Some that I played a lot were Mortal Kombat, Terminator, Operation Wolf (which sucks the big one on the wii), Mad Dog McCree, and some helicopter simulator the name of which escapes me.
What do you remember about being twelve? I remember spending a whole summer wishing I could hang out with the cool kids but instead nicking stuff from Woolworths and ramming coin after coin into Dragon’s Lair and Defender. Seventeen? Sometimes I ponder my misspent youth playing pool in Sneaky Dee’s and ramming coin after coin …
Wow, this lot takes me back a bit.
Can't really complain about the list, but would like to have seen a few noteable mentions such as
Robotron - move in 8 directions with one stick, fire in 8 directions with the other - mental
Gauntlet - 4 player madness and stacks of fun
Space Harrier - moving seat platform goodness
There are others, but I think most oldies would recognise the above :)
Gauntlet, had many fun times with that on the Amiga. Okay it was probably Gauntlet 2 by then. On the Amiga you could plug in 4 joysticks using a parallel port adapter. I bought one for Ikari Warriors which wasn't wired right for Gauntlet, a bit of re-soldering later and it was.
Gauntlet was one of the first arcade games that I remember having speech.
Other games I remember well:
Ghosts and Goblins
KAA KAA KAA KAA!
I think Wizard of Wor had the same speech synth. Legendary stuff.
Memories like the ones in the article are why I built a videogame cabinet of my own. There is a thriving aftermarket is the control boards for these. Swap a couple connectors and you have an entirely different game AND don't have to fret over copyright issues with emulators like MAME
Ah, remeber some of these FAR too well. Sixth form it was battlezone and Defender - even have De3ender for Psion and enjoyed even round 200 - now onto Defendguin the Tux clone - still all good. Best memories were with Star Wars - repeatedly failing to plant the torpedo home - probably something to do with 4+ pints late at night in Student Union Bar...at least I *think* I got to firing the torpedo.....
Gauntlet II - I can still hear "warrior needs food badly" echoing in my head.
Rampage - giant gorilla for the win.
Operation Thunderbolt - me and a friend once spent £13 on a school day trip to Brighton completing this in the arcade rather than checking out the talent on the beaches. We never spoke again after the whole "who shot the hostage?" debacle at the end.
I can see why Time Crisis is on there. I'm still drawn to every Time Crisis machine I find.
I bought it on the Playstation too with the Gcon45, and set up a second controller to act as a pedal.
I've not seen a Time Crisis cabinet around in a while, but there is a Time Crisis II cabinet in the Bowling alley in Camberley.
I'm not long back from Butlins in Minehead, I know i saw Time Crisis 3 and 4 in the main arcade, but im pretty sure there was a 2 knocking about in one of the dodgy beachfront arcades.
We used to have a Time Crisis at the Laser Quest i worked at about 10 years ago, god knows how much of my pay packet went in that......
I'm a Time Crisis nutjob, personally - I love light gun games, and every time you think Sega, Taito or someone else are catching up, Namco release a new one that once again blows everything else out of the water. I love them so much I own every single one - I even bought a special gun so I can play the PS2 versions upscaled on my PS3.
I was quite astonished just last month to find an original deluxe edition Time Crisis machine hidden away on the top floor of an amusements in Blackpool, in the same room as deluxe editions of House of the Dead 1, Virtua Cop 2, and GUNBLADE! There's one no-one's mentioned. Gunblade absolutely ruled. (It's out on the Wii now - bloody faithful port, too.)
When I was a bairn - unfortunately not far enough back to play some of these - I played a lot of Daytona USA, Outrun, Terminator 2, Gunblade, X-Men, and Galaga. Actually, surprised Galaga/Galaxian didn't get a mention.
I loved Time Crisis, I've not been able to play it for bloody years either thanks to light guns not working on modern TVs. I'm at the point now of seriously considering buying the arcade machine off eBay and putting it in the garage....
The first TC is still the best IMHO as it focused on getting the fastest possible time, whereas the sequels became obsessed with score. Spamming headshots on the same flying body would rack up the points, but it wasn't the same as the pin-point accuracy needed to nail a boss just as he's diving out of cover to shave a few milliseconds off your time in TC1.
