Twin Galaxies hall of famer, Ben Gold tells us about his first experiences at Twin Galaxies.
It’s the ultimate superhero team up in this episode of M.A.M.E of the game. With all the hero movies from both DC and Marvel we wanted to go back and play some of the classic arcade games featuring some of the biggest heroes from both franchises and we did just that.
We started out with the classic Avengers game then moved on to the arcade his X-Men before the Tatio rendition of Superman, the hard to find arcade version of Spider-Man and the ultra fun Punisher game from Capcom.
So sit back and enjoy our journey through classic superhero arcade action with what we hope his witty commentary you would expect on this series and if you like it please let us know and like the video and leave some comments.
Ghosts N Goblins
The classic arcade hit in flash version. You play the role of Arthur the knight his mission is to rescue the princess from evil ghosts and goblins. Grab and use extra suits of armor and new weapons to fight your way to the end. Released in 1985, It’s often said to be one of the hardest games of all time. Trust me, this game is hardcore.
Press Enter to start
Use your Keyboards Arrow keys to walk and climb up ladders
Press Shift to jump
Hit Ctrl (Control) to fire your weapon
It is easily the most common question I get when I chat with anyone about the classic arcade games of the early 1980s. What happened to them all?
They remember those days just as I do. Video arcades were commonplace and practically every type of business out there had arcade games in them. I remember seeing a Defender in the window of a flower shop, Ms. Pac-Man and Galaga machines at the local Denny’s and entire gamerooms in select 7-Eleven stores. These machines were literally everywhere.
Over time a number of these machines have ended up in homes, mostly as an addition to a rec room or something fun in the corner of the garage. A smaller number of home collectors are deeply dedicated, some with dozens or even hundreds of machines. In recent years, arcades and taverns with classic themes are popping up around the country, giving an extent of new life to a bygone era.
What most casual and even many die-hard classic arcade fans don’t realize is that the vast majority of machines from the early eighties arcade boom are long gone from the planet. While games such as Asteroids, Space Invaders, Pac-Man and Donkey Kong set arcade sales records that still stand today, most did not survive.
Today I provide some insight into why. While none of this is going to cover things in depth, it is going to touch on the basic answers to that common question.
The Great Video Game Crash
While it is becoming a hardly known legend to the younger generations of gamers, the entire North American video game industry crashed hard in 1983 and 1984. The arcade market and home console markets crashed for different reasons, with the coin-ops dropped off first. Things slowed in the summer of 1982 and went into a free-fall the next year, due in large part to oversaturation of the marketplace and aging equipment.
By 1984, a great number of arcade operators had gone out of business. Those that survived had significantly smaller operations and routes. The vast majority of arcade machines seen in non-arcade businesses were never owned by those businesses but rather by vendors who installed the machines in those locations for a cut of the revenue.
Operators were stuck with huge inventories of machines nobody wanted to play anymore, and with almost everyone forced to scale back operations, most older machines had no resale value or potential buyers. Everyone had enough Scramble and Galaxian machines gathering dust in a warehouse already.
So they trashed them.
Many machines were gutted for useful parts such as monitors and coin doors then had their cabinets smashed, burned or taken to a landfill. Others were left to rot in abandoned warehouses, sheds or fields.
This practice actually still continues today. Me and a friend came across an antique store a few years ago that had obtained a few trailers of early eighties machines. Thinking they had no value they left the open trailers outside and smashed up entire machines until they’d filled their dumpsters. By the time we got there, we found pieces of games such as Donkey Kong Junior andCentipede in the trash and the machines still in tact had been rained on so much they were falling apart.
While there are hobbyists who restore classic machines scattered across the country, it is commonplace for them to use several machines to complete one full restoration, trashing the rest.
Conversions, Multicades and MAME
Most classic arcade machines that didn’t end up as scrap were converted into newer game titles, and still are today.
The first successful conversion kit game was Mr. Do! in 1983, starting a trend that helped operators survive at least a while longer. For a far lesser price than a full arcade machine, vendors could purchase kits with new electronics, graphics and sometimes wiring which was used to turn that old Qix or Berzerk machine into a brand new game title.
While most arcade manufacturers resisted this trend as long as they could, they were forced to change with the times and start offering kits to operators. Some, such as Nintendo and Atari, began to produce kits designed to specifically convert their older titles.
This trend continued through the middle of the decade but slowed for a time in the late 1980s. A bit of a resurgence in the arcade market came along with the rebirth of the home console industry during this time, and dedicated machines of newer hit titles began to sell once again. Most converted machines were simply converted again to newer titles for street locations.
