| submitted by /u/VanCatMeow to r/aww
Been travelling around Australia with my cat Willow in a campervan for 2.5 years. We love having little talks in the forest.
i wish this was me.
If you like the idea of a low-profile vent mount for your phone, but don’t want to stick a magnet against the back of your device, iOttie’s One Touch Mini is exactly what you’re looking for. Amazon’s running a $2 coupon right now that brings it down to $18, which isn’t an all-time low, but price drops from its usual…
This week, I thought it would be interesting to look at Atari Coin-Operated Division’s B2B marketing efforts in the early 80s. By ‘B2B’ I mean the way in which they marketed their coin operated activities to the other businesses they wanted to foster relationships with; namely operators and distributors of their arcade games. It was one thing for players to love Atari games, but how did Atari ensure that their direct customers (the operators and distributors), continued to buy new Atari arcade titles, over and above the other manufacturers around at the time?
It required a different strategy and approach. The focus of the marketing message was not so much on how exciting the new game was to consumers, but also the benefits to the operator. A focus was placed on cabinet options (upright vs cocktail designs for example), or how easy it was to empty coins from the machine, what the book-keeping options were or how certain gameplay elements were going to keep players spending money to play the game. Money and profit were the key buzzwords here.
It is clear that a not-insignificant amount of investment went into generating hype and PR for some of Atari’s coin-op releases. Centipede was a great example. Pictured here, is the rather elaborate set created to promote the release of the game. Dry ice, mushroom props and the three cabinet styles are set up ready for photographing:
You might recognise this image from the arcade flyer produced at the time of the game’s release. This set also formed part of a video produced by Atari to promote the game. Clearly the audience for the video is trade distributors and operators:
Interesting watching how that video was broken down:
- Remind the watcher that Atari is the leading manufacturer of coin operated video games
- Describe the game and how new and exciting it is
- Tell the operator how they can maximise profits, via difficulty settings
- Showcase the various cabinet designs and how easy they are to work with
- Close out by stating that Centipede is a “High-intensity action game with super-profitability”
Similar videos were produced for several other games of the same era. Here’s one for Space Duel produced around 1982. Voiceover dude gives it his all:
Here’s a really great new game from Atari: Space Duel! A video game that’s so realistic, players will thrill to the experience of a battle beyond the stars!
That’s quite the description for an early vector game, you might argue that Atari perfected the art of ‘sexing-up’ a few lines drawn on a vector monitor. Again, note the way they are talking to their audience – everything geared towards how much money an operator will make by placing this game in their arcade.
Atari’s Gravitar got similar treatment. Mr Voiceover is really going for it:
When you need a new video game with tremendous pulling power, stay with the leader: ATARI!
As it happens, Gravitar turned out to be quite the flop, but let’s not let that get in the way of a great 80s marketing video:
By the way, that cabaret cabinet on the right there never saw a release. Looks cool though.
Here’s an ad for Dig Dug – it is totally bonkers. Atari went all out on the budget here – note that it is actually directed at the playing public, encouraging them to Ask for it where you play coin video games. Presumably getting players to hassle operators to get a new game in their arcade that they didn’t have, was seen as a valid route to generating sales of arcade cabinets:
That ad won a Clio award, and was the first arcade video game to be advertised in cinemas across America. If you’re interested, here is a ‘making of’ feature that was shown on Entertainment Tonight.
Here’s a shorter ad for the same game, aimed at operators:
How about Atari’s Kangaroo?
When you want a pouch full of profits, don’t monkey around, stick with the leader: ATARI!
Hmm. But hey, someone at Atari thought producing these videos was working, and over 9,000 units were produced, so who am I to argue? More on Kangaroo in a future article by the way.
Here’s a picture of Dig Dug and Kangaroo set up and being photographed by Atari’s marketing team. This looks to be positioned as arcade cabinets placed in a convenience store. The message being that retailers could increase earnings from consumers keen to play the latest arcade titles whilst they shopped. Gotta love the store owner apron wearing guy with clipboard:
Interesting to see that not every message was aimed at arcade operators, but other businesses where Atari saw an opportunity to sell product. Here’s another Atari photo shoot at a convenience store. See the Tempest cab prominently placed in the window.
