Ever since I picked up my PS4, I never thought I'd be playing it as much as I'm playing it now. Even though I only acquired one game upon launch (Knack), I was happy to find more games to download and play through PSN and PlayStation Plus, one of which was Resogun, by Housemarque. The moment I saved my first human, it clicked.
A Blast From the Past
This was Defender, the game I played on my Atari 2600. The game that I STILL OWN.
Horizontal infinite scrolling, humans you save that cling below your ship like some Jackie Chan stunt man...this is most certainly Defender, but with a much glossier makeover. In my childhood memories, the game liked this:
For a game that's over 30 years old, Defender was ahead of its time. The premise was simple enough: fly through the skies, destroy alien enemies, and rescue people (white blocks) from abducting UFOs by destroying the UFOs and swoopping at the falling people before they go splat on the city. But what made the game magical were two things. The endless flying, and the map system.
At the time, there weren't many games that offered freedom of space. Boundaries were all around the place, limiting you from where you want to roam. Defender, on the other hand, wrapped the horizontal level on itself, allowing players to gun it full speed around and around, for as long as they like! Half of my memories were just going top speed around and around, often times just watching how many times I could lap an enemy. Defender essentially gave a kid like me a gas pedal, and I got to lead-foot it.
What Are All Those Dots?
With little graphics to go on, many Atari 2600 games were extremely basic, and did just enough to capture people's attention. Not Defender, however. They saw the opportunity to show you at a moment's glance where ALL enemies were, with the top rectangle map screen. It wasn't extravagant, it wasn't even clear - all you'd see were blips that moved slightly. Combine this with your speedy ship, and you just learned basic navigation...in a game.
Hello Again, My Old Friend
In my eyes, Resogun has become what Defender has always been in my mind - a rich endless cityscape filled with enemies to blow up and humans to rescue (who still cling to the bottom of your ship like a stubborn piece of shit!). It has become one of the very few games that nurtured my childhood memories of games past, not overwritten them.
Every time I play Resogun, I imagine sitting next to my younger self, who's playing his copy of Defender. Both of us side by side, playing essentially the same game.
Welcome back, Defender. You've aged gracefully.