The next big period of conversion mania came with Street Fighter II in 1991 and 1992. This game earned so much money so quickly that many operators quickly bought kits for every arcade cabinet they had in storage. Years ago I met an operator that literally converted every remaining early 80s machine he had to SFII when it was hot, and remember locations with classic machines such as BurgerTime and Front Line that they converted at this time.
In recent years the conversion mania has continued in two forms. Over the past decade an influx of overseas knock off boards often dubbed as “Multicades” have made their way into North America. These bootleg boards contain dozens and sometimes hundreds of games. Many arcade machine resellers have gutted surviving classics in favor of converting them into these multi-game machines in the name of making a buck.
Other home collectors have built arcade machines based on the MAME emulation program. While some of these MAME fans have built their arcade rigs from classic cabinets that were already stripped or converted beyond reasonable restoration, others have posted blogs where they show their process of gutting a surviving arcade machine to build it into a computer-based conversion.
Several arcade conversions have appeared on these popular treasure-hunting television programs in recent years, often without the people on the show seemingly aware of it. An episode of Pawn Stars saw someone bring three “Japanese Arcade Games” into the Las Vegas shop, two of which were conversions from Defender machines. The Ms. Pac-Man machine that appeared on an episode of Auction Hunters was actually a conversion of an original Pac-Man machine, a cabinet that is similar but quite different in many ways as well.
Arcade Passports Required
Classic-era arcade machines that weren’t trashed, left to rot or converted may not reside in the country at all anymore. Several people in southern states have confirmed to me in the past that they have shipped and sold entire box trucks of older arcade machines to Mexico.
The current world record holder on Taito rarity Zoo Keeper had his machine shipped to his Australia home from the United States.
Preservation is Key
At the present time it seems that the number of people who’d rather turn a retro arcade machine into a Multicade or MAME machine far outnumbers those who would rather try to restore them into their former glory. It is a long and often expensive task to do so.
However, these machines are pieces of pop culture and video game industry history. Just as memorabilia from films, television and various sports have seen efforts to save and preserve their history over time, video games are finally starting to see signs of a preservation effort.
The efforts of groups such as Southern California’s Videogame History Museum and New Hampshire’s American Classic Arcade Museum should be noted for being among the first in the country to take serious steps in this direction as well as many individual collectors across the country such as New Jersey’s Richie Knucklez and Cat DeSpira in the Pacific Northwest.
In time, such efforts may turn the question from “What happened to them all?” to “Did you see all that are left?”
One of video gaming’s most unlikely heroes is turning 30.
Arcade classic Donkey Kong Junior is turning 30
Donkey Kong Junior had some big shoes to fill in 1982 as the sequel to Nintendo‘s first hit game, Donkey Kong. In a unique role-reversal, Mario was now the villain of the story as the son of the original antagonist fought through a maze of jungle vines and moving platforms in an effort to save his father.
According to trademark filings, Donkey Kong Junior first appeared publically on June 30, 1982. The suffix in the title was spelled as “Jr.” in Japan but “Junior” in North America. Later home releases moved toward the shorter version, appearing as “Donkey Kong Jr.” Despite the original longer version of the name the shorter suffix is the most common spelling of the game title worldwide.
“I remember Donkey Kong Junior getting a lot of attention in the arcades,” said Mark Kiehl, the all-time high score champion on the arcade classic. “People were excited about a sequel to Donkey Kong.”
The DKJ arcade unit went on to sell 30,000 machines in North America and see releases on every major home platform of the day. It also saw a great deal of exposure on television as one of the key games in a nationally aired arcade game contest, a breakfast cereal and even a Saturday morning cartoon short as part of the Saturday Supercade series on CBS.
In the later 1980s, Junior was among the list of launch titles for the very successful Nintendo Entertainment System. The game was part of a short-run reissue arcade game from Namco in 2005 included alongside the original game and Mario Bros.
“To this day it’s still a staple game for collectors and retro arcade operators to own,” Kiehl added. “It had a lot of staying power.”
Take a look at the video montage to experience some of the mainstream media love given to young Donkey Kong Junior in the early 1980s and post your thoughts and memories of the classic arcade game below.