Developing these new markets was key to driving cabinet sales:
Atari managed to formalise their proposition to retailers with the production of this full-page ad, placed in Grocery Trade publications during 1982:
Notice the use of the word “profit” four times over. Note also the coupon/phone call to action goes back to Atari – who would I assume pass the lead onto an operator to get in contact with the store owner.
A key point here – whether the ads resulted in sales of new cabinets or not, Atari are demonstrating to their operator and distributor customers, that they are helping them to sell machines. In much the same way as we might see an ad for Coca-Cola – this benefits not only Coca-Cola, but also all the retailers who buy stock from them to sell to us. Same principle applies here. Retailers see Coke throwing marketing spend out there, they should stock their product rather than Pepsi. Operators see Atari marketing its products, they will favour Atari arcade games over Williams, or Taito.
More game-specific marketing here, this time with 1982’s Xevious. Licenced by Atari from Namco, the game is an early top down vertical shooter. Note the voiceover guy is talking to operators, against the backdrop of compelling gameplay, and two hipster chaps having great fun playing:
Although I can’t find it online, in 1983, Xevious was the first arcade game to have a television commercial aired for it for the North American market. Atari promoted the game with the slogan “Are you devious enough to beat Xevious?” and closed the commercial with a tag line branding it “the arcade game you can’t play at home”. Again, Atari driving demand for the coin-op title via consumers. Take look at these two flyers distributed to operators. They talk about the TV commercial.
Atari is showing its customers that they are on their side, helping them to get coins into their machines – IF they buy Atari titles…
In this static ad, Atari demonstrate an Asteroids Deluxe cabaret cabinet placed in a restaurant location. This was intended to suggest to restauranteurs that putting arcade cabinets inside their restaurants made perfect sense, and they wouldn’t look out-of-place.
Note the less-garish and smaller wood grain cabaret model, designed to fit with the surroundings. Cabaret machines were developed with an eye on what Atari called the “special” markets requiring smaller units due to space limitations and a less garish image compared to the full-on artwork of its upright cabinets.
Atari was only ever going to be as successful as its next title. Generating hype, demand and exploring new markets was critical to its growth during the Golden Age of arcade gaming.
I have more B2B marketing materials on file here, that focus more on Atari itself as a business rather than the video games themselves. I’ll share some of these in a future article, as they make for interesting reading.
That’s it for this week – hope you enjoyed this left-field look at how Atari marketed its arcade titles. I’d appreciate it if you would share this piece using the social media buttons below.
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wat a POS already
Rather than presenting a virtual home button, the so-called "iPhone 8" is expected to instead offer a new software bar that could dramatically change how the iPhone is used, introducing new gesture controls for returning to the home screen and switching between apps.
12 years ago, u/kn0thing advertising Reddit on paper flyers. Now Reddit is the fourth most visited site in the US
Here at Arcade Heroes we like to track down arcade games to find out what happened to them if they are no longer on location, especially if its a game that is rarely seen or a particularly memorable game. After tracking down the Sega R360 from the Skylon Tower, I decided to look into another one of Niagara’s large attractions, the Galaxian 3 theater by Namco.
The Galaxian 3 Theater by Namco is a large theater simulator that was made around 1990 or 1991. This particular instance of a Galaxian 3 that we are taking a look at today was the one located at the Konica Minolta tower located on Fallsview Blvd. in Niagara Falls, Ontario Canada. This location is walk-able from almost anywhere in the Niagara tourist district. Today this building is known as The Tower Hotel (I will refer to it as the Minolta Tower for the rest of this story).
While there were some other versions of Galaxian 3 made including a 16 player version and a 28 player version these versions were only seen in Japan and perhaps some other overseas locations. The more common 6 player stationary theater is what was located at the Minolta Tower and was the only type of Galaxian 3 theater that would be located in North America since it was the only type of Galaxian 3 Theater sold in North America by Namco. The Galaxian 3 Theater can run one of 2 games Galaxian 3: Project Dragoon or Attack of the Zolgear, which is the sequel. If you are playing the original Playstation port on a Playstation home console you will have access to an additional bonus mission, The Rising of Gourb, which was never released in arcades.
Not to be confused with the Skylon Tower, this is The Tower Hotel, formerly known as the Minolta Tower. Yes the locations of both towers are very close to each other, just a few minutes walking distance. From what I understand this actual tower is not open the public anymore, but the building now houses a hotel in the lower levels and is mainly used as a hotel.
