Space Invaders

Celebrate Atari Day With Space Invaders!

Being the 26th of the month once again it is time to celebrate Atari Day. There is so very much to love and celebrate as well when talking about Atari of course. Although as usual I am focusing on a particular game for the Atari 2600. A port of the massively popular as well as legendary Space Invaders from 1978!
Space Invaders - Flyer

When Tomohiro Nishikado set out to create Space Invaders I certainly doubt he realized how popular it would become. In Japan there were arcades that offered nothing but the “fixed shooter”. Just rows and rows of Space Invaders for gamers to spend their money on. As a matter of fact it’s been reported that by the end of 1978, Taito, who produced the game had manufactured over 100,000 arcade cabinets.
Space Invaders

To say nothing of the amount of money that the success ofSpace Invaders earned for the company. I ask you, how does 600 million dollars sound? Having said that, bear in mind that was only for Japan in its first year alone.

Now as you might imagine when Atari announced they were going to be producing a home port for their Atari 2600. It was kind of a big deal. Not only did it mark the first arcade title to be licensed for home use. It smashed sales records for the 2600 as well. Steven L. Kent’s 2001 book The Ultimate History of Video Games: From Pong to Pokemon has in fact said that it helped to quadruple the sales of the Atari 2600.

Were you aware the Atari 2600 port was part of the How To Beat Video Games Series?

Which leads us to why in particular Atari made sure to mention their home version of Space Invaders in print. As much as possible. As well as producing rather charming television ads like in the case of the one below entitled Uncle Frank.

[Via] Dig That Box RETRO

Far smarter people than myself have pointed out that the Space Invader themselves have become almost an iconic symbol. Representative of video games itself – more well known than even the likes of Mario!

Listen to Uncle Vic’s hit novelty song inspired by Space Invaders!

Now the great news is you can easily join the Atari Day celebration and play Space Invaders right this second.

By and large it’s available online in one form or another, I would recommend the online services of the Internet Archive.

Image courtesy of Atari I/O’s Facebook page.

To learn even more about the fun of Atari Day be sure to hop on over and check out fellow Retroist writer Atari I/O’s site by following the link here!

Taito Arcade Trash

My neighbors love me, especially when I put things like this out for trash.

Why did I put a Taito arcade cabinet out in my trash? Well, it’s a long story.

Arcades are in business to make money. When a machine no longer makes money it is either converted into something else, sold, or stripped of all useful parts (with whatever’s left going into the nearest dumpster). A few years ago one of the local arcades was parting out a few of their old cabinets and throwing the hulls away. A friend of mine was looking for an arcade cabinet for a MAME project, so we drove to the arcade in my truck and drove home with this Taito Qix cabinet. You can tell it was a Qix cabinet based on the cabinet’s color scheme.

My friend never got around to finishing his project before he moved out of state and left the cabinet behind. Hating to see a classic cabinet go to waste, I offered to sell it to another collector for my friend. The new owner paid for the cabinet, but never came to pick it up. When I pushed him on the issue, he told me to go ahead and toss it.

I ended up putting the cabinet at the end of my driveway with a sign that said “Free to a good home” and also listed it on Craigslist. When I checked on the cabinet the next day, someone had stripped all the metal and copper wires out of the machine and pushed it over, breaking some of the wood in the process. After that, the garbage was the best place for it and it was hauled off the following morning.

Happy Video Game Music – Bubble Bobble

When I am feeling down, like a lot of people I try and listen to music that will make me happier. One of my favorite genres of music to cheer me up is video game music, but not all of it is cheery. Which is why I have a special playlist of the good stuff. Which I have very originally labeled, “Happy Video Game Music”. I know we can all use a pick-me-up from time to time and most of the stuff is available online for download or can be streamed at sites like YouTube, so I thought I would share these tracks here on the site.

My first entry is the theme music to the 1986 platformer, Bubble Bobble, by Taito. The music was written by, Zuntata who are Taito Corporation’s “house band”.

Here is the game music for the arcade version:

and here is the song being played on Piano by Andrew:

Do you have video game music that puts a smile on your face when you hear it? I would like to hear what you like, so I can enhance my playlist.

Retro vs Remake: Elevator Action … Gooooing Up!

Today's Retro vs Remake Games: Elevator Action vs Elevator Action Deluxe

Hotel floors filled with doors and elevators; a common movie setting for comedic chase scenes. But a video game based on doors and elevators? It works better than you might think.

Elevator Action is a 1983 arcade game developed by Taito. You play as a spy named Agent 17, or Otto (no, not Evil Otto;), tasked with infiltrating an enemy complex and stealing confidential information. The complex though, happens to be full of doors, elevators and guards. Being a spy that prefers traveling light, you’re armed only with a small pistol and your wits. Using a traditional four-way joystick and two buttons (jump and shoot) you must navigate the vertical buildings collecting documents from red doors while avoiding the guards that come out of blue doors. Fortunately you can take out the guards using a variety of methods such as shooting, jump-kicking or elevator-crushing. Unfortunately, as you progress through each level, the guards become more agile and their returning shots faster and more frequent. Elevator Action may be a fun game, but it is not an easy one. As with many games of its time, your character is a one-hit wonder and will drop dead with so much as a scratch (or short fall) on his adorably covert sprite.

While there have been several sequels and ports of Elevator Action over the years, Elevator Action Deluxe is the first “true” remake of the arcade classic.

Once again, Otto (or his female counterpart) is tasked with retrieving secret documents from the red doors while avoiding guards. Only this time the buildings aren’t always vertical and they aren’t always hotels. You’ll be slinking through factories, mines and military bases avoiding everything from enemy agents (some of whom summon more agents if they spot you) to soldiers, robots and bombs. Along with the wider variety of stages, hazards and enemies you also get an expanded arsenal of attacks. You still start off with a basic spy pistol, but you can collect weapon upgrades like machine guns, rocket launchers and lasers. You also have a new melee attack so you can bop enemies on the head should they get too close. Or if you’re the stealthy type, you can hide behind a blue door and wait for an enemy to pass by before flinging the door right into his back. Otto also must be wearing Kevlar armor this time around as he can take three shots to the chest instead of one and can even recover lost hits via “heart” doors.

There’s also an expanded multiplayer mode where up to four players (local only) can take on the fifty campaign missions together or duke it out in competitive mode.

Finally, the music in Deluxe is mostly cliched & often silly sounding “Mission Impossible” or “Bond” style tracks that fit the game’s corny atmosphere quite well. The game also mixes in many of the arcade original’s sound effects with the “realistic” sounds making it a treat for nostalgic ears.

So, final verdict? While Elevator Action is fun in its own right, Deluxe just adds so much more gameplay while keeping (most) of the core elements in tact that I’d have to say I enjoyed playing Deluxe far more than I ever did the original.

What do you think? Are Deluxe’s gameplay additions too convoluted or unbalanced? Or is the arcade original too limited and unforgiving to be much fun after ten minutes?

Astro Zone – Arcade Flyer (1980)

A huge thanks as always to the incredible Arcade Flyer Archive for this wonderful scan of the Astro Zone flyer from Taito!

The Archive says this game was European only and I’ve certainly never come across it in the wilds of the arcade. Reading the hints for higher scoring I was taken a bit aback by “In Frame 4, be sure you shoot the first monster that appears. An accurate shot will allow you to proceed to Frame 5 and 6. If you miss the first monster but hit the second you can only proceed to Frame 5.”. So if you miss that shot you can’t reach the ‘end’ of the game? Wow…that’s pretty hardcore rules even for 1980!