Internet Arcade: Joust

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Gameplay screenshot from Joust

rcade games remind me of my childhood when I could tilt the stick and smash the buttons vigorously. I haven’t played arcade games for such a long time, but I just had a chance to do so on an internet emulator. I chose to play Joust, and the game captivated me to play continuously for thirty minutes. In this blog post, I will talk briefly about the plot, controlling mechanics, earning points method, and the experience of playing on an emulator comparing to playing on a real arcade machine.

The plot and controlling mechanics of Joust are very simple. The game is about controlling a knight on an ostrich and flying around a platform to fight other enemies. As I played through every wave, the game became more challenging. One noticeable change is the increasing number of enemies with better flying techniques and murdering skills. Also, the most bottom platform will open to expose the deadly lava later on. Moreover, if I play too long in a wave, a pterodactyl appears, willing to devour my knight.

In terms of controlling mechanics, it is simple with only three buttons: move left, right, and flapping. However, it is not easy to keep the knight under control, which makes the game fun but frustrating simultaneously. Sometimes, I thought I balanced the character perfectly until I ran below the enemy and died like a joke, just because I didn’t hit the flapping button enough. Other times, I thought I was going to die but for a miracle moment that I kill two enemies in a row. Playing Joust threw me in a dilemma of emotions, but this experience kept me trying again when I ran out of life.

The key to Joust is to collect as many points as possible to climb the high-score chart, and there are many ways to get points. First, flying and encountering above the enemies is the easiest way for earning points. Second, after defeating an enemy, the vultures will drop an egg that can be collected for points. The interesting part of collecting eggs is that, if I get them while they’re floating in the sky, I earn extra points. Third, another thing that I figured out later is that the egg on the ground can hatch into another enemy, which we can earn greater points when collecting them. However, if the hatched enemy can get on a vulture, I must defeat it again. Last, if I manage to get through a wave without spending lives, I will earn a fruitful 3000 points as a “surviving award.” Joust is a simple game but the earning point method is diverse enough to keep players entertained.

Playing arcade games through an emulator doesn’t deliver the same feeling as in an arcade cabinet, but I think that won’t affect much on the gameplay. The gestures on an arcade cabinet are the main difference since I can flick the controller stick and tap bigger buttons while keyboards are just about pressing small, dense keys. Playing in a real arcade machine might also bring back nostalgia. The feeling of buying coins, rushing them to the hole with eagerness to play, and listening to the metal sound traveling through the machine are just unique experience. Playing Joust through browser lack those physical interactions. Thus, there is a difference in playing experience, but objectively, I don’t think playing in either way would give me more benefits to earn more points than another. On top of that, Joust was a fun game to play. It gave me both satisfaction and frustration but in a good way.

The game can be played on the following website: https://archive.org/details/arcade_joust. Let’s play and experience it for yourself!

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I'm a graphic design student at SJSU. My blogpost will focus on the game projects that I made in my class ART 108. Hope you enjoy my articles!

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