The only picture of the area where the Galaxian 3 was that I was able to dig up was this picture of the sign that lists the attractions, the Galaxian 3 included, and the prices of the attractions. This photo was taken in 1995 and is courtesy of the archives at the library in Niagara Falls, Ontario. Unfortunately I was unable to find a photo of the actual game while it was located at the Minolta Tower.
Most of these Galaxian 3 Theaters from what I can tell were purchased directly from Namco and installed by Namco, as was the one at the Minolta Tower. Its also possible to convert a Ridge Racer Full Scale to a Galaxian 3 Theater, so some Galaxian 3 Theaters may have started off as Ridge Racer Full Scale and some may have originally been Ridge Racer Full Scale but converted to Galaxian 3.
There were several other attractions in the Minolta Tower Complex in addition to the Galaxian 3 Theater and the observation deck at the top of the tower. There was an attraction called Search Factory, I do not know what this was. There was also Virtual Reality machines by the company Virtuality with the games Flying Aces in the sit down Virtuality pod and Dactyl Nightmare in the Stand up Virtuality pod.
Then there was the Galaxian 3 Theater. It is also believed the tower had regular arcade machines and pinball as well. All of these large attractions including the Galaxian 3 Theater were installed in 1995 and likely began operation during the summer of 1995. The Galaxian 3 continued to operate at the Minolta Tower until 2001, when the tower was renovated. The renovation included removing all of the arcade type attractions and turning most of the tower into a hotel. There was an additional renovation to finish this project in 2010. The Galaxian 3 theater was unfortunately having some problems and was removed and scrapped during the 2001 renovation of the building. I was able to reach someone heavily involved with this building in the area, and they told me the whole story and what happened to the game.
There was another Galaxian 3 Theater in Canada located at an arcade called The Fun Factor in Kamloops, British Columbia, Canada. This one was also not purchased from the Minolta Tower. Unfortunately this Galaxian 3 also suffered a horrible fate, the owner attempted to sell the machine, however when it was being transported to the location where it was sold to, it was badly damaged in transportation. The remains of this unit are with someone who is going attempt to restore it.
This is a picture of the Galaxian 3 at The Fun Factor, once again this game is no longer located there.
Now you may be wondering, are there any Galaxian 3 theaters in operation today? There are but there are very few left as one would imagine. If anyone knows of an operational theater other than the ones listed feel free to comment. The first location I know of with one is Fun World located in Nashua, New Hampshire in the USA. I don’t visit this location personally since I do not live near it so I do not know what is going on with their machine, however the last time someone checked on it; it was seen it was seen with a cover on it, so I think its safe to say that one is on location but is currently not operating. I was able to reach this location and I asked them if this was the machine from the Minolta Tower but it was not, and theirs was an original install from Namco. It is also believed the location at the moment is trying to have the game fixed. They have a banner up from Ridge Racer Full Scale (pictured below) so I think this Galaxian 3 Theater was converted from Ridge Racer Full Scale. If you live close to the location feel free to check it out however do not be surprised if its not working (Fun World still advertises the Galaxian 3 on their website though).
You can visit their website here : http://www.funworldnh.com/
I did manage to find a video of this Galaxian 3 but the video is from 2013.
There is one Galaxian 3 Theater 6 that I know of operating in Japan. I believe its in the Tokyo area. It is at a museum for vintage arcade games. The website for the museum is listed below. I think they are only open during very specific times so you will want to check with them before you go there. Besides the currently non working one at Fun World, this is the only Galaxian 3 I know of that is operating in the public in the world that is working at the moment. The museum also features a number of other rare, vintage arcade games.
Since the Galaxian 3 Theater operates on laserdiscs and laser disc players, it can be very difficult to keep these things running today. This theater in Japan has been converted to use regular computers of some sort, thus allowing the Galaxian 3 Theater to stay in working order and allowing it to continue to entertain guests.
