In October of 1992 Mortal Kombat was released by Midway Games. Did you know however that Midway Games was also working on another title well known for over the top violence? The Judge Dredd arcade game was developed around the same time as Mortal Kombat II. In fact as you can plainly see below, one could spot Goro on a leash. However the game while reaching the prototype stage was ultimately cancelled.
Using the same motion capture technology that would make Mortal Kombat stand out. The developers even used the same hardware from Mortal Kombat II. Also of interest is the Judge Dredd arcade game was intended to be a 3 player game. The team even used a control panel from 1988’s Narc when designing the prototype cabinets. Of which there were apparently four made before the game was axed due in part to low test numbers.
The title was obviously part of the beat ’em up genre. Similar in concept to games like Streets of Rage and it’s predecessor Final Fight. Although having said that the Judge Dredd arcade game appears to have had some interesting design choices. For example your attacks weren’t limited to just left and right, but up and down as well. Naturally it gives the brawler more of the feel of a 3D environment.
Then we have the fact the game captures a lot of what makes the comic book character so awesome. The digitized speech as well as the myriad background nods to the series are evident. In particular, I am rather fond of the ‘No Drowning’ proclamation in the sewer level.
Now when I first stumbled upon video of the gameplay I just assumed it was produced for the Judge Dredd film in ’95. It turns out that is partially true as the film had just been announced. But the fact of the matter is that Midway had struck gold with another film turned video game. That was of course 1991’s Terminator 2: Judgement Day!
Friends, surprisingly enough the Judge Dredd arcade game was also inspired by the popularity of Konami’s TMNT game. While the game itself never made it to mass production, we have those geniuses at Chicago’s arcade mecca Galloping Ghost to thank for making an actual cabinet. In fact, in the 2015 video below you can hear owner and head guru Doc Mack talking about the game itself.
Two years after Rampage “hit” (pardon the pun) arcades, Midway’s big monsters made their way to the small screen in Data East’s 1988 version of Rampage for the NES. Rampage was ported to most home computers and game systems, each of which losing details (some small, some large) along the way. The NES version dropped Ralph the werewolf, retaining Lizzie the Lizard and George the Gorilla. It also dropped a bit of quality. The game is playable, but it’s not the best home version by far.
Unlike the arcade version (which required quarters to continue) or some of the other ports that limited the amount of times a player could continue, Rampage for the NES allowed players to continue as many times as they wanted, until their their thumbs went numb or the played through all 128 of the game’s levels.
Sea Wolf is one of my favorite games and the first arcade I remember playing. It was released by Midway in 1976 and was based on two earlier Electro-Mechanical games called Sea Devil and Sea Raiders. I have to say Midway really knew how to dress up these early games. The whole cabinet is covered in an underwater motif complete with submarines. It even had a step built into the bottom of the cabinet that could be pulled out and used by children. Like my last game, Blue Shark, Sea Wolf could also be categorized as a shooting gallery game. The game has a periscope mounted to the front of it that you can turn left and right and use to aim and shoot at the passing boats. Once again I made a video of mine in action. The sounds from this game are very memorable to me.
The object of the game is to sink as many enemy boats as you can in a limited amount of time. You can fire 4 torpedoes before you have to pause and reload which takes a few seconds. There are three types of boats: the freighter worth 100 points, the warship worth 300 points and the smaller quicker PT boats worth 700 points. You must avoid the mines that float below the boats and get in your way. You don’t lose any points for hitting them but you don’t receive any either. If you reach a determined score you will receive an extended time bonus and will give you 20 seconds to try and get more points. The game time and extended time bonus are set by the operator of the game but the suggested factory settings are 60 seconds for the game length and 4000 for the time bonus.
Sea Wolf was pretty popular and they made quite a few so they are out there and hopefully you get a chance to play one. Keep an eye out for local arcade shows that will be your best chance. It was also ported to a few home systems like the Bally Astrocade, the Commodore 64 and Atari 8 bit family. Of course none of these used the periscope you just move your sub left and right at the bottom of the screen but the game play is close. Recently a redemption version of the game with updated graphics became available in the arcades.
As I was busy searching for a particularly nasty program on the Game Grid last night I came across this wonderful piece of Box Art for Omega Race, this is the Atari 2600 port of the arcade game, which was programmed by Ron Haliburton and released by Midway to the arcades back in 1981.
Omega Race was apparently the only Vector Graphics title that Midway released but I’ll be honest, I never bumped into in any of the local arcades in my neck of the woods. Home ports of the game were also released to the Colecovision, VIC-20, and the Commodore 64. So far Midway has failed to include Omega Race in any of it’s Midway Arcade Treasure collections.
The Atari 2600 port also included a free “Booster-Grip” Joystick Adaptor to aid in a closer feel of the arcade game, a button for firing the ships lasers and the second button for thrust.
Judging from this video it looks like a simple but fun game, feels a little like Asteroids.