Oddly the PS1 version's clock was faster I think, I found it easy to get sub-10 minute completion times on the arcade machine with no practice (aside from familiarity with the PS1 version), yet on the PS1 itself to get a sub-11 minute time was really pushing it.
From what I've seen, modern light guns work like the Wii, using infra-red as reference points, which is a real shame as I find when the Wii remote is used as a list gun it is totally inaccurate and utterly fails to deliver the same accuracy that the old GunCons had.
As an old person I was in to pinball which was nudged out of the way by machines that took less space and needed far less maintenance.
For nostalgia I use Future Pinball http://www.futurepinball.com/ a free pinball simulator that others write tables for. There are some very welcome reminders of a mis-spent youth especially some of the German machines. There is a good mixture of machines to load in, some carefully recreated from old and some brand new, some are wonderful and some are shite.
The sound of the coin dropping in the slot is just the start , the rest of the evening can be easily lost.
And it's all free.
People around my age (43) just timed it right for video games, and home computers for that matter. I still remember my friends describing Space Invaders to me, after they discovered it at the local baths: "It's like pinball! All these monsters.. you shoot them its like pinball!". They were in a frenzy about it.
Pinball's not dead, the real machines are still around - aren't they ?
Spy Hunter was my addiction, and Jail Break. Both bloody hard when I was a kid playing in arcades/family pubs. In fact still hard compared to todays games. The only reason I can get a bit further on them these days is I can play as much as I like with MAME and not run out of pocket money.
Space Invaders had to be on list of course and Pac Man, but so should Donkey Kong! All classics.
...watching kids with some co-ordination play these behemoths. My own 10p would generally give me about 15 seconds of frustrated button-hammering and ultimate fail. Except Dig Dug, for which I had an uncanny affinity...
Never noticed before but isn't Ryu (is that his name? Tom-Cruise-looking bloke in white PJs in Street Fighter...) wearing red stilettos? All this time and I had no idea the game was about catty TVs...
I loved Star Wars but I seem to remember it was not that cheap. In fact I think one of the first machines to accept the new 20p and (in some arcades) was actually 50p a go way back in '83.
However for that outlay you didn't get the usual coin-added bleep - you got Mr. Hamill himself saying, "Red five, standing by!". <*Sigh*> Worra game!
What, no Gauntlet? The four-player coin guzzling classic from Atari was the biggest draw at our local Arcade pit, and consumed far more of my moolah than was healthy.
Other classics that used to part me from my cash were Atari's Marble Madness, Irem's R-Type (damn that was hard!) and Double Dragon (once you found the reverse-elbow move, the game was easy to beat)
Ooh, and Xybots... [drifts off into Arcade game reverie....]
Good list but I would definitely replace Shinobi with Kung-Fu Master. The first time I ever saw that, in an arcade in Weymouth, it literally blew my little cotton socks away!!
Asteriods should at least get a mention, as that was huge in its day. Dragons Lair machines were never that popular in the arcades I frequented, as everyone at the time, was too busy playing Track and Field.
I remember the highlight of any holiday was to find the arcade. It's such a shame they seem such depressing places now.
"It didn’t matter that the graphics were basic - these games were addictive because of the simplicity."
This was not my experience at the time - the graphics were amazing, I remember seeing games like outrun and streetfighter and being blown away at how great the graphics were.
The point of reference for most people was their C64/Spectrum at home, and the arcade graphics were far superior.
My only addition would be Afterburner. The big moving cockpit, the sounds, the shouting from my parents after I spent all my holiday money on it in one day...
But Time Crisis, yeah, spot on the money there. Takes me back to my college days...
Dammit, I want to head to the local cinema now and play games :-(
Remember that well ... we had one in our school computer lab ... cost 10p/game ... until someone discovered that if you rocked the machine to make something in the coin mechanism shake enough then it would register up to 100 free credits!
Battlezone, another I remember.
As for most of the rest - never really played any of these "modern" games
Streets of Rage!!!! Ahhh many hours lost on that game, it saddens me that it isn't here.
TBH here in the UK the arcade market died in the 90s and we havn't really seen any new games since (the odd house of the dead and a few racing games not counted lol) which is a shame. And though one would say these are arcade classics they arn't that far removed from when the UK arcade market died.
