Just fun here.
May 2, 2002 7:53 AM   Subscribe

Just fun here. Pick your favorite Arcade game and comment on why it is your favorite. Just a little distraction from all the doom and gloom. Mine is Robotron, so much so that a few years ago I actually bought one. It was first released in 1982 and it claimed many quarters from me. Very exciting game that really tested your hand/eye coordination. So, let's hear it for your favorite blast from the past
posted by a3matrix (45 comments total)
And, if you are one of the few hounds out there who are preserving these things then you should belong to VAPS.

posted by a3matrix at 7:56 AM on May 2, 2002

Defender - it just had so many buttons to keep track of it made you feel like a star if you semi-mastered it.
posted by jalexei at 8:10 AM on May 2, 2002

"Star Wars" the original vector graphics version. I could have payed for another semester of college if I hadn't gotten strung out on that game.

The worst part was it was hyper repetative. The DeathStar trench run over and over again.

Good times.
posted by Hugh2d2 at 8:14 AM on May 2, 2002

I've never been much of a video game player, but I do find the simplicity of Tetris quite addicting. (That is, it's simple to understand the rules, not necessarily simple to play!) And thanks for the link, a3; I did not know until just now that there was a tabletop version of Tetris.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 8:16 AM on May 2, 2002


space harrier. four fire buttons that all did the same thing because you needed to fire that fast sometimes. the most incredible hand-eye game I've ever played.

super sprint. the best overhead racer ever. I played this endlessly when my right arm was in a sling as it was the only one-handed game out at the time.

the original street fighter, the one with the big pads that did more damage the harder you hit them. I really hurt myself on this one a few times, but it was great.
posted by n9 at 8:33 AM on May 2, 2002

I was always fond of Galaga and its various knock offs. I didn't realize that Galaga was one of the first to introduce "bonus stages". Very cool link.
posted by Benway at 8:35 AM on May 2, 2002

Dig-Dug and Tempest!
  Dig-Dug was at the stationary shop where we stole magazines and each of the levels had a different setup so developed a different flow through each and had to remember the flows and try to improve them. You would start at ground level and dig down to cubbies where monsters lived and blow 'em full of air until they popped.
  Tempest was just so pretty - a vector game where each level was a different shape and you would ride the outer edge of the shape and baddies emanated from the center or the other end. You had a gyroscopic flywheel to spin around the edge that was excellent. Remember those flywheels? They were on older stereo tuners too.
posted by engelr at 8:39 AM on May 2, 2002

I second Defender, that was a fun fun game.
posted by riffola at 8:46 AM on May 2, 2002

I third the comments about Defender. Blasting the alien lifting your guy, hitting reverse and swooping in to catch him before he splats, dodging plasma balls all the while, then gunning it for a pack of greenies before detonating the smart bomb and wiping out everything on screen in a blinding white glare...while your girlfriend gasps from over your shoulder at your prowess. Yeah, Defender ruled.

But hands down the machine that sucked the most change from my pockets was Pole Position. Remember that hairpin curve where you could just YANK the wheel and then catch yourself right in the sweet spot heading into the home stretch? And then Outrun came along, and you could pick the music and the steering wheel shook (and the course was a branching tree, encouraging exploration of all possible finishing stages). Dig it.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 8:48 AM on May 2, 2002

I have fond memories of

Hyper Sports
Karate Champ
Rally X
Front Line
that first Atari football game with the Xs and Os that always pinched your hand with the trackball so badly that there should have been a madatory medevac team stationed nearby at all times.
posted by Kafkaesque at 9:11 AM on May 2, 2002

Woo Hoo! I'm a huge collector. Unfortunately living in Boston means that I have to keep 98% of my toys in storage (back in MN) because space is wicked expensive out heeah. I do keep my mini Robotron out here and it's always a hit when people come over. My most prized possession is probably the cockpit star wars with the original 25" vector monitor (which also plays Empire Strikes Back thanks to Clay Cowgill). When I want to relax and have some fun, I go striaght for Dragon's Lair II - just a fun game all around. The one game that has addicted me more than any other (outside of the classics) is Bubble Bobble. Not sure what it is about this cute game with it's cheery music, but it really keeps me hooked. Unfortunately due to the VAPS rules (which I do agree with!), "You may list any game that is 100% working, although it is not required to have a cabinet. You may also list any board sets that can be installed in under 10 minutes, resulting in a 100% working game. All games and board sets must play just like the original." so I can't list my 40+ cabinets and 150+ boardsets, just Robotron.

