Joust always stood out for me as one of those simplistically weird games. It was easy to get started playing but tough to master. Unlike the previous game I discussed, I Robot, Joust's weirdness is subtle, and it's only once you delve into the game with more detail that you realize just how weird it is.
The first thing I remember noticing was that the controls are pretty simple, just a joystick and a button per player. Ah, but the joystick only moves you left and right, and the button is labeled "flap". Joust and its successors are just about the only games I can recall where you have a "flap" button.
And why, pray tell is there a flap button? Naturally, because your player is riding an ostrich. Yes, I said ostrich. And the enemies are riding buzzards, so there. Thus, the flap button gets to be mashed rapidly in succession by you, the player, to make your rider rise up into the air, mashed in regular pattern to hover (or virtually hover), and stop outright to make the rider fall down.
Then, you come to realize that the playing field is an island surrounded by volcano-esque "liquid hot magma" which can kill you if you get too close or fall in (in later levels). Taking too long on a given level (or just reaching a high enough level) also reveals the tough to kill pterodactyl. Yes, the game has dinosaurs too.
One thing I always liked about the game was the ability for two players to play simultaneously. This allowed for either strategic cooperative play as both players try to destroy the enemies, or competitive play where both players kill enemies and also each other. If I was playing two players, I preferred naturally to play cooperatively, because I hated if my game ended quickly due to someone just trying to kill me instead of the enemies.
"Thy Game Is Over", as the end of game message displays. Have you ever played Joust, and if so, have you ever managed to kill the pterodactyl?