Release Date: October 1988
Developer: HAL Laboratory
Publisher: HAL America
Joust was originally a Williams Electronics arcade game released in 1982, but over the years was released on every Atari system, computer of the 80s, and the NES itself. Joust takes place in the far future where the knights of hyperspace battle each other on space ostriches.
Controls are simple, the A Button flaps the wings of the ostrich and is supposed to be for fine tuning elevation. Holding the B Button causes a constant flap and is for rapid ascent. The ostrich moves with momentum, so when you get moving, you don’t need to hold the d-pad to continue movement, it’s automatic. What you do need to press the d-pad for is changing speed or direction. This, along with flapping the wings is imperative for doing well.
The game takes place in waves where a set number of enemies appear from the random teleporter things. You have to defeat each enemy by running into them while slightly above them. It’s just like balloon fight, but better. When you kill an enemy, they drop an egg. You’ll need to grab that egg, or it will hatch and create a stronger enemy. If you take too long, a pterodactyl appears and chases you around in an attempt to kill you. It is hinted that the pterodactyl is invincible, but you can kill it with careful placement of the lance in its open mouth.
I could get really far in Joust when I was a kid and got in the groove, but I only made it into the double digits on this playthrough. Once you hit the third wave, the bridges on the bottom level melt away. As you go higher, platforms will begin to disappear. This can make It harder or easier to defeat your opponents.
The platforms are quite detailed, though the riders are not.
There’s not much to the music and sound effects.
I find the gameplay to be satisfying and surprisingly deep with momentum movement.
The difficulty mainly comes from your own hesitations or rushing into situations.
Fun Factor: 3.0
I have a lot of fun with Joust. I get a hankering to play it once in awhile to this day.
Overall Grade: 2.1
Joust earns a C. It’s not the best game on the system by any means, but it’s worth a shot.