Human Cannonball

As he crams himself into a vintage World War II howitzer, the Human Cannonball puts his life in your hands. If everything goes according to plan, he'll sail majestically through the air and safely splash down in a water tank. Endorsement deals and a post-show "celebration" with a townie in his trailer are certain to ensue. However, if you miscalculate the speed of launch, the distance from the cannon to the water tower, or the angle of attack, our hero will sail helplessly offscreen, or splat into the ground. Sure, he may end up on one of those funny home-video shows... but it's nearly impossible to "celebrate" when you're in a body cast.

Gameplay: Use your joystick controller to set the correct angle and speed, push the fire button, and hope for the best. If the HC lands it, he'll stand up and raise his little pixelated arms in the thrill of victory. If he augers into the ground, he'll say "ouch" in the agony of 8-bit defeat. The game ends after seven successful landings or seven gruesome deaths.

Could be mistaken for: Nothing else, really. Apart from Human Cannonball, the subgenre of county-fair-daredevil-inspired games never really took off.

Kids today might not like it because: When you strip away the slick graphics, monophonic sound effects, and complex character history, you're basically left with a math problem. Woo. Thanks, Atari.

Kids today might like it because: There are eight different games, providing eight different ways to intentionally kill the Human Cannonball. And nothing delivers a nice fit of the giggles quite like saying "get there!" as the HC falls just short of the tower.

Enduring contribution to gaming history: Human Cannonball's exciting mixture of math and... well, math... conclusively proved that learning was not fun. That didn't stop Atari from releasing grandparent-birthday-gift favorites like Basic Math and Math Grand Prix.

The man said "Keep your head and arms inside The Mixer at all times," but Wil Wheaton was a daredevil! Just like his old man!

Image courtesy of atariage.com.