A twitter account for the museum can be found here (also in Japanese) https://twitter.com/gehaku
A list of all Galaxian 3 theaters can be found here including the former locations of the 16 and 28 player versions of the game, the website is in Japanese, it was written by Japanese fans of the game so its not an official list, however it has not been updated since 2005, so it is surely outdated. The website also links to a couple other lists, although again very outdated (the other lists were last updated around 2003 at the latest). If you remember a certain Galaxian 3 theater and want a little more information on it this may be the site to visit:
One does not mention the Galaxian 3 Theater without mentioning famous arcade game collector, Bruno Biordi otherwise known as DarthNuno. Bruno lives in Belgium and currently has an entire Galaxian 3 Theater in his house. He bought the theater from an arcade in Belgium where he used to play the game as a kid, so he actually owns the same game that he played as a kid, which is extremely awesome! Bruno’s theater is currently set up and in working condition. Its actually the 10 year anniversary of the famous road trip that was taken to collect the Galaxian 3 theater, as this project was started in 2007. As you can imagine it was a massive amount of work to disassemble the theater, move it out of the arcade and eventually move it into his house where certain parts of it then had to be restored, other parts replaced and fixed. This process took more than 5 years and Bruno is extremely committed to the task of keeping a Galaxian 3 Theater functioning. If you want to read more about Bruno’s adventures with the Galaxian 3 and its a great read you can visit his website: Dragons Lair Fans right here:
Dragon’s Lair Fans Forums, where you can read the full story of the Galaxian 3 Road Trip and find an entire section dedicated to the Galaxian 3 Theater:
A big thanks to Bruno for providing many of the photos used in this article.
This is Bruno’s Galaxian 3 theater, the Daytona that is also seen in this photo looks so tiny!
Dave & Busters at one time operated the Galaxian 3 Theater at many of their locations, however these games were all eventually converted to a game called Air Raid which is a game by Tsunami. It is believed that Tsunami produced an upgrade kit for these Galaxian 3 theaters mainly for the ones that were still in Dave & Busters locations. As far as I know this was strictly a Dave & Busters thing, to convert the Galaxian 3’s to Air Raid. The conversions were done on various levels with some leaving more parts of the original theater in tact than others. Since the company Tsunami is no longer in business Dave & Busters is slowly removing these machines, what will become of them is unknown. If you want to see a Galaxian 3 Theater converted to Air Raid you can visit the Dave & Busters in Vaughan, Ontario which is near Toronto as I believe they have an operating Air Raid. There may also be operating Air Raid’s across the USA at a few Dave & Busters locations, if you want to see this game its best to contact your local D&B and see if they have it (ask for Air Raid).
Some pictures of the Galaxian 3 Theater to Air Raid conversions
You can clearly see some elements of the Galaxian 3 Theater are still there, making it obvious what it once was.
Here we have 3 youtube videos of the theaters:
Alternatively if you want to play Galaxian 3 on a home console an easy way to do this is to make a Japanese account on the PSN and download the PSN Classics versions of Galaxian 3 right to your Playstation 3 console. This can be done from North America on a North American PS3. Easiest way to do this is to buy a Japanese Gift card for the PSN with Japanese PSN points or credits. Its not as difficult as it sounds to do this. This is probably the best and most cost effective method for playing Galaxian 3 at home.
The post Tracking down the Namco Galaxian 3 6 Player Theater from Niagara Falls, Ontario Canada and Beyond appeared first on Arcade Heroes.
Taco Bell has announced that it will launch "Taco Mode" in collaboration with Lyft starting this Thursday. Focusing on the drinking and partying demographic and their late night cravings, the aptly named mode is a feature that allows Lyft passengers to push a button and have their driver take them to a Taco Bell drive-thru between the hours of 9 p.m. and 2 a.m.
Taco Bell's CMO Marisa Thalberg commented on the partnership saying, "We realized that for every person who has asked their Lyft driver to make a pit-stop at Taco Bell -- and we've seen many -- there are likely those who weren't sure if this was possible. With the advent of this fantastic partnership with Lyft, we will erase any lingering uncertainty and celebrate the ability to 'ride-thru' in Taco Mode." According to data from check-in service Foursquare, 14.8% of Taco Bell's customers visited between 10 p.m. to 4 a.m.
In addition to having your driver take you to Taco Bell, the new "Taco Mode" will also include a custom in-care menu, free Doritos Locos and a "taco-themed Lyft car." Ride sharing services partnering with food/drink providers isn't new; Lyft competitor Uber partnered with Tostitos earlier this year for a limited edition bag to call drunk people a ride home. "Taco Mode" will launch in Orange County, California from July 27-29 and August 3-5 for testing with plans to have nationwide service in 2018.
