Tournament Table (1978)

atari-tournament-table-01

Tournament Table was an arcade game released by Atari in 1978. It seems to borrow heavily from Video Olympics, a video game released in 1977 for the Atari VCS (2600). I have no memory of seeing or playing this game while at my local arcades. As I believe I have mentioned before it wasn’t until the early 80’s that I really started visiting the arcades and by then I had missed a lot of the older black and white games. Also Pong and its descendants had seemed like pretty old technology by then and although I did play a fair amount of it on my stand-alone console at home I don’t think it would have been one I would have sought out with all the others games competing for my quarter. That being said it is a lot of fun now when I have people over. It is not a game people gravitate to but once I talk 3 others into playing a round it proves that pong can still be a lot of fun.

Tournament Table is a collection of 12 ball and paddle games in a cocktail style cabinet with a 19” black and white monitor and can be played by 1,2 or 4 players. There are four sets of controls, one for each player, and each consists of a spinner and an option button. Depending on the game the option button can do different things. It can be used to whammy, catch or jump. Whammy changes the speed and direction of the ball, catch allows the player to hold the ball on the paddle and jump is used in volleyball and basketball to make the players paddle jump vertically on the screen. Another interesting note is that the game PCB is based on modified Atari VCS (2600) hardware. It uses the same 6507 processor, the TIA also known as Stella and a couple of RIOT chips (Ram –I/O-Timer).

Below is the list of the games available along with what the option button does and the number of players.

tournament-games

Instead of trying to describe each variation I’m going to ask you to please watch the video which should save me a lot of typing. Yes there are a lot of similarities between all the versions but I tried to point out the differences. One thing I feel doesn’t come through in the video because I play each game for such a small amount of time is the ball speed really starts to pick up as you volley back and forth and adds quite a bit to the excitement.

I believe in general the older black and white games are harder to find out in the wild so it may not be easy for you to play this arcade game but if you have an Atari 2600 with Breakout and Video Olympics you can get really close. I really enjoy Pong and wanted to make sure I had one in my arcade collection and I hope I did this game justice here.

blinddog

I'm a kid of the 70's and 80's. Grew up on Saturday morning cartoons, Atari and Music Videos. My current hobby is repairing arcade games, mostly from the 70's and trying to find space to put them.

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4 thoughts on “Tournament Table (1978)

  1. “I believe in general the older black and white games are harder to find out in the wild…” That makes sense to me. I imagine they were on the bottom of the list of stuff to save because of the lack of color. Therefore, most were trashed or simply lost.

    Nice write up & video.

  2. blinddog says:

    yes that seems to be the case these games were made to be out on location for a year maybe 2 if they were lucky. There size makes them hard to store (trust me I know that) so I can imagine the old black and white games were one of the first to go. Shame really because there are quite a few that are really fun. Some that I never knew existed because they were before the big video boom in the early 80s. That’s really the reason I do these write ups and bring them to shows, gives people the chance to play them and make sure there not forgotten in the video game history.

  3. Dudley88 says:

    Thanks for sharing that, blinddog. I’m a ’70s kid, and can see how playing that game with some friends and some drinks could make for an entertaining evening. I remember well when the pong-type games were the ONLY video games available (we referred to them as TV games), but they were a heckuva lot of fun at the time.

  4. BlindDog, another fantastic article. I wish you could see how my face lights up when I see you’ve something new to share with us all! :)

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