RETRO ARCADES

Before you could fight dragons, sail the seven seas, experience war, or transport yourself to another world in the comfort of your living room, there were amusement arcade games, one of the biggest successes in 1970s and 1980s pop culture.

If we want to take a lightning run and a complex sequence of jumps through the history of arcade gaming, we need to begin as far back as the 1940s. This is when American businessmen Martin Bromley, Irving Bromberg and James Humpert formed Standard Games (now Sega) in Hawaii and made coin-operated amusement machines for US military bases. It was a series of early mergers and a US ban on military slot machines that led to the Japanese incorporation in 1952.

In 1966, the company released ‘Periscope’, an electro-mechanical arcade game. ‘Periscope’, which was instantly successful in North America, Europe and Japan, was an early submarine simulator and light-gun shooter. The arcade game was the first of its kind to cost a quarter (25¢) per play.

A year later, Taito introduced electro-mechanical arcade game ‘Crown Soccer Special’, which is a two-player football simulation. In 1971, Nolan Bushnell developed ‘Computer Space’, the first mass-manufactured game, for Nutting Associates. Then in 1972, Bushnell and Ted Dabney formed Atari and the company essentially created the coin-operated video game industry with the highly successful table-tennis game ‘Pong’.

The late 1970s to mid-1980s is said to be the ‘golden age’ of arcade games, when this type of entertainment was a superpower in popular culture. ‘Space Invaders’ (1978), vector-based ‘Asteroids’ (1979), and ‘Pac-Man’ (1980) were highlights of this period. The decrease in cost of computing technology led to an arcade explosion and video games popped up in songs, cartoons and film, such as the pioneering ‘Tron’ (1982). Unfortunately, the novelty of arcade games began to wear off in the late-1980s.

After a brief rebirth in the early 1990s, the decline of the arcade industry came partly as a result of the explosion in home video games consoles such as Sony Playstation and Microsoft Xbox.  

However, James Anderson, commercial and sales director at Bandai Namco Amusement Europe says, “For the past 20 years I’ve worked in this industry, everybody said since the dawn of the home market – PlayStation, Xbox – [that] has put a nail in the coffin for our business.

“That’s not the case at all. Developers for Xbox and PlayStation are looking to make 18-28 hours of game-time entertainment for a one-off purchase fee. We’re looking to give you three minutes of entertainment for a smaller denomination, with repeat play.”

For each brand of coin-operated arcade game, custom hardware was often used, with multiple central processing units, costly computer graphics display technology and specific sound and graphics chips.

Modern arcade games (2010 onwards) extensively use solid-state electronics, integrated circuits and cathode ray tube screens. Many are modified video game console or PC hardware (like ‘Halo’). There are even adapted smartphone app games available to play, like ‘Candy Crush’. VR is also more integrated in the modern market.

Anderson says Namco has developed VR Zone Portal, which include games like ‘Mario Kart VR’, coming to the UK in August.

“It’s just like the original, but instead of driving over question marks to pick items up, you have to reach out with your hand to pick them up. You can physically throw tortoise shells at your opponents.”

Anderson says there’s still definitely a market for arcade games, “But it’s diversified a lot. It’s become more of a secondary market. For example, you go to a bowling alley and while you’re waiting, you play the games. It’s become part of the larger entertainment mix.”

Arcade games: the top 10

From Goliath.com, here are the most successful arcade games of all time.

Pac-Man (1980) NAMCO

Cabinets sold: 400,000

Revenue by 1985: $3.5bn

Adjusted for inflation: $7.96bn

This highly addictive world-famous maze game with the infamous ghosts Blinky, Pinky, Inky and Clyde is an icon of 1980s popular culture.

The simple circular Pac-Man eats pellets for points. Eating ‘power pellets’ turns the pursuing phantoms into the pursued, and Pac-Man noms them for more points. If a pursuing ghost hits Pac-Man, he loses a life, and when you run out of lives, the game is over.

‘Pac-Man’ is one of the most influential video games ever made – it founded the maze chase game genre, is said to have opened gaming to female audiences (credited to the non-violence), and the yellow character was the first gaming mascot. This appeal has made it the most profitable arcade game ever made.