Let us know if you're in the OC area and will be trying out this soft launch between Taco Bell and Lyft.
I hope you are all making the most out of your first weekend of the Summer…here’s some news to go along with it all.
Disney Quest Games Will Have A Chance To Go To Cast Members
As depressed as many of us are about the decline and closure of Disney Quest in Orlando, one bright lining of it all is the games will be finding some homes. As a part of the auctioning, Disney cast members will get a chance to purchase some of the titles once they go up for auction on July 4th. While I was there in March, there were various games needing some repairs but the selection was still quite impressive.
— Orlando Park News (@OrlParkNews) June 20, 2017
Galloping Ghost Arcade Reaches 600th Game Milestone
This week, the Galloping Ghost Arcade in Brookfield, IL celebrated an amazing milestone as they welcome their 600th game to the floor. While that is not 600 cabinets (multi-games go into the count…however they do not operate MAME or some of those other weird “60-in-1” style boards to cheat), it is still a very impressive marker. It further soldifies their achievement as the largest video arcade in the world. The game to mark the event was the very rare Sega Star Wars from 1993. It was rare enough here in the States that most gamers only know this game from the solid console port on the not-exactly-beloved Sega 32X.
— SEGAbits (@SEGAbits) June 19, 2017
Nintendo’s Sky Skipper Unveiled At The Southern Fried Game Expo 2017
You might recall that back in September of last year, we heard about the discovery of an unreleased Nintendo arcade game by the name of Sky Skipper. There was much more to it than that though as various enterprising collectors have been hard at work on making the game playable for everyone to enjoy this year. At the Southern Fried Gameroom Expo that took place just a few weeks ago, the Sky Skipper Project was happy to show the game off in it’s arcade form for the first time; it was fully playable and on the show floor for anyone willing to wait in line to enjoy. For the full recap with plenty of photos, click here; otherwise you can find the reveal in the video below.
Cosmotrons Teaser Trailer
The indie arcade game Cosmotrons will soon be making a long journey around the country and in anticipation of that, the company has launched this teaser trailer for it. We’ll have some hands-on news of this one next month!
Fry’s Electronics Sells Arcade Buttons Now
There is obviously demand for them then…
— SNDTST (@SND_TST) June 21, 2017
The Sega Arcade Gun Game You Most Want To See Remade Is…
I wouldn’t call this a surprise by any means but Virtua Cop certainly did better than expected…as did Bullet Mark (after I started touting the awesome gun design for that one):
I'm curious – with Sega having remade Daytona USA, which of their arcade light-gun games would you like to see resurrected?
— Arcade Heroes (@arcadeheroes) June 22, 2017
Have a great weekend!
The post Newsbytes: Disney Quest; Galloping Ghost 600; Sky Skipper; Cosmotrons appeared first on Arcade Heroes.
We just received our first glimpses of Stern Pinball’s Star Wars this past week but for arcade operators in the UK, they have already had the chance to play it. Every year in the UK, a couple of distributors there (Electrocoin & UDC) hold an event that allows operators there a chance to come in and play some of the latest games. There are usually surprises to be found at these events and among them this time was Gary Stern and his latest pinball machines:
The new AC/DC reissue, Ghostbusters and Aerosmith were also on hand for visitors to enjoy:
As for Star Wars itself, Kevin Williams snapped a few pics. He states that from the reaction he saw as well as feedback from others, “I think this is going to be big!”. Stern was taking orders for the game but no release date was given yet. I think I mentioned this already but I am partial to the Pro backglass design. Given that the game is trying to cover all of the original trilogy as opposed to a single film, this seems to best capture those elements into one piece.
Here is the playfield, a Pro model of course
Close-up of the video screen where you can also see the “Prototype” wording for the game.
The post Star Wars Pinball Appears At The Park Avenue Open Day (UK) appeared first on Arcade Heroes.
Around the beginning of this month, we heard some credible, hot rumors that Stern Pinball’s next release was going to be Star Wars. Star Wars has been done multiple times on the pinball side of the business but it has been a while. With the current excitement about the franchise reaching a fever pitch, it was only a matter of time for it to happen again.
