Category Archives: arcade games

My Gaming Timeline Part 8 – Football Champ (Taito 1990)

Italia 90 – a great World Cup if you were English (well, up til the end of the Semi Final). Probably released to cash in on the Greatest Football Tournament on Earth, ‘Football Champ’ was Taito’s quirky and immensely playable Football arcade game. The Greatest Football Arcade Game on Earth. according to me.

This was another Summer ’90 / ’91 Drayton Manor Arcade experience, and this one was jostling with Operation Wolf & Final Fight for my meagre earnings (believe it or not, but students working part time seasonal jobs at Theme Parks are not paid huge amounts of money. FACT.)

There was a luxury version of this game, with a little bench, and a huge (well, 40 inches or so) screen positioned roughly 2 or 3 metres away from you. If memory serves correct. And it doesn’t always.

The football was based around an International Competition (ie The World Cup in all but name). You could play as most of the major teams (including England), and matches lasted around 2 minutes. Control was fairly   basic – it was short pass / long pass / shoot at goal. But there was the added joy of violence when you were not on the ball. Yes, you could pile in with a vicious slide tackle, you could attempt a Harald Schumacher type foul where you lead with your knee, or you could just punch the opposition in the face;

if you got caught by the referee, you could get a yellow or red. The idea was to floor him from behind first, then go on your merry way, crippling the opponents. It just wasn’t sporting. But it was funny.

The action was fast, frenetic, and there were sweet spots on the pitch that, if you timed it right, you could lob the ball over the goalie as he grasps at thin air. Getting the time and space to perform this move was not always possible though, as opponents always seemed to be harrying and hassling, which made the goals,when they did go in, even sweeter.

Playing it laughs, Taito appear to have gone for comedy and caricature for their characters in the game. Check out those curtains (ie the haircut) on the Dutch Manager (he looks a bit like Steve Buscemi);

It was a wonderful, fun game. Loads of re-playability. And the reward for winning the Tournament was the magnificent “All your base are belong to us’ lite;

and you can play it on MAME. You should try it.

If you want the definitive account of Football Champ, then I would like to direct you to this fantastic piece;
http://retrovania-vgjunk.blogspot.co.uk/2012/06/football-champ-arcade.html
there is a little bit about ‘Super Shots’, something I never heard of before. They even have some footage on youtube of someone doing these hallowed moves, for goodness sake.

‘You Are Hero’ and various other screenshots are courtesy of
http://vgjunk.tumblr.com/post/25866957714/its-always-nice-to-get-some-recognition-from
and
http://retrovania-vgjunk.blogspot.co.uk/2012/06/football-champ-arcade.html

The Football Champ flyer is courtesy of;
http://flyers.arcade-museum.com/?page=flyer&db=videodb&id=2365&image=2

My Gaming Timeline Part 7 – Operation Wolf (Taito, 1987)

A game that got me back in the arcade. Back in 1987 I was working at a theme park (Drayton Manor) that had an arcade bang in the centre of the park, and after all the rides shut down, the canny Arcade operator used to keep his establishment open for 30 minutes or more, to mop up any pennies not already spent by punters. And invariably, one or two of the staff would wonder in to either blow their meagre earnings (this was pre-minimum wage and a lot of us were Sixth formers or college / University students who would take whatever pay we could get). Some would go to the shove penny contraptions or the fruit machines, but I only had eyes for the video games. When Operation Wolf arrived in the summer of 1987, I was only interested in standing at that cabinet, cradling the fixed swivel mounted light gun, that looked like an Uzi, and attempting to free the hostages from the 6 stages of concentration camp war madness.

So many great elements in this game; the way the gun gives force feedback to simulate recoil each time you fired the gun, the relentless barrage of enemy hostility, the constant search for ammunition as your depleted stocks begin to become a threat to your mission. The little static cut scenes that move the story on with economy and purpose. The Arnold Schwarzenegger / Dolph Lundgren super-soldiers.

The graphics, for their time, were fluid and exciting. The controls on the gun were responsive and the on rails gaming experience immersive. And that cabinet looks marvelous doesn’t it?

When you eventually completed a level, it was with a real sense of achievement, such was the well pitched difficulty setting.

Death was a common experience in the game. I do not know how much money I put in that machine at Drayton Manor, but for every 10 minutes of Operation Wolf, I probably had to work a couple of hours to afford to play it. But that was okay. Operation Wolf was a classic arcade game that made the light gun / on-rails game relevant and exciting. Even 25 years later, its a perfectly playable game. You can see for yourself as you can play it online. You just don’t get the light gun experience.

