Showing posts with label arcade. Show all posts
Showing posts with label arcade. Show all posts

Monday, December 31, 2018

The golden age of arcade video games

The golden age of arcade games is an era in which the popularity and innovations of arcade video games were at their peak. This period started 1978 with the release of Space Invaders until the mid-1990s with the development of personal gaming equipment becoming more powerful than typical arcade games.

Abstract

By the early 1980s, video game technology had become sophisticated enough to offer good quality graphics and sound, but still remained basically simple. Realistic images and full-screen animations were not yet possible, and only few games used synthesized voices. The success of a game based mainly on gameplay and the fun it provides . This interest in gameplay is the reason why many of these games continue to be enjoyed today despite being outdated by today's standards.

Economic sector

The Golden Age was a moment of great technical and conceptual creativity for arcade video games. The games were developed around a wide variety of genres while designers had to grapple with the strict limits of CPU power and available memory. This period also saw the emergence of arcades, places dedicated exclusively to arcade gaming. At this time, arcade bells are beginning to appear in supermarkets, gas stations, pizza parlors and many other retail businesses eager to generate additional revenue. Popular games then caused especially teenagers to scramble to try out the latest video game attraction.

Companies

The most successful companies in this field are probably Atari, particularly in the United States and Namco, particularly in Japan. Other publishers include Bally Midway, Capcom, Cinematronics, Konami, Nintendo, Sega, SNK, Taito and Williams.

Successful games of this golden era

The games below are some of the most popular and influential games of the period. All are in the Top 100 video arcade games according to KLOV.

  • Space Invaders (1978)
  • Asteroids (1979)
  • Galaxian (1979)
  • Lunar Lander (1979)
  • Battlezone (1980)
  • Berzerk (1980)
  • Centipede (1980)
  • Defender (1980)
  • Missile Command (1980)
  • Pac-Man (1980)
  • Star Castle (1980)
  • Warlords (1980)
  • Wizard of Wor (1980)
  • Donkey Kong (1981)
  • Frogger (1981)
  • Galaga (1981)
  • Ms. Pac Man (1981)
  • Qix (1981)
  • Tempest (1981)
  • Amidar (1982)
  • Vanguard (1981)
  • Burgertime (1982)
  • Dig Dug (1982)
  • Joust (1982)
  • Moon Patrol (1982)
  • Pole Position (1982)
  • Q*bert (1982)
  • Robotron 2084 (1982)
  • Time Pilot (1982)
  • Tron (1982)
  • Xevious (1982)
  • Zaxxon (1982)
  • Dragon's Lair (1983)
  • Elevator Action (1983)
  • Spy Hunter (1983)
  • Star Wars (1983)
  • Tapper (1983)

Saturday, October 20, 2018

Golden era of pinball machines

A pinball machine is an electro mechanical coin operated arcade game. It works by the principle of scoring points by directing one or more metal balls on a game board separated from the player by a window. The main goal is to achieve a high score. The secondary goal is to play as long as possible without the ball leaving game board and possibly obtaining extra balls and win a replay. This type of game was a great success from the 1950s to the late 1990s, to the point of entering the pop culture. Many cafes and restaurants offered them to their customers. There were also specialized gaming rooms known as arcades

History

The pinball as we know today derived from the French game Bagatelle around 1770 and the Japanese billiard, it was fully developed in Chicago in the 1930s by mechanics and electricians who were unemployed because of the financial crisis of 1929. By gambling for money it was banned in several major US cities soon after. Cash was later replaced by replays to make pinball legal. The electro mechanic was replaced by electronic (solid state) in 1976. Pinball suffered a decline in the 1980s as a result of the rise of video games. And major manufacturers like Williams, who had previously acquired Bally, went out of business in 1999 and Gottlieb in 1996, leaving Stern as the only manufacturer.

Score

Counting of points with the pinball machine is rather particular and arbitrary. The scores of very old machines were counted in hundreds of thousands points which were displayed by lamps signaling a row of 100,000 and was left to the user to add them. The arrival of electro mechanical wheel counters brought the scores down to hundreds of points, with a lamp lighting a number "1" at the top of the 3 digits when it was above 999.

In the 1970s, with the arrival of electronic displays, the scores began to count thousands or tens of thousands of points. This "inflation" continued until the mid-1990s, when several games allowed up to millions of points to get a free game. Quite recently the counting of points returned to more reasonable values.

Thursday, November 23, 2017

The M.A.M.E. emulator

M.A.M.E. (Multiple Arcade Machine Emulator), or short MAME, is a software emulator, allowing to play original video games from the arcades, starting from 1975 to today and tomorrow. Its main purpose though is to preserve decades of software history. Besides the emulator itself you also need roms from the game you want to play.

An emulator in general is creating a hardware environment (called "driver" in MAME), like chips in a video game (CPU, RAM, I/O and other support chips) by software. Thus you can "have" what ever video game hardware you want in your PC or smartphone. Then you can load up the original code, usually dumped from the original chips of a video game, into the emulator, and play them. Since it's all original you can even experience bugs and glitches which came with the original game. But you also have the option to activate cheats, speed up or slow down the game and more.

Since 2015 MAME's sister project M.E.S.S. (Multi Emulator Super System), or short MESS, was merged into MAME. MESS allows to also emulate any computer, if somebody wrote a driver for it and the BIOS rom was dumped. You could run an Atari 2600, Commodore 64, Amiga, Atari ST, (Super) Nintendo Entertainment System, SONY Playstation, XBOX, SEGA... Well anything existing. In theory you could play on a Playstation or other which would only exist in say three years - if someone would get hold of it specification. But that's just theoretically. And even if, no actual of today's PC hardware is powerful enough to run it in a decent speed. Even on older systems or video games modern PCs cannot run the emulation in a speed to match the original speed of the emulated machine. There are also prototypes or hard to come by systems you can emulate. Like the Apple I or Commodore 65 you can run.

If you want to bring back some fond memories you had when you had your first game console, first home computer or video games you played as kid in the arcade back in the day, the MAME emulator brings back nostalgia.

Legal mention: Obey the ROMs copyright!

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

How to keep vintage game consoles alive

In November of 2017 The 8-Bit Guy on YouTube created a video featuring new (2016 or 2017) games for vintage consoles, such as the Nintendo Entertainment System and Sega Genesis. Although he isn't a big fan of beat-em-ups he tried to give an objective view. He concluded that buying new games will keep these consoles alive. Although I agree one should support new games if one is fan of vintage consoles I don't agree that these new games are the (only) way to keep them alive. In my opinion only the love of folks who owned and used them back in the day already will do just that. That said, some things can kept alive without spending a dime. If you still own a working machine and (old) games, play them, to bring back memories from decades ago. If you don't own one, there are emulators and fan pages in the internet dedicated to a certain machine. Lot of documentation, tips, questions and answers, as well as discussion forums. One might as well find some game code dumps to use with these consoles.