Joust turns 30
The early 1980s marked a huge boom period for the video game industry. As a result, many of the iconic classics of that time seem to be reaching major anniversaries in rapid-fire succession.
The latest to reach the 30 year milestone is Joust, the unique 1982 title from former arcade powerhouse Williams Electronics. According to government trademark records the first appearance of the title was on July 16, 1982.
Created by John Newcomer, the game of Joust put the player in control of an ostrich-riding knight. The object of the game was the turn away the challenges of numerous enemy knights, also riding the odd birds through levels with several platforms. From time to time an almost unbeatable pterodactyl would join into the frantic pace of the game.
The two-player feature helped Joust make an impact in the coin box at arcades across the country. While the ability for numerous players to play together has been a common feature in arcades for some time, in 1982 it was quite the novelty for two players to be able to play at the same time. Adding to the feature were offers of bonus points on certain levels, some of which encouraged teamwork and others that encouraged direct competition.
While the classic has been long removed from most surviving arcade locations today, Kansas City gamer Lonnie McDonald has been bouncing across the country for the past year in an effort to post a high score of 9,999,999 points on every surviving Joust machine he can find. So far on his tour he has hit over 60 different Joustmachines, including one in placed in the former location of a historic arcade just days before the 30th birthday date.
“I have met some cool folks along the way,” he said in a previous interview. “Played with current world champs; seen Joust machines in homes, bars, arcades and museums. I’m not as fast or as handsome or thin, but I am wiser and more strategic. On the other hand when you win 500 free guys you can play silly if you want to.”