Even the home conversions were good (and there were plenty of them, including a good CPC464 version, a C64 version and a top notch Amiga conversion. It also spawned 3 sequels, one of which, Operation Thunderbolt (1988) nearly cost me as much in 50p pieces as its predecessor. 

Links!!!

http://www.arcade-museum.com/game_detail.php?game_id=8927
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Wolf

My Gaming Timeline Part 5 – Star Wars (Arcade) (Atari,1983)

(Star Wars Arcade Flyer, 1983)
(Star Wars Sit-Down Arcade Cabinet, 1983)
After all these years and all the various iterations of the franchise across many platforms, it is this game, from Atari, first released in1983, that remains the best Star Wars game on any system / platform. When you saw it sitting in an arcade, it drew you towards it like no other cabinet. It was quite normal to have a crowd around it, and a queue to play it. One of the all time great Film – Arcade conversions, and one that took many of my 50p coins in the mid eighties.
Why? Simple. It is an incredibly immersive experience, especially when you are sitting in the arcade cabinet / cockpit. This, combined with the sounds of Star Wars (the chirping of R2-D2, the calming voice of Obi Wan, the roar of Chewbacca,  the whizzing TIE fighters, the MUSIC!!!). It takes its cues from the original film. It is inspired by one of the most exciting flying/dogfight sequences in Cinema history and puts you in the cockpit of an X-wing fighter attacking the Death Star. The game is in three stages: First you have to shoot the Tie-fighters before they shoot you. Then you fly down to the surface of the Death Star and shoot the towers.At the climax of the game, you get to fly down the trench and shoot the photon torpedoes into the  Death Star’s exhaust port (its Achilles Heal) to finish. Once you achieve that, there is a wonderful end screen that shows your handiwork, as the Death Star explodes. Victory to the rebellion!
Then you get to go back to the start and do it again only this time it gets harder.

This game is considered the #4 most popular game of all time according to Killer List of Video Games. (Wikipedia)




Links!!!

http://www.destructoid.com/games-time-forgot-star-wars-the-1983-arcade-game–117624.phtml
http://www.flatbatteries.com/starwars.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Star_Wars_(1983_video_game)
http://www.arcade-museum.com/game_detail.php?game_id=9773

My Gaming Timeline Part 2 – The Arcade. (1970’s)

I thought I would eschew the usual canon of arcade games (who doesn’t know Asteroids, Space Invaders or Galaxians?) and post some images that evoke my time at the amusement arcade (specifically Drayton Manor Parks Amusement Arcade).

In order of appearance here – Boot Hill, Periscope, Killer Shark.

Images courtesy of;
http://www.arrse.co.uk/lamp-sandbag-ii-tall-story-strikes-back/110328-old-arcade-game.html

http://www.pinrepair.com/arcade/shark.htm

http://www.yourprops.com/-Killer-Shark–Arcade-game-from-JAWS-original—screen-used-movie-props-Jaws–1975–prop-14799.html

SharKade (1972 – 1978)

The film Jaws has a nice little sequence where we see someone playing the arcade game Killer Shark – its one of the early arcade games (produced by Sega) and (obviously-duh) pre-dates the film. For a great clip of this scene, click here

Anyway, great game and all that – I remember playing it at the Drayton Manor Park arcade in the mid 1970s – probably my first arcade experience. I recall that the gun trigger was hard and there was a sort of snapping when you fired off a shot. The wriggling of the shark (and the stream of blood) when you hit it was disturbing and exhilarating – a game where you see your victim in its death throes! There is plenty written about this game – see the links at the end of this post.

There were a few other games out once the film Jaws was released, obviously capitalising on the Shark craze;

Shark Jaws (Horror Games (aka Atari) 1975)

Claimed to be the first video game adaptation (for that article by Ian Bogost here), this was early Atari, capitalising on the success of Jaws, but when Universal nixed their license to make a game of the film, they went ahead and made a game anyway. They even created a dummy company called ‘Horror Games’ just so the Atari brand wouldn’t be associated with any quick n’ dirty cash-in. Best of all was the marquee that sat at the top of the arcade cabinet, with the game advertised as Shark (small letters) JAWS (big letters);

cheeky….

Some guy writing at Everything2.com claims there are only 3 of these complete arcade cabinets left in existence, and only one of them works. Not that it would be worth tracking down, as the game is of its time – simplistic, repetitive, monochrome and graphically basic (the screenshot of the game tells you all you need to know).