I still love going to Japan and playing in an arcade (game center), though with the current exchange rate it's expensive, (about 70p a game), awesome bullet hell games like this http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sQZuidKexBQ
Capsule games like the Gundam (where you go into a capsule and pilot your giant robot with a team of mates http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CWnNtUCngXw&feature=related )
Exciting RPG games, CCG games where you put cards on a play field and the game reads the details for a full on experiance. There's an amazing giant robot game, border brake, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6YZSz4c4Ze4&feature=channel , there are lots of retro feeling fighters like melty blood.
But then the Japanese arcade market stayed boyent due to cultural reasons (you don't tend to invite people around to your house so if you want to play socially you go to a game center) also the newest titles come out in the game center first. Many never get ported to a home format.
Another advantage is most Game Center games have seats, also they have standard units where you just replace the game board and front panel and you have a new game.
Was the second best arcade in the country after Southend's Sunspot.
But I digress.
R-Type (of course), Saint Dragon, Darius Twin and Ninja Warriors (three screens, man!), Test Drive, Virtua Racing, F1 Circus (one of those funny Japanese lost in translations), Commando, Xevious, Choplifter, 1943, Ghosts and Goblins, Rastan, Bad Dudes vs Dragon Ninja, Smash TV, Sidewinder, Contra. I could go on and on...
Oh, and ps that's a picture from the original Street Fighter. If my memory serves me correctly, it only had two (very big) buttons for each player (and wasn't very good).
Space Harrier FTW. The sheer *speed* that all the scenery came up at you was mindblowing, even before you reckoned on the scenery being 50-foot-high multicoloured metallic mushrooms. Afterburner was fun, but nothing like as good as Space Harrier.
But the list misses out Pitfighter. OK, it doesn't have the special moves of other games, but it replaced those with being realistic, and with moving at the speed of a real fight. Street Fighter, you could hang back and fire stuff. With Pitfighter, hanging back just got you kicked to death.
The list also misses out Hard Drivin'. Fully 3D graphics, a steering wheel which pulled against you when you do stuff, a manual box with 4 gears, and tracks where it wasn't just about going flat out with briefly dropping to low gear. And you got a stunt track with a broken-bridge jump, a loop-the-loop, and various other goodness. Outrun was cool and fun, but Hard Drivin' was *THE* first realistic driving game, the daddy of every current rally/F1 sim.
Space Invaders therefore passed me by. The earliest game I played was probably Frantic Freddy on a Spectravideo.
Pac Man is of course eternal, and Tank Attack remains pretty decent. Beyond that, many of the classics are showing their age.
If I had to nominate a few more arcade classics that'd be more tricky as I never really used coinops much
Galaga - splendid shmup action, much better than Space Invaders
Tank Attack - still fun
Arkanoid - loved the block destruction games
Would definitely agree with Star Wars. Played it only briefly, but the coinop rocks - even now!
Space Wars - this is superb on a Vectrex, but originated on coinop
Gauntlet - mostly played home computer version here, but coinop was great
Nemesis II - cause Nemesis 3 for the MSX was never a coinop
Street Fighter - simply because I spent lots of time watching friends try and beat it
"It didn’t matter that the graphics were basic - these games were addictive because of the simplicity."
The graphics were NOT basic. They are basic now. At the time, they were cutting edge, I never ever once recall thinking "The graphics are crap".
With innovations such as Gorf and speech synthesis, simultaneous multi-player capability of Gauntlett, the wireframe 3D vector graphics of BattleZone and the very fast paced action of Defender and Robotron, it was a grand time..
And all achieved on 8 bit microprocessors clocked at 1 or 2MHz.
Windows eat your heart out.
Good list although I do agree there are some serious omitions:
- Asteroids (this really really ought to be there)
- Scramble (this is such a classic, cant believe no-one mentioned it)
- Donkey Kong (classic although i didnt like it)
- Joust (More early Atari goodness)
- Nemesis (a trully great game - think its called something outside UK)
- Marble Madness
- Missile command
- Gorf (that game used to freak me out as it used to be first game i remember that talked)
- Mr Do (irrating)
- Pheonix (fantastic shoot'em up)
- Galaga (as above)
- Frogger (annoying buy... hey its a classic)
- Pole Position (its a classic)
- Moon Cresta
- Paper Boy
I remember some other vectar oldies like Tailgunner and Space Wars ( PvP only game - awesome), Space Pirates.