Oh, so to answer the original question, my overall favorite is still Robotron (thus the registration of 2084.com back in 1995 - sorry, the site is not up-to-date, but you can email me @2084.com).
posted by stormy at 9:13 AM on May 2, 2002

Track n' Field. It took tremendous coordination to hit the two run buttons with your right hand and the action button with your left. To make it worse, the run buttons were surrounded by a sort of plastic ridge, which meant that you had to tap them with one finger only.

I didn't really get crazy for another video game until that old school "Punch Out" game came out. Left Hook! Left Hook! Body Blow! Knock him out!
posted by Samsonov14 at 9:39 AM on May 2, 2002

Robotron, Moon Cresta, Tempest, Gravitar were all fantastic (and more 'cultish' than most games) but Defender was and always will be King. Seminal.
posted by niceness at 9:48 AM on May 2, 2002

Samsonov14, the Track and Field machine at the arcade where I worked did not have the surrounds, so I set all kinds of records by using the "comb-laid-over-the-finger" trick.

Plus I loved killing the pelican (or whatever it was) in the javelin throw.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 10:06 AM on May 2, 2002

Another Space Harrier fan: "Welcome to the Fantasy Zone! Get Ready!" The game promised more scenes later (sequel) which never arrived. My friend had facetious names for all the enemies you had to shoot, but only "Norelcos" comes to mind. The music themes are still memorable after 15 years.

Marble Madness: No shooting, leaping, driving, or sports. How rare is that. Good sound and music, too.

Rolling Thunder: two-level side-scroller. Nice graphics for its time. If you were shot even once, you died. You got used to ducking beneath head shots, and that worked fine until a bad guy ducked too. You had to conserve ammo, but if you ran out, your gun could still shoot a very slow bullet.

Millionaire (pinball). For some reason I always did well on that game. One time I had to walk away from 20 free games I had built up.
posted by kurumi at 10:06 AM on May 2, 2002

Relive the games from your past using
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posted by LouieCypher at 10:09 AM on May 2, 2002

Oh man, Kurumi, that reminds me - I forgot Elevator Action! There was nothing sweeter than crushing an enemy in an elevator shaft.
posted by Samsonov14 at 10:11 AM on May 2, 2002

Star Castle. Black & white vector graphics, with the walls surrounding the central turret in color only because there was a colored plastic overlay on the CRT! Up to a certain level, you could just bounce off the walls and use the wrap-around, but once the sparks got really fast you had to learn to fly diagonally across the corners of the screen without ever stopping, turning sideways to strafe at the turret.

That sound — BVVVVVVVVV — when the turret got a lock on you and fired... man, just remembering it adrenalizes me!
posted by nicwolff at 10:14 AM on May 2, 2002

Neo-Geo Baseball, with the old-time players (Rose, Ruth, Aaron) was a quarter sucker because the game play and stats were a perfect balance of fun and realism.

So was Xenon (the overhead scrolling shooter...was that the name?), Track'n'Field, Karate Champ (Full point!) and Joust (that hand that reached up from the lava always scared the crap out of me) and Punch-Out (always a good laugh to watch me as I tended to "bob and weave" like the onscreen avatar).

The stand-up-and-enclosed version of Discs of Tron (with the stereo speakers and the recessed big screen) was a rare game to find, but thankfully the Wizards Castle in the local mall had a version.
posted by grum@work at 10:19 AM on May 2, 2002

Centipede was my boy! One of two arcade games I could play and consistently get on the high score list. (The other being the nearly incomprehensible Firefox.) So, yeah, the winning was the main reason, but there's something to be said for the feel of a nice cold heavy trackball.

Also Gyruss and Moon Patrol, mainly for the music.
posted by furiousthought at 10:21 AM on May 2, 2002

if you live in New England, the place to check out is Funspot in Weir's Beach, where they still keep a couple hundred of the early arcade games in functioning condition. This is the place where Billy Mitchell played his legendary perfect game of Pac-Man.

