From: Patrick Douglas Crispen 

TODAY'S TOURBUS STOP(S): Spaced Penguin / Midway Games

The Internet Tourbus - U.S. Library of Congress ISSN #1094-2239
Copyright © Bob Rankin and Patrick Crispen - All rights reserved
Howdy, y'all, and greetings from deep behind the orange curtain in beautiful Irvine, California, birthplace of belly button lint.

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On with the show ...

Warning: Space Penguins

One of the hardest things I had to do when I worked at the US Space Camp was to explain orbital mechanics to a bunch of teenagers. In the movies if you want to fly your spaceship from point A to point B you just fly in a straight line. Would that it were so easy. In the real world -- or, actually, the real space -- getting from point A to point B usually involves a heck of a lot of parabolic curves and McDonald's arch-like hops.

Now, I know what you are thinking. Orbital mechanics is about as interesting as a British House of Commons debate on farm subsidies for Kent [with the requisite back-bench shouting of "shame, shame! What about the Balkans?!"] You have to trust me on this one, though. The other day I found this absolutely adorable Macromedia Shockwave game called "Spaced Penguin" that not only teaches you a little bit about orbital mechanics but is also an absolute blast to play.

You can find Spaced Penguin online at

The game itself is really simple: get Kevin the Penguin back to his spaceship using the "highly advanced GPS (Giant Penguin Slingshot)." The instructions are equally simple:

Click on Kevin and hold down your mouse button. Drag your mouse to pull him back, and release the button to launch him! Use the gravity of nearby planets to help send Kevin in the right direction.

There are 25 levels in the game, each one more challenging than its predecessor. The first two levels are straight forward ... literally. Level three introduces gravity, namely the gravitational pull of a nearby planet. By level 6, if you aren't careful you can accidentally launch Kevin into a really cool, Spriograph-like orbit (to stop the orbit and try again, just click your mouse button.)

There's not much more I can tell you about the game other than it is one of the coolest things I have seen online in a while ... and it is a tremendous time sponge.

You've been warned.

Midway Games

As long as we're talking about creative ways to kill an afternoon playing free, online games, another site that you need to check out is .

If that address is too long for you, check out .

instead. Either link takes you to the same place: Midway Games' online arcade.

Do you remember classic arcade games like Defender, Joust, or (my personal favorite) Root Beer Tapper? Well, the folks at Midway Games recently dusted off the old source code from those and 7 other games and ported them to Shockwave.

What does that mean in English? Well, if you go to that hideously long URL I gave you a moment ago, you'll discover that the arcade games we played as kids (assuming you are a gen-x'er like me) are now available online ... free. No quarters required.

And, if you are from generation y, you can now see -- and ridicule -- the arcade games your parents played before there ever was a Nintendo or PlayStation. :P

Midway's list of free games include:

  • Defender
  • Joust
  • Rampage
  • Spy Hunter
  • Robotron 2084
  • Tapper
  • Defender II
  • Bubbles
  • Satan's Hollow
  • Sinistar
  • Click on the game you want to play and a screen pops-up. Wait for the game to finish loading and then click on the Start button. What you'll see is the EXACT start screen you saw when the game was in the arcade in the 1970's and 1980's. Click on the spinning quarter to get one credit. The rest is self-explanatory. :)

    That's it for today. Today's post is a tad bit short, but only because I want to shut up, get out of your way, and let you jump straight into some serious time-wasting online game playing.

    Enjoy! :)

    .~~~. )) (\__/) .' ) )) Patrick Douglas Crispen /o o \/ .~ {o_, \ { / , , ) \ `~ '-' \ } )) AOL Instant Messenger: Squirrel2K _( ( )_.' '---..{____} Warning: squirrels.

    The Internet Tourbus - U.S. Library of Congress ISSN #1094-2239
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