Crap too many. Uhmm... wasted youth :)
Nemesis is titled Gradius over in Japan, and there's also Parodius - an official parody of Nemesis with even more bizarre ships and enemies.
At some point they decided not to separate the names, and now all releases seem to be called Gradius.
shmups aren't very popular these days, so I expect that might be why.
If you want a commercial shmup for the PC I'd thoroughly recommend Jets n' Guns Gold
"Anyone remember a game based on an F15 ( I think it was), and real life video stored on a laser disk, with computer generated graphics superimposed over the top?"
Either M.A.C.H. 3 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/M.A.C.H._3
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I think I played most those games when they were new. A couple I'd also consider (which may have been just outside the top 10) would be
Galaxians - the first game to have diagonally moving targets
Phoenix Command - all the best bits of Space Invaders and Galaxians and possibly the first game with an end of stage boss.
Gauntlet - deserves to be in just because s many of us will remember those immortal words of 'Elf is about to die'. Also I seem to remember it was the first true multi-player game, as opposed to taking turns. I could be wrong on that though - there may have been co-operation fighting games before then.
Splatterhouse, Altered Beast, Track'n'Field, Pacland. Our local Pacland was mastered by one guy. When this happened, an on-board fuse blew which meant from then on Trip 1-1 started at a faster speed!
Always will remember being at the fair while they were packing up and just hearing a rather eerie 'Remember, the force will be with you, always' coming from the arcades every few minutes.
Covered most of the classic arcade genres, though I'd personally substitute Operation Wolf for Time Crisis, and Kung Fu Master or perhaps Shao-Lin's Road) for Shinobi.
I'd also like to namecheck Dragon Ninja and Golden Axe, both of which I played constantly (partly I suspect because they were a lot easier to progress on than most games), Ghosts & Goblins, just for being beautifully atmopheric and frustratingly tough, and Time Pilot for being different to everything else available at the time.
...and not enough time at English lessons, learning the difference between ITS and IT'S. Lovely article but several crimes against the apostrophe committed here. See me afterwards.
My personal list of games that are missing...
Gorf (my Gorfian robots are invincible, Space Cadet!)
Otherwise, great article!
Seriously, the reason why these are darn good games is because they were playable and pickable.
You can have the wonderful (what now seems nbasic)l vector graphics of the Star Wars Cabinet, but the moment you sat in that chair, pumped the 10p's in, you were Luke Skywalker...
Because you could play it. And you *were* going to blow that Death Star up. Even if it costed you your pocket money....
Whilst some may look down upon how much time we spent hanging out in arcades as teenagers, I think it was actually quite a good thing.
If you visit any arcade today, the video games have all but gone, with fruit machines dominating.
Some arcades (in seaside towns such as Bournemouth) do have video games, but they're mostly old, nothing innovative (except the multi-screen Sega Airline Pilots).
I still go into the arcades, to check them out, to see if there's any games worth playing, but rarely there is these days. (I suspect my girlfriend thinks I'm a bit weird going into the arcades, but when you've grown up in a seaside town with little to do but hang-out on the seafront and hang around in the arcades, it's a must)
These days, everyone's playing there Xbox or Wii at home. We developed our social interaction skills as kids hanging out in arcades, we got out and about, we weren't mollycoddled and wrapped in cotton wool and protected from the 'dangerous' outside.
I play Defender on the PC (original ROMS running under emulation), but it's not the same as being in an arcade, standing up against the game chassis, with all the real buttons and having friends around with you, taking it in turns, watching others play, joining in the excitement.
... the only thing you needed to be able to do in this game was remember a sequence of moves and recognise whether it was the "left side" or "right side" version because to add "variety" the game would display a mirror image of the current scenario.
Oh, and there was a lovely money maker if you could do this because if you completed Player 2 before Player 1, P1 would end up with effectively infinite lives, so I'd offer inexperienced players a deal "give me 50p and I'll finish P2 for you..." :-)
... many a 10p spent on:
R-Type (Level 6 was always an absolute ba$tard to beat!)
Spy Hunter (Dum dum dum da dum Da dum DAH dum, Deeee dee...)
