Archive for the 'Arcade Cabinets/Coin-Ops' Category

Promotional Video for Atari Adventure Entertainment Centers, 1983

I talked about Atari Adventure, or Atari Video Adventure, here and here. According to Atari, the centers would be “the premiere showcase for the newest innovations in computer learning and video excitement.” There were less than ten locations across the U.S., at least one of them a straight up arcade at the Disneyland Hotel. It was a costly, ambitious enterprise that lost steam after Atari’s E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial debacle (Christmas, 1982) that partially launched the video game crash of 1983.

The footage includes quite a bit of concept art I haven’t seen, and I love the line: “Atari is dedicated to exploring the human frontiers of high technology.” Nolan Bushnell once referred to his business as “leisure applications of technology,” another nice phrase that’s become an overriding preoccupation of the first world.

Parts of the video were taken from another Atari promo from 1981 called “Inside Atari: The Next Decade” (below). I like the intro about the importance of games reflecting the “politics, the wars, the economic systems of the societies that create them”—narrated over some artsy footage of two white dudes in suits playing Go, an ancient Chinese strategy game.

Arcade Cabinets: Venture (Exidy, 1981)





Venture is probably the first arcade game directly influenced by Dungeons & Dragons. From the original arcade flyer:

VENTURE is played in a dark dungeon of multi-levels. The player forges through one level of rooms at a time, displayed on the screen as a floor plan. Armed with bow and arrow, the player learns to avoid confrontation with the wandering green Hall Monsters…

Each room is a new and completely different challenge. For example, one room has a pot of gold of high point value, guarded by goblins. Another has a magic bow giving the players special powers when shooting at creatures. Other rooms have hazardous conditions such as shrinking walls… or deadly ooze…

After strategically and skillfully collecting all the treasures on one level, the player ventures further into the depths of the dank and threatening dungeon…

Sound familiar? As the Golden Age Arcade Historian notes, Midway’s Wizard of Wor, released the same year as Venture, also employs a fantasy theme (with a sci-fi element), but the gameplay itself is standard clear-the-maze fare. The flyers and ads for Wizard do seem to emulate the TSR vibe of the time. Here’s some of the language:

Worriors descend into various dungeon mazes, battling visible and invisible monster Worlings, and maybe the Wizard himself.

Dungeon maze patterns appear at random and have escape doors at either end. These are used for strategic exit and entry.

Also, compare the cover of Venture‘s Technical Manual to TSR’s “Gateway to Adventure” catalog cover circa 1980.


Gateway 1980

UPDATE (7/25/14): Post has been revised for accuracy. Thanks, Alex.

Pac-Man in the News, 1982

Most of the video, via Patrick Scott Patterson, is from a PM Magazine feature on the youngest kid competing in the “world’s largest Pac-Man tournament” at Milwaukee County Stadium, but there’s also some rare footage of workers assembling Pac-Man cabs at the Midway manufacturing plant. (It’s not actually the largest Pac-Man tournament; the “largest” refers to the size of the stadium screen on which onlookers watched the games.)

The kid qualifies for the tournament by beating his brother on the Atari 400/800 version of Pac-Man at the local computer/game shop. His dad makes an interesting point about early video games: not even the best players could beat them. You just saw how far you could get and how many points you could rack up. The save game feature, as I’ve said before, changed games and gamers forever.

Dan Aykroyd and Duran Duran Playing Video Games, 1983

Aykroyd 1983

Duran Duran 1983

From Vidiot #5, 1983. Vidiot, “The Magazine of Video Lunacy,” was an offshoot of rock magazine Creem, and lasted only 6 issues.

It just so happens that Space Duel and Gravitar are two of my favorite cabinets. I’m a sucker for vector graphics. Space Duel also appears on the front and back covers of The Who’s It’s Hard (1982).


Electronic Games #22 (December, 1983): ‘Players Guide to Microcomputers’, Discs of Tron

EG #22 1983-1

EG #22 1983-2

EG #22 1983-3

EG #22 1983-4EG #22 1983-5

EG #22 1983-6EG #22 1983-7

EG #22 1983-8EG #22 1983-9

EG #22 1983-10EG #22 1983-11

EG #22 1983-12

Interesting that Coleco’s Adam, which I’d totally forgotten about, comes in ahead of Apple and the TRS-80. The first computer I got was my beloved Atari 800. That was about 1983. The first “family” computer we got was an IBM PS/2 in ’87 or ’88. My parents got a substantial discount through my high school. By that time, I had realized that learning how to program and “hack” was hard work, and the games for IBM were pretty lousy. My attention had shifted to Nintendo and my electric guitar—and girls.

Below is a quick, fun review of my favorite video game ever, Discs of Tron, from the same issue. Read the whole magazine at





Arcade Cabinets: Lunar Lander (Atari, 1979)

Lunar Lander Marquee

Lunar Lander Marquee-2

Lunar Lander Screenshot

Lunar Lander Control Panel

Lunar Lander Cab-3

Lunar Lander Side Art

Lunar Lander Side Art-2

Lunar Lander Flyer

Lunar Lander Flyer-2

(Images via eBay, Wikipedia, Stiggy’s Blog, KLOV forums, Pinball Rebel, and The Arcade Flyer Archive)

Williams Electronics Trade Ads (1982)

Williams 1982

Williams 1982-2

Williams 1982-3

Williams 1982-4

What a brilliant display of golden age video game marketing. Almost all service businesses had cabinets by ’82, but those businesses had to choose between a whole bunch of different game manufacturers. Williams (Defender, Stargate, Joust, Robotron, Sinistar) was one of the big names.

Is dad reading the Bible in the before shot of the first ad? And who the hell is that in the blue shirt? Pat? I had a handheld or two by ’82, but nothing compared to a row of cabinets. Just hearing the attract mode noises made life so much more exciting.

Check out the lady on the left peering curiously at the kids in the grocery store. She’s thinking: “Video games in the supermarket? What a great idea! Now I can bring my kids and spend way more money!”

The third ad is my favorite. Look how bored they are with one another until the cocktail cabinets arrive. And the guys at the coin-op-less bar are so miserable not because they’re stag, but because all the games are taken.

Fourth ad: Ruffles bags haven’t changed much, I guess. See all the beautifully pristine comic books on the spinner rack? That’s Captain America #268 second from the bottom.

(Images via The Arcade Flyer Archive)

Album Covers: It’s Hard by The Who (1982)

It's Hard-1

It's Hard-2

I don’t think this was the first video game to make it onto an album cover (I’m looking into it), but it’s awesome nevertheless.

(Images via eBay)

Arcade Cabinets: Space Duel (Atari, 1982)

Space Duel Marquee

Space Duel Screenshot-2

Space Duel Screenshot

Space Duel CP-3

Space Duel Cab

Space Duel SA-2

Space Duel SA

Space Duel Flyer

Space Duel Flyer-2

(Images via Arcade Game Marquees Page, Emu Paradise, Arcade History, Crafty Geek, Basement Arcade, eBay, The Arcade Flyer Archive)

Arcade Cabinets: Moon Patrol (1982)

Moon Patrol Marquee

Moon Patrol CP

Moon Patrol CP-2

Moon Patrol Side Art

Moon Patrol Side Art-2

Moon Patrol Cabinet

Moon Patrol Flyer

Moon Patrol Flyer-2

(Images via, RoTheBlog, KLOV forums, Classic Arcade Gaming, The Arcade Flyer Archive)




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