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Old 12-14-2011, 10:00 PM   #1 (permalink)
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The Quantum Leap

In this age of the touchscreen, ushered in by the Nintendo DS and furthered by a wide range of tablets and smartphones, it's not uncommon to guide your hero to victory with a pen, rather than a joystick. In fact, the best games on the iPhone and its cousins studiously avoid virtual D-pads, instead relying on pokes, swipes, and drawn paths for input.

It wasn't always this way, though! Back in the early 1980s, there were many ways to interact with video games, but drawing was rarely among them. There were early graphic tablets such as the KoalaPad for home computers, and even a light pen for the almost-portable Vectrex. However, these tools were designed for budding artists, not joystick jockeys looking for a new pony to ride.

Ironically, one of the first games to feature drawing as a central play mechanic didn't use a pen at all! Instead, Atari's arcade division offered a trackball as an input device in the innovative but quickly forgotten Quantum. Loosely based on the principles of quantum mechanics, Quantum challenged players to split atoms by drawing vapor trails around them. Hesitation shrinks the trail, but colliding with the nucleus of an atom is fatal, forcing the player to find a balance between speed and caution.

The trackball is a fine controller for this game, giving players the range of motion that would be impossible with an ordinary joystick. Still, you can't help but think that Quantum would be sublime with a pen. I tested that theory by connecting a graphic tablet to my PC and starting the game in the MAME arcade emulator. The onscreen cursor didn't perfectly match the movement of my pen... I'd sometimes have to set the stylus in the center of the tablet to keep my atom splitter moving. Nevertheless, the pen was far more accurate than a trackball or mouse... which turned out to be a mixed blessing. The precision afforded by a stylus makes Quantum obscenely easy, letting me blow through levels that would have been more challenging- and satisfying- with other modes of input.

Okay, so Quantum wasn't as suited to a pen as I first thought. Nevertheless, it introduced concepts that have since become commonplace in today's radically changed game market. The few players who had the good fortune to play this when it was first released didn't realize it, but their quarters bought them a peek into the future.



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Old 12-15-2011, 12:36 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Re: The Quantum Leap

I thought this would be about Quantam Leap, this makes me sad.
I like watching Quantam Leap on the rare occassions it is on tv.
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Old 12-15-2011, 11:10 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Re: The Quantum Leap

I thought this was about that awesome TV show from the 90's...
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Old 12-15-2011, 06:42 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Re: The Quantum Leap

Does anyone remember that super cool tv show from the 90's?
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Old 12-15-2011, 06:56 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Re: The Quantum Leap

Of course. Actually when the series finale happened the cable went out at my house right in the beginning of it and it wasn't until years later that my wife found the episode on DVD that I was able to finally see it.

My Wife and I loved that show.
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Old 12-17-2011, 12:00 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Re: The Quantum Leap

I don't remember it from the 90s, but I remember watching reruns of it. It was awesome.
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Old 12-17-2011, 06:09 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Re: The Quantum Leap

I used to watch it all the time. It isn't nearly as good as I remember though. Watching reruns is kinda painful.
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Old 12-17-2011, 07:51 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Re: The Quantum Leap

Tried my hand in this game and got so far I had to figure out what to do it was one of those arcade games that I only played once but it's been so long since I remembered how to play however it is a fun game that I will agree with those who love playing it on RU.
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