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 …
Lucy and Defender
Lucy Orr, a woman used to play Defender?!! I'm impressed.
I used to play Defender a lot, started in the 80s and continued even in the 90's if I came across it in amusement arcades in Blackpool, never ever once saw a girl playing it.
You should have been in St Ives, I could have kicked your ass.
Nobody else for Puzzle Bobble?
No, nobody? Bubble Bobble then?
Fine, I'll line up in the 'Robotron was robbed' line.
Too much time down the arcade....
...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!
... and it was *gameplay*
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 game you mention is M.A.C.H. 3.
It was the second laserdisc arcade game to be released after Dragon's Lair. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/M.A.C.H._3
Track & Field (wasn't it called Hyper Olympics in some places?)
HyperSports (can't beat the old skeet shooting)
Oh and regarding Dragon's Lair...
... 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..." :-)
Got to put in my favourites here which should be on the list...
... 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! :-)
Lol @ all us oldies
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 ...
Does anyone else feel that games like Street Fighter or Mortal Kombat kill arcades for a few years. Dull Dull Dull.
A few of my favourites :
god bless being a kid in the 80's and MAME for nostalgia.
Good list - others I remember...
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.
The trick with Star Wars...
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.
the torpedo bit was easy. Just point down and keep shooting as you approached it. Don't bother aiming at the hole. Always went in.
In the words of Frank Black (aka. Black Francis), or Pixies fame.....
"Whatever happened to Pong?"
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).
Where are the *-Kong ?
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.
everyone who would like to chuck out their coffee table and replace it with one of these games in cocktail cabinet format...
(Though I doubt many have a girlfriend/wife who would allow such a thing)
Yep I'd love to do that, can't really afford it at the moment though.
Ironically too my wife WILL let me get one, in fact she wants one running Space Invaders!
Not a Bad....
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...
I have had to have ONE arcade game.. mine will be
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.
Wasn't that a Williams Game
As in, "Williams Arcade Classics" which I have running on Windows 7x64 via DOSbox.
Defender is perfect. Also has JOUST!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! and Robotron
My favourite game for a very long time, also loved the sequel Stargate. If I had room for one single standup and play cabinet in my house, it would be a Defender one.
Eugene Jarvis was a gaming genius.
What i remember playing was
G-Loc on the R360, where you could strangely enough rotate 360 in the chair.
That and Gauntlet....
the best game ever STILL
double dragon - that is all
Sorry..... you are right Defender and Joust were Williams - I feel ashamed.
And Gauntlet....4 player cabinet ...with my dad on hand pumping in the pound coins each time one of us died......Priceless....well for me and my mates anyway!
The worst thing about this article is ...
I've seen cabinets for sale before on eBay - I'm now tempted to look for a Battlezone or Defender
Excellent article Reg
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.
since no one else has mentioned them ...
.. 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.
Thank you! I was reading through the comments all the while thinking "Now what was that game that I used to put tonnes of coins through?" and there it is . .
Some you missed
GORF. Moon Cresta. Phoenix. Scramble. Time Pilot. Hunchback.
And how could you possibly leave out Track and Field?
Kung Fu Master
Track and Field
Good list though.
Almost, but not quite
What about Paperboy? That was a truly original classic arcade game.
Some obvious omissions
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.
Surely i can't be the only one who played
The music, the ducks, the pipes, the squealing bears between screens.
Quack, quack, i loved it.
PS other faves were Asteriods, Galaxians and Phoenix.
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!
Kung Fu Master
Just remembered this classic from the posts above. What a game, and I can still vividly remember the music! Also an arcade game that converted well to pretty much every home computer of the time.
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.
Ah, paperboy... I was just about to mention that.
But instead... I'll throw elevator action into the ring.
Oh, and bionic commando! I loved that game!
ahhh time crisis
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.
I never used to do it...
...but I used to try and hunt down the machine-wrecking sons-of-bitches that did do it...
There's actually a calibration code on the later machines, so you can calibrate the gun yourself before playing, and optionally turn the recoil off.
snorting amyl nitrate in the park
Am I getting old or is that just a little bit below acceptable editorially?
I dunno about getting old, but it was a perfectly legal high back then (probably still now cos it aint GHB), and more socially acceptable than glue and other solvents.
Memories of a raver :)
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.
Shoryureppa and Shinryuken, not that early
About Street Fighter, Shoryureppa and Shinryuken came later, after SF2 , I believe with the Alpha series, about a decade later from realese of SF (1986)
Atari RoadBlasters, historical milestone IMO
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 :)