Were you alive in 1982?

If like this humble scribe you grew up with gaming magazines, you'll probably remember when the Internet really became easy to access and you found yourself straying away from these paper-based curiosities to online news and reviews.

Considering that many of the web's biggest gaming sites were founded in the '90s or the "Naughties", it's surprising to find that not only were a select group of people using the Internet back in 1982, but they were even reviewing video games - or in this case, a Game & Watch handheld.

On Reddit user Celeryyy's travels through Google's archives of Usenet posts he stumbled across such a review of Game & Watch game Octopus by a user known as "sdcarl!rusty" which dates back to 2nd February 1982. That's probably a time before most of our readers were even born!

If you were thinking about picking up this game from a well-known auction site, here is the review for your edification:

This is a review of a hand-held game "Game & Watch" made by Nintendo (makers of the Donkey Kong video arcade game). The model I have is called "Octopus". The store where I bought mine had five different models, each costs $35.

First a general description of the physical configuration. The case is quite thin; about 3/8 inch thick, 4 1/2 inches long, and 2 2/1 inches tall. About the size of a wallet calculator. It has a large LCD screen in the middle. The dimensions of the screen are 2 1/8 inches by 1 3/8 inches. The game is held with the long dimension horizontal. To control the action there are two large red buttons, one on each side of the screen, each conveniently near the lower left/right corner where your thumbs would naturally rest. The left red button causes movement to the left and the right red button causes movement to the right. In the upper right hand corner are three buttons; two select the level of difficulty, game A and game B, the third button turns on the clock display as the game can be a clock while it isn't being used. It has a little swing out stand in the back so that it can be stood up on your desk.

The game: to get as much of the treasure out of the sunken ship as possible. The scenario: in the upper left corner is your boat floating on the surface of the sea with a rope dangling to the ocean floor, in the lower right corner is the sunken ship with the treasure chest. Filling up most of the area in the water is a large octopus with four tentacles that grow and shrink at random rates and intervals. The rightmost three tentacles don't move around, they just grow and shrink. The leftmost tentacle can grow either in a downward direction or in an upward direction. In the upward direction it can snag you while you're climbing down the rope. If one of the tentacles touch you you're dead. As the game starts you have three divers in the boat and you use the right button to move the first one down the rope and over to the treasure then you use both buttons to make it dance back and forth to avoid the tentacles or when you're all the way over to the treasure you press the right button to make it grab some of the treasure. For each piece of treasure you snatch you get one point. After you've picked up any amount of treasure you can climb back into the boat and get a three point bonus. While the game is being played it makes a ticking sound; reminds one of a time bomb and adds to the sense of tension and panic. When the octopus gets you the game makes a buzzing rasberry sound and the remaining diver(s) do a left shift in the boat in preparation for the leftmost one going down next. Game A and B are the same except the tentacles move faster in game B.

It's quite fun. It's difficult enough to keep you coming back but not to difficult to frustrate you. The design of the characters is very humurous. The octopus has a sappy, lugubrious expression. When the diver is grabbing some of the treasure it's arm moves back and forth from the treasure chest to the bag it's stuffing it into. When it gets back into the boat it's arm swings up and down with the bag to show it unloading the treasure. They have comical positions when walking over to the treasure. When the octopus gets one of the divers he pulls it up towards him and the diver flails its arms and legs frantically.

Features: As mentioned before it has a clock. When the game isn't being played it can stand up on your desk as a clock with the time displayed in the upper right hand corner of the screen. While in clock mode the display is active with the divers marched down to the treasure and pranced around until the octopus gets them but it is all done silently with no ticking or beeping. It also has an alarm. The clock and alarm are 24 hour.

Misfeatures: to set the clock or alarm requires a thin object to poke the recessed buttons. A paper clip straightened out will do. It remembers the highest score but setting the clock causes it forget it. There is no on/off switch (being LCD I suppose that's not a misfeature).

It's quite a neat little discovery. For those not in the know, Usenet was essentially the first Internet-based message-board system, which was around before the web as we now know it even existed. Let us know what you think about this little Internet gaming time capsule with a comment below.

[source reddit.com, via groups.google.com]