Battlestar Galactica

Atari Was Making A Battlestar Galactica Laserdisc Game?!

Battlestar Galactica was required viewing in my youth. Of course it didn’t hurt the television series that in 1978 everyone was in the grip of Star Wars fever. In fact I I saw the Battlestar Galactica movie, which was an abridged version of the TV pilot, at the 62 Drive-In of my youth.

ReMastered By JDG

My notebooks at school were chock full of doodles featuring Stormtroopers as well as Cylon Warriors. Although I regret to say that I wasn’t lucky enough to receive very many of the toys. However I did get my hands on Mattel’s Cylon Centurion figure. Moreover it became a rival bounty hunter for Boba Fett in my Star Wars toy universe.

So in other words, I was a pretty big fan of the short lived Battlestar Galactica series. What I was not remotely aware of until yesterday though, was that Atari had plans on a laserdisc game. I found out about it thanks to Patrick Barnes who posted on the Diary of An Arcade Employee Facebook Page. It was back in 1984 that Atari began work on a conversion kit for another of their laserdisc titles – Firefox.

Image courtesy of the Arcade Flyer Archive.

Sadly the Battlestar Galactic arcade game never saw the light of day. On the positive side at least there exists this test footage of the proposed arcade title.


Uploaded by Scottith Games to his YouTube account!

Furthermore he shares an interview with a designer of the game. Owen Rubin who worked on such classic games as Battlezone, Space Duel and Major Havoc:
“With Galactica, it was my idea originally as I was a Galactica fan obviously, (those are Cylon ships in Major Havoc, and the graphics displays in the tactical display were drawn like in Galactica as well), the guys who did Star Wars and Firefox started the project. I did a small amount of work as well. All that was really done was some footage on the laserdisc that let you land a fighter ship into one of the landing bays on either side of the large ship.

The video on the disc is recorded in such a way that playing it back would look like garbage. It is a bunch of still frames that you play out of order so that you can change what you are playing seamlessly. For example, the landing footage is one of 9 to 16 or so frames from different positions as you approach the landing bay. Imaging a 3×3 of 4×4 grid of possible positions you can approach from, with the center being straight on. If you fly straight, the program would display every 9th frame which was the video of flying straight.
Battlestar Galactica - Landing Bay
If you moved right, you would select the proper “frame view” and it would look like you moved in the video to the right, and now play every 9th “right position 1″ video frame in order. With this scheme, you could fly in 2 dimensions with the joystick while the game pushed you forward in the third as well, controlled by a throttle.”

It most certainly isn’t every single day that you learn about such a video game project. I want to thank Patrick Barnes once again as well as Scottith Games for documenting what might be lost arcade game history.

Now that you’ve learned about the Battlestar Galactica arcade game. How about you watch the 1998 trailer for the reboot of the series that the late and great Richard Hatch conceived?

[Via] Peter Noble

Cabin Fever

Retro Guy’s Winter Day: Cabin Fever – VC & RVG #9

Cabin Fever…a lot of us suffer from it during the winter. Even people who usually spend most of their time indoors playing retro video games as well as messing around with vintage computers.
Cabin Fever

So I decided to make a video of how I usually pass a winter’s day and fight off cabin fever.

For this ninth video of Vintage Computers & Retro Video Games – I’m joined once again by my robot friend, Robie Junior from Radio Shack.

[Via] Justin Salvato

When I’m not working on my boxing website, boxing4free.com. I am in fact scrounging the internet and thrift shops for vintage computer systems & retro gaming consoles. When you have the time make sure to visit my personal YouTube page for more retro fun.

Red Quarters

The Mystery Of The Red Quarters…Solved!

When I originally thought of writing about red quarters, I had three examples ready to be photographed as accompanying artwork.

However, when you have a young son who is fascinated with arcade games, ticket redemption machines and all manner of gumball dispensers, keeping quarters handy is difficult.
Red Quarters

So, just imagine that this is a photo of a real red quarter taken on my dining room table, and not one I grabbed online this morning.

Have you ever sorted through your change and found an older quarter painted red, or the remnants of red paint that has been worn away during a few decades in someone’s pocket or change jar? Congratulations! There is a good chance that you are holding a piece of arcade history.

First of all, let me point out that there are a few alternative origins that are possible – but, not as neat as the arcade connection. Red quarters are also used for free laundromats and the occasional jukebox at the local tavern, but with change machines more available in 2017, and the increasing prices of these services, dollar bills are used much more often.

Red quarters are known as “shills” or “house coins.” When I managed an Aladdin’s Castle arcade back in the early 1990s, I called them “freebies.”

Arcade machines are amazing pieces of technology. From the start button, to the circuitry, to the joysticks, to the screen and speakers, millions of bits of high-tech electronic signals are bouncing around inside that pressboard cabinet before “Ready Player One” ever appears in colorful, pixilated glory to you.

But, before the credit button can ever be activated, the quarter has to make its way from your pocket through a series of mechanical twists and turns before the game recognizes your offering as a legitimate form of payment. Along the way, there are many places for your quarter to become lodged or even fall through to the coin collection box without giving you a credit to start the game.

