It is being reported that Ken Weatherwax who played Pugsley Addams on the Addams Family TV show has passed away at the age of 59. Apparently he had a heart attack and passed away over the weekend. Sad news indeed and he died way too young. I always thought both he and Wednesday (Lisa Loring) at acting like their lives were as normal as can be. I will be definitely be pulling out some Addams family episodes to watch tonight.
The western video game is one of those sub genres that has been around as long as video games themselves. Yet it’s certainly not as popular as space games or war games. I first saw this game at a pizza place that I only went to a few times in the mid-80’s They had two games a wrestling one with several kids playing it and this one sitting all alone by itself. I gave it a try because it was a video game and I had a quarter burning a hole in my pocket. You are a bank robber, but you will earn the money because the levels are not easy. The first level is a side scrolling fighter. You have to beat up a banker and kick some dogs just to get on the train. Once on it you are trying to get from the caboose to the engine. However each car has a guy on top who is tying to stop you by fighting and throwing junk at you. If that wasn’t mean enough there is a bomb sitting on the coupling between each car and if you can’t defeat the guy in time the bomb goes blooey, the cars unhook and you lose a turn. If you get past this level then you are on horseback in the foreground trying to shoo and defeat guys in the train car. They of course shoot back at you and you have to move your horse or duck down to avoid it. It’s fairly close quarters on this level so you have to be fast to dodge those bullets. If you beat that level then you start over with the same levels becoming more challenging. The game play is similar to another western themed game Iron Horse from Konami which also came out in 1986. For the year it came out the graphics here are quite decent. The game play on the train top level is simplistic and other games would do it better a year or two later, but for the year came out it was a little ahead of where scrolling fighting game were. The shooting level has more graphic shortcoming, but playing wise it’s still a challenge. I wish there had been more levels. This is a Data East game so you can some similarities in play to the previously released Karate Champ and later released games like Sly Spy and Bad Dudes vs. Dragon Ninja would take what was done here and improve upon it. I had almost forgotten about this game until I played it on a collection for the Wii in recent years.
Willis is fantastic at this game called Space Sucker and he knows he’s good at it. Meanwhile Arnold tries it and he gets killed like right away zooop! Willis gives Arnold the book he used to get better. Gradually Arnold gets better at it. However he begins skipping class to practice uh, oh so his grades are suffering. He finally gets tired of Willis bragging and challenges him to a Space Sucker showdown. Arnold needs to practice more and he does while missing more school. He has a dream where he is playing Space Sucker in front of a huge crowd and the aliens have Willis heads! Arnold beats the game in his dream. He wakes up and continues practicing. The day comes for the challenge. Willis does great, but gets killed shortly before defeating the game. Arnold has one more guy left. He beats Willis and defeats the game hooray! The he gets a talking to from Mr. Drummond about ignoring his studies – not so great. Roll the credits.
Obviously Space Sucker was a fake game. It’s a side scrolling shooter in space. The character is a space man with a jet pack and laser gun on the left side. You blow up meteorites, fight smaller aliens and eventually the larger space sucker who will suck you in if you don’t shoot him first. The characters are super large like too large for it to work. That’s done so it showed up well on screen, but if it was a real game it would have had smaller figures. I so would have played this game had it been real and because of the game I’ve found it to be one of the most memorable of the series. Their “arcade” is tiny more like an arcade at a pizza place rather than a stand alone game. By season five Different Strokes wasn’t quite as good as it had been, but this is a solid episode. It’s funny (“I fell on my asteroid”) and I could certainly relate to Arnold with his video game obsession and struggles.
1980’s video game week marches on and a Square Pegs video game episode and another 80’s video game will be up over the next day or two.