POLYBIUS
September 10, 2017 3:08 PM   Subscribe

(C) 1981 Sinneslöschen Inc.
An hour long documentary (SLYT) covering the arcade urban legend. By Ahoy, who also made Nuclear Fruit. posted by FJT (18 comments total) 24 users marked this as a favorite
 
> "Reinvestigating Polybius" by Cat DeSpira

Strongly recommend reading this, if for no other reason than being a good straightforward backgrounding on how the urban legend developed. And then the digression into the background on Steve Roach becomes an unholy bucket of what the fuck.
posted by ardgedee at 4:35 PM on September 10 [4 favorites]


Hold up. Derail here, but GalAHgah?
Is that just a Brit thing or have I been pronouncing Galaga (GALuhguh) wrong my whole life?

This is important, people.
posted by greermahoney at 6:39 PM on September 10 [6 favorites]


It's pronounced "wooster".
posted by Pyry at 7:15 PM on September 10 [7 favorites]


On pronounciations: I learned today that Steve Buscemi is pronounced "boo-seh-mee" and not "boo-sheh-mee" as I had always believed. He narrates a prison audio tour!

But yeah, Ga-luh-guh.
posted by grumpybear69 at 7:31 PM on September 10 [2 favorites]


Does this documentary mention Jeff Minter's take on this urban legend? Because the game he made using that title, and some parts of the legend as inspiration, is a beautiful piece of arcade madness. Playing it for a little while makes every other video game seem like it's running at half speed; once you get the hang of it, one minute of Polybius is as intense as twenty minutes of most modern games.

It is also supposedly the first VR game that combines "moving at high speed" and "not inducing nausea". I can't vouch for that as I don't own a VR headset; playing it on my 70" projection screen is more than intense enough.

PS4 only right now, PC version in the works.
posted by egypturnash at 7:44 PM on September 10


He pronounces it gaLAHga twice and GAluhguh twice. So I don't know what to think.
posted by HarshLanguage at 7:55 PM on September 10 [2 favorites]


It's GALaga, and you all made me think this was going to be about the triple-ship legend.
posted by rhizome at 8:51 PM on September 10 [1 favorite]


GAAAAAAAH! Why do I assume this stuff is ALREADY posted? Watched this last night, figured it would have ALREADY been posted.

GRAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!
posted by Samizdata at 10:32 PM on September 10 [1 favorite]


GAAAAAAAH!laga
posted by hippybear at 12:01 AM on September 11 [6 favorites]


I imagine that Galaga would be pronounced however one would say がらが, only substituting “la” for “ra”, so presumably more like “galah-ga” than “Gallagher”.

At least we know that the G is a hard one, unlike in Gyruss (or Jairasu in Japanese)
posted by acb at 12:51 AM on September 11 [1 favorite]


I came in here to ensure somebody acknowledged Minter's recent efforts. Now I can leave and enjoy the rest of the film.
posted by Homemade Interossiter at 1:41 AM on September 11


Australian here. It's G'Lager, as in beer.
"Gallagher" is ridiculous.
posted by quinndexter at 1:56 AM on September 11 [1 favorite]


I agree Galaga is a hoax
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 7:18 AM on September 11 [1 favorite]


Every time I see a mention of Polybius, I'm reminded of a kids sci-fi book I'm sure I remember reading (at about age 10-11 or so, so in about 1990-1992). I'm sure the book was called "Biofeedback Games", it had a creepy brain-enwrangling arcade game (but I don't think it has a direct tie to the Polybius legend).

And, of course, there's no evidence I can find by googling that such a book ever existed!

I really ought to buy the Jeff Minter PS4 "Polybius" game, because I do rather like my PSVR and I'm definitely attracted to the idea of insane high-velocity weirdness.

Also, I'm sure there was a PC game (in the Win95-98 era, I believe) which promised a binaural-beats and subliminal suggestions soundtrack, to go with generic "roll a cube around a surface" puzzle gameplay. I've always wondered if that was any amount of source inspiration for the Polybius legend.

(My brain keeps wanting to type "Polybious", trying to drag the word towards a more normal English spelling pattern. If I ever make "my own Polybius-game", I shall try to remember to name it "Polybious".)

Put me down for "GAL-a-gah".
posted by BuxtonTheRed at 8:06 AM on September 11


There is another good Polibus video by The Gaming Historian. He doesn't trace it quite as far, but covers a few of the things that made it so believable about Porland: It was a test market, so it wasn't uncommon to see nearly unbranded generic cabinets that vanished without a trace after a few months. The person mentioned in the Ahoy video was also in the news at the right time, and there was an ongoing investigation by the FBI into a few Portland area arcades, so people actually DID see government agents in Portland arcades.

Which makes me wonder: What if the myth was around on Usenet in 1994, but the game wasn't given a name at that time? That could make it starting on Usenet AND being a hoax by the person running the coinop archive. Also, I don't think the archives of usenet are as good as he said. I got into usenet at one point around 2004, and was reading old articles on it and trying to find messages from old groups and often smaller alt. groups weren't archived at all on Google Groups, or would only have one or two posts. Or I'd see references to earlier posts that I wouldn't be able to find.
posted by Canageek at 12:24 PM on September 11 [2 favorites]


The part about the Polybius logo being suspiciously large in an era of small ROMs misses that, in the screenshot, it is obviously not a big expensive bitmap (like the Mappy logo or the Williams logo) but made up of modular character cells; there are corner, edge and interior pieces, from which the logo is made. This is an old technique that anyone who wrote games for an 8-bit computer will be familiar with (and, indeed, the Pac-Man level maps seem to be made in the same way).
posted by acb at 1:56 PM on September 11 [1 favorite]


@egypturnash - Minter's Polybius on PSVR is totally nausea free, for me at least. But I don't get much nausea from VR in general so I may not be entirely representative.

It's certainly very fast and very smooth. It's not as intense as WipeOut on the higher speed settings but then what is?

For those with PSVR it's well worth a tenner or whatever price it's at right now.
posted by auntie-matter at 2:15 PM on September 11 [2 favorites]


PS4 only right now, PC version in the works.

By PC, do they mean Windows-only, or also for macOS and/or Linux?
posted by acb at 3:07 PM on September 11


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