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That Game from Outer Space is a 1983 children's book by Stephen Manes, illustrated by Tony Auth. A scant 57 pages (and large print at that), it tells the story of Oscar Noodleman, a boy of ten-ish and a strange arcade game that appears outside Pete's Pizza Palace. He helps Hughie (the owner of the joint) bring it inside where it stands out among the rest of the collection, and as thanks Hughie provides the necessary dollar to play the first game. Oscar ends up playing a few more games before finally achieving victory, whereupon the aliens who inhabit the game/spaceship come out and say cool, we trust you now, fix our ship for us please kthanks seeya!

It's a short story that takes place almost entirely in the Pizza Palace (with a brief stint at the ATM across the street), and we only see five characters in all: Oscar (the hero), Hughie (the only obstacle Oscar faces beyond video game enemies), Mandy (the villain, by which I mean she's obnoxious and has all the high scores in the arcade), and two cockroaches/aliens.

I kind of just summarized the entire plot with that. Oscar wants to play this game more (but has been saving up money to buy a home video game console--does he really want to spend money on this instead?). Mandy comes in, plays once, decides it sucks, and leaves. Hughie wants to close up and go home because it's late. (Well, it's 7pm, but the Pizza Palace closes early on Mondays.) This last point is the main challenge Oscar faces. He stalls for time twice, the second time when Hughie agrees to lock the door, go walk his dog and then come back to lock up for real--and that's the final deadline for Hughie to finish up his game. (N.B., at this point, he's already won the game and is now in negotiations about rocketship repairs, but Hughie doesn't know this.)

The game described sounds like a simple "fly a spaceship around" game like Asteroids, but your main tools for "battling" the enemies are a button to generate a shield around your ship and a button to transport your ship across the screen. There's another button that shoots, but Oscar discovers that it seems to result in your immediate destruction, ending the game.

That said, there's a later level wherein you're a cockroach running around, trying to avoid being stomped on, smashed with a broom, or sprayed with poison, and another where you're landing a rocket ship.

I should mention a couple things here: the cabinet for this arcade game is in the shape of a rocket ship—pointed at the top, fins on the bottom, painted bright yellow with green and purple stripes. Looks a lot like the ship in the game itself.

Additionally, whenever you lose the game, if you do better than that obnoxious Mandy did, one or more yellow cockroaches with green and purple stripes run down the outside of the screen and into the coin slot.

This game, to me, doesn't sound super impressive, but it's worth remembering that this book is from 1983, and the fact that it has three completely different games contained in it adds some interest.

Annnnyway, Oscar eventually wins the game, and out come some cockroaches to say thanks. They ask him to fix his ship (for pay), insisting that don't worry, it's easy.

As it turns out, it is reasonably easy if you're a thousand times the size of a cockroach. I don't want to downplay Oscar's heroics here, as the knob he had to turn for them was rather stiff, but it was just a matter of turning a knob with his hand. With that, the rocketship dumps its collection of coins (from all over the world--the ship has been travelling around Earth to "test" people with the game), and takes off.

Hughie then returns to close up shop (for real this time, no more dilly-dallying) and notices the new game is gone. Oscar explains that the manufacturers had come by and picked up the game because it was broken, and they hadn't meant to leave it outside the Pizza Palace, sorry, good night! The end.

Oh! I forgot the most important part: as additional payment, Oscar convinced the aliens to put his name as the top score on all the other arcade games in the Pizza palace. Take that Mandy!

Over all, this is a very short, low-plot book that's still enjoyable. It has some okay illustrations, Hughie adds some nice color, Oscar figures out how to play a video game, and the game itself is pretty neat stuff for 1983. There's not much too it, but it's also a half-hour read, and you can currently had used hardcover or Kindle edition for under $5 on Amazon. I liked it when I was ten and I still like it today. I will say, though, that you might like it more if you're 10.

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