Space Invaders (1978) Taito

Cabinets sold: 360,000

Revenue by 1982: $2.7bn

Adjusted for inflation: $6.85bn

Credited as having kicked off the ‘golden age’, ‘Space Invaders’ is one of the earliest 2D shooters, and inspired many in this list.

Simple yet addictive, it was the best-selling video game and highest-grossing entertainment product of its time. It took a year for Tomohiro Nishikado to design the game, making custom hardware to complete it.

The aim is to destroy wave after wave of descending aliens with a laser cannon. They counter-fire at you as they get to the bottom of the screen. As more aliens are annihilated, the critters’ movement speeds up, making it increasingly difficult to bullseye them and stay alive.

Bonus points are awarded if you destroy the ‘mystery ship’ that sometimes moves across the top of the screen.

Space Invaders helped expand the arcade gaming industry from a novelty to a global phenomenon, and is seen as one of the most important video games ever made.

Street Fighter II (1991) Capcom

Cabinets sold: 200,000 (60,000 SF II, 140,000 Championship Edition)

Revenue by 1995: $2.31bn

Adjusted for inflation: $3.71bn

This competitive fighting game is what caused the brief resurgence of arcade games in the 1990s. The sequel to ‘Street Fighter’ (1987), ‘Street Fighter II: The World Warrior’ has multiple playable characters, each with a unique fighting style, command-based special moves, a six-button configuration, combo system, and competitive two-player mode.

You fight in one-on-one combat with your opponent in a ‘best-two-out-of-three’ scenario. Each round, you must drain your enemy’s life before the timer ends. There are bonus stages for additional points, such as car breaking and barrel breaking.

The game was the ultimate in 2D fighting game design, and is still viewed as one of the best games in the competitive scene.

Donkey Kong (1981) Nintendo, Atari

Cabinets sold: 132,000

Revenue by 1982: $280m

Adjusted for inflation: $710.2m

A pioneer of the platform genre, this game makes you move the main character, Mario, through platforms while avoiding obstacles, all to save a damsel in distress, Pauline, from Donkey Kong, the giant ape (he’s not part donkey).

Nintendo broke into the North American market with ‘Donkey Kong’, the first game created by designer Shigeru Miyamoto, who would go on to make heavyweights such as ‘Super Mario Bros’ and ‘The Legend of Zelda’. Miyamoto designed the game with Nintendo’s chief engineer, Gunpei Yokoi.  

It is the first platform game to require jumping, as you must leap over obstacles and enemies. With four stages, Kong was known as the most complex arcade game at the time.

Points are awarded for completing a stage, jumping over obstacles, destroying objects with a ‘hammer power-up’, collecting items like parasols and purses, and taking out rivets from platforms.

You generally get three lives, and you lose a life if Mario touches Donkey Kong or enemy objects, if you fall too far through a gap or off a platform, or if the bonus counter reaches zero.

Ms Pac-Man (1981) Namco

Cabinets sold: 125,000

Revenue by 1987: $1.2bn

Adjusted for inflation: $2.58bn

Pac-Man’s wife got her own game with new maze designs and improved gameplay.

It is very similar to the original – you earn points by eating pellets and avoiding ghosts. By eating a ‘power pellet’, the ghosties turn blue and Ms Pac-Man can eat them for more points. There are also bonus fruits. Everything gets speedier as rounds increase, and pellets decrease the ghosts’ blueness, eventually stopping altogether.

Differences to the original include ghosts’ behavioural pattern, fruits bouncing randomly around, and the orange ghost is called Sue, not Clyde.

Additionally, when Ms Pac-Man dies, she ‘dramatically swoons and falls’, rather than folding in on herself.

Sexist, much?

Asteroids (1979) Atari

Cabinets sold: 100,000

Revenue by 1991: $800m

Adjusted for inflation: $1.43bn

Designed by Lyle Rains, Ed Logg and Dominic Walsh, this famous game lets you control a triangular spaceship in an asteroid field periodically criss-crossed by UFOs. You must destroy asteroids and saucers, not collide with them, and not get hit by the saucers’ shots. Through the game, the number of asteroids increases.

The ship rotates left and right, fires straight shots, and thrusts forward.

You can send the ship into hyperspace, so it vanishes and reappears in a different place on the screen, but it can self-destruct or plop on an asteroid.

The ‘wraparound’ screen means objects float off the top and reappear at the bottom. Shooting asteroids breaks them into faster, smaller pieces (worth more points).