Maneater (Project Support Engineering 1975)

The magnificently titled Project Support Engineering (that’s not a company, it’s a department!) produced this wonderful cabinet, and even produced a game to go inside it (though the game is irrelevant in comparison to the grandeur of this);

The game looked like Shark Jaws and Shark (ie BASIC) and the premise and objective were to control a diver who was collecting gold from the sea baed, and get him back to his boat and avoid the sharks (who were maneaters, of course). Here is a screenshot of the game that I found on KLOV;


Shark (US Billiards 1975)

Turning the whole shark craze on its head, this Arcade effort puts you in as the shark, trying to avoid nets and traps as you attempt to get to the swimmer before they reach the shore(!). It’s another one that isn’t available on emulation (like Shark Jaws), and again it is simplistic gameplay with basic graphics (see below) and probably wouldn’t keep the average gamers attention for more than a minute today.

Blue Shark (Bally Midway 1978)

Like the forerunner of these games, Killer Shark, Blue Shark had a gun mounted arcade cabinet and it was another plain and simple shooting game. Get the shark with your gun, but don’t hit the humans who are diving around them. You also get to kill numerous other aquatic life (octopus etc) for no particular reason, which is all well and good when you are hang around arcades as a kid in the Seventies, but you probably couldn’t get away with it now, as it would, I expect, be classed as a game that encourages the destruction of the Environment and sentient beings. Nowadays you get games where you get to kill real looking people or ‘real’ looking zombies or the perennial aliens instead. The game is fairly basic (but less so than the others discussed so far), but with more graphical subtlety and involved gameplay.

There was also Shark Attack, released in 1981 by GPi (Game Plan inc), that had you playing the shark (just like the earlier game by US Billiards, Shark) and you had to eat the arcade sharks favourite snack – the diver. This time though, the diver can strike back as some of them have harpoon guns! Also, this game was in colour! However, on my emulation of Shark Attack, it is dated as 1980, and made by Pacific Novelty. Game Plan must have distributed it. Here is a screenshot of it;

LINKS!!!

Killer Shark

http://bavatuesdays.com/killer-shark-1972/ – the best blog I have come across in a while. Nice entry on Killer Shark.

http://www.yourprops.com/view_item.php?movie_prop=14799 – Killer Shark cabinet photos and screenshot.

http://www.daemonkeep.com/killershark.html – At DaemonKeep games, they have a repro of the game for download;

http://marvin3m.com/arcade/shark.htm – Cabinet shots, flyer info, a look at the innards of the cabinet…

http://www.pingeek.com/killer/killer.htm – If you want the schematics of Killer Shark, this is the place for you.

KLOV has a basic entry for Killer Shark, nothing more.

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Maneater

http://www.i-mockery.com/minimocks/50arcadecabinets/arcade3.php – i-mockery lists the 50 greatest Arcade cabinets, with Maneater listed very near the top.

http://www.klov.com/game_detail.php?game_id=8611 – KLOV entry

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Shark Jaws

http://www.arcadeflyers.com/?page=thumbs&db=videodb&id=979 – Shark Jaws flyers

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shark_Jaws Wiki entry for Shark Jaws


http://www.retroland.com/pages/retropedia/arcade/item/1403/
– RetroLand entry for Shark Jaws

http://www.armchairarcade.com/aamain/print.php?article.103 – A History of the early years of Atari has information on Shark Jaws


http://www.arcade-history.com/?n=shark-jaws&page=detail&id=3395
– ArcadeHistory entry for the game.

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Shark

http://www.klov.com/game_detail.php?game_id=9507
– KLOV entry for Shark

http://www.arcadeflyers.com/?page=thumbs&db=videodb&id=2611 – Shark flyer

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Blue Shark


http://www.arcadeflyers.com/?page=thumbs&db=videodb&id=139
– Blue Shark arcade flyer


http://www.arcadeflyers.com/?page=thumbs&db=videodb&id=139
– International Arcade Museum entry for Blue Shark by Midway

http://www.coinop.org/g.aspx/100549/Blue_Shark.html – Blue Shark entry at coinop.org

http://www.arcade-history.com/?n=blue-shark&page=detail&id=298 – Entry at ArcadeHistory

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Shark Attack

http://www.klov.com/game_detail.php?game_id=9508 – KLOV entry for Shark Attack

http://www.arcadeflyers.com/?page=thumbs&db=videodb&id=1737 – Arcade flyer for Shark Attack

http://arcadeflyers.com/?page=flyer&db=videodb&id=1762&image=2 – More arcade flyer action for Shark Attack

Queen of the videogame of the movie – it’s Alien!!!

