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  • Atari
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9  |  When Pigs -- Or Ostriches, Rather -- Fly
Darryl B. , 6/27/2005 6:00:42 PM
Trying to describe Joust to those unfamiliar with it makes it sound like you're either making it up, or it was a weird, massive failure of a video game experiment.

To wit: your player is on a flying ostrich; yeah, right! Ostriches DON'T FLY! Sure, creating a game that took place in medieval times probably sounded appealing back then -- since there weren't many games that appeared in that time period back then -- so it would definitely have been original, but one of the ways to win a joust (i. e. whoever has the higher joust wins when two people fly straight for each other) is to basically sit on an enemy's head by walking off one of the platforms on the screen when an enemy flies below (oh yeah: platforms suspended in mid-air was apparently common too back then...uh huh).

Then, when an enemy jouster (is that a word?) is defeated, it's bird will lay an egg, and if you don't scoop it up quickly enough, it will hatch into a faster-moving adversary. (Geez, if you think it's bad enough with whatever crap they're feeding cows to have their milk not expire for over a week nowadays, what the hell were they using back THEN?)

As you get into further stages of Joust, those platforms I mentioned earlier will start disappearing, making the game more difficult (especially with the tons of winged warriors clouding the skies), and if you take too long during a wave, a near-indestructible pterodactyl will appear and make things even more of a feudal nightmare (knightmare? Har har) for the players.

Oh, and did I mention the Lava Troll at the bottom of the screen that grabs anybody if they fly too low? Yeah, beware of him too, although it seems like he needs more veggies in his diet, rather than just all meat.

Even though the above goes under the category of "Like, Whatever", Joust was actually one of THE best co-op games ever created (plus it goes under the category of "Just Play It, Rather Than Trying to Explain the Damn Thing"). When two players are going at it, there are bonuses during certain waves if a player kills the other one (granted, since both players are side-by-side at a Joust cabinet, and well within smacking range, maybe that wasn't one of the greatest of ideas), as well of if neither player dies during a wave (plus there are also bonus waves consisting of only eggs, which can rack up your score; hope you like yours raw!). So two heads CAN be better than one here.

Other than just describing the gameplay, though, with the 7800 having a lot of decent arcade ports, there's not much to go on from there, as it plays pretty much like the arcade game does, although the colors and graphics aren't quite as sharp as the original's, the eggs fly kind of strange, and the sounds aren't that great (but of course, the 7800 had the same soundchip as the 2600), but those are only minor things.

Other than that, there's no reason why you (and/or a friend) can't saddle up your ostrich and fly. The players will take the eggs, while the enemies will take your lance...

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