Tetris (I once held all the records in our Students' Union!)
Afterburner - For the moving cockpit
But the all time great had to be Xevious, not least because I once managed to play for one and a half *hours* on one 10p piece! :-)
All these games bring back loads of memories of feeding 10p coins into machines in Skegness arcades only for my Mum or Dad to stand behind me telling me they're leaving and to hurry up!
This kind of thing is always going to cause a big debate but this list should include at least one vertical shoot-em-up scroller ala 1942, Halleys Commet or my personal favourite Flying Shark. This was the only arcade game I ever completed and on a few occasions, managaed to do so on a single life. I got so good the Leicester arcade I played in up the difficulty to make it harder!
There are other notable omissions such as the aforementioned Asteroids, Gorf, Mr Do!, Crystal Castles, Centepiede (remember the trackballs?!) and countless others that are slowly dissapearing from memory. I remember my Mum and I playing "Boot Hill", a B&W shooter with a cowboy on each side of the screen - and she always used to beat me!
I need to get MAME running again ...
Phoenix, Galaxian and the above-mentioned Gorf were early modifications on Space Invaders and all swallowed significant money from me. Later excellent shooters included Nemesis(AKA Gradius)
Lots of money in my late teenage years was spent on two player games such as the excellent Midnight Resistance and Ikari Warriors (both games had rotating gun directional control on the joystick), Aliens, Punisher and Final Fight as well as multiplayer fun in the form of Ironman Stewart's Super Off Road and teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
Was to NOT shoot anything in the Trench, just dodge.
That was worth many bonus points for "Using the Force".
Pacman had a fatal flaw - Once you passed 3million points, it started listing its source code on the screen.
Nostalgia fans might like to google for "MAME" - The Multi Arcade Machine Emulator.
Just wanted to say that this is a great list and I'd find it difficult to argue with it.
I hated Dragon's Lair, but can't argue that it's a classic.
I'd say it needs to be Street Fighter 2 and not Street Fighter ... it was 2 which was the game changer.
I recognise Defender as a classic, but personnaly prefered Joust and Robotron from Williams - they seemed to have cornered the market in quirky games like nobody else's (Sinistar, anyone).
Whoa, I know them all.
Except, how could you forget Crazy-Kong and Donkey-Kong Jr. ? I had the high-scores on them !!!
As for Pac-Man, the best player in college had a circuit, always the same, that would work in all levels, meaning that the ghosts behave the same way all the time.
But how about...
Nemesis - One of the few games I could complete. With the crowds gathering round to watch. Ahh the memories.
Gauntlet - Played this for many hours and many 10p's. I remember stacking up the 10p pieces on the machine to show you were playing for a long time and hogging the game.
Slap Fight - staying alive for as long as possible with out killing anything to get all the power ups.
Bubble Bobble - Lovely graphics, colourfull and fun to play.
Rear Gunner - One of the first sit down cabinet games. Simple vector graphics and once you learn the sequence you could play for hours on 10p.
Right... Where did I put my MAME roms...
If I had to have one arcade game - we talking stand up and play , I choose Atari's Defender.
I remember when the game first arive and the haunting stereo sounds - the sound and speed of action was every thing. A true adreline fueled game.
If I had to own one arcade machine, it would be Defender.
Excellent article Reg
Having spent ridiculous amounts of time in Arcades over different periods of my life my favs would have to be :
Dig Dug - Might have been the first game I was actually addicted to.
Kung Fu Master
Street fighter 2
Space Harrier - (with the full on moving chair) has to be in the top 10.
.. although I was never much good at either. A few years ago I played the Bosconian clone (bosclonian?) Kobo Deluxe for a bit and did quite well, although my laptop keyboard was probably less happy about the experience.
Did anyone else do what I did and hold the barrel of the gun forward with your thumbs, to stop the recoil.
I fcked many a time crisis gun up doing that. (well the recoil anway).
I'm torn up about SF1 though. I'm a little too young to remember SF1, and remember throwing all my money away on SF2 and Final Fight, two great capcom games.
Gauntlet was a hog, hated the way you could put money in to keep your health high.
Zaxxon, Tempest = Good Taste.
The arcade machines that kept high scores even after being turned off were a great step forward at the time. "All Time Greats" etc :) Used to be top on Tempest at our arcade, few years later went to an Arcade few miles away in Blackpool and there I was...