Star Wars Pinball Revealed
The reveal came through a video posted to Stern’s Facebook page where the Star Wars Show got the exclusive info about the game to share with the world. I will attempt to embed the video here but if it doesn’t work embedded, click here and jump to about 1:20 in:
There will be three editions of the game, a Pro, Premium and Limited Edition, all celebrating the 40th anniversary of the franchise. Designed by Steve Ritchie, the game also focuses on the original trilogy (sorry Prequel and Newquel fans) and will feature two LCD screens (images show the Pro with a 2nd LCD but video says it’s only on the Premium and LE), sculpted toys including the Millennium Falcon, TIE Fighters and the Death Star. The Death Star toy is more elaborate on the Premium/LE models as it will “explode” (open…not all over the place) and those models also feature a Hyperspace ramp feature.
Here’s an image making the rounds, showing the design team with a pair of SW units:
As of this writing, official images and details have not been released by Stern yet but I imagine we’ll get that stuff within the next day or so. The footage shown there comes from what appears to be a “Behind the Scenes” video that Stern has been doing lately so I imagine we’ll also see that soon. The images above also give us plenty to chew on – I’m seeing love and hate for it online at the moment although I’m sure anything people want will be covered with plentiful amounts of mods.
While pricing and availability are unknown at the moment, those are details we’ll know soon – I would guess by the timing of the announcement, units will start showing up on location around July.
With the upcoming release of Sega’s Daytona Championship USA and the news of an 8-unit location test, it gave me an idea that should have been covered before for those slow news days…
The 8-player arcade setup
Some modern arcade racing titles offer this as a part of their feature set but it is not very common to find a location that decides to go all out on it. This requires quite a bit of space as well as an investment that lands somewhere around the $70,000-$80,000 price range given current prices. But if you do come across one and a group of players to fill it out, the only other experience out there quite like it would be a LAN party.
Seeing games setup in such a manner is also quite impressive – something that becomes an attraction piece by itself. I rarely have found such setups locally but large FECs or theme parks often have them as a showcase piece.
So let’s take a tour down memory lane to look at those few games in the business that have offered up to eight players, pleasing crowds in arcades everywhere.
Note: Finding games under this classification is no easy task since most used networking to achieve the effect. Many arcade archive resources do not list the number of total players or they are incorrect so one has to look at each flyer to figure it out. Even then it is not a sure-fire way to discover the information. I’ve been finding out often as of late that many marketing people of the past failed at their jobs – tell me what the machine can do and make it look nice. That’s all they needed to do. Instead, it was focused on making it look nice instead of selling you on the product with features. It shouldn’t be that hard but apparently it was/is in many instances. /rant
Where I’ve looked through hundreds of game profiles and flyers and it’s probable that I missed something from a smaller company out there but this should cover the big ones. If I have missed any, please let me know in the comments.
The gaming pioneer is generally known for games like Pong, Breakout and Asteroids but among the many firsts they created, 8-player local gaming is one of them. This started with Indy 800 in 1975, using a behemoth of a cabinet that featured a steering wheel and set of foot pedals for each player (2 per side). It used a color monitor so that each racer could distinguish their car from the others; the design also featured angled mirrors so that bystanders could check out the action. The game took up 16 sq. ft. of floor space and sold for $6495 MSRP. Where most games of the time cost $600-$1300, it was a bold move but if you found one it was awesome.
Atari would follow-up with the design the following year in Tank 8, one of the few non-racing 8-player titles out there and again in 1977 with Sprint 8. This one would feature a clutch for each user and it also introduced AI racers to fill in empty slots so that even a single player could enjoy the action.
After that, I’m not aware of anyone producing an octo-player machine as Golden Age gaming would focus on single player experiences or in taking turns between 1-2 players.
That would change forever in 1987 when Namco and Atari Games joined forces to produce Final Lap. Set in the Pole Position ‘universe’, it was a Formula-1 racing game with great graphics for the time. Sold in Twin models, operators could purchase four twins and connect them for 8-player mayhem. Final Lap sequels (Final Lap 2,3 and R) would retain this feature although Namco would sell them on their own. Atari & Namco would also go on to do the same thing with the Namco created ATV racer Four Trax (1989), which was among the few games of the time to feature swivel seat controllers.
