Arcade Game of The Week: Popeye

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By today’s standards, the Popeye arcade game is a relatively simple video game. The player controls Popeye, the sailor of cartoon fame, who climbs around the screen while trying to catch falling hearts, musical notes or letters from his girlfriend, Olive Oyl, who is at the top of the screen. Working against Popeye is the evil Brutus and the Sea Hag; while the Sea Hag only appears on the edges of the screen and throws bottles at Popeye, Brutus can roam the screen and try to punch Popeye or jump and long on Popeye or throw bottles at Popeye.

There are three levels to the game, and each level is complete once Popeye catches all those hearts, notes or letters. The first level takes place at some docks. The second level occurs in a city. The third level is aboard a ship. Each level is more difficult than the one before. After the third level, the game starts over at the first level, though gameplay has been sped up.

Despite all the troubles Popeye faces in this arcade game, he does have some help. Most notable, there is one can of spinach per screen, and once Popeye grabs the spinach, he becomes invincible for a short while and can punch out Brutus. But Brutus isn’t down for the count, and returns shortly. Popeye also has a few opportunities for extra points.

While Popeye was popular enough in the arcades, it wasn’t quite a huge smash hit. Still, it was popular enough that it was ported to all the major home gaming consoles of the period as well as to many home computers. Some of the most memorable versions of this game were the ports for the NES (Nintendo Entertainment System, the Atari 2600, the Atari 5200, the Colecovision, and even for the Odyssey 2. Of all the home versions, the one for the NES is generally considered the best and the one most like the arcade game, but that only makes sense because Nintendo was the original creator of the arcade game as well as, obviously, the NES.

Recently, a version of this game has been released for cell phones, with several additions, including a new level.

Despite the years, the Popeye arcade game has stood the test of time and is still a fun climbing game to play.

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Classic Video Gamers, a blog for old school gamers

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