Galaga, Duck Hunt, Burger Time etc they have 'em all.
posted by zoopraxiscope at 10:22 AM on May 2, 2002

Yie Ar Kung-Fu

When we used to go to Wild-Waters my friends would all play on the slides and I would stay in the arcade a play that game all day. My friends all had such nice tans.
posted by bunktone at 10:23 AM on May 2, 2002

Joust is the king, IMO. It was a highly original concept and all the elements (enemies, objectvies, point structure) were in perfect balance with each other. No matter how long a game lasted, it was always fun.
posted by Dirjy at 10:26 AM on May 2, 2002

Lots of money spent on many of the above...Dig Dug, Joust, the original Donkey Kong, Tempest and Robotron.

Thanks to nicwolff for bringing back the adrenaline rush that was Star Castle. Yes I remember the colored plastic over the CRT and loved the nervous energy of avoiding the fireball from the inner turret.

Best of all, if memory serves, you got a bonus ship EVERY time you destroyed the turret. That game ROCKED!

By the way, despite many attempts I Always sucked at Defender.
posted by tdstone at 10:41 AM on May 2, 2002

Tempest all the way, though Robotron, Joust and Missile Command all get the highest marks from me. And in case some aren't aware of it, you can run these (and tons of others) on your home machine using m.a.m.e.. A good set of links for all things m.a.m.e. can be found on mameworld.

Now if there was only a good controller for Tempest for a pc...
posted by Tempus67 at 10:43 AM on May 2, 2002

There was a game called Bag man that I liked quite a bit. Maybe one of you know the name of a game I have thought about for years. It was 2-d and was only one screen. You landed in a flying saucer on the top left side. In the middle was a mountain. On the right an army shows up and starts destroying the mountain. You have the time it takes them to destroy the mountain to dig down and make it into a chamber and grab gems or something before the doors close and you are killed in the room. I don't think the game had a name on it, but it was lots of fun. Any clues? You had to get back up to the ship, and it was timed real tight, so you could end up taking off and just barely missing the shot that would destroy the saucer.

Oh and the first Tron! I loved Tron!
posted by thirteen at 10:49 AM on May 2, 2002

I am all smiles here having just read all the comments. Some major memories being dredged up ;-)

I am in Mass, USA as well, and have heard of Funspot, but not yet been there. I do know that they started an annual video game competition that happens end of May I believe. I think this year is the 3rd or 4rth one.

They are on the web and usually have their site up to date on the events, in case you want a trophy. I would go this year, but my impending marriage ceremony conflicts and somehow, I just don't think I can reschedule. I do plan on a pilgramage to Funspot this summer though, most definately going to be a jaunt on the motorcycle, no passenger.

Glad you all got something from KLOV to smile about.
posted by a3matrix at 11:16 AM on May 2, 2002

if you live in New England, the place to check out is Funspot in Weir's Beach

OMG! My family used to have a summer home on Lake Winnepesaukee, and we would go to Weir's Beach all the time! Man, my brothers and I lived to go to that place. One of my favorite games there was an Old West shooting game - can't even remember the name of it. It had a rifle for the control, and there were different scenes you could do, like a saloon, or a stagecoach being hijacked. Cool stuff. My other favorite game was Stunrunner.
posted by starvingartist at 11:50 AM on May 2, 2002

Reading all this makes me want to buy/restore an old arcade machine. Any ideas on good sites to find more info?
posted by Hugh2d2 at 12:46 PM on May 2, 2002

Hugh, there's lots of good info easily found on the web, but the thing is with the old games is that shipping will kill you so you kinda want to find somebody near you. I bought mine off a guy I found through a Yahoo! classified who met me about 30 mins from my house with the machine. He was awesome. One thing you might want to look at is PC 2 JAMMA page, which describes how to hook a computer up to your cabinet. This is what we did after our Ms. Pac-man->JAMMA project went off the rails. MAME is so much cooler with real arcade controls and a real arcade monitor. When the Galaga is running, you can't tell it's not the real thing. It's awesome.
posted by jeb at 1:02 PM on May 2, 2002

Tempest, in all it's incarnations.