I am aware of developments that aimed to link cabinets together prior to Final Lap (such as Atari’s Tomcat in 1983 or Midway’s Predators in 1986) but since they never were released, they don’t get the glory
After this, Atari wouldn’t focus much on 8-player gaming but there were exceptions. 1992 saw the release of their first-person space combat game Space Lords. It features a two 25″ screen cabinet and two player controls per screen allowing four users to get in on the action; you could link two of these together to reach the 8. 1996 would see the launch of Atari’s last great racing series, San Francisco Rush Extreme Racing. This and the sequels (Alcatraz Edition and 2049) supported such group play when linked. I only came across a quad-set of 2049s back-in-the-day but I’m sure there was a location or two out there which invested in the full set. The only other game I found that carried the Atari name along with this feature is Road Burners, released in 1999.
Since Namco were the ones to develop and release the 8-linked cabinet concept, let’s see what else they got into. We already mentioned Final Lap and Four Trax so no need to rehash those.
Surprisingly, while Namco kickstarted the whole networking effort, they did not stay on the bandwagon with very many games. This is one area where I could be missing some titles but all I came across after Four Trax is Suzuka 8 Hours, the first title being released in 1992 and the sequel the year afterwards; one of their their ‘answers’ to Virtua Racer in Ace Driver (1994); then that same year was Ridge Racer 2 (the first one apparently did not support such linking) and finally Rave Racer in 1995. Their modern racing games such as the Mario Kart series, Dead Heat & Nirin only went as high as four linked.
One exception has been their Mobile Suit Gundam (2007) series, which pioneered Namco’s use of dome screen projection technology. With 4v4 battles, this certainly stands out among the pack as it isn’t a racer and also showcased some high-tech prowess.
Sega was a very busy company in the latter half of the 80s but while Namco and Atari launched titles with said feature, Sega took their time until the right concepts and tech came along. When they started however, they went all the way, launching numerous titles one after the other that operators could run in such a large configuration. As you will notice, Sega has long held a fascination for offering games in such a configuration although they do tend to keep that focus almost exclusively on racing titles.
Sega’s first 8-player concepts came about through “Medium Scale Attractions” like the Sega Super Circuit (1988) or the Cyber Dome (1992) light-gun theater game. This page at Sytem16.com shows how many of Sega’s early 90s attractions focused on creating events for up to 8 players but we’ll try and keep the focus more on arcade machines. The Sega Super Circuit also did use arcade cabinets for each player, it just had that massive race track that the RC cars were riding on…
Apart from those attractions, Sega would really jump into the ‘eight’ idea on an arcade level with their marquee title Virtua Racing in 1992. Launching the entire series of ‘Virtua’ titles, Virtua Racing also set the standard for 3D gaming at the time. Sure the polygons were flat-shaded instead of textured but they screamed along at 60 FPS. With excellent track design and handling, others in the game business hoped to match what VR achieved but often fell short. Also in 1992 we saw Sega release Virtua Formula, Stadium Cross (for some dirt bike fun), F1 Super Lap (raster graphics instead of polys) and Out Runners. The latter title being a part of the popular OutRun series and the first among the pack to offer multiplayer.
In 1994 we reach what is perhaps the most recognizable 8-link capable game of them all. When I asked about your favorite 8-player racing game on our social media, Daytona USA dominated. This is for good reason – I’ve heard stories of locations where players would organize their own tournaments – operators noticed and made it more official. Then of course you had locations grabbing 8 units with the Tournament setup (which used an additional screen on top of each game) and featured an attendant station. The odd attempt to revive Daytona USA without the name in Sega Racing Classic supported it of course. The official sequel, Daytona USA 2 (1998), could also support 8 linked units but they upped the ante by offering a maximum of 16; the pseudo-sequel in Scud Race / Super GT (1996) likewise supported 8. Sega of today is hoping to re-capture that same spirit with Daytona Championship USA, which has the Party Mode and display marquee built into each game.
Sega would have a difficult time recapturing that same “lighting in a bottle” that Daytona seemed to have about it with subsequent racing titles but that didn’t stop many games from allowing the feature. In 1995 we had Indy 500 (of which a deluxe 8-player version graced the Gameworks in Las Vegas for many years); Cool Riders and Manx TT; 1996 enjoyed the releases of Boat Race and Sega Touring Car Championship amidst the aforementioned release of Scud Race. After that, they did seem to pull back from the quantity of games that offered the feature, the end of the millennium and the beginning of a new one getting F355 Challenge (1999), Club Kart (2000) and NASCAR Arcade (2000).