Also worth a mention
Mr Do's Castle: Still Playable.
Rip Off: Vector graphics, load of triangles in the middle of the screen that you had to stop getting nicked by waves of baddies. Right I think I'm done for the day!
Atari's Sprint 2 was almost certainly my first arcade play, or possibly Space invaders. I remember those tabletop ones, with controls at each end and the screen would flip in 2 player mode. I think I played at least one PacMan in a tabletop cabinet, too.
Might I also add Pole Position and Breakout to this excellent list?
Reminds me so much of my favourite bits of childhood. The only time I got to play arcade games was on holiday (Butlins FTW!) and that included the various "rest stops" on the way south toward Mosney, most of which had a Space Invaders cabinet tucked in the corner. It's a miracle we didn't all die really, 4 adults, 2 kids and their luggage jammed into a Talbot Horizon or Vauxhall Chevette with a driver who was surely pretty merry well before we arrived. Anyway I spent a LOT of time and parental money in the camp's main amusement arcade.
Probably explains my tendency to avoid the sunlight and skip today's overblown 3D megagames for some MAME fun.
What's with the jump from 1990 to 1996? That's a pretty piss poor compilation imo. Notable omissions include Golden Axe, R-Type (pretty much defining the whole genre of shoot em ups), Afterburner (shit game but a stand out in technology - remember its moving cabinet?), Operation Wolf, Gauntlet (man, those sound effects, or was that gauntlet 2?). Street Fighter 1 is notable in your inclusion, however its impact was fairly limited and it wasn't till Street Fighter 2 hit the arcades that the game really took off.
Not a bad list, I guess it isn't easy cramming 15 to 20 years of arcade gaming goodness into just 10 games. Personally though I would say Street Fighter II (as in the Street Fighter II range of games rather than any specific version) would be a better fit than Street Fighter, I mean it was THE game of the era that everyone wanted, I remember almost forking out £70 for it on my Super NES.
I'd have also suggested Bubble Bobble, Metal Slug, King Of Fighters and Gauntlet to name a few.
Despite its relative lack of popularity among teen males at the time, I'd put Atari RoadBlasters as being one of the most historically important video games, because, as far as I could tell in the 1980s:
1. It was one of the first 3D shoot-em-up driving games, maybe even *the* first? (it was the first one I had encountered, anyway)
2. It seemed very technologically advanced, for its era. When I first saw it in the arcades, I was like, "HOW do they DO that?"
3. RoadBlasters had a strange appeal to young women, unlike most other video games of that era. This is anecdotal, just based on what I saw at the three large arcades I spent a lot of time in back in the 1980s. As far as driving/racing games, the boys seemed to totally get immersed in Pole Position (there were always a whole gaggle of boys congregated around the Pole Positions machines), whereas the girls preferred to play RoadBlasters but quickly became bored with Pole Position (nothing to shoot/destroy in Pole Position).
When boys did try RoadBlasters they would give up (maybe it was too easy for them) after just a couple of levels. This seems counterintuitive since boys are supposed to 'like' to destroy things whereas girls aren't, but what I observed in those arcades didn't match the old stereotypes.
I noticed that, for some reason, those males never "got" the concept that they had to have accurate shooting - can't just hold down the "fire" button constantly because you get dinged for missed shots. I even saw some of 'em trying to shoot the fuel globes - puh-lease! *Collect* the fuel, don't shoot the fuel... duh. Maybe the girls paid more attention to such details, whereas the guys just wanted to blast on through? I dunno.
The pre-bloatware era... or not:
Seems to me (a non-expert) that Atari packed a lot of gameplay into that 540 K RoadBlasters ROM which is incredibly small by modern standards, although I guess that was quite *huge* back then, compared to the majority of other games in that era. For comparison, just looking through my old ROM files here, Paperboy ROM is 276K, Rampage is 252K, SeaWolf a mere 4K, ZooKeeper 80K, Asteroids Deluxe 12K, and the graphically simplistic Night Driver a tiny 4K.
Still, speaking from a non-programmer "just a user" point of view, one wonders if modern software developers could squeeze a comparable amount of minutes/hours' gameplay (depending on one's skill level) into such a small ROM.
