Skip

Soviet era arcade games resurrected
June 7, 2007 9:18 AM   Subscribe

Uptick in Cold War-like rhetoric making you a little nostalgic for the era of parachute pants and Members Only jackets?
A cabal of Russki comrades at some pinko university have been going around collecting and resurrecting disused Soviet-era arcade games, which became instantly obsolete with the collapse of communism. Sea Wolf, Duck Hunt, Pole Position, Dogfight!
We begin bombing in five minutes.
posted by planetkyoto (28 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite

 
I remember an old game: SAMI. I think it was for Surface to Air Missle Interceptor. Basically you'd shoot down planes with missles. It would run a scroll of acetate that would show the planes. Man, we used to play the hell out of that thing. Does anyone remember it from The Barn, in Costa Mesa, California? Back when it was on Harbor. Wow, long time ago...
posted by webnrrd2k at 9:25 AM on June 7, 2007


Can we please stop saying that the Cold War is starting again? I have enough trouble getting people in America to understand how people in Russia think--not to mention convincing people that I'm not a communist--without this kind of polarization and stereotyping. Responding to Putin's aggressive gestures by associating him with Stalinism and refusing to engage him because of that only reinforces what Putin is attempting to do, that is, build up an internal image of a Fortress Russia that is justified in withdrawing from the world society because of the West's hostility. Putin's power is largely based on the perception that he is the one man who is smart and brutal enough to protect Russia against the insidious wiles of America. Individual Americans falling into Cold War patterns of thought and behavior isn't all that hilarious--it's a significant symptom and cause of Russian isolation.

Americans always complain that Europeans stereotype them and blame them for Bush. They should also be aware that there are people in Russia who do not fall into the "fuck the West, glory to the Motherland" or the "everything the US does to promote 'democracy' in Eastern Europe is just peachy" categories. In fact, these people are the majority.
posted by nasreddin at 9:34 AM on June 7, 2007 [1 favorite]


Pole Position?
posted by atchafalaya at 9:34 AM on June 7, 2007


Nasreddin, I hope you noticed that I was being sarcastic with the red-baiting there.

Pole Position was an early 3D F1 racing arcade game.
posted by planetkyoto at 9:42 AM on June 7, 2007


Yeah, I played it. I didn't see the Cold War connection, unless it's just temporal.
posted by atchafalaya at 9:45 AM on June 7, 2007


Yeah, I know you were being sarcastic. That was my point.
posted by nasreddin at 9:46 AM on June 7, 2007


*TILT*
There's another thread on that topic. Didn't mean to confuse anyone by giving the post a Cold War-era lede. Sorry.
posted by planetkyoto at 9:55 AM on June 7, 2007


Article: Soviet driving games did not offer gearshifts or brake pedals.

Neither did Soviet cars.
posted by Krrrlson at 10:20 AM on June 7, 2007 [2 favorites]


OK, I apologize for the derail.

Neither did Soviet cars.

Didn't need 'em. Car drives you.
posted by nasreddin at 10:25 AM on June 7, 2007


But what about Rush 'n Attack?
How's that for thinly-veiled?
posted by churl at 10:45 AM on June 7, 2007


That article's by my buddy Zaitchik. Shout out to Z!
posted by imperium at 10:48 AM on June 7, 2007


I know that Soviet digital technology lagged behind the west, but I'm surprised at the poor quality of the cabinet art. They don't hold a candle to the fantastic artwork for Centipede or Tempest.


I imagine that video game arcades didn't exist in the Soviet Union, so there wasn't much need to make the designs more compelling to stand out from the crowd.
posted by Chinese Jet Pilot at 11:02 AM on June 7, 2007


I'm surprised at the poor quality of the cabinet art.
That's the artistic style known as "Soviet drab." It developed out of socialist realism when all the gifted constructivists died off.
posted by nasreddin at 11:05 AM on June 7, 2007


How sad--so far, the comments on this entry have been very poor quality. Mefi users (in general) obviously know nothing about everyday life in the Soviet Union. (If I only had a dollar for every idiot "In Soviet Russia, car drives you" type joke.)

Those games were usually made entirely with Soviet-made electronic components--like locally-made calculators, computers etc. of the same period. Most of the ICs from pre-1985 manufacture were unique, even the packages were different from what the western chipmakers used. Most semiconductors were designed and made for military equipment, not commercial electronics. So, it's not as simple to repair those games as you think. You can't just slap in a replacement chip--originals are sometimes very difficult/impossible to find today. With the glasnost thing (circa 1985) came a tidal wave of Japanese-made imports that choked off most Soviet manufacture, years before the Berlin wall was torn down.

