Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Keystone Kapers

Illustration for article titled Keystone Kapers

In 1979, as the home videogame market exploded, four key programmers left Atari to form Activision. In the early '80s, while Atari released landfill-destined crappers like Pac-Man and E.T., Activision released classics like Kaboom!, Freeway, and Keystone Kapers.


Gameplay: You're a cop, and you need to catch the bad guy before you run out of lives… but that sounds so boring. Let's describe this the Activision way: "Leapin' Leprechauns! That blunderous hoodlum Harry Hooligan is up to his old shenanigans, robbing Southwick's department store! Grab yer billy club and nab that dastardly thief before he makes it up to the roof and escapes!"

You'll have to run as fast as your stubby little 8-bit legs can carry you. And Harry isn't going quietly, either: he's had a chance to throw some beach balls, shopping carts, and model airplanes at you, and you'll have to leap over them or duck them. He's also dropped money bags and suitcases filled with cash, which really don't need to be sent to the evidence locker, wink wink nudge nudge, Officer Kelly buys a new boat.

Could be mistaken for: Kung Fu, Pitfall!, Larry The Looter

Kids today may not like it because: When they catch Harry Hooligan, instead of the chance to administer a satisfying beatdown, all they get are stupid bonus points.

Kids today may like it because: If they score 35,000 points, they can join the "Billy Club," which includes a spiffy iron-on patch that they can affix to their shirts so schoolyard bullies can readily identify them.

Enduring contribution to gaming history: If there were any doubts that 1982's Pitfall! (which remains the all-time top-selling title on the Atari 2600) was a fluke, Keystone Kapers blew them all away, establishing Activision as a company that thrives to this day.


Wil Wheaton's lawyer has advised him to assert his right to remain silent.