Yeah, RoadBlasters' first dozen or so levels are "too easy" but it gets more challenging eventually... the darn thing has 50 levels.
As to gameplay, well, admittedly, the game was mostly an exercise in player memory, since most hazards are in the same place every time you repeat a particular track.
Not surprising that Atari had to re-use elements in tracks, given the limited hardware they had available back then. Presumably state-of-the-art in its day, though.
I played it a *lot* in the arcades, in fact it was one of only two games that held my interest for more than about a minute - the other was Rampage, although Rampage is kind of nauseating (in a sickly amusing kind of way) when the humans get eaten and that kind of turned me off of Rampage.
My guess as to why younger male teens and male pre-teens didn't play RoadBlasters as much as other driving games like Pole Position, is because they hadn't got their real-life driver's license yet and thus they hadn't yet had to deal with real-life aggressive drivers' road-rage etc. So they had no particular incentive to be attracted to a driving game where you get to destroy other vehicles with glee :) and score massive points for nuclear strikes after you pick up a nuke special weapon and vaporize everything (even the trees) clear up to the horizon and beyond - with rather satisfying visual and sound effects, despite the "simple" old graphics.
It's just "cartoon"-style violence - no visible gore, not even any humans - just vehicles and machines... well, not counting the motorcycles, anyway.
As an *outlet*, the thing about RoadBlasters is that it turns the tables on aggressive drivers, and the game lets the player basically assume the role of aggressive driver for a change, and (after acquiring suitable "special weapons") annihilate ALL other cars - even the innocent harmless orange drone cars. As opposed to being the nice polite safe "defensive driver" that real-life (and employers and auto-insurance companies) favor.
The latter thing might help explain the game's appeal to women, who (back in the bad old 1980s) had mostly been brought up to always be "nice" (ha!) and not publicly show anger or aggression - RoadBlasters let them throw all that bullshit out the window and just destroy almost everything in sight. :) Like that old saying about the formerly "oppressed" becoming total tyrants when they finally get a little power of their own... or not.
Later, for old times' sake after most of the real cabinet RoadBlasters machines had disappeared, I bought a RoadBlasters PlayStation incarnation and it sucked - even with a steering wheel the PlayStation controls were horrible.
The only way I've found to approximate the RoadBlasters arcade cabinet experience, is via emulation, although I wonder about a couple of odd 'subliminal'-type images I happened upon after dozens of hours of viewing slow frame-rate stuff on an antique Mac running MacMAME back in the 1990s... maybe the ROM had been altered or something, I dunno how that stuff works.
A final thought:
The last actual cabinet RoadBlasters I saw, about 10 years ago, was sad indeed - the pedal was messed up, various other switches broken, and it would not allow the player to go fast enough to complete a track. If someone who had never played a fully-functional cabinet RoadBlasters before, were to play such a game (or the PlayStation version, for that matter), they'd probably think, "What a pile of crap this game is" but that would be inaccurate.
On the correct hardware and when all the switches are working right, IMO RoadBlasters is a remarkable example of early 3D programming. This is why we need *properly* functioning emulators and yes, that other 'bad' word (ROMs) - so that future generations can see how things operated in their prime, not in some broken-down non-restored machine or poorly-implemented home-console "classic collection" version.
Anon because (a) a lady should never reveal her age ;) and (b) sometimes people froth at the mouth at the mere mention of emulators and ROMS and stuff like that :)
Most of the above & a few oddities out of my collection of MAME ROMS, still get played on a regular basis (Daily commute, sat on the white throne or down the pub if it's quiet) on my PDA. Time to bring out one of the spares methinks as the joystick is just about knackered on my Tapwave Zodiac
PacLand, Battle Zone, GnG, Moon Cresta, Frogger, Mr Do!, Crazy\Donkey Kong & One that nobody else has mentioned & that I am fairly addicted to is BagMan.
Space Invader icon nuff said!!
Ah, the golden age of the fairground arcade! Getting your coppers from the Penny Falls changed into "silver" by a surly, unkept travelling fellow, and talking your "A game" over anyone who was already occupying your cockpit, hoping to put them off and run them out of change so you could have a go, jumpers for goalposts, isn't it? Wasn't it? Marvellous!
