Video Games 1981: Intro
Video Games 1981: Timex releases the Sinclair Research ZX81 in the UK, which is significantly less expensive than other computers on the market. Texas Instruments releases the TI-99/4A, an update to 1979’s TI-99/4. IBM Personal Computer is released for USD$1,565, with 16K RAM, no disk drives, and 4-color CGA graphics. Astrovision distributes the Bally Computer System after buying the rights from Bally/Midway. Acorn Computers Ltd releases the BBC Micro home computer. Commodore Business Machines releases the Commodore VIC-20 home computer. In addition, NEC releases the PC-8801 home computer in Japan. Source: Games in 1981
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Coleco Industries releases the Total Control 4 home console. Sega test markets the SG-1000 home console in Japan.
Arcade Video Games 1981
Konami releases Scramble, the first side-scrolling shooter with forced scrolling and multiple distinct levels. Williams Electronics releases Defender. Nintendo releases Donkey Kong, which introduces the characters of Donkey Kong and Mario, and sets the template for the platformer genre. It is also one of the first video games with an integral storyline. Namco releases Galaga, the sequel to Galaxian which becomes more popular than the original. Konami releases Frogger. However, Frogger is distributed in North America by Sega-Gremlin.
Other Arcade Video Games 1981
Sega releases Turbo, a racing video game for the VCO Object that features a third-person perspective, rear-view racer format. Williams Electronics releases Stargate, the sequel to Defender. Namco releases Bosconian, the first game to have a continue feature. Jump Bug, the first scrolling platformer, developed by Hoei/Coreland and Alpha Denshi. However, it was distributed in North America by Rock-Ola under license from Sega. Midway releases Gorf and Wizard of Wor. Taito releases twin-stick shooter Space Dungeon. Atari releases Tempest.
Computer Games 1981
Ultima is released, starting one of the most successful computer role-playing game franchises. Wizardry is released, starting another successful computer role-playing game franchises. IBM and Microsoft include the game DONKEY.BAS with the IBM PC, arguably the first IBM PC compatible game. Muse Software releases Castle Wolfenstein. The Atari Program Exchange publishes Caverns of Mars, a vertically scrolling shooter for the Atari 8-bit family, and wargame Eastern Front (1941). APX also sells the source code to Eastern Front. Epyx releases turn-based monster game Crush, Crumble and Chomp!. BudgeCo releases Raster Blaster, an Apple II pinball game that’s the precursor to Pinball Construction Set. Infocom releases Zork II: The Wizard of Frobozz.
- First IBM PC compatible game: DONKEY.BAS
- First side-scrolling shooter with forced scrolling and multiple distinct levels
- Donkey Kong sets the template for the platformer genre
- Bosconian was the first game to have a continue feature
- Jump Bug was the first scrolling platformer