I know a bit about it--worked for Svetlana Electron Devices for 5 years. They used to make a whole raft of unique chips. I still have a booklet describing some of them. It would be a major engineering project to replace one of those werid-looking flatpack devices.
posted by metasonix at 12:02 PM on June 7, 2007 [2 favorites]


Wow, I remember a few of these. My favorite, however, isn't featured. It was a simple submarine game where you looked into a periscope and shot down other subs, the colors where all grey and white, but I don't remember it resembling anything of the standard raster or vector arcade games. I have, to this day, no idea what the hell that game was, but I pumped more than a bit of kopeykas (kopeks?) into it.

Chinese Jet Pilot- They in the mid-late 1980s. There were at least two or three in Leningrad around 1988 (the earliest I can remember being in one).
posted by griphus at 12:06 PM on June 7, 2007 [1 favorite]


Well, I'll be damned. There it is at #13: Morskoi Boi! I completely missed the second page of images.
posted by griphus at 12:09 PM on June 7, 2007


Mefi users (in general) obviously know nothing about everyday life in the Soviet Union. (If I only had a dollar for every idiot "In Soviet Russia, car drives you" type joke.)

What is it about this thread that makes you think that? I'm from the Soviet Union, and I know a whole lot about daily life there. As far as I can see, I'm the only one that made that joke.
posted by nasreddin at 12:40 PM on June 7, 2007


Griphus, it somehow never occured to me that videogame arcades existed in the Soviet Union. I wish I could find photos. My favorite childhood/teenage hangouts in the 80's were arcades, and I wonder how different they were?
posted by Chinese Jet Pilot at 1:12 PM on June 7, 2007


Interesting that unlike our many video games featuring the Evil Soviet Enemy in various forms, there seem to be few-to-zero Soviet-made "kill our ideological rivals" type games.

The only two with actual guns on them are the duck hunting sim and a "sniper" game where you shoot at bullseye targets instead of people.
posted by zoogleplex at 1:19 PM on June 7, 2007


Interesting that unlike our many video games featuring the Evil Soviet Enemy in various forms, there seem to be few-to-zero Soviet-made "kill our ideological rivals" type games.

Thats because these games were not for the Soviet people, they were strictly propaganda, part of the Evil Empire's attempt to overthrow the Free World! You know, just like the Soviets had no real interest in the arts, ballet, figure skating, etc, except as part of their Evil plan to take over the world.

(Yes, I'm kidding, but there were Americans in the 80s who weren't.)
posted by straight at 3:34 PM on June 7, 2007


You are? Soviet investment in the arts, ballet, and figure skating, although it produced generations of amazing athletes, was little more than a tool to promote the image of the USSR abroad.
posted by Krrrlson at 3:43 PM on June 7, 2007


Happily, that doesn't change the fact that such investment did produce generations of amazing artists, musicians and athletes, all of whom can be appreciated for their merits without considering the trappings of the State.

They've also got some damn fine scientists, mathematicians and engineers too. Sadly, that has a bit too much to do with investment in military one-upmanship... but then, the same thing is true of the West.
posted by zoogleplex at 4:02 PM on June 7, 2007


Круто!
posted by rob511 at 6:08 PM on June 7, 2007


True, but the ordinary citizens in western nations didn't pay such a heavy penalty for the West's achievements in the arts, sciences, and sport. When I consider the cost, any pride in the USSR's achievements is rather short-lived.
posted by Krrrlson at 6:50 PM on June 7, 2007


True, but the ordinary citizens in western nations didn't pay such a heavy penalty for the West's achievements in the arts, sciences, and sport.

No, ordinary citizens in the west just ignored the West's achievements in arts, sciences and sport while they were driving 2 blocks to get cheeseburgers and smokes. Unless the subject of the Soviet Union came up, in which case they were proud as hell until a new subject came up or the commercials ended.

And making such a swift change from being feudal to an industrialized world leader is never painless. Despite those sacrifices, if I was an ordinary citizen in today's Free Russia I'd probably be downright nostalgic for communism-- back in the bad old days I could expect to live past 60. And when I did I'd still have a place to live.
posted by Mayor Curley at 7:57 PM on June 7, 2007


Chinese Jet Pilot - I can honestly say they weren't too different. Just a little smaller with lower-quality games (for the era). I moved to Brooklyn when I was six, and lived pretty close to an arcade I got taken to relatively often and I was much more floored by the exponential quality of the games than anything else. The only arcade I went to in Russia looked almost exactly like this.
posted by griphus at 10:25 PM on June 7, 2007


in therapy this week, i blamed metafilter for my soviet kitsch fetish. honestly. the internet makes you gay communist...
posted by es_de_bah at 8:04 AM on June 8, 2007


and don't worry nasreddin, i don't really consider being gay, communist, or russian to be problematic in any way...
posted by es_de_bah at 8:06 AM on June 8, 2007


« Older Dicebox   |   Flash Tactics Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments



Post