Today we look at some more of the games that will be at Arcade Expo this weekend that I am looking forward to playing at the show. There are a lot of great machines to play and your head will spin when you see them all. If you are just joining us here are some links to the past stories, the event website and links to tickets.
This will be the last full update before the show. I will be live tweeting on Saturday and Sunday and will try to do small updates but it will be dependent on time at the show. So make sure that you follow us on Twitter for live updates. So Now I look at more video games and pinball machines that I am looking forward to playing at the expo this weekend.
Varkon (Williams 1982)
This is one of the most sought after pinball machines of all time. With only 90 machines produced it was an experimental pinball machine that was designed to fit into a standard arcade cabinet. There are two play fields that you see through a set of mirrors and the flippers are two joysticks. With the rise of arcade machines overtaking the pinball machines Williams thought that this might be a way to make pinball machines more accessible to the public. The two play fields are separate and there is a ball for each level. The Arcade Expo has two of the machines one in both the pinball and video game area. The game has a lot of skill and is really tough to get to the lower level. This is a highly recommended machine to play due to the rarity of it.
Lunar Lander (Atari 1979)
This is one of the more rare Atari game due to the lackluster response of the game when it was released. One of the reasons is that it’s a very difficult game and is really frustrating. While there are emulators that will let you play it today they can never work as well as the original arcade machine. The reason is the special controller that operates the thrust of the lander. Trust me you will crash the space ship most of the time but if you are able to land it you will be impressed with yourself.
Dolly Parton (Bally 1978)
This is one of those pinball machines that I think gets a bad rap because of the theme of the machine. While I am not a huge Dolly Parton fan I have really fallen in love with the machine. The thing that really impressed me was the songs that the machine plays considering the limitations of the machine at the time. The play field does offer a good amount of challenge to complete spelling her name. The other good challenge is the drop targets that build the multiplayer. Visually the machine is of its period you shouldn’t let that sway you. The machine will not blow you away by any means but I have a lot of fun with it.
Mr. Do! (Universal 1982)
While there are obvious comparisons to Dig Dug that came out the same year, I really have a lot of love for this game. There are a couple of different versions of the game and the original version was not the cute clown that we all know now (You can see that in the flyer). The really tough thing about this game is trying to get an extra man. You have to try and spell EXTRA and it’s very difficult. I do not know what version that the Arcade Expo has but it’s probably the later version. If you have never played this game I highly recommend it!
Superman (Atari 1979)
Atari only produced 7 pinball machines from 1976 thru 1979 and Superman was their last and by far their most successful one. There are no hard numbers but the estimates are as high as 5,000 machines produced. All Atari pinball machines are wide body machines. One of the reasons for the success of the machine was probably due to the huge success of the 1978 movie. The machine is based on the comic book version and while the artwork mimics the legendary Superman artist Kurt Swan was in fact done by George Opperman who did all of the artwork for the Atari pinball machines except Hercules. This is a really challenging machine and the most difficult aspect is to try to spell Superman. I have played the machine quite a bit and I rarely am able to complete the challenge. I really love this machine and it’s both challenging and satisfying at the same time.
Armor Attack (Cinematronics 1980)
One of the many Cinematronics vector monitor games made was one of the best. The great thing about this game is that it’s a two player game. This is a variation of the original Atari Tank game from 1974. The thing that make this one is the computer not only throws other tanks to attack you there is a pesky helicopter that is unrelenting in most of the time taking you out. This is a great two player game that has a lot of challenge to it. If you have never played any vector game before then this one is one to definitely play at the expo.
Demolition Man (Williams 1994)
While the late 1980’s and 1990’s pinball machines became about licenses of movies and television and was the beginning of the end. While there are few licensed game that are must play machines this one is one of the more surprising ones. While there is a good amount of challenge this machines shows a bit of the too much crap on the play field. This is a very fast paced machine and a lot of ramp action. When you get the multi ball then things really go into overdrive. One of the good things is that is does a nice job of incorporating the movie into the machine. Of course there is audio from the movie but there are plot elements that are also on the playfield. While not a stunning machine, it is quite surprisingly good for a licensed machine of the period.
