Thursday, 10 December 2015

The Force Awakens

In the run up to the new movie, I’ve been revisiting the Star Wars arcade games.  Ever since the 1983 Atari vector release, arcade gamers have been able to pilot an X-Wing and blow up the Death Star.  Unless of course they are shot down by TIE fighters or laser fire.  Here are some videos of Star Wars arcade games I’ve played this year, showing how iconic battle scenes have developed over the years.

Star Wars
Year of release: 1983
Developer: Atari, Inc.
Hardware: Atari Star Wars Vector Hardware
Cabinet: Stand-up and Cockpit
Location played: Funspot, Hayland Island, Hampshire – Cockpit

I can’t remember seeing / playing this back in the day, but I did have the home conversion on my Amstrad CPC 464.  It was awesome playing the original all these years later.  The game is immersive and really captures the feel of the movie.  I was especially impressed by the sound and speech.  I imagine playing the game when it was released was quite an experience, similar to how Battle Pod feels today.

Return Of The Jedi
Year of release: 1984
Developer: Atari, Inc.
Hardware: Atari 6502 Colour Raster Hardware
Cabinet: Stand-up and Cockpit
Location played: NERG 2015 – Stand-up

First played at NERG 2015, I found this game fun but very difficult.  Being able to nudge the enemies into hazards is a nice touch.  After destroying the Death Star reactor, I just couldn’t escape the explosion and fly the Millenium Falcon to safety, more practice needed!

Star Wars Trilogy Arcade
Year of release: 1998
Developer: Sega-AM5
Hardware: Sega Model 3 Step 2.1
Cabinet: Stand-up and Deluxe sit-down
Location played: Potters Leisure Resort, Hopton, Great Yarmouth – Stand-up

The game is an on-rails shooter, with missions based on the original trilogy.  I enjoyed this game when it came out, and still play a few credits whenever I see one.  The model 3 powered graphics look fantastic, and the player even gets to wield a lightsaber in the bonus sections to combat Boba Fett and Darth Vader.



Duel with Boba Fett

Endor Forest

Duel with Darth Vader

Star Wars Racer Arcade
Year of release: 2000
Developer: Sega-AM5
Hardware: Sega Hikaru
Cabinet: Sit-down and Deluxe sit-down
Location played: NERG 2015 – DLX / Claremont pier, Lowestoft – Sit-down

The game does an amazing job at recreating the pod racing sequence form The Phantom Menace.  I remember when this first appeared in the arcades and was blown away by the Hikaru powered graphics and unique controls.  The game is loads of fun and the graphics still impress today.

Tatooine – Easy

Etti IV – Normal

Malastare - Hard

Tatooine – Expert

Star Wars Battle Pod

Year of release: 2015
Developer: Bandai Namco Entertainment
Hardware: Full HD projector with custom designed lens projects image output from in-house developed main board, System ES3+.  This is pretty much the same PC-based hardware that Mario Kart DX runs on.
Cabinet: In addition to the cabinet currently in arcades, “Premium Edition” and “Flat Screen Edition” have also been announced.  More information on these as well as current cabinet locations can be found here:
Location played: Hollywood Bowl, Norwich

As you sit in the cockpit and push the throttle lever forward, you feel a blast of air over your face as the ship accelerates and the mission begins.  With stunning graphics and dome screen technology, this is about as close as you can get to actually being in the movies.  Comparing the Death Star trench run to the first Star Wars release shows just how far technology has come.  The action is fast and frantic, my only gripe is that the player has to pay to continue, even after successful completion of a level.  The only level I haven’t managed to clear yet is Vader’s Revenge.  This level lets you play as Darth Vader and takes place right after the Death Star is destroyed.  I’d love to see the game get an update with an Episode VII level.

Yavin - Easy

Hoth - Medium

Endor - Medium

Death Star II - Hard

Vader’s Revenge - Extreme

Missing in action or frozen in carbonite?

Unfortunately this is not a complete list of Star Wars arcade games.  I’m missing two titles:

Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back
Year of release: 1985
Developer: Atari, Inc.
Hardware: Atari Star Wars Vector Hardware
Cabinet: Stand-up and Cockpit

This was released as a conversion kit for the original game.  I’ve never seen / played it.

Star Wars Arcade
Year of release: 1993
Developer: Sega-AM3
Hardware: Sega Model 1
Cabinet: Deluxe sit-down
This is the first Star Wars arcade title that I remember playing.  As usual, the distinctive Model 1 powered graphics look great and do a fantastic job at recreating the Star Wars universe.  I played this a lot at The Mint arcade in Great Yarmouth and haven’t seen one since it disappeared from the arcade.  Limited quantities were imported into Europe and the USA, but the game wasn’t officially released outside Japan.  The reason behind this is unclear.  One rumour was that Sega run out of Model 1 boards.  Another one was that Sega had a license issue with LucasArts and that machines had to be destroyed in Japan. 

Thursday, 3 December 2015

Revival Winter Warmer 2015

Last weekend I went along to Revival Winter Warmer 2015, held at Brookfields Leisure Centre, Wolverhampton on the 28th and 29th November.  The event had a friendly atmosphere and a great mix of arcade, pinball and console games.  Arcade wise, highlights include DoDonPachi, Donkey Kong, Final Fight, Midnight Resistance, OutRun and Turbo OutRun, Rainbow Islands and Space Launcher.


I really enjoyed playing Midnight Resistance and Rainbow Islands on the little Sega cabinets.  The Midnight Resistance custom cab was especially awesome with its fantastic artwork and played brilliantly.  It was great playing the arcade original on such a cool little machine.
The arcade driving game section had a nice selection of titles.  It was cool seeing the OutRun and Turbo OutRun Mini cabinets side by side.
I also got to try out a few pinball tables.  Metallica was a definite favourite.
There was a nice selection of traders selling various retro collectibles, although I’m still a little gutted about just missing out on that Donkey Kong board game.  Rastermania was back selling a selection of PCB’s, MVS and various arcade parts.
An awesome weekend of gaming, bring on Revival 2016!