YouTube has a fair number of recordings of well-played classic arcade games. Dig Dug
, Mr Do!
, Mr Do's Castle
, Do! Run Run
, Lady Bug Part 2
, Super Bagman
, Zoo Keeper
, Moon Cresta
, Make Trax
. click through for more
Here's some more information on these games and what makes these playthroughs interesting. Further below are more videos, less generally interesting I think, but of newer games from Konami, Taito, Capcom and others.
First, the videos linked before the fold:
He plays fifteen levels without dying, and with extensive rock milking. Every monster is killed with a rock, often in groups of six or more. It's a cold exploitation of Dig Dug's monster behavior.
Mr. Do! is like Dig Dug, but much cooler. While Dig Dug has only a couple of play elements in each level, and tends to be about figuring out a system of overcoming them in each level, Mr. Do! is much deeper, much more random, and much MUCH more interesting. This video shows off many strategies, including monster traps, Alphamonster manipulation, pacing monster kills, and powerball strategy. This video goes through round 24. He earns his first extra life at 2:07
. Oddly, the machine seems to play the Astro Boy theme music whenever this happens. Second life at 4:17; third at 7:35; fourth at 10:42. He doesn't die until round 14, at around 9:40. A rare Diamond appears at 6:42
, worth a free game.
Mr. Do's Castle
There are several games in the Mr. Do! series, the most recent dating to 1996. The best ones are those released in the classic era or soon after it. This is the second. Castle is about enemy manipulation even more than the original game; the hapless clown is much more defenseless here. Play long enough in Mr. Do and you're almost bound to earn an extra life, but life earning is much more random in Castle. Even more frustrating, each level has a strict timer after which the enemies begin to rapidly speed up and divide; as you can see in this video, once this happens it's almost impossible to survive.
Do! Run Run
Do! Run Run is the next-to-last Mr. Do! game (that I know of). It is one of the easier games in the series, but can still catch you by surprise if you're not careful. This video has no deaths in the first ten levels.
Lady Bug Part 2
Universal was the company that made both Lady Bug and Mr. Do! Lady Bug resembles a Pac-Man clone at first, albiet one in which you can manipulate the layout of the maze. In fact, it is a much harder game. The enemies seem slow and stupid at first, but later on become vicious. If one of the bugs decides to become dangerous (an apparently random decision) he suddenly becomes a ruthless pathfinder, but by carefully adjusting the moving walls you can turn a short trip through the maze into one that requires traversing a lot of territory. More successful players will take advantage of this.
There are letters in the maze that cycle through colors: red for a half-second, yellow for a few seconds, then blue for a while. You want to collect hearts while they're blue, which is worth a point multiplier. Collecting letters in EXTRA while they're yellow will earn an extra life. Hardest of all is collecting letters in SPECIAL while red, which is worth a free game. I have played this game extensively but have only managed this once, partly because the letter mix is random: each level offers one letter from SPECIAL, one letter from EXTRA, and one that could go in either. If the game decides not to ever generate the S, P, C, I or L in SPECIAL you're out of luck that game. (The same applies to the X, T and R in EXTRA, but as one of them is generated every level this is rarer.) Amazingly, SPECIAL is spelled in this game. Check around the 6:30
point in part 1 to see the free game display, which features a wedding for some reason.
This odd game appears to come from France. Bagman is a criminal in stereotypical prison stripes, whose goal is to collect all the moneybags in a mine. He is chased by two guards. The mine takes up three screens which may be freely explored, and contains a good variety of obstacles. At the top of the mine is a wheelbarrow which can be moved around, possibly decreasing the distance Bagman must lug each moneybag. Only one moneybag can be carried at once, and they slow him down (one of the moneybags is blue, and it slows him even more). At the start of the game the guards are slow, but as Bagman collects the loot they speed up a lot, eventually becoming much faster than him. The key to Bagman is in manipulating the guards' behavior; in this video, the player manages a perfect run for the first mine, never dying while collecting every bag.
A sequel to Bagman, this time with a five-screen mine and many more game elements. It is the same idea though, and the graphics are also very similar. There is a gun in this one, but it is sort of a boobytrap; the moment you shoot a guard the first time, the guards unholster their guns and open fire. The player can also jump for a short distance here. Like the Bagman video, this shows a perfect run collecting every moneybag and also rescuing his partner locked up in the mine.
This famous game is about changing all the colors on a pyramid to match the "target color." Most players know the game from the first two levels where progress is fairly sure, but starting with level 3 jumping on completed blocks changes them away from the target color, making the game much more of a puzzle. This video shows a player completing Level 8 once and Level 9 twice (it loops) without dying, the hardest levels.
