Datsun 280 Zzzap / Dodgem, Bally Professional Aracade, 1978
Okay, these are early don't-hit-something driving games.
For those of you not familiar with Bally's version of Dodgem: The object of the game is to get as far as you can in the time allotted (you choose how many seconds) while avoiding collision with the cars that you are passing. You control the horizontal positioning of a car with the paddle. The view is top down and you are driving towards the top of the screen as other cards move down, backwards, towards you. This represents the fact that you are passing them. You control the acceleration with the trigger. When you fully accelerate you move from the bottom of the screen up to the center. This makes it tougher to avoid the cars, obviously, because you have only half a screen to see them coming. If you hit them, you stop and lose valuable time that should be spent gaining distance. It's fun in a zone-out-and-avoid-the-cars kind of way.
Datsun 280 Zzzap makes me wonder if they ever got permission from Datsun to use the name. Was this a "licensing" deal? Had that even been conceived of at this time? Was there ever a lawsuit from Datsun over this? They may have never even known about it . . .Datsun is a first person driver. You see the hood of your car, fixed in the center of the screen. You see the oncoming posts representing the sides of the road. You go fast and you steer so that you keep the hood of your car driving through the center of the road. The path between the posts can curve quickly so you need to pay attention and have fast reflexes. I was able to do well at full speed. I wonder if I was playing it right. I seem to remember that the arcade version (Midway, 1976) of this game required me to shift gears and I couldn't figure out how to do that in this home version. I may have been doing well because I wasn't going all that fast?
When you don't steer well and hit the posts on either side of the road, your car stops dead and you are given a collision word across the top of the screen. One of them was "POW!" which makes sense to me. Another was "ZORK!" which doesn't make any sense to me at all, given that I associate that word with the text adventure game and not obscure onomatopoeia.
These were games I had been looking forward to playing on a genuine system. I had gotten the emulated version of them and found that the Playstation controller really sucks at emulating paddles. Playing both Datsun and Dodgem on a real Bally with a genuine controller was something of a treat. Not because they are great games, but I remember playing both of those types of games in the arcades back in the 70s and I would've enjoyed playing them in the home had I had the opportunity back then. They both still have a certain appeal to me, though I didn't play them for long and I don't think I'll ever play them again.
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