Bubbles - Christopher Tupa

Retro Arcade Art By CTupa: Bubbles (1982)

Bubbles! Another classic arcade title released by William’s Electronics in 1982. The company was totally on a roll with their games. Each and every release seemed to be a classic between ’82 and ’83. Joust, Moon Patrol, Sinistar and Robotron: 2084 to name a few. Christopher Tupa certainly picked one of my favorite arcade games for his latest Retro Arcade Art project. However, depending on if you go by the fans of classic arcade titles on the internet. It certainly seems that CTupa and myself might be in the minority when it comes to our love of Bubbles!

When Bubbles was being developed, a simple goal was in mind. According to co-creator John Kotlarik: “What I was trying to do with Bubbles was come up with a non-violent, clean game (no pun intended)”.

One would be hard pressed in fact to argue that an anthropomorphic soap bubble isn’t a clean cut gaming icon, right?
Bubbles - Title Screen

Furthermore, Kotlarik as well as William’s Tim Murpy and the legendary Python Anghelo were succesful in injecting personality into the soapy protagonist. Including of course the adding of non-violent nature to Bubbles gameplay. I mean what is the main goal of the game but the cleaning of a dirty kitchen sink?
Bubbles - Bubbles Face

While unlike the standard titles from the Golden Age of arcade games. The Player has no ability to fire a projectile at their enemies nor even any way to truly defend themselves from threats. The Player merely has an 8 way joystick to help navigate past those foes and other deadly obstacles.

In Bubbles the Player starts off as a tiny bubble. Insignificant perhaps but passing over – cleaning – the equally tiny ants and grime will help the Player to grow in size. Eventually forming that smiling face you can see in the image above. Which also allows the the protagonist to make contact with the likes of scrub brushes and sponges without losing a life. Instead of sadly popping – the bubble will bounce back and lose some of it’s size.
Bubbles - Razors

Of course hazards such as the razor blades will always cost a Player a life. Which in turn begs the question of whose sink you cleaning. Maybe Hannibal Lecter?

With Bubbles you must also contend with a pesky roach infestation. The Player is only able to safely touch these foes if they’ve picked up a broom. Which is done by scooping up the cleaning ladies that appear during the stage.
Bubbles - Cleaning Woman

Finishing a level requires the Player to grow in size enough to obtain that smiling face. In which case the center of the drain flashes green. Allowing a Player to skip to the next level. On the other hand if all objects that provide points have managed to slip down the drain or even been cleaned up by those brushes. The Player loses a life and has to replay that stage again.

I mentioned what seems to be a dislike of Bubbles at the beginning of the post. It might very well in fact be a small but vocal group. But of those Players that remember the game that I questioned last week. I will say again – CTupa and myself seem to be a small few who have a fondess for the game.

By the way the first time I played the game myself was at that fabled Showbiz Pizza of my youth. Having said that though, ours wasn’t lucky enough to have one of the beautiful Duramold cabinets. Besides the unique cabinet the control panel also offered different control panel artwork.

Bubbles - Duramold Cabinet - Bubbles Tribute

Friends, this image is courtesy of the Bubbles Tribute page.

Bubbles - Duramold Controls

With a little knowledge of Bubbles under your belt. How about watching the game in action?

[Via] Old Classic Retro Gaming

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!

I hope you won’t forget to check out CTupa’s previous entries in his Retro Arcade Art Project as well!
Retro Arcade Art - Christoper Tupa

Rock-afire Explosion - Billy Bob

At Maker Faire The Rock-afire Explosion Finds New Life!

It should come as no surprise that I’ll talk about the Rock-afire Explosion at the drop of a hat. While Showbiz Pizza is of course a cherished memory for me. It was in fact Creative Engineering’s delightful animatronic band that is such a vivid memory.
Rock-afire Explosion

Well, in addition to all of those video games that Showbiz Pizza provided a vidiot like myself.

Perhaps when you have time you might enjoy my own memories of Showbiz Pizza on the Diary of an Arcade Employee Podcast?

Now the reason we are still talking about the Rock-afire Explosion is because of the work of Creative Engineering. The blood, sweat, and tears that creator Aaron Fechter and his company put into the characters paid off. As a result they obviously transcended their original purpose.

I have mentioned on the Diary Podcast as well as on The Retroist before of my first encounters with the Rock-afire Explosion. It wasn’t just the kids that were being entertained by the likes of Billy Bob’s gentle nature and humor. The adults also were being captivated by the melodious cover songs of the Rock-afire Explosion themselves.

[Via] Fan Programs

Not only did Aaron Fechter and his staff create the band, they also provided the music and voices to the characters. Fechter in fact voiced Billy Bob, Rolfe DeWolfe, Looney Bird, and Earl Schmerle to name a few.