Disney’s Chip ‘n Dale Rescue Rangers
Historically, license video games have been an excuse to rapidly churn out a shoddy product after cutting development corners in order to push a title onto the market that only profits because of its name, without nary a care given to the player experience. In 1990, legendary developer Capcom provided the gaming world with a wonderful exception to the trend when they produced Disney’s Chip ‘n Dale Rescue Rangers for the 8-bit Nintendo Entertainment System home console system.
Controlling the player’s choice of either Chip or Dale chipmunk characters, the only pragmatic difference being their appearance, this is a classic two-dimensional platforming game that is tightly honed to near perfection. In addition to the usual left and right to run left and right, the down button crouches. The A button jumps (as it should), with variable height according to pressing length. The B button grabs objects, which can then usually be thrown in straight lines left, right, or directly upward. These grabbable items are key to the entire gameplay experience, and come in different forms; like the basic wooden box that can be hidden in with a crouch and result in defeating an enemy that bumps into it; the metal boxes, that are thrown in a curved trajectory and are reusable, able to stack up to reach otherwise inaccessible areas; and large objects, which cause the protagonist to move a little slower and jump slightly.
There is a loose storyline involved the literally named villain Fat Cat and his nefarious efforts at small-world domination, and eventual kidnapping of the chipmunks’ friend. As the player defeats levels, he or she can actually choose a course through different stages, with multiple paths available, similar to Bionic Commando. In addition to the Mega Man games, it seems that allowing the player to choose their own path was a Capcom design staple.
With brilliantly modeled environments, featuring some precision-jumping puzzles with pattern-based enemies and basic problem-solving, Rescue Rangers also has item-finding in the best fashion: Rather than absolutely require the player to search for certain hidden objects in order to advance, which is annoying, this game offers bonus stuff that provides benefits, which is great. There are flower tokens, collecting 50 of which grants a one-up; stars, collecting 10 of which grants a one-up; acorns, which restore a heart to the basic three-heart health bar; and even a friend, Zipper, who for a limited amount of time, zips around the screen destroying enemies while granting the player invincibility, a much-appreciated assistance when battling the animal and robot foes led by Fat Cat, including the appropriate boss characters.
Given an understanding of the context of the time period, this is a perfect example of a 1990 NES video game, since 1990 is roughly right in the middle of the American support run career of the Nintendo Entertainment System (which, itself, was roughly 1986-1993). Rescue Rangers lacks the flaw of early cartridges, like washed-out characters and screen elements without border lines, but retains some of the foibles of the system like flickering and slowdown problems if there are too many sprites on the screen (try the treetop level, in the portion where there are three relatively large flying squirrels on the same screen as your chipmunk, an inchworm or two, and the box you’re throwing).
Overall, though, this is a game that provides a distinctive experience with its own Disney style. The animation is pretty slick, and the action comes at the player fast. Many have fond sentimental feelings for this game, and its visuals are certainly a part of that nostalgia.
The background tracks are good, featuring the usual impressive array of Capcom composing, if not a tad repetitive and too upbeat at times. That could, though, just be the opinion of the reviewer. Regardless, it is certainly fitting, and plainly shows that effort was put into it.
This sweet video game from Capcom definitely displayed some innovative gameplay characteristics that set it a step above and apart from the usual formulaic platformer. For example, the ability to crouch in a wooden box and use it as a protective barrier was ingenious, along with the fact that there were multiple types of holdable objects that each presented a different play function. Additionally, Chip and Dale have a relatively small on-screen presence, which is perfect considering the fact that they are chipmunks, and lends a whole new perspective element in light of the pursuit by big robot dogs, screen-gobbling bosses, and the enormous Fat Cat himself in the final confrontation.
For turning a Disney license into a very enjoyable video game, for a difficulty level that was neither too easy nor too difficult, for putting actual thought into its mechanics, and for genuinely just being a solid example of a two-dimensional platformer in a genre that could have continued to be stale, Disney’s Chip ‘n Dale Rescue Rangers rescues four stars out of five from the clutches of Fat Cat.
Eric Bailey is a retro gamer on a crazy quest to write a quality review for every single American-released NES video game over at NintendoLegend.com.
Using celebrities to sell products is as old as commercials themselves. One thing many people don’t know is that very famous stars still do commercials, just not in America where they would be seen. On the other hand some celebrities did commercials while they were trying to make it. Finally, some just do it because they really like the product.
For those that don’t know, Phil Hartman he was a great and funny actor that stared in a bunch of movies and television shows. Most people would know Phil from his work on Saturday Night Live, News Radio and by his voicing of the Simpsons characters Lionel Hutz and Troy McClure.