Two UFOs fire on your ship – a big saucer (shoots terribly), and a small one (shoots pretty accurately and faster). When your score exceeds 40,000, big saucer disappears. The higher your score, the better shot the small saucer becomes. It gets harder each level, as more asteroids appear.

You have three lives and earn a life per 10,000 points. When you’ve lost all your lives, the game ends.  

Defender (1981) Williams Electronics; Taito

Cabinets sold: 60,000

Revenue by 1993: $1bn

Adjusted for inflation: $1.69bn

On an unnamed planet, you defeat hordes of aliens and protect astronauts from abduction. A pinball programmer at Williams, Eugene Jarvis, developed ‘Defender’, which became the company’s bestseller and created the genre of horizontal scrolling shooter games.

You navigate a spaceship left or right through the terrain, using a joystick to control elevation, and five buttons for direction and weapons. If abducted, astronauts come back as mutants. You progress to the next level when you destroy the aliens. If you can’t defend your astronauts, the planet explodes and the level becomes populated with mutants. Surviving the mutants restores the planet. You are allowed three ships in the game and earn more by reaching benchmarks. If hit by an enemy or missile, or if a hyperspace jump goes wrong, you lose a ship. After all ships are gone, it’s game over.

Centipede (1980) Atari

Cabinets sold: 55,988

Revenue by 1991: $115.65m

Adjusted for inflation: $207.85m

Using the ‘Space Invaders’ model and adding insects, the game makes you combat a centipede, with spiders, scorpions and fleas dropping down and zig-zagging to harass you. Completing a round means annihilating the centipede winding down the screen through a field of mushrooms.

You move around with a trackball at the bottom of the screen. Shooting parts of the centipede makes a mushroom – by shooting a middle segment, it separates it into two. Upon destroying a head, the section behind it becomes the next head.

The centipede drops a level and changes direction when it hits a mushroom or the screen edge. More mushrooms means a speedier descending bug, plus it takes four hits for you to destroy a fungus.

Everything you destroy gives you points. Players earn lives with points, but losing all lives ends the game.

Galaxian (1979) Namco

Cabinets sold: 40,000

Revenue: N/A

Adjusted for inflation: N/A

You control a spaceship (the Galaxip) at the bottom of the screen, and shoot descending attacking aliens from different directions. The game was made to compete with Taito’s ‘Space Invaders’, and to separate itself, ‘Galaxian’’s aliens ‘kamikaze’ dive at your ship.

The highly popular game enabled a successful sequel, ‘Galaga’ (1981), to be developed.

‘Galaxian’ took RGB colour graphics in gaming to the next level, with multi-coloured sprites, explosions, various coloured fonts, graphic icons and a scrolling starfield.

OutRun (1986) SEGA

Cabinets sold: 30,000

Revenue by 1993: $393.06m

Adjusted for inflation: $665.85m

Designed by Yu Suzuki and developed by Sega AM2, 3D driving video game ‘OutRun’ is noted for its pioneering hardware and graphics. Features like a selectable soundtrack and nonlinear gameplay really set it apart from other games on the market at the time.

You ‘drive’ a Ferrari Testarossa Spider against a timer from a third-person rear perspective. Mimicking a Ferrari driver’s position, it limits the view. Dips and curves in the road make it more challenging by concealing obstacles like traffic. Any sort of collision slows the car down.

Reach a destination within the time allocated, otherwise the game ends. Time is extended by reaching checkpoints. You must choose one direction at a junction, which leads to different surroundings.

SPIKEBALL

Each year it’s the same thing – it is too windy to play beach tennis and you cannot agree as to whose team actually won at baseball. It looks like it’s time to take summer games to a new level. Spikeball is an action-packed ball game from the USA that is perfect for the beach or park and on any pleasant summer evening!

The trendy Spikeball game places four players around the net, and the team that begins serves the ball toward the net over to the players on the opposing team. They then have two passes between them before they must return the ball with a bounce toward the net. Once the match is on, the players can move freely around the net chasing the ball – forget everything you know about courts and fixed positions – get ready for a fast-paced match! Of course, the goal is to beat the opposing team – without missing the net yourself! Points are awarded when a team fails to spike the ball back, and the team that first earns 21 points wins.

