There were many classic games released for the Sega Master System during the third-generation console’s lifespan between 1985 and 1992. Some were more memorable than others, of course, and there are a number of titles which have faded into distant memory. Parlour Games from developers Compile would fall in the second category for most gamers, but that’s not to say that the game was without its merits. The simplistic title released in 1987 inspired other similar games later on down the line, and it could be argued that a reboot for modern audiences would be more successful than the original.
Remembering a Retro Classic
While a lot of the games for early consoles were strictly solo offerings, Parlour Games was a pioneer for multiplayer gaming. It also represented Sega’s first foray into the world of games based on real-life activities. The software company’s main rival Nintendo had already released Championship Pool, Championship Bowling, and Magic Darts for the Nintendo Entertainment System, so Sega needed to delve into the genre to keep its players happy. The 1987 game could be played by up to four players and featured darts, bingo and pool.
At the time of its release, Parlour Games was considered a bargain due to the amount of content that players received on the cartridge. A lot of other developers were producing titles which only featured one activity, but this game included three entirely separate games. There were endless hours of fun to be had on this game with friends, despite some of the individual games being difficult to play or just plain dull in terms of gameplay. The idea behind it was good, and if it was remade now with modern technology, it could be a hit due to the increase in popularity of some of the games within.
Darts in Parlour Games
Of the three games on offer in Parlour Games, darts was the most frustrating. There were many different varieties on offer, including 301, 501, Round the Clock, and Double Down. However, actually aiming the darts at the board was quite difficult using the Master System’s primitive controllers. Throwing the darts was a complicated process which involved holding down button two to build up the power meter, then releasing the button, then hitting button two again to thrown the dart. A lot of the time, the guy would just throw the dart after you released the power button, though, and it seemed like the game’s mechanics weren’t quite calibrated correctly.
In terms of exciting sports which players want to imagine themselves playing, darts probably wouldn’t be at the top of many people’s lists. But, since Parlour Games, there have been a few fairly successful titles for later consoles. One of the most famous franchises was the PDC World Championship Darts series, which was originally developed by Mere Mortals and then later by Rebellion Developments. The games featured real pros such as Phil Taylor and also had more realistic controls. The result was a fairly satisfying darts experience for some but, still, the games were met with a terrible critical response. Had they been combined with other games as they had been in Parlour Games, they may have proved to be more popular.
Bingo in Parlour Games
Bingo was an exciting offering within Parlour Games, but it was one which required no skill at all. Players had to stamp their bingo cards if their numbers were drawn out by the spin of a slot machine. While a group of friends could have decided to make it more interesting by placing their own bets on the outcome, it didn’t really allow for much skill-based competition between the different players. To play the game, players simply had to select numbers on a card and then spin the wheel to draw out the numbers. The first player to complete the card would be the winner.
This is one offering within Parlour Games which would almost certainly be a much bigger hit with the audience of today, as bingo has enjoyed an incredible rise in popularity during the internet era. Online bingo sites have emerged in every corner of the World Wide Web, and are attracting bingo traditionalists and youngsters in equal measure. Sites offer classic bingo games to please the older clientele, but also have new variations which are designed to bring in the younger players. These include games like slingo, which is a cross between slots and bingo. Slingo casino games are becoming more popular, and are basically a modernized version of the bingo game which was used in Sega’s Parlour Games. Players enjoy the fast-paced nature of the game and the fact that there are special features involved as well. Incorporating offerings like this on a rebooted Parlour Games title would almost certainly be a hit.
Pool in Parlour Games
The other option for Parlour Games players was pool, and this was perhaps the most exciting of the three games on offer. The controls worked fairly well, and it did require an element of skill in order to prevail over opponents. There were also a number of different choices for the preferred type of pool game. These included straight pool where players had to simply pot the balls, five ball, and nine ball in which players had to hit the balls in number order, and rotation where players chose a number of points and then had to try and hit that number. To play the game, players had to control the cursor to select where they wanted to hit the ball, then use a power meter to determine how hard they struck the cue ball. The game was easy to learn but quite difficult to master. Because of this, it was rather rewarding to play.
Pool games have been ever-present on various platforms, ever since the release of Parlour Games. The sport has been most successful when immortalized as a mobile game. This is because using a swiping method across the touchscreen of a smartphone or tablet is quite an accurate representation of pulling back on a pool cue. Mobile games like Pool Mania and Pool Billiards also have online modes so that players can test their skills against real-life opponents. Along with pool games, there have been numerous snooker offerings which are perhaps even more popular. The World Championship Snooker franchise from Blade Interactive is the best-known series in the genre, and there were six installments of the game between 2002 and 2008. These titles were well received by critics, and lauded for the way they brought an authentic snooker experience to players at home. There hasn’t been a title in the series since 2008, though, so if Parlour Games was rebooted now it would be released to an audience which is craving a new offering in the genre.
Looking back at Parlour Games, it could well be considered a retro Sega classic. The problem was, it was well before its time. Had it been released to modern audiences with today’s graphics and gameplay mechanics, it may have been a lot more successful than it was back then.