December 8

Bruce Lee, the 8-bit video game that I still play

Must I tell you who Bruce Lee is? I hope not. But here you go:

Enter The Dragon

Enter The Dragon

The kids born in the 1970s like to brag about their less crowded streets and their knee-high socks and their afternoons spent delivering newspapers or playing with friends because they didn’t have homework like kids born in the 2000s. I’m going to add one more thing to the brag list: Bruce Lee, the video game, the original Atari 8-bit or Commodore 64 release. The 1980s came just at the right time for the 1970s kids because we were old enough to hang out in pizza parlors after school and also get jobs to buy our own games to play at home.

Up, down, left, right, jump, kick. With fiveĀ keys on the keyboard and twenty levels and two bad guys and lots of challenges and puzzles, it is a perfect game. The sounds are entertaining, the graphics are lovable, and the gameplay experience will draw you closer to trying to actually beat the game.

That's me! Bruce, kicking butt!

That’s me! Bruce, kicking butt!

I have beaten the game multiple times. How many hours of my life have been spent inside of this 8-bit Bruce Lee fantasy is unknown to me at this time, but I have no regrets. This game allowed me to pretend just enough that I was Bruce Lee, and, kids from the 1970s, well, we all wanted to be Bruce Lee. Even those who didn’t admit it, they did too.

Just take a look at this video of all the levels completed by a friendly YouTuber who also shares in the joy of this game:

This is pure 80s happy.

I marvel at how complicated and challenging the new games are, and am very impressed with the graphics, the scale, the gameplay, and all of it, but let me tell you, or let my son tell you, I am really not that good at these newfangled games at all. The Playstation or XBox game controllers alone are too complicated for me with all of those buttons, for more fingers than I have available, and two thumb-controlled joysticks, not hand-controlled, but thumb. However, if you’ll put two quarters into a Pac-Man machine, and let me go first, you’ll be waiting a while before you get to play your first life. And I am likely to earn more points in my first life than you’ll get in all three of yours. But that’s because I’m skilled in what I know, and it isn’t better, but it just is different and so la dee dah (as Annie Hall likes to say).

I love the Bruce Lee 8-bit game so much so that when I first made a website back in 1997, I found a ‘for Windows computers’ version and made it available for download. I had loads of hits on that page, and my nephew swears to this day that I got him through most of his bored days at school with that link.

Sometimes a group of humans comes together to create, in their time, the right mixture of cultural relevance, user excitement, emotional connection, and mental challenge. This happens in art, music, games, and more. I know that feeling well, and I’d venture a guess that we all just keep looking for the next time it will happen, or even better, get busy creating it ourselves with a trusted bunch of inventors, innovators, artists, and thinkers. It’s all we can do, really, once we know what it’s like to have lived through ‘a something’ . . . well, that about wraps up my little tribute to Bruce Lee, the 8-bit video game. I’m sure I’ll be back sometime soon with more on the life I once led.

He was an artist.

You might as well —> download the game <— on a Windows box and get busy. The file is stored on my personal Google Drive; this is not a malicious Rick Roll.