Although these days, I'd have to go with Rez for my thousand-yard-stare shooter.
posted by inpHilltr8r at 1:37 PM on May 2, 2002

I probably put more money into "Street Fighter II" than any other game ever.
posted by McBain at 1:45 PM on May 2, 2002

Berzerk, baby, Berzerk.

This sucked waaay too much time and effort from my teen-aged brain, but I honestly think that it (and many of the ones mentioned above) were my gateway drug into the CS field. See dad - those quarters weren't a waste

Intruder Alert! Intruder Alert!
posted by crankyrobot at 2:08 PM on May 2, 2002

Man, I was addicted to Asteroids. Those little Alien ships. That heartbeat-like throbbing beat. You cant lose your concentration for a second or you're dead. Yeah, I'll pump in more quarters.

And Berzerk and Joust and Dig Dug. Unique, addictive little games.

A friend of mine was reminsicing to me about Sinistar the other day but I dont remember it at all.
posted by vacapinta at 2:41 PM on May 2, 2002

ooh. i'll chime in with a couple quick ones:

burgertime takes me to my zen place.
centipede is a game i'm not very good at, but i love all the same.
in some countries hard drivin' is issued as a sobriety test.
posted by boogah at 2:57 PM on May 2, 2002

oh, yeah, and Qix.
posted by vacapinta at 3:02 PM on May 2, 2002

Xpilot kept me entertained for hundreds of hours. I used to stay up until 1 or 2am because the only people I could find that played were in Europe.
posted by jaden at 3:04 PM on May 2, 2002

As much as I loved video games, I sucked at every single one of them, with the exception of Black Tiger. My best friend and I could finish the entire game with 2 quarters between us in a bit over an hour. Ah wasted youth.
posted by Tacodog at 3:30 PM on May 2, 2002

Thanks Jeb!
posted by Hugh2d2 at 5:27 PM on May 2, 2002

Sidearms. And what's really annoying is that I found a Japanese PC Engine HuCard version of it, but after finding out that the converters are impossible to find (and the original Japanese units are almost impossible to find) I sold it on eBay. Then I found a Japanese PC engine in a local swap-meet. Doesn't appear to work though (a power LED would be nice).
posted by krisjohn at 6:33 PM on May 2, 2002

Skate or Die, Q-bert, Rampage, Asteriods. *sigh* They just don't make 'em like they used to. The only game I've ever touched on a post-Sega Genesis box is Twisted Metal for Playstation, and It was just too complicated for my then-primitive mind. I'd be happy to give it another whirl, though. (i.e. gotta introduce my 3-year-old to games soon!)
posted by Quixoticlife at 6:46 PM on May 2, 2002

I'd have to peg the vector Star Wars, Defender, Moon Patrol, and the original Tron as my favorites.

But I can't let the thread pass by without putting in a good word for Battlezone. I put so many quarters into that thing hoping to be as good as my older brother was - or at least to shoot down one of those frigging missles - but to no avail.
posted by Chanther at 7:47 PM on May 2, 2002

Heh. Through the generosity of an online acquaintence, I actually got to gift my father with the use of an original stand-up Battlezone in his home for over a month a couple years back. That's still his favorite arcade game, as it was then.
posted by NortonDC at 8:02 PM on May 2, 2002

Before I discovered girls, I spent my entire existence one summer plugging quarters into StarWars, Pole Position, and Donkey Kong Jr at the modest arcade within biking distance of my house.

A few years ago while visiting a friend in San Diego, we spent a day wandering Disneyland and discovered a mint condition StarWars cabinet outside the StarWars ride, and I proudly put up the highscore on my first play in over ten years. My friend literally had to drag me away from the machine, rolling her eyes at my ingrained geekhood. "Let the other kids play too, sweetie."
posted by johnnyace at 3:16 AM on May 3, 2002

The game which got me into videogames - Tail Gunner (which has altogether different connotations these days).
I would go to Scarborough with my parents and they'd leave me in the arcade for a couple of hours, all I'd play would be Tail Gunner. It looks so primitive these days, but for 1979, with it's 3D graphics it was way ahead of anything else.
posted by Markb at 4:58 AM on May 3, 2002

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