Do you remember your first game?
I do. It was Joust, on my Atari, when I was around 3 years old.
This is also one of my earliest childhood memories, which is probably why this game has a special place in my heart. I can vividly remember sitting on the floor in my old apartment, joystick in hand, playing this wonderous game with awe and excitement.
I wouldn't really understand the game fully until I was older. The unique "flap" mechanics which made controlling your jouster a very different experience from most other games, the different wave types that rewarded certain kinds of play or presented different challenges, and the high risk/reward dynamic of getting your lance right into that (obnoxious) pterodactyl's mouth. When I was a young kid, the finer points of the game didn't matter, but as I got older I came to appreciate those things more and more.
The graphics are clean and the sounds are satisfying. They give the game its strange feel. The flapping of the flying ostrich, the crunch and pop of scoring a kill, and the somewhat startling screech of the (rather obnoxious) pterodactyl all add to the brutal yet goofy atmosphere of a deadly combat arena on floating platforms suspended over lava.
There's an arcade that I go to every so often, and each time I visit I HAVE to play this game at least once. Not only to satisfy my nostalgia, but to appreciate the great game that is still as fun to play today as it was when I was a toddler just learning about the world.
Strangely, I think I was better at the game when I was younger. Maybe my perspective is skewed, or maybe I'm just yearning for a simpler time. Whatever the case may be, I still love the game.
Did I mention that I strongly dislike the pterodactyl?