We are the knights who say, uh, nothing, while riding…our ostriches?

It only takes one word to get my fiancé to perform/recite the following:

Him: *begins flapping arms*

“Screeee..!” (random screechy noise)

“Shp, shp, shp, shp, shp…” (the sound of running bird feet)

“Ting ting ting” (hitting obstacles)

“Ptchhoo!” (small explosion)

“And that’s how it was done.”

Me: “I hated Joust”

Joust cover art © Atari (source)

Yes, the preceding interlude was brought to you by the game Joust.  My fiancé has very fond memories of this game, even though he HATES, and I mean HATES ostriches.  For me, okay, I didn’t hate it (and I like ostriches just fine), but Joust was a game that I just didn’t get.

Joust appeared in our house during our Atari years, the late 80s or so.  In the game, you play as a lance-wielding knight riding a majestic(?) “flying” ostrich.  Your goal is to defeat other ostrich-riding knights by stomping on their heads.  (No digital ostriches were harmed in the making of this game as they go along their merry ways once you stomp out their knights.)  Once stomped, little eggs appear, which you have to retrieve before they hatch into other jousters. Each level has a series of different platforms upon which you can land.  As the game progresses, the platforms become smaller and/or disappear, meaning that you have to spend such levels mostly flapping away trying not to fall into fire/lava, as well as trying to defeat the other knights and picking up all those damn eggs.


So…altogether now: old school video game = challenging!  Indeed.  In Joust, you had to maneuver around the platforms pretty precisely in order to reach your targets.  You also had to time your attacks, even though there was no rhyme or reason to how the other knights flew around the screen.  And it was equally hard for me whether there were platforms or not – either they were in my way or I didn’t have enough on which to land.  Sadly, the only way I found to progress through at least the first few levels was to keep my knight at the top of the screen and just wait for the others to come at me.  Soooo pathetic; but I managed to get through several levels to the end.

Pysch! I never beat the game, silly!

I can now totally appreciate the required skill and coordination needed to be good at a game like Joust.  Still, I just didn’t get it.  A little yellow circle chasing ghosts? Sure.  An adventurer swinging over crocodile pits?  Yes.  A ship shooting at formations of aliens?  Of course.

Ostrich-riding knights out for death?  Err…huh?  Well…I’ll try anything once.  And once (or maybe a year’s worth of trying) was enough for me.

Incidentally, if you think I’m a totally screwing with you in talking about a game involving knights, ostriches, and eggs, here’s a great review by someone who liked the game a whole lot more than me from Classic Game Room.  I do agree that the game is worth playing.  And if you enjoy a challenge involving flying and knight-stomping, you’ll probably like it a lot more than I did too.


  1. Never played that game. I did, however, play a game where an ape rode an ostrich and stomped on the head of crocodiles. Donkey Kong Country. It was awesome. But, I don’t understand a game that revolves around knights on ostriches attacking each other, either. What’s their motivation? Why do the knights dislike each other? How do the ostriches fly? Are they magic? These questions must be answered before I’ll understand.


    • Your questions are good ones, and I am afraid I do not possess the answers. To paraphrase Alfred Lloyd Tennyson’s statement about old school video games: “Ours is not to question why, ours is but to do or die without understanding or save points.”

      Or something like that.

      But you are right about DKC…it was awesome.


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