Spikeball has been seen on such things as TV’s Shark Tank, and is played by two teams each consisting of two players. The game is quick to set up and easy to learn, and you get two extra balls so you always have one available. Spikeball comes in a practical storage bag, so you can easy take it with you to the beach, park and everywhere else you get a chance this summer when you want to find something better than beach tennis and baseball!

Details about your Spikeball Game

  • Serve the ball toward the net and try to take out your opponents in this action-packed game!
  • A perfect summer game for the beach or a grill evening!
  • Fast and fun – all the players are active in the game the entire time
  • A game in 360° – when the ball is served, the players can move freely around the net
  • Can be played on sand, gravel, grass or indoors
  • Played by two teams with two players on each team
  • Suitable for children, youth and adults
  • The net is easy to set up and to carry along, practical carrying bag included
  • Dimensions, ball: 9.5 cm in diameter, weighs 65 grams
  • Dimensions, net: 90 cm in diameter

Spikeball

PLAY CHESS

It’s never too late to learn how to play chess – the most popular game in the world! Learning the rules of chess is easy:

  1. Set up the Chess Board
  2. Learn to move the Pieces
  3. Discover the Special Rules
  4. Learn who Makes the First Move
  5. Check out the rules on How to Win
  6. Study the Basic Strategies
  7. Practice Playing Lots of Games

Step 1. How to Setup the Chessboard

At the beginning of the game the chessboard is laid out so that each player has the white (or light) color square in the bottom right-hand side.

The chess pieces are then arranged the same way each time. The second row (or rank) is filled with pawns. The rooks go in the corners, then the knights next to them, followed by the bishops, and finally the queen, who always goes on her own matching color (white queen on white, black queen on black), and the king on the remaining square.


Step 2. How the Chess Pieces Move

Each of the 6 different kinds of pieces moves differently. Pieces cannot move through other pieces (though the knight can jump over other pieces), and can never move onto a square with one of their own pieces. However, they can be moved to take the place of an opponent’s piece which is then captured. Pieces are generally moved into positions where they can capture other pieces (by landing on their square and then replacing them), defend their own pieces in case of capture, or control important squares in the game.

How to Move the King in Chess

The king is the most important piece, but is one of the weakest. The king can only move one square in any direction – up, down, to the sides, and diagonally.

The king may never move himself into check (where he could be captured). When the king is attacked by another piece this is called “check”.

How to Move the Queen in Chess

The queen is the most powerful piece. She can move in any one straight direction – forward, backward, sideways, or diagonally – as far as possible as long as she does not move through any of her own pieces.

And, like with all pieces, if the queen captures an opponent’s piece her move is over. Notice how the white queen captures the black queen and then the black king is forced to move.

How to Move the Rook in Chess

The rook may move as far as it wants, but only forward, backward, and to the sides.

The rooks are particularly powerful pieces when they are protecting each other and working together!

How to Move the Bishop in Chess

The bishop may move as far as it wants, but only diagonally. Each bishop starts on one color (light or dark) and must always stay on that color.

Bishops work well together because they cover up each other’s weaknesses.

How to Move the Knight in Chess

Knights move in a very different way from the other pieces – going two squares in one direction, and then one more move at a 90 degree angle, just like the shape of an “L”.

Knights are also the only pieces that can move over other pieces.

How to Move the Pawn in Chess

Pawns are unusual because they move and capture in different ways: they move forward, but capture diagonally. Pawns can only move forward one square at a time, except for their very first move where they can move forward two squares.

Pawns can only capture one square diagonally in front of them. They can never move or capture backwards. If there is another piece directly in front of a pawn he cannot move past or capture that piece.


Step 3. Discover the Special Rules of Chess

There are a few special rules in chess that may not seem logical at first. They were created to make the game more fun and interesting.

How to Promote a Pawn in Chess

Pawns have another special ability and that is that if a pawn reaches the other side of the board it can become any other chess piece (called promotion).

A pawn may be promoted to any piece. A common misconception is that pawns may only be exchanged for a piece that has been captured. That is NOT true. A pawn is usually promoted to a queen. Only pawns may be promoted.

How to do “en passant” in Chess

The last rule about pawns is called “en passant,” which is French for “in passing”. If a pawn moves out two squares on its first move, and by doing so lands to the side of an opponent’s pawn (effectively jumping past the other pawn’s ability to capture it), that other pawn has the option of capturing the first pawn as it passes by.

