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BillyHW

Why did early arcade games have vertical screens?

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Does anyone know? All I can think of is that it let them fit more cabinets into the same amount of space. Also let them put bezel artwork along the sides. Still doesn't make much sense to me though.

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Good question; I can only see how it'd help early shooters to give you more space for the shots to travel. Maze games, who knows.

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Was Breakout the first game to do this? If so, you can kind of see why... kind of like Rex said above, it gave the ball more space to travel. Then when Space Invaders, which was very influenced by Breakout, came out with the monitor oriented the same way and became a huge hit. With Space Invaders becoming THE most popular game of its time, it's easy to see why other games would have imitated it, especially games heavily influenced by Invaders like Galaxian and Centipede.

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There was a factory that had mistakenly turned out a bunch of sideways TV tubes. No one wanted to watch TV sideways, so they were going to have to dump them. But the kid in the mail room realized that video game companies could probably use them, so he got on his CB and talked to Nolan Bushnell about it. The next day, seven semi's pull up, all from Atari, to pick up the sideways TV tubes. Bushnell bought the whole production run. The next day, he comes to Steve Jobs and asks him to come up with a vertical pong type game to use with these sidways TVs. Jobs calls Wozniak, and the next day when Bushnell comes in, Breakout's running one one of those sideways TVs.

 

That's how it all started.

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Any game that relies on vertical height obviously benefits from the different orientation. Think of all our beloved classics. When they were converted to console, *that* was the biggest letdown of all: squished, spread out or missing graphics all together. Come to think of it, *that's* probably the main edge the arcade industry had over home gaming all along and they knew it: design a game for the arcade that could not be perfectly replicated at home. Besides obvious hardware limitations and design, that's exactly what we were fed all those years.

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The early days of arcade gaming are littered with vertical screen games, some of which are truly classics... Phoenix, Moon Cresta, Pleades, Space Invaders, Gyruss, Galaxians, Galaga … the list goes on. I'd say nearly all of my favorite games are actually vertical. Then there are modern day vertical shooters which still rake in the money … Raiden and variants etc come to mind. While someone may have made a decision based upon getting something cheap at the beginning there are still companies adopting the format so it works pretty well for specific types of games.

 

Contra … now that was a weird one. Putting a side scroller onto a vertical monitor was just wacky even allowing for the up screen stages.

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Vertical orientation also gives certain advantages with object reuse since the raster scan still works the same, ie down/up from the user perspective.

 

But IMO it's just a case of being able to do it, and many games were better off with the portrait orientation.

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Pin Pong (1974) is the first arcade game I can think of that used a vertical monitor. It makes since to do it vertically since it emulates the pinball playfield better. Here's a shot of mine at the Northwest Pinball and Arcade show in Seattle.

 

Picture061.jpg

Edited by Blinddog

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There was a factory that had mistakenly turned out a bunch of sideways TV tubes. No one wanted to watch TV sideways, so they were going to have to dump them. But the kid in the mail room realized that video game companies could probably use them, so he got on his CB and talked to Nolan Bushnell about it. The next day, seven semi's pull up, all from Atari, to pick up the sideways TV tubes. Bushnell bought the whole production run. The next day, he comes to Steve Jobs and asks him to come up with a vertical pong type game to use with these sidways TVs. Jobs calls Wozniak, and the next day when Bushnell comes in, Breakout's running one one of those sideways TVs.

 

That's how it all started.

 

Really?... :-D

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There was a factory that had mistakenly turned out a bunch of sideways TV tubes. No one wanted to watch TV sideways, so they were going to have to dump them. But the kid in the mail room realized that video game companies could probably use them, so he got on his CB and talked to Nolan Bushnell about it. The next day, seven semi's pull up, all from Atari, to pick up the sideways TV tubes. Bushnell bought the whole production run. The next day, he comes to Steve Jobs and asks him to come up with a vertical pong type game to use with these sidways TVs. Jobs calls Wozniak, and the next day when Bushnell comes in, Breakout's running one one of those sideways TVs.

 

That's how it all started.

 

I know your post is a joke, but it seems to be rooted in a common misconception; i.e., that a vertical monitor is different than a horizontal monitor. In reality, there is no such thing as a "sideways TV tube". Horizontal monitors become vertical monitors when you turn them on their side. For example, the Electrohome G07 which is mounted horizontally in e.g. a Missile Command cabinet is the exact same monitor that is mounted vertically in e.g. a Pac-Man cabinet.

 

The Sanyo 20-EZV and 20-Z2AW (most commonly used in Nintendo machines) has a frame that was intended for vertical mounting (such as in a Donkey Kong machine), but that didn't stop Nintendo from mounting them horizontally in e.g. Punch-Out, Popeye, Mario Bros., VS. system, PC-10 machines.

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Yes, they run up & down since the monitor is just turned 90 degrees, you might say they have vertical scanlines! lol With MAME you can set vertical games to horizontal, but they don't look or play as good. Same goes for setting horizontal games to vertical mode.

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Are you sure they are just 4:3 monitors on their side??

 

Absolutely. See my previous post.

 

I thought they were longer than that.

 

No. That is an optical illusion. You're used to seeing 4:3 monitors mounted horizontally, and when you see one mounted vertically it looks like a longer aspect ratio.

 

This is my Ikari Warriors machine:

 

ikariwarriors.jpg

 

This is my Street Fighter II machine (currently running a Double Dragon boardset):

 

dd1j.jpg

 

Those are identical monitors. They are both Happ Vision Pros; I even ordered them at the same time from the same place. The only difference is how they are mounted (vertically vs. horizontally). Those are even the same cabinets (Dynamo HS-1); they are made to allow for horizontal or vertical mounting of the monitor without any modifications.

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