Exidy is one of the more underrated arcade game manufacturers of the classic era. Their best games are probably Mouse Trap, Pepper II and Venture. Venture was the first arcade game to really reproduce the flavor (if not the actual gameplay) of a D&D dungeon. There are three levels contains four rooms to explore, each containing unique monsters and traps. Although partly random in movement, monsters do react to your shots and often prove infuriatingly difficult to hit. Watch for a special guest appearance by Cthulhu as the "Hallmonster." In this game, the player manages to complete the first three floors, showing off every type of room. He perishes so quickly in level 4 that I have to wonder how many people have ever completed that big box of question marks containing all the treasures.
This video is taken off an arcade machine, is edited, and blurs out near the end, but before that happens you can see a single jump that earns the player two million points. The whole game was only worth about 5M! This happens because the more animals you jump over in a single bound the more points you earn, without limit.
This game was produced for Taito's "framebuffer hardware." A framebuffer is a section of memory that maps directly to individual pixels on-screen, as opposed to tile-based hardware, in which the screen is mapped to a much smaller section of memory that, in turns, maps to another part of memory that contains reuseable "blocks" of screen data. Games like Pac-Man used tilemaps for memory and processor efficiency, games like Defender and Zoo Keeper used framebuffers when they wanted to be able to adjust every individual pixel on-screen. Framebuffers require much more processor work to make an attractive display, so most popular classic arcade games used tilemaps, but in the hands of a great programmer framebuffer games look great. Zoo Keeper is an excellent example.
In this odd game you have to join together multiple parts of your spaceship to build a bigger ship with more shots. This video demonstrates two perfect loops. It is not terribly interesting overall, but is an interesting permutation of the multiple-ship mechanic Galaga uses.
(Konami/Stern) (deathless loop)
Scramble is the first side-scrolling shooter, predating Defender by a good bit (and anyway Defender is really its own kind of thing). Made by Konami, who followed it up with Super Cobra and, eventually, the Gradius series, which sees new entries to this day in the form of (deep breath) the Otomedius series of scantily-clad girl spaceship shooters. (exhale, exasperatedly) So in Scramble, you see destiny.
Scramble forces the player not just to maneuver carefully, but to continually shoot fuel tanks on the ground to refill a steadily-emptying fuel meter. The last section of the loop requires the player to maneuver precisely through a series of narrow vertical tunnels. In the Gradius series this aspect would mostly be abandoned in favor of shot-dodging.
This is another odd one. The object is to control your paintbrush to paint an entire maze. There are two goldfish that chase you. That may seem easy compared to Pac-Man's ghosts, but they are much better pursuers, you have more limited means of overcomming them, and they have a surprisingly habit of trapping you between them. Note that the game is exacting about what constitutes a completed maze. If even one slight corner of a passage hasn't been painted, perhaps because you doubled-back or didn't paint in all directions through each intersection, the level continues.
In this game, the only real way to beat the goldfish is to hit them with the paint rollers in the middle area of the board. After the first few hits, they become much more wary about approaching that portion of the screen; in this play, the paintbrush hits them again and again and again, racking up an absurd score in level one.
This is the first video in a five-part run. Phoenix is one of the first true color video games too be made. It's still interesting today for offering perhaps the first "boss" enemy in gaming, that big mothership that shows up every five levels. The Atari 2600 port of this, by the way, is surprisingly faithful!
Rastan is a middle-era arcade game, a solid hack-and-slash platformer. It's known for its high difficulty. Anyone who's played it should be gratified by this no-death playthrough. Can you tell that the developers were inspired by that Conan movie?
Gradius: Complete loop and sped up 10M game
These videos aren't directly linked because they're not on YouTube, but instead on Japanese site video site Nico Nico Douga. The linked leads to an entry on the excellent gaming blog Magweasel written by fellow GameSetWatch columnist Kevin Gifford
that inlines the videos. (Nico Nico Douga doesn't allow for viewing videos without either inlining them or an account.)
The first video is of a complete playthrough of the first loop of the game. The second is of a complete 10 million point game, sped up tremendously. As Kevin mentions in his blog entry, Gradius is a deterministic game that doesn't use random elements; if you do exactly the same thing every time, the game will always respond the same way. This means you can "solve" each level, figuring out the one, true way to beat it, and if you can execute that perfectly you can always survive.
BONUS #1: ARCADE LONGPLAYS
World of Longplays
's legion of devoted gamers records complete playthroughs of popular late 80s/early 90s video games. Sometimes they play well, sometimes they don't. The videos linked here are examples of them playing very well! Arcade Longplay's focus is generally on 90s gaming, so these games are better graphically (but I find, less interesting to watch) than the classic games listed above. They have many more arcade playthroughs than these, this is just a sampling of games that I can (mostly) personally vouch for.