For all of these racers, one might figure that it was the only game style that Sega could do with the idea but it wasn’t. In 2000, they launched Alienfront Online. This also promised to support cross-platform play with the Dreamcast although I’m not sure if that ever really , would also support it. I’ve had a hard enough time finding an AFO that I would be surprised if anyone did go for a full set of 8.
In 2001 Sega would introduce Derby Owners Club. While this was a racing game in a sense, it wasn’t quite like their vehicular titles of the past. Players used data cards to build up their horses then race them on the track. This spawned some sequels and proved to be rather popular, a similar design was used the following year but for soccer in Sega’s World Club Champion Football (which also spawned some sequels).
Also in unique setups, Sega would release an 8-player version of Pengo to Japanese arcades in 2008…too bad it never made it over here.
After that, Sega would not really dabble with the idea like they did in the 90s but there have been exceptions. There was OutRun 2 SP SDX (2004), which introduced an interesting driver-switching system that was also used four years later in Hummer Deluxe. Their console-to-arcade port of Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing Arcade (2011) supported it and so has the Wahlap-developed Storm Racer G. I believe that the most recent versions of Initial D support it but am not 100% sure when that began.
Either way, they might not have been the first to bring such an idea to market but Sega certainly has been a driving force behind it for more than 20 years.
While the 8-player feature has not always been heavily promoted by the company, American developer Raw Thrills has put the feature into several of their games. It started with The Fast And The Furious Super Bikes in 2006, followed by other titles in the FnF series (Tokyo Drift and Super Cars). Apart from FnF games, titles like H2Overdrive (2009); Dirty Drivin (2011); Winter X Games Snocross (2012); and Moto GP (2015); have all supported it, as does the brand new Cruis’n Blast.
I don’t recall seeing any of these games setup in such a configuration at a trade show but I have come across photos of locations with that many units together. H2Overdrive is one that comes to mind although I cannot find the picture at the moment.
Other companies that have released a game or two that can operate in such a configuration includes Taito with Chase Bombers (1994); Konami with Racing Force (1994) and Motor X (2009); and Global VR with both of their EA Sports NASCAR releases (2007 & 2010). Surprisingly, companies with big names like Midway/Williams or Exidy did not produce any, as far as I can find.
UPDATE: Thanks to a commentor, I missed the one Capcom game to offer such a feature, Super Street Fighter II: Tournament Edition. This is the first and only fighting game that allows multiple linked cabinets (beyond the typical two for “Versus” style play) to combine for an 8-player single elimination bracket tournament.
We could throw out some honorable mentions, such as interactive motion theaters like the XD Dark Ride, the Simuline Valkyrie or UNIS’ Galactic Force. Where they are somewhere around $300k+, you don’t come across them very often but they are tailored towards eight people.
Extending the ‘honors’, the new Killer Queen Arcade, which supports up to 10 people at once. That of course means that 8-play is possible. There are some select games out there that support eight people taking turns like Golden Tee but not all versions of that game feature that and this is one of those things that their website and sales brochures don’t bother to detail for some reason. Then, there are some games which get close with six players, such as X-Men Deluxe and The Grid.
For you, have you played an arcade game in this configuration with that many people? Which game is your favorite when setup this way?
Stern Pinball has been busy lately . Naturally they are working on new games but until those are announced, there are other items to look into. Here’s their latest:
The Making of Aerosmith Pinball
This past weekend, hey released this new making of Aerosmith Pinball video to Youtube. In case you wanted to see how the game came together, talking to individuals like game designer John Borg or programmer Lonnie Ropp They touch on what it was about Aerosmith’s music that influenced them in the design but also about the greater freedom they have in making animations now that the company has upgraded to full color displays.
Colored Bottom Arches
Stern really seems to be getting into the mod circuit, now offering colored bottom arches to switch out on your pins to give them a little more life. I imagine if you combine these with a ball through LED lighting mod that these would look great in the right machine and the right color of lighting. There are four colors available at present and if you’re interested in grabbing on for $100+shipping, click here
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