Before my family could afford a PC, the only games we had at home were weird ’70s consoles with built-in monochrome games. My siblings and I would pool our pennies at car boot sales then play them until their fizzing, crackling deaths shortly after. Most games involved paddles and bats repurposed to abstractly represent sports.
I wish they’d been half as fun as some of the games in the Gazmo IV Classique, a free fictional vintage console created by Gary Penn. You can play with two models for free in your browser, click-clacking their buttons and playing their minimalist batballing games.
The Gazmo IV Classique and its follow-up are pleasing virtual things, with big noisy buttons and sliders, and you do need to turn them on. Each system has four games, largely Pong-y type things with a touch of Breakout, interesting experiments in minimalism. They shuffle around the elements of ball, bat, and brick, changing which we control, and what we should do with them. You might dodge balls, control a ball trying to get through a mess of bats, or try to hit moving targets.
Each game has an alternate mode too, and the sliders affect the size of game elements, making it fun to fiddle with. Go, play. Click-clack and ping-pong.
It looks like he released Android versions a year ago, but these PC ports seem new or at least recently-updated. He had planned for future Gazmo systems to include multiplayer games as well.
Penn explains in a blog post:
“My intention here was to stick closely to the representation and limitations of Pong and its ilk to create similar games that I don’t recall existing back in the day. They are meant to be ‘of their time’, which means simple and shallow, rough and tough; part of a fictitious console with appropriate options, so don’t expect any fancy-schmancy Achievements and Leaderboards either, oh no; those you have to track yourself.”
He also goes into his interest in constructing fake histories, and his self-declared “grand delusions” of finding the gaming equivalent of chords and ‘mother sauces’, making it all an interesting read. I am quite fond of creating fake history, though you do spoil it a little when you tell people that’s what you’re doing, pssh.