The glory days of arcade games in the ’80s were just ace. “Spacies” were so popular that various machines would rock up in local fish and chip shops, milk bars and the like. But we don’t remember playing any of these weird, wonderful or completely rubbish machines while waiting for our 50c worth of chips…
OK, so we’re puerile and included this mainly for its name, but this Ghostbusters-inspired tale that saw you as Fritz (or Super Fritz if you wished to forego heaps of bonus points) eradicating ghosts, liberating crystal balls and levelling crappy old mansions wasn’t too bad.
Hot from the massive success of classics such as Robotron 2084, Joust and Defender, Williams must have thought that everything they touched would be a smash. Bubbles – where you are a smiley-faced bubble who has to clean sinks while avouiding dangerous gremmies – wasn’t their next big hit.
Ever heard of video nasties? Arcade games sometimes fit that bill. This light gun affair saw the player as a sadist who had to maim, mutilate and murder completely helpless characters in a torture chamber, rack room, haunted house and graveyard. Nudity, S&M and 8-bit graphics were a potent – and crappy – mix. As such, THIS VIDEO MAY OFFEND SOME VIEWERS.
Disco No. 1
(Data East, 1982)
The whole disco thing was kind of dead by 1982, but it didn’t stop this decidedly average cash-in from emerging, where the player took on the persona of stereotypically weak kid at the roller rink who had to win the love of the ladies by completely encircling tough guys in a very vaguely Qix kind of way.
(Bally Midway, 1983)
The same moustachioed jack-of-all-trades who we’d met in bar game Tapper and the next year in lumber-lopping Timber is your onscreen representation here, as you try to place dominos while a series of jaywalkers, bullies and killer bees do their darnedest to stop you. The best bit? Your end of level rating was delivered via various examples of dodgy poetry.
Go Go Mr. Yamaguchi
Kind of like a pixelated cross between the movie adventures of Indiana Jones and Capcom’s very successful Commando, beyond the fab title what stood out about this jungle survival tale was the collectibles. Chocolate blocks? Cool! Packs of cigarettes? Uh, well, it was the mid-1980s…
Politics and video games mixed, even in the 1980s. The protagonist here was based upon former Japanese Prime Minister Kakuei Tanaka, and the game involved greedily nabbing all the gold bars while avoiding the likes of moonwalking Michael Jacksons, Madonna, sumo wrestlers and track and field star Carl Lewis.
(Bally Midway, 1983)
American soft-rockers Journey were fairly big in the early ’80s, so ended up starring in this band/arcade game crossover. Featuring cartoon bodies with black and white digitised band member heads, the aim was to – hey, what’s a word for taking a trip? – to various planets and retrieve their instruments. The band’s Separate Ways (Worlds Apart) played over-and-over on a cassette player inside the cabinet. We’re not sure which was more torturous, the game or the song.
Some games are challenging, and the sort of thing you’d gladly return to again and again. Meanwhile, Leprechaun – where you aim to jump into the titular character’s pot of gold while changing the colour of trees for bonus points (really) – was so bloody easy (and boring) that you never wanted to play it again even partway through your first ever go at it.
Ever wondered what inspired Ferris Bueller’s Day Off? It may have been Mikie. You guided the young troublemaker around his high school, avoiding members of the faculty while collecting hearts to piece together a love letter from your girlfriend, Mandy. While hardly PC, it was actually good fun, especially doing the bum-bump on other students. We’re sure A Hard Day’s Night was licensed, too. Ahem.
(Seibu Kaihatsu, 1987)
It’s a simple but rather addictive maze game – Pac-Man meets Amidar meets Bomberman – but, but, but! The boy that you control while collecting balloons, painting tiles and avoiding robots has… wait for it… a moustache (for some inexplicable reason)! Wow! So hairy! Many cool!
From the weird concepts department at our friends Williams (see Bubbles, above), this is a typical obstacle-filled marathon type thing – but it’s mystical! All the characters are fantasy-based, while you have to deal with apple-hurling trees, sea monsters and – B-52’s nod – giant clams, amongst other oddities.
Probably the most known game here, but mainly down to successful (if not great) home computer and console conversions, this is here to represent Atari’s wondrous mid-’80s weird out. It gave us this paper delivering sim (the machine had handlebars), the inflatable action of Toobin’, the donut-chompin’ cop excess of APB and the hard-but-cool skateboarding action of 720°.
Prepare for cutesy overload! You pick your protagonist – a pup, puss or pig – and enter what is essentially a version of ancient arcade game Clowns, but without the coulrophobia triggers. As such you must protect the chosen character that’s bouncing on a tramampoline destroying various objects, by not letting it hit the ground.
You are an apparently sentient tyre (or “tire” for our American chums) rolling up the screen, bouncing to avoid some obstacles while shooting others. It’s essentially Bump ‘n’ Jump through an oddness filter, and possibly the inspiration of cult film Rubber, just with less human killing.
(Bally Sente, 1984)
There may have been no need for clown haters to avoid Plump Pop, but we’d advise them to run away from this one – and fast. One of the most peculiar things we’ve ever waggled a trackball to, you’re a ravenous harlequin with a stretchy neck and removable schnoz with which to juggle while scarfing flying food. No LSD necessary.
If it was any more than 8-bits we’d have to advise this is NSFW, but the pink blob you control is actually a near-naked woman in a Pac-Man styled maze (in other words, if the wukka wukka cheese wheel hadn’t existed, we doubt that this ever would have), running around scarfing circles and avoiding cops while picking up her various clothes and accessories.
The Amazing Adventures of Mr. F. Lea
(Pacific Novelty, 1982)
You’re a flea. Believe it or not, you have amazing adventures as you pick a level and sally forth, doing flea-like things to unsuspecting mutts in levels reminiscent of everything from Donkey Kong to Jungle Boy and Frogger. There’s something just a little bit bonkers about this that makes us love it, as crap as it actually is. Plus, the image at 3:48 in the vid below.
Expecting some delightful Japanese translation? Nope. Uncle Poo is a maze game where the titular character runs around, turns around and farts in the general direction of his adversaries to vanquish them. All the while he collects valuables and tries to avoid what appears to be some sort of left-of-screen tsunami. Needless to say, this is one crappy game (sorry).
Long before 1987’s Black Monday came this shocker, which saw Wall Street types hurling themselves off the tops of buildings, and you controlling two giant medics (either that or they’re teensy stockbrokers) with a tramampoline, going the ambulance rescue Plump Pop style. Erm, except this preceded Plump Pop, so see: Clowns. There’s also a maze level, but meh. The scratchy sampled voice imploring us to “save the stockbrokers” was kind of cool though.