If your arcade didn’t have an attendant back then, you usually just kicked or beat the coin door in a futile attempt to make it either accept the quarter – or generously return it to you. This usually never, ever worked.

Arcade attendants were the best people that minimum wage could hire at the time. While many could be trusted to open the front doors on time, most arcade owners did not trust their minions with keys to the coin doors or collection boxes.

When a customer complained about not receiving credit for their coin, an attendant would use a red-painted quarter in the slot to make the game work. If it did, the customer could then play their game and smile. If the game still did not work, an “Out of Order” sign would be placed over the screen until a repair technician could render first aid.

When it came time to count the game’s coin box each week, the red quarters would be sorted out from the silver ones and returned to the attendants to use again. They wouldn’t be counted as income and the arcade owner’s accountant would celebrate and rejoice at the reduction of paperwork.

At Aladdin’s Castle, we also used painted quarters, but only for the Rowe change machine or crane game. Our attendants had access to the coin mechanisms because tokens were used to credit the machines instead of cash – and our accountants rejoiced at the reduction of paperwork.

Why the red paint? Red paint stands out better in a sea of silver coins in the automatic counter, and in many cases, it’s also the only shade of nail polish that a female employee had handy at the time.

The next time you spot a red quarter, and the date on it is from before 1992, there is a very good chance that it was used to make someone’s arcade experience a happy one. Keep the cycle going and use it to credit-up the next video game you come across!
Retro New Year's Eve - 2016

Alpha Mission 2

Suit Up, Hold Your Breath and Stand Ready for the Unbelievable Alpha Mission 2

Surely they meant Beta Mission?

One of the things that makes “retro gaming” so much fun for me is being able to use the internet to look back at how the game was perceived at the time. I enjoy playing the games, but looking back at old magazine reviews, seeing the hype and marvelling at the advertising; that’s what I really love about the hobby.

Except when you can’t do those things. Alpha Mission II, or Armored Scrum Object II: Last Guardian if you’re in Japan, is a brilliant shoot-em-up. It’s also a game that defies the logic that the internet is the source of all knowledge.

Alpha Mission 2 Box Art

You can find a few magazine scans, box art images and other material from its release in 1991. But, compared to other games produced for the MVS and Neo Geo platforms, Alpha Mission 2 is remarkable because of the lack of hype.

That’s surprising for a sequel, especially when they had such a good backstory…

The lunar nightmare of a bloody 200-year space war was thought to be over in the “original” ALPHA MISSION. But now with the advent of more technically sophisticated weapons, the evil “Fulvar” and his “Seven Star Alliance” have returned to destroy all planets that stand in their way of the ultimate target… Earth! Now in the year of 2525! Your mission as pilot of the new SYD-FX fighter is to use every weapon at your disposal to rid the galaxy once and for all of the evil that now dominates and threatens Earth. So suit up, hold your breath, and stand ready for unbelievable graphics and stereo sound that’ll suck you into the far reaches of deep, dark inner space. Be prepared… you may never come back!

And how cool does this bad guy look. He’s one of the smallest you’ll fight!

Alpha Mission 2 Baddie

Believe the non-existent hype, Alpha Mission 2 is awesome!

In Alpha Mission 2, you’ll find a smart, visually arresting, vertical shoot-em-up. It’s as tough as nails to stay alive, but you can keep feeding the game credits to see all seven levels. The bosses are magnificent and HUGE. Your ship is the perfect foil for them provided you learn how to use its power. You’ll also find a superb soundtrack beating away in the background.

I really can’t say enough to promote this game. If you still need convincing, this play-through is messy but lets you see everything.

If you don’t have access to the arcade or Neo Geo originals, you can also find the game on Sony’s Playstation Network, playable on PS3 and PSP.

This post continues a new series from me:
An irreverent and artistic A-Z of Neo Geo Gaming.

Atari 2600 cost in 1984

How much did an Atari 2600 cost in 1984?

People who are fans of retro gaming will probably want to add an Atari 2600 to their collection. As they browse the endless numbers of them for sale online, they are probably wondering, how much did they cost “back in the day.” Unsurprisingly, the answer changes by year. Just like all technology, the Atari 2600 got cheaper over time. In 1981 the Atari cost about $130. Jump ahead a few years and things change dramatically. So how much did the Atari 2600 cost in 1984?

Atari 2600 Ad from a 1984 Sears Circular


Atari 2600 cost in 1984 detail

Three years later and the Atari was down to $44.99. Which is over $100 in today’s dollars accounting for inflation. This seems about right when you consider the rapid change in technology and the dreaded, Video Game Crash of 1983. At this point Atari saturation was very high. So I have my doubts that Sears, where this ad is from, would move many of these beautiful “Vader” style models.

When we ask what an Atari 2600 cost in 1984, we also gotta wonder, was it even worth that price? Well for those who saw the NES as the next big thing, probably not. But many of us were still hardcore Atari 2600 fans.

Personally, I was still a big Atari fan in 1984. It would be sometime before I would finally make my move to the NES. When this ad was printed, I was still using my family’s old Woodgrain Atari and would do so until late 1986. When it finally died, I would get an Atari 2600 Jr.

At some point, one of these Vaders made it into my collection, and it is the system I still use most of the time for my gaming.