A game based on George Lucas' attempt at a fantasy version of Star Wars. Still, a fun-to-watch platformer that, like the more entertaining movie games, takes weird liberties with the source material.
Also called "Wolf of the Battlefield" and recently made available on the Wii Virtual Console, this is probably the best early overhead-view, vertical-scrolling run-and-gun. A complete loop of this game is actually eight levels; it only appears to be beaten after the first four. Note that, despite heavy flickering, the NES version of this game is actually far superior, one of those games that staggers the players with a huge number of secret passages and bonuses.
If you're only familiar with the NES version, you'll probably be surprised at this one. Arcade Longplay -- and they mean it this time, this video is over 37 minutes. Other than the very short, silly ending, fairly typical for the time, there's not much interesting here beyond the first few minutes.
The mostly-forgotten arcade installment of the Castlevania series! This notoriously difficult game is won without taking damage. Alas, it's not a lot of fun to watch (or play)
, despite featuring a few classic Castlevania musical pieces. Video just over 20 minutes in length.
Another difficult game won without dying.
This is one of the more interesting longplays, partly because the game is so short, and partly because it is batshit insane start to finish. Highlights include the Russian Politboro transforming into a giant flying mechanical snake wielding a hammer and sickle, fights with robot gorillas, big round gravity machines, flying battleships, fur-bikini girls armed with boomerangs and goofy voice samples, and at the end our hero rides off on a whale. Utterly bizarre. Our hero Hiryu never dies in this play.
Metal Slug Part 2 - Part 3 - Part 4
A later run-and-gun game, my favorite SNK game and tons of fun both to play and watch. There is so much character in this game it's amazing, but the real stars are the enemy soldiers, who have way more personality than run-and-gun opponents have any right having. The player here finds many hidden secrets and bonuses; he doesn't play perfectly, dying a couple of times near the end, but he doesn't run out of lives.
Ghosts N Goblins
One of Capcom's most beloved platforming series begins here. Note that the NES game is probably a little easier than this, due to the shitty porting job of infamous contract developer Micronics. Remember, to truly win this game you have to complete all the levels twice.
BONUS #2: MISCELLANEOUS GAME VIDEOS
The Simpsons (Konami)
One really good player takes the game apart, with copious annotation, through about 5/6 of the game on one life (he doesn't win though):
- Part 2
- Part 3
- Part 4
- Part 5
- Part 6
Four player chaos, through the whole game:
Part 1 - Part 2 - Part 3 - Part 4 - Part 5
Yes there was an early-90s Simpsons beat-em-up arcade game made by Konami using the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles engine, and yes it's oddly awesome. Features many cameos from Binky, Sheba and Bongo, the rabbits from Matt Groening's Live In Hell comic strip, which I find strange since they don't really cameo in the cartoon very much.
A lot of things about the game are a little "off" to fans of the show, both because it dates to the early seasons but also because the game is as much a product of Konami's developers as the Simpsons licensing people. Get a load of surprisingly evil, bomb-throwing, differently-voiced "Welcome to my world" Smithers in the last video. It's very busy and noisy (the music sounds like some fool turned Danny Elfman up to 11), but still filled with its fair share of cameos and awesomeness. Oh, and here's an image for your nightmares
. Here is just the ending
Some of you might recognize this game as an arcade version of Hudson's Adventure Island. If you're not familiar with the terribly confusing saga of the Wonder Boy games, series creator Westone had the rights to the game but not the name, and so worked with Hudson to make a game just like it but with different characters. The series ineage is laid out on Hardcore Gaming 101's page on the Wonder Boy series
. Note that this is an extremely long game, requiring over an hour to play through. The player never dies REPEAT: NEVER DIES
, while collecting every doll and letter. He plays well enough, calmly using the correct tactic in every situation out of the hundreds in the game, to cause one to suspect the use of save states. People with lives might want to cut to the last five levels
Golden Axe: Revenge of Death Adder
This is a rare game that I was fortunate to encounter in an arcade once. This video does not show particularly skillful play; it just shows off a game few people have seen. If you're interested in better play, in a three-player game to boot, here is another run through in co-op mode without continuing: Part 1 - Part 2 - Part 3 - Part 4 - Part 5 - Part 6 - Part 7
Star Fire II
For a game that came out the year after Space Invaders, it's surprisingly cool-looking with giant spaceships. This is video of an actual machine in operation. Obviously, this is framebuffer hardware.
(Atari Games) Part 2
Rampart is my favorite arcade game, and it was never better than in three-player versus multiplayer. These videos make me cringe a little at the mistakes players make, but that's only because they aren't as obsessive over this game as I am.
And, finally, for no reason other than my own satisfaction:
Gradius: The Morning Music
WAKE UP EVERYBODY!