Sea Wolf (Midway 1976)
This is one of those cool looking machine because you get to look through a periscope to aim in the play of the game. And who doesn’t want to do that. While the gameplay is pretty simple it’s an update of the older mechanical games that has incorporated video over a play field. There is something about these types of games and it maybe a gimmick but they sure are a blast to play.
Joust (Williams 1983)
This is the only 2 player head to head pinball machine that I know of that was made. Only 402 units were ever produced so this is a pretty rare machine. Based on the video game of the same name, you play head to head with an opponent and try to score more than your opponent. There are also rounds where there are numerous balls in play at a time and you pretty much just keep the flippers going just to attempt to not have them leave the field. This is a really wild concept of a game and if you get a chance make sure that you try this one out.
Blaster (Williams 1983)
This was a game designed by Eugene Jarvis who designed Defender, Stargate, Smash TV and Robotron: 2084. It’s a 3-D shooter through outer space and there are also levels on a field. This is a really interesting game and the other thing is the Duramold cabinet that most were made. There was a small number of regular cabinet versions that are super rare. The Duramold cabinet was more durable than wood and supposedly easier to make. Only 3 games were produced in the Duramold cabinets. The other two were Bubbles that was a blue plastic and may have has a run of 300 but that is unlikely and Sinistar that only 2 of which are known to exist. The game is a lot of fun and well worth checking out.
Granny And The Gators (Bally/Midway 1984)
The third pinball/video game hybrid machine (The other two are Baby Pac-Man also Bally/Midway and Gottlieb’s Caveman that was more pinball than video game) This and Baby Pac-Man (Both are at the Expo) are really strange machines. While there were 7,000 units of Baby Pac-Man produced Granny and the Gators exact number is unknown but considering that Baby Pac-Man flopped in sales it’s unlikely that Granny had a very high number. The big challenge in Granny is the arcade mode that is really tough to get through. There are two large buttons that control the paddles of the canoe. The Gator are down right vicious after the first few areas and it’s really hard after that. This is a machine that I really love to hate and hate to love. It’s super frustrating but always seem to keep punishing myself with it.
Haunted House (Midway 1972)
The nice thing that the Arcade Expo has is the “gun room” that has a few rifle games. These were very popular during the 1960’s and 1970’s and for a kid you got to shoot a gun and man was that awesome. One of the best is Haunted House. It combined to great things, shooting stuff and Halloween type theme. This game is a blast and a real classic. You don’t see many of these gun games around much today so this is a real treat of the expo.
Champion Rifle Range (Chicago Coin 1962)
This is a really odd game that combined rifle game with pinball. Dave Minor owns this machine and has lent the machine to the Arcade Expo. While the gun doesn’t control the ball you do shoot the targets to get a higher score when the ball hits them. This is a wild machine that is pretty rare to see. There is not a lot of skill involved but it is still a lot of fun to play. I highly recommend checking this very rare machine out.
Atari Force Liberator (Atari 1982)
The game based on the DC Comic (Warner Bros. at the time owned both Atari and DC Comics) and is the opposite of missile command. Instead of defending your bases you try to destroy the bases on the planet with your guns. This is a challenging game and if you remember the comics then you were a big fan of the game at the time it was out. This was not a huge hit for Atari so it’s pretty rare to see this game.
Kick (Kickman) (Midway 1981)
The version at the Arcade Expo is the earlier version of the game that only had Kick name on the machine. Because of the success of Pac-Man Midway changed the name to Kickman. The game play always had Pac-Man and the ghost in the game it was only the marquee that was changed. This is a very hard game and it will take you a few times to get the hang of it. If you are up for a real challenge then give this one a try.
Popeye Saves The Earth (Midway 1994)
This is one of those odd machines that seems to be visually geared towards a younger audience but the gameplay is very difficult. The obvious draw is Popeye and while very challenging it is a lot of fun once you figure out how to work the machine. I have played the one at the Pinball Museum in Las Vegas but it never seemed to be working correctly. Hopefully the one at the Arcade Expo is working better. That being said I do enjoy the machine and can’t wait to play it.
Well that it for all of the pre Arcade Expo coverage. I hope that you get a chance to make it out to Banning this weekend. If you do make it out stop me and say hi and we can shoot the breeze about video games and pinball. It’s going to be a very exciting weekend. I hope to see you there.