Welcome back, friends. To the latest episode of the Diary of an Arcade Employee Podcast. This go around I discuss the 1983 classic arcade game, Crystal Castles. Produced of course by Atari, this maze game is certainly one of my favorites. In addition Crystal Castles as you will hear, happens to have been an arcade title that caused me physical pain!
In this episode I of course discuss the notable employees of Atari that created Crystal Castles. As well as giving you the general rundown on the gameplay and interesting tidbits of information about this classic maze game.
Of course I also share some vintage audio related to Crystal Castles for your enjoyment. Moreover I share an exciting bit of news in regards to a game that Atari was working on at the time. But sadly, never released – due to the Video Game crash of 1983. I am pretty sure that like myself you will be blown away by that lost arcade title.
Now I would be remiss in my duties if I failed to mention that Christopher Tupa has created some fantastic artwork for Crystal Castles. Make sure to follow that link provided to learn how you can obtain this piece of artwork for yourself!
If you have any suggestions for future games to cover or comments on the show itself you may email them to me at VicSage@Retroist.com. You can also contact me on Twitter and of course on Facebook. You can also keep up to date on what is going down at the Arkadia Retrocade by making sure to “Like” their Facebook Page. If you need a daily fix you can check out the Official Diary of an Arcade Employee Facebook Page too.
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Christopher Tupa has certainly chosen an arcade classic with Crystal Castles! His pick for this week’s Retro Arcade Art is another favorite of mine. Developed and released by Atari back in July of ’83. Crystal Castles is an isometric 3D maze game with elements of Pac-Man. While the protagonist of Crystal Castles might seem cartoonish, the game is anything but child’s play!
Crystal Castles may indeed have some elements of 1980’s Pac-Man. It however in fact started out as being a 3D version of another very popular Atari game. In this case I am referring to the 1979 title – Asteroids.
While it might be a little hard to believe that Crystal Castles started out as an intergalactic shooter. I think it’s more than fair to say that the change in gameplay was a wise choice. With it’s fantasy elements I feel it certainly helped to make the game stand out. Besides, the character of Bentley Bear is more endearing than a starship, right?
CTupa’s latest pick for his Retro Arcade Art project marks the first title to feature the trackball. Which puts it on par with other Atari arcade classics like Missile Command, Centipede, and Marble Madness. In addition to allowing on the fly precision control while helping Bentley Bear through the 3D mazes.
The trackball games also were known to cause severe pinching in some cases. At the very least I can attest to this when I frequently played Crystal Castles at my local Showbiz Pizza!
The gameplay is pretty simple. The Player attempts to help Bentley pick up the number of gems that are strewn across the maze floors of each level. All the while avoiding coming into contact with various and colorful foes. Gem Eaters, Ghosts, Skeletons, Nasty Trees, ravenous Crystal Balls, as well as Berthilda the Witch. Who enjoys nothing more than chasing poor Bentley Bear around the 3D maze once a stage is cleared of gems.
On each stage the Players are in kind of a race to pick up as many gems as they can. Some of the foes like the Nasty Trees, Crystal Balls, and of course the Gem Eaters – will devour any of the colorful gems they travel over. Any contact with a foe will normally result in the loss of a life. However in the case of the Gem Eaters, when they are pausing to swallow a gem. If Bentley runs smack into them he will actually defeat this particular foe.
In truth, Bentley does not have a lot to protect himself with. However he is able to jump over enemies, which in some cases stuns them. This in fact is easier said than done. All too often if you aren’t careful with the trackball you will leap to safety, only to crash into another enemy. In most mazes there is also a magical hat. Once Bentley dons the oversized wizard’s cap he can race through enemies without fear of losing a life. This of course only lasts for a very limited amount of time.
There is one other bad guy that Bently must be wary of. That is naturally a swarm of very, very angry bees. While the bees do not care a fig for all of the gems in the mazes. They do everything they can to protect the honey pot that temps Bentley with a quick 1000 points. Much like the Nasty Trees, the swarm of bees will literally attempt to track down the Player. Making them very dangerous.
Now that you know the basics of Crystal Castles how about seeing the game in action?
As always with CTupa’s Retro Arcade Art project, you can purchase the artwork featured in this post. The originals are ink and watercolor and are 5″x7″ on 8.5″x11″ size paper. You can hop on over to Christopher’s Official Site to contact him as well as check out more artwork from his project!
Friends, do you remember Inferno from back in 1984? Manufactured and distributed as well by the legendary Williams Electronics. This is another pick from Christopher Tupa for his Retro Arcade Art project that I have not had the pleasure of playing before. With Inferno you certainly have a mix of Wizard of Wor in addition to some Crystal Castles.
Furthermore the control scheme for Inferno has just a hint of Williams’ 1982 arcade hit Robotron 2084!
I should add that most of us do not remember the game. That is of course because it was never widely distributed and it is also believed that only 6 arcade cabinets now exist. Although you can freely find it on MAME as well as the Internet Arcade Archive!
As for the gameplay, you are tasked with dispatching enemies found in the worlds of the Grand Lizard. These enemies which are small multi-colored and known as cyclops, can be shot with your laser.
Doing so will destroy their bodies and leave their black souls behind. Which will then attempt to run into the open maw of the Grand Lizard at the top of the screen. You can make contact with the fleeing monsters and absorb their souls.
Or instead attempt to follow them into the Grand Lizard’s waiting mouth to do battle in the Inferno Wave. Which is essentially a free for all with every bad guy aiming to take you down!
In addition to the Cyclops you must also contend with the Tankov. A sentient tank threat that requires you to blow off its treads while positioned on a lower level of the maze. Then get on an equal level with the demonic tanks remains and shoot it again.
I’m not quite certain how to describe the character of the Nymph. Perhaps it best you just read the description from the game yourself?
Inferno is yet again another example of what made the Golden Age of Arcade games so great. The sometimes throw everything at the wall elements frequently worked in the games favor. Of course sometimes that didn’t work as well. But here we are 33 years later, enjoying CTupa’s artwork that was based on a game that never was widely released, right?
Now remember that with CTupa’s Retro Arcade Art project, you can purchase the artwork featured in this post. The originals are ink and watercolor and are 5″x7″ on 8.5″x11″ size paper. You can hop on over to Christopher’s official site to contact him as well as check out more artwork from his project!
Now that you know a little about Inferno, why not watch the game in action?
Oh the many fond memories I have of playing this classic Atari Trak-Ball arcade game at my local Showbiz Pizza. The first time I got to see this game in action wasn’t at the arcade actually but the TBS arcade game show Starcade, I was immediately hooked by it’s rather cartoon-like visuals and jaunty opening tune.