What many people may not know is that Phil Hartman appeared in a number of commercials for video game companies. So let’s see which company made best use of Phil.
Atari 2600: Crazy for Ice Hockey
The first thing that struck me was that ol’ Phil looked like he was creeping up to the adult section in the video store. The man behind the counter looked at Phil as if he was going to rent “Chicks with Sticks”. From there the old man did what you had to with graphics of the time, hype the hell out of it verbally. How Phil reacts is how Wii players need to act to pretend they didn’t just waste their money.
CD-I: Multiple personality
This is SNL Phil displaying his ability to act as difference characters. You have to love the cool calm voice in the beginning as if you called a phone sex line for depressed people. We see Phil take on a number of roles, to bad one of them wasn’t a lawyer warning us of how bad the CD-I was.
This is pretty much a part two of the first video, but it is another chance to see Phil go from cool hand luke to SNL character skit master in thirty seconds. Is it just me or does Phil love dressing in drag and sadly he didn’t look half bad. Wait; strike that from the record please.
We miss you Phil
Sadly Phil Hartman was taken from us all way before his time. All we can do is look back on his old work and enjoy his natural comedic abilities. As seen here Phil overshadowed all the products he was selling, but the question for you is, which company best used Phil Hartman?
High Score movie review
In the same kind of movie category as The King of Kong, High Score shows us the struggle of a video game champion trying to topple the top score for Missile Command.
The full movie can be seen in hulu or just click play on the embedded video below:
Let’s talk about the film… (I’ll assume you watched the film or that you don’t care if I talk about a spoiler, in this review)
Overall Score: 8 out of 10
Although the movie is only about 50 minutes long, the movie is done with good taste and character and the gamer Bill Carlton is a good sport and has a great attitude when it comes to life and his gaming goals.
Bill is a world champion at Asteroids as well as Missile Command. The movie is about his fight to try to beat the Missile Command machine as he stays up for many hours and days trying to reach and beat the top score of 80 million. The problem is that the machine that Bill bought kept crashing, resetting, or overheating and as soon as that happened, it was game over.
If you have seen The King of Kong or you know about Twin Galaxies you will understand how he videotapes every hour of gameplay to try to submit for an authentic world record. If you don’t know what Twin Galaxies is, they are the Guiness World Book of Records approved association for keeping track of all authentic records for high scores for all video games. Click here to visit the Twin Galaxies website. They are very serious about their job and in order for a score to be accepted, you must be either playing at a world tournament or you have to record yourself playing on a machine that has been authenticated as being an original, unmodified machine.
The movie brings up some good points, such as showing that in some places of the US other than drinking and drugs, video games are one of the few escapes from reality people can have. Other than that, we see a fellow gamer that does not play modern games, bringing up that his kid can wipe the floor with him on PS2 gaming, but his son is afraid to even dare challenge him in Missile Command.
Many old games, like Missile Command, take a very long amount of time in order for you get high up there as far as world class high score record breaking goes. Bill anticipated that it would take him a good 2-3 days to reach the 80 million mark. A problem though is that the machine could not take the strain of his challenge.
Like brought up in The King of Kong, some machines will simply have a kill screen where the game will simply crash and you will simply just keep dying, giving you a Game Over screen. Usually this is a problem of the game running out of RAM or having it’s design limit reached.
I wish the movie would have been longer and that they would have bought Bill another Missile Command machine so that he could take himself to the limit and see if he could really topple the number one score help by the now gaming-retired Victor Ali.
Bill is still in the number 10 position currently for the Twin Galaxies scoreboard, and it would be nice to see him rise in ranks. Keep it up Bill!
If you want to see what the current scoreboard looks for Missile Command, click here! Otherwise… keep on gaming!
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PIXELS by PATRICK JEAN
Alright this is just too cool, if you love classic video game characters like Pac-Man, Space Invaders and Donkey Kong you are going to love this video made for the Paris-based visual effects company, One More Production.
The video, directed by Patrick Jean shows the pixelation of New York. Highlights include Donkey Kong lobbing barrels from atop the Empire State building, Space Invaders descending upon unsuspecting taxis, Tetris blocks raining down on Manhattan, Pac-Man chomping up a subway and — my personal favorite — Frogger simply hopping across the street.
While I personally loved this video I couldn’t help but think of the flyover scandal that hit New York in summer 2009. Could you imagine if this was broadcasted how many people would believe it was real and go into a panic. Oh you don’t believe people would think this was real? Well they thought this was a freaking bomb!