[Via] Rockafire Explosion fan

Now having said all of that, thanks to Caseen Gaines, we have this fantastic YouTube video. Uploaded by Norman Chan of Adam Savage’s Tested, it focuses on Jack Turner at Maker Faire 2017. A young man who in fact with the help of his Father has begun to learn firsthand the amount of work it took Creative Engineering to bring the Rock-afire Explosion to life.
Rock-afire Explosion - Mitzi - Jack Turner

Rock-afire Explosion - Solenoide Valve

As well as restoring the characters, in this case. Billy Bob and also Mitzi Mozzarella, to as near as original working condition as he can. In regards to the parts and method used to bring them to life.

I think the work that Jack Turner has done is of course amazing. However, I would quibble over his statement about Chuck E. Cheese purchasing Showbiz Pizza. As it was in fact the other way around. Due to them attempting to buy the Rock-afire Explosion from Fechter and his obvious refusal. They decided to rebrand everything to Chuck E. Cheese as they owned the rights to it.

Furthermore, regardless of the title to my post. The Rock-afire Explosion are doing quite well. Fechter is releasing brand new YouTube videos featuring his creations. As well as in the case of this video uploaded by Michael’s Short Films. Fans are using Minecraft to bring Dook LaRue’s cover of Heartaches to life!

While it is natural for younger generations to compare the Rock-afire Explosion to Five Nights at Freddy’s. I would have them watch this vintage commercial showing what the characters really do after closing.

[Via] SPP California

Mayer Hawthorne

Mayer Hawthorne’s Dreaming Made Me Lose My Mind!

I’ve not heard of Mayer Hawthorne before today. But to be honest working down in the Retroist Vault means I’m surrounded by about 100 years of retro culture. I find I have no real need to venture up to the surface. Which is the only way I can explain to you how I missed Mayer Hawthorne’s song entitled Dreaming as well as his 2011 album, How Do You Do.
Mayer Hawthorne

In addition to missing Mayer Hawthorne’s album, not to mention Dreaming of course. I also had no idea that he had a music video for it. An absolutely astounding piece of work by Ross Harris featuring Showbiz Pizza’s The Rock-afire Explosion!

I’m not ashamed to admit that many joyful tears started to fill these old eyes watching this video. Not only that, friends. But the video also sneaks in some vintage swag from Showbiz Pizza in regards to the one and only Billy Bob Brockali.

Having pointed that out – Mayer Hawthorne’s video for Dreaming. Also includes the likes of Fatz Geronimo, Mitzi Mozzarella, Beach Bear, Looney Bird, Rolfe DeWolfe and Earl Schemerle, and of course Dook LaRue. Who I must say appears to have an admirer in the video.

For my first Mayer Hawthorne song, I cannot think of a better way to hook me. Granted the song itself is fantastic – has kind of an Electric Light Orchestra vibe to it. Furthermore I think it’s safe to say that Mayer must have been a Showbiz Pizza kid too. There is just too much love shown for the characters of The Rock-afire Explosion for this not to be the case.

[Via] Vevo

Now that you’ve enjoyed Mayer Hawthorne’s Dreaming. Take a moment and listen to The Rock-afire Explosion‘s tribute to the late great Davy Jones.

This video comes courtesy of the The Rock-afire channel and was uploaded after the passing of Jones in 2012. So…you are seeing a new show of sorts!

Diary Of An Arcade Employee Podcast Episode 023 (Congo Bongo)

For the 23rd episode of the Diary of an Arcade Employee Podcast the subject is 1983’s Congo Bongo by SEGA – sort of. On this show I talk a little about who actually designed and programmed the game as well as it’s success in the Golden Age of arcades. As always I’ve made sure to share some vintage audio treats for your listening pleasure!

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!.

Our ending theme entitled “River Raid” was graciously provided by the talented Tony Longworth. You can listen to more of his work on SoundCloud!

Subscribe to the Diary of an Arcade Employee Podcast:
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Episode Mirror #1 (MP3)
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Retroist Dragons Lair Podcast

Enjoy This Showbiz Pizza Dragon’s Lair TV Commercial! (1983)

You won’t be seeing Billy Bob or any of his friends that make up the Rock-afire Explosion in this particular Showbiz Pizza television commercial but I have a feeling you’ll be happy nonetheless.
Showbiz Pizza Place
Until I was putting together the Diary of an Arcade Employee Podcast episode featuring Dragon’s Lair I’ve never had the pleasure of seeing this particular ad before, so a huge thanks to Robatsea2009 for uploading it on YouTube!