Tag: Arcade Games

Ghosts ‘n’ Goblins

Ghosts 'n' Goblins


Ghosts ‘n Goblins took the baddie-battling, princess-rescuing formula and went Medieval, casting Knight Arthur in the hero’s role and pitting him against the combined forces of Hades. Strapping into his suit of armor, Arthur ran to the rescue, braving six levels of ghosts, goblins ‘n much more.

Designed as a scrolling action game, Ghosts ‘n Goblins only required three skills: running, jumping and firing. If it moved, it had to be killed. Arthur began the game armed with throwing lances, but new weapons—fire, axe, dagger and cross—were available by killing certain enemies (those carrying clay pots).

With those implements of demonic destruction, Arthur wended his way through a graveyard, a dark forest, a run-down town, a series of caves, across a bridge and on to the castle where the Princess was held. Each stage was filled with scary beasts of every kind—zombies, ghosts, giants, demons, skeletons, etc.—each capped off by a particularly hideous boss. And just to save you several hours’ worth of frustration, you can only kill that devil boss at the end with the shield weapon. Try anything else, and you’ll find yourself flying back to level one with a teardrop in your eye, bucko.

Arthur began the game with the customary three lives, but that was where the suit of armor came in handy. The first hit on Arthur’s mortal body smashed the armor off, leaving Arthur alive but wearing nothing but his Medieval skivvies. Another hit cost one life, but extra suits of armor were conveniently stashed at certain points in the game if Arthur survived that long.

A hit both in the arcades and on the then-new Nintendo Entertainment System, Ghosts ‘n Goblins won players over with its fundamental action gameplay and its cartoony, yet somehow still creepy graphics. A sequel, Ghouls ‘n Ghosts, was released in 1988, adding flashier graphics and new power-ups (including the power-enhancing golden armor) to a brand-new storyline. And yes, it did involve rescuing that perpetually-victimized princess from the devil again (when will these royals ever learn?).

Ms. Pac-man Arcade Game

Mrs. Pac-Man

What do you give the video game that has everything? The original Pac-Man was all that a good arcade game should be easy to learn, difficult to master, incredibly addictive. Machines became choked on quarters as players plunked down coin after coin to keep munching those glowing dots. But not even millions of dollars in revenue could buy that little yellow fellow the one thing he lacked: love. So, one year later, Bally/Midway created Ms. Pac-Man.

In reality, Ms. Pac-Man was designed to address a few concerns about the original. First were the Pac-maniacs who had managed to memorize unbeatable patterns, allowing them to play for hours on a single quarter. Ms. Pac-Man fixed that little quirk by making its four ghosts – Inky, Pinky, Blinky and Sue (filling in for Clyde) smarter and therefore deadlier. The new game also featured four different mazes, each with different side exit locations, adding to the challenge for veteran gamers.

The second concern was that video game players were still predominantly male. Ms. Pac-Man’s saucy good looks were designed to change all that. The yellow, round, missing-slice body remained intact, but the Ms. knew how to accessorize-bright red lipstick, cheek mole and a red bow on top (along with a single eye, one more than her male counterpart). The game’s new look was also reflected in the brighter graphics, which changed color schemes with each new maze.

Mrs. Pac-Man

Gameplay, of course, remained the same. Ms. Pac-Man chomped her way through a maze of dots, pursued by the four ghosts. The four energizer pellets turned the tables on the spirits, allowing our hero a limited amount of time in which she could chomp them into temporary oblivion. Once a maze was cleared of dots, a new one began, occasionally preceded by an inter-act animated retelling of the Pac-Man/Ms. Pac-Man romance.

The only other major change was in the nature of the bonus fruit. Instead of sitting invitingly in the center of the maze, Ms. Pac-Man’s treats – cherry, strawberry, peach, pretzel, apple and more – bounced around the field, playing hard to get.

The changes may have appeared minor…some technical, some cosmetic, but they made a world of difference. Ms. Pac-Man carried on the Pac-Man family name with pride, becoming a mammoth success in its own right. Of all the Pac-Man games (and there were many), this is the one most likely to still be plugged in and ready to play in a small corner of your local arcade. She may not have been first, but in the minds of many Pac-fans, this little lady will always be the best.

Did You Play the Spy Hunter Arcade Game?

Spy Hunter

The name “James Bond” never appeared in Bally Midway’s Spy Hunter, but the 007 influence was unmistakable in this 1983 arcade classic. Game designer George Gomez was an avowed fan of the British secret agent with a license to kill, and Spy Hunter allowed him (and the rest of the world) to live out a dangerous, Bond-esque mission over land and sea.

Spy Hunter was actually a fusion of two popular genres: driving and shooting. The secret agent’s car came equipped with grill-mounted machine guns, the better to blow away the nasty vehicles that cluttered the road. Switch Blades were the most common bad cars—black sedans with tire-puncturing knives that extended out from their tires. These baddies could either be blown away or forced off the road, but other cars wouldn’t go down so easily. Road Lords were impervious to your guns, and their bulky size made it difficult to run them into the side of the road. As the game went on, players also ran across The Enforcer, a black limo with a gun-toting passenger.

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Looking at Crystal Castles Arcade Game

Crystal Castles

The logo said “Atari,” but Crystal Castles may as well have been designed by the Brothers Grimm. In this storybook-style adventure, a bouncy bear took on an evil witch and her group of exotic servants in a race to collect precious rubies.

Our furry hero was Bentley, a happy-go-lucky bear who had somehow been transported to the magical Crystal Castles of Berthilda the Witch. To get out, Bentley had to collect rows of gems from a 3-D maze, racing a group of hungry, centipede-like creatures who wanted the jewels for themselves. Bentley had no weapons, but if he caught the Gem Eaters while they were still digesting their precious rubies, he could wipe the baddies out.

The bear also had a mean vertical leap, which came in handy while avoiding the other assembled monsters—living trees, skeletons, ghosts, crystal balls, angry bees and Berthilda herself. Most levels also held a magic hat, which turned Bentley invincible for a short period, allowing him to take out the wicked witch. Gooey honey pots could also be snatched for extra points.

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Dragon’s Lair Arcade Game

Dragon's Lair

For those who weren’t there, try to imagine the shock of seeing this game back in 1983. Games like Crystal Castles and Mario Bros. had pretty cool graphics, but Dragon’s Lair was an honest-to-goodness cartoon, hand-designed by The Secret of NIMH director Don Bluth (later responsible for An American Tail and The Land Before Time, among others). There was no ignoring it—Dragon’s Lair practically blew away everything else in the arcade.

In fairness to Crystal Castles and Mario Bros., Dragon’s Lair wasn’t as fully interactive as its video game contemporaries. The game was made possible through the use of Laserdisc technology, whereby Bluth and company were able to animate several scenarios for each scene, essentially making a full-motion Choose Your Own Adventure story. If the correct choices were made, the hero lived on to face the next challenge. If not, the animation skipped to a brief, grotesque, often hilarious death scene.

The game starred Dirk the Daring, an heroic but not always bright knight in shining armor. The voluptuous Princess Daphne had been kidnapped by the dragon Singe, and Dirk stormed the beast’s lair to get her back. From the entrance on, there was no set pattern for your individual adventure. Scenes were accessed randomly, though they were grouped in increasing levels of difficulty.

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