My personal list of honorable omissions would have to be:
Golden Axe - 3 choices of character, 3 friends shoulder-to-shoulder , hacking and slashing the day away.
Afterburner - The full-on pitching rolling cockpit version sounded like an urban myth to we boys from the farming shires, but Lo! A big adventure to London and the Trocadero centre made legend... legendary.
Gauntlet - WIZARD NEEDS FOOD BADLY. I think that phrase left a subconscious thread in my mind which led to me being overweight and playing mages in D&D all too often in my youth.
Bubble Bobble - Come on, who among you would have thought "Hey! Let's make a game where you kill the bad guys by trapping them in bubbles and popping them!". Not I, but I'm glad someone did.
Double Dragon - Where the crouching roundhouse kick was King.
And finally, Moonwalker - Absurdly good fun, utterly insane, and a goldmine for the arcade owners.
+5 internets for an Iain M. Banks reference, aaaaand I'm done.
But who remembers these ones, which really soaked up my pocket money:
Qix (my favourite, because while I sucked at most of the other games compared to the other kids I could seriously kick arse on this one!)
Slap Fight (I loved it when you hit the bonus and had that huge fat ship filling the entire screen with fire)
Rygar (loved the thrown shield-on-a-chain to mow down your opponents)
I also played Double Dragon, Gauntlet, Space Harrier and Afterburner as mentioned by a few people here.
3 count bout
I can still whistle the theme tunes for outrun, and the operation wolf cutscenes. The real trick was learning how to open the circular key lock with a bic pen (yellow bic heated up slightly with a lighter). We never stole the money, it went back in (plus a chunk of our own) it merely lasted longer....
I can just remember those Saturday mornings after Swimming... Searching for 10p's some unluckly fools had left in their lockers, only for me and a friend to spend them wisely on Golden Axe.
That one special morning where we completed it with only one 10pence each... Wow.
</wipes a tear>
Being 18 in 1980 I remember and enjoyed so many of the games listed in the article and in the commnets above, but two more come to mind:
- Circus Charlie (look - I liked it!) :)
- Please help with this one - I used to play it around 1981/2 time. It consisted of a screen with 6 columns on either side. Bombs in the shape of a X I think, dropped from a mothership and made their way into on of the columns. When the columns were full of Xs, one would drop and explode - sending out a bomb blast either side. The trick was to shhoty the bombs from the cilumns so that they never fell - there was a knack to it which meant you could play for ages if you got it right. But I can't rememeber what it was called! :(
Hows about Prehistoric Isle?
Also a game with where you controled a monkey who could spit fireballls, think it was called Loki.
New Zealand Story was cool and I spent a fortune playing 'World Cup', think it was by Namco and you controlled the players with a roller ball, (blisters ahoy!).
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The best arcade game was "Indiana Jones and the temple of Doom" from Atari, that still is my favourite arcade game of all times, that one was amazingly playable.
Also comes to mind: Commando, Pengo, Traverse USA, Zaxxon, Enduro Racer, Pole Possition, Flying Shark, Operation Wolf, Final Fight, Double Dragon, Ikari Warrior...
The reason I gought a PS1 was to play TC,and later boght a PS2 to play TC2/TC3, I'm angry that the bloody flat tv's do not allow the guncon to work.
oh my god me and my best mate used to roam the arcades so many afternoons, we usually had a route and knew on which arcade you could play what game.
OMG! Does anybody remember Break Thru?
Arcade games is what made me get into the IT field. My very first paycheck form my very first job I ran to the bank and cashed it in all in quaters only.
My top favorite games at the time was Gyruss,Centipede,Defender,Joust,Pacman,Journey.
I learned the pacman maps from a pro player and I was able to get to the 27th key which is way past the coca cola can levels.
Cenetipede was easy just make a wall that has no holes in it so the bug goes straight down and you just stand still and fire away.
Asteroids you stay on level 2 and just shoot the ufo and nothing else.
All of them up until about Out Run which was about the age I left school and became "responsible". I too remember Dragon's Lair and remember being blown away by how good the graphics were. How much was that game, a pound or something? I remember it being prohibitively expensive though when everything else was ten pence, even 20 was expensive back then!
Handheld incarnations of DL are a great idea and will want to buy one for my PSP when I've read a review or six.