to experience the weirdness of the ’90s. It was another one of the last eleven games released for the Atari 7800 before the console was dropped in 1992.
A new, re-imagined Ninja Golf is currently in development by Atari for mobile devices.
*No Plex Pass? No worries! Get Plex Arcade for $4.99/month.