The adaptation of videogames from movies is a long and ignoble tradition. As long as there have been arcade, and later, console and computer games, there have been ‘games based on the movie’. Invariably, they have been a pretty sorry bunch even at the dawn of videogames (a Death Race 2000 game courted controversy over 30 years ago, but was poor even by the basic standards of the day). A few years later, Atari adapted the Spielberg blockbuster E.T. for their 2600 console, but its confusing, badly programmed gameplay left consumers cold and Atari on the verge of collapse. If you have never heard the story of hundreds of thousands of copies of the game being buried in a landfill, then take a look here.

At epinions.com there is a list of the worst movie to game adaptations.

There have, however, been some great games of movies, and even great games that just take the characters out of the movie and put them into a game. Here are a few off the top of my head;

Star Wars Rogue Leader: Rogue Squadron II (Gamecube, 2001)

Lego Star Wars (Xbox, PS2 & various other platforms, 2005)

and



Robocop
(Arcade, 1988)

In my opinion, some of the best adaptations of movies to games have been based on the Alien series of movies. This is by no means a definitive list of games based on the characters and films, but presents what I think are the best or most significant of the bunch. The list is chronological, from earliest to most recent.

Aliens – The Videogame (1986 – Amstrad CPC464 and Commodore 64)

I had the Amstrad version (published by Electric Dreams*) and thought it was one of the best games or apps for the system – up there with the Graphic Adventure Creator, Alien 8, Footbal Manager or Elite. You had control of several characters, including Ripley, the Marines, Bishop the Android and that bad man from the Weyland-Yutani Corporation, Burke. The objective is to explore the devastated colony by instructing the people under your control. You must also ensure that you watch them or else they could be under attack. Each character has different characteristics and reacts differently to each situation. The objective is to get to the Queen Aliens chamber and destroy the eggs she is incubating. A great game for its time, and one that is worth investigating.

Some kind soul has posted up some action from the Amstrad version on youtube;

Wiki entry
IGN review of the game
Alien Trilogy at Gamespot
Some good coverage of the title at Moby Games

Links!!!

There is a list of Alien and Predator (and Aliens versus Predator) games here

Relive the heady days of the nineties when web pages were written with what looks like notepad-type simple text programs and learn more about the Alien movies at the same time!

* and if that’s not a name for the Eighties, I don’t know what is.

Best Ever Game Intros – No.2 – Tekken 3 (1998)

Ah, the genius of Tekken 3. Whilst both Tekken and its sequel, Tekken 2, were head and shoulders above the 3D fighting competition on the Playstation (its rivals, such as Battle Arena Toshinden just didnt compare in terms of playability or graphics), the franchise swansong on the PS1 was a defining statement. Released in 1998, the Playstation port of Tekken 3 was a near perfect translation of the arcade original (released in 1997), with lots of extras that Namco thoughtfully crammed onto a single PS disc. Amongst the extras was ‘Tekken Force’, a brilliant side scrolling Final Fight / Streets of Rage arcade scrapper. Once played, it is not easily forgotten, and I still catch myself, from time to time, intoning ‘Chicken!!!’ in the style of the Tekken Force vocal actor.

I remember seeing the game playing on Japanese import in a game shop in Hull in the early summer of 1998, and being absolutley stunned by it. When it finally hit the UK in that September, it was evident that I was playing possibly the finest PS game, and definately the best fighter for the machine. Before you can begin playing though, you get treated to an amazing cinematic intro, giving brief but beatifully realised back stories to the combatants taking part in the ‘King Of Iron Fist Tournament 3‘ aka Tekken 3. From the pounding soundtrack to the stunning water effects and crowd sequences, the intro makes a bold statement – that this is a game you cannot ignore – that the game more than lives up to. I never really followed Tekken beyond the PS, although I played it on the GBA and PS2. Nothing could live up to Tekken 3.

And my favourite character was Bryan Fury – the way he did a reverse elbow smash followed by a piledriver punch was sheer class. Complete bastard though, a psychotic cyborg reanimated by the shadowy Dr Abel.

Read more about this superb game here courtesy of Wikipedia

This here is the Official Tekken site, courtesy of Namco.