This special move must be done immediately after the first pawn has moved past, otherwise the option to capture it is no longer available. Click through the example below to better understand this odd, but important rule.

How to Castle in Chess

One other special chess rule is called castling. This move allows you to do two important things all in one move: get your king to safety (hopefully), and get your rook out of the corner and into the game. On a player’s turn he may move his king two squares over to one side and then move the rook from that side’s corner to right next to the king on the opposite side. (See the example below.) However, in order to castle, the following conditions must be met:

  • it must be that king’s very first move
  • it must be that rook’s very first move
  • there cannot be any pieces between the king and rook to move
  • the king may not be in check or pass through check

Notice that when you castle one direction the king is closer to the side of the board. That is called castling “kingside“. Castling to the other side, through where the queen sat, is called castling “queenside“. Regardless of which side, the king always moves only two squares when castling.


Step 4. Find out Who Makes the First Move in Chess

The player with the white pieces always moves first. Therefore, players generally decide who will get to be white by chance or luck such as flipping a coin or having one player guess the color of the hidden pawn in the other player’s hand. White then makes a move, followed by black, then white again, then black and so on until the end of the game. Being able to move first is a tiny advantage which gives the white player an opportunity to attack right away.


Step 5. Review the Rules of How to Win a Game of Chess

There are several ways to end a game of chess: by checkmate, with a draw, by resignation, by forfeit on time…

How to Checkmate in Chess

The purpose of the game is to checkmate the opponent’s king. This happens when the king is put into check and cannot get out of check.

There are only three ways a king can get out of check:

  • move out of the way (though he cannot castle!)
  • block the check with another piece or
  • capture the piece threatening the king.

If a king cannot escape checkmate then the game is over. Customarily the king is not captured or removed from the board, the game is simply declared over.

The checkmate can happen in early stages in the game if one of the players does not act carefully. Below, you will find an example of the Fools mate, a checkmate that happens in just 2 moves. 

How to Draw a Chess Game

Occasionally chess games do not end with a winner, but with a draw. There are 5 reasons why a chess game may end in a draw:

  • The position reaches a stalemate where it is one player’s turn to move, but his king is NOT in check and yet he does not have another legal move:

With the move Qc7, black is not threatened and can’t move. The game is declared draw by stalemate. 

  • The players may simply agree to a draw and stop playing
  • There are not enough pieces on the board to force a checkmate (example: a king and a bishop vs.a king)
  • A player declares a draw if the same exact position is repeated three times (though not necessarily three times in a row)
  • Fifty consecutive moves have been played where neither player has moved a pawn or captured a piece

Step 6. Study Basic Chess Strategies

There are four simple things that every chess player should know:

Protect your King

Get your king to the corner of the board where he is usually safer. Don’t put off castling. You should usually castle as quickly as possible. Remember, it doesn’t matter how close you are to checkmating your opponent if your own king is checkmated first!

Don’t Give Pieces Away

Don’t carelessly lose your pieces! Each piece is valuable and you can’t win a game without pieces to checkmate. There is an easy system that most players use to keep track of the relative value of each chess piece. How much are the chess pieces worth?

  • A pawn is worth 1
  • A knight is worth 3
  • A bishop is worth 3
  • A rook is worth 5
  • A queen is worth 9
  • The king is infinitely valuable

At the end of the game these points don’t mean anything – it is simply a system you can use to make decisions while playing, helping you know when to capture, exchange, or make other moves.

Control the Center of the Chessboard

You should try and control the center of the board with your pieces and pawns. If you control the center, you will have more room to move your pieces and will make it harder for your opponent to find good squares for his pieces. In the example above white makes good moves to control the center while black plays bad moves.

Use All of your Chess Pieces

In the example above white got all of his pieces in the game! Your pieces don’t do any good when they are sitting back on the first row. Try and develop all of your pieces so that you have more to use when you attack the king. Using one or two pieces to attack will not work against any decent opponent.

Step 7. Practice by Playing Lots of Games

The most important thing you can do to get better at chess is to play lots of chess! It doesn’t matter if you play at home with friends or family, or play online, you have to play the game a lot to improve. These days it’s easy to find a game of chess online!