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retrorussell

Arcades back in the day that seemed to carry lots of obscure games

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Hey gang!!

Did you ever have an arcade back in the day that you'd been to, that seemed to often carry weird and/or obscure games? Where? What games did they have that you didn't usually find elsewhere?

 

 

As of sometime in the last few years or so, Wunderland in Beaverton, OR (it was a nickel arcade) went under. They often carried some obscure games.

 

Some I recall:

 

RETURN OF THE INVADERS (UPL/Taito 1985)

A full-color sequel to Space Invaders that I didn't much care for.

 

TIGER-HELI (Toaplan/Taito 1985)

The NES port was more popular.

 

THAYER'S QUEST (1984 RDI Video Systems)

Interesting laserdisc fantasy with a creepy, indecipherable voice narrating about the path choices you made. Kind of a semi-cult classic amongst classic gaming fans.

 

There were some obscure ones at a nickel arcade in NE Portland-- not a Wunderland, but about as big.

 

A couple it had:

 

TRANQUILIZER GUN (1980, Sega)

A weird but playable game running on the VIC DUAL-type of hardware (Carnival, Borderline, 005, Head-On, etc.). Shoot safari animals (lions, elephants, snakes, gorillas) and bring them back to your jeep for bonus points.

 

INTRUDER (1980, Taito)

I think there were a few different games with this exact theme: move your ship left and right and try to shoot through a sea of space debris to destroy the computer (or 2nd player)-controlled ship, who is trying to shoot YOU.

 

And the beach arcade in Seaside, OR (It's like FUNSPOT or FUN CENTER or something) had some odd ones BITD like:

 

METEOROIDS (1981, Venture Line)

HORRID Asteroids ripoff in color. Garbage sounds and graphics. AKA Space Force. Known as METEORS under a different company.

 

BORDERLINE (1981, Sega/Gremlin)

Seldom-seen but actually rather good military-themed game with you steering a jeep through enemy territory. The stages offer differing gameplay (drive by/shoot "homing cone" type of enemies, drive through underbrush/dirt (?) to surprise enemy tanks, shoot nuclear reactors (I guess) and take out a fortress!

 

PIONEER BALLOON (1982, SNK/Rock-Ola)

Utterly weird/historically inaccurate game where you fly a hot-air balloon over landscapes that mostly take place in the Old West-- bomb stagecoaches/Native American Indians that shoot at you, also fly over the sea bombing gorillas and birds, and avoiding typhoons, then landing at a fort. Dafuq?

 

What arcades do you remember specializing in oddities, and what ones did they have?

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I know I remember playing a pirated Ms Pac-Man with a turbo boost button at a bowling alley once. It sped up not only Ms Pac but also the ghosts.

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Come to think of it, now I remember PROGRESS PIZZA (defunct for 20-plus years) in Tigard/Portland/Beaverton area, near Washington Square mall, that had some odd ones. Like:

 

SPIDERS (1981, Sigma/Venture Line)

Interesting Space Invaders-type game with arachnid antagonists. Novel gameplay in that you can shoot them before they hatch, and must watch out for "homing webbing" and other hazards. A creepy goth girl may greet you inbetween levels.

 

RED CLASH (1982, Kaneko)

Crappy scrolling shooter. The one I saw was a sit-down cabinet.

 

PIRANHA (1981, GL/US Billiards)

HORRID Pac-Man ripoff with too much open space where the enemies (4 octopii) can easily reach you (you are the titular fish). The exits don't always work. B.S.!

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I know I remember playing a pirated Ms Pac-Man with a turbo boost button at a bowling alley once. It sped up not only Ms Pac but also the ghosts.

That kinda defeats the purpose of the booster... :ponder:

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Yeah, after playing it and finding out it just speeds up everything, it wasn't much fun to play anymore. I also remember playing Baby Pacman at Chuck E Cheese or Showbiz, and when I was really young I was trying to play a game with a periscope. I can't remember if it was Sea Wolf or something else. I was way too short to look into the periscope and I don't know if the machine even worked.

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The PinPan Alley across from Data Domain in Arlington Heights. They had all sorts of prototypes there.

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Lord Nelson's arcade in Richmond B.C. (a suburb of Vancouver). I played the following games there and was surprised years later when forum members commented how rare these games were. I used to think "can't be that rare, I played that in Lord Nelson's"

 

Major Havoc

Environmental Discs of Tron

Thayer's Quest

Quantum

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Quadna Resort in Minnesota had the only Sundance I ever saw.

 

There was a truck stop near Story City Iowa with the only Satan's Hollow machine I ever saw back then. I don't think it was uncommon nationwide, though.

 

However, even Mr. Do! seemed obscure to me at the time.

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Grand Prix Race-O-Rama (which is now gone), used to have some obscure ones. At GPRoR's peak, they had two arcades, one smaller one (the original) which was packed with about 60 arcade games, and then the main building which had somewhere in the neighborhood of 100+ or so. In their peak (around 1999-2000), they had some of the latest stuff, but also had some obscure ones that they had brought out from the warehouse. I can't remember specifically, but there was a tank game that I played, along with a submarine game. I'd never seen them before, but the sub game had an actual periscope.

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At the bowling alley in 1985. There was one overhead shooter called xx mission that I loved playing after bowling. The game was there for 1-2 years. The game was never at any other arcade I went into. Another one was a wrestling game that I enjoyed playing. 4 players could play together. It might have been WWF superstars? The game was around 1991-1992.

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Yeah, after playing it and finding out it just speeds up everything, it wasn't much fun to play anymore. I also remember playing Baby Pacman at Chuck E Cheese or Showbiz, and when I was really young I was trying to play a game with a periscope. I can't remember if it was Sea Wolf or something else. I was way too short to look into the periscope and I don't know if the machine even worked.

 

When I was young and small it was the only way to play games.

  • Haha 1

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The Wunderland nickel arcade way out in East Portland was GIGANTIC and had probably close to 300 games. So there were some oddball ones.

JACK THE GIANTKILLER- 1982, Cinematronics

Weirdo combination of Donkey Kong, Crazy Climber, and maybe others as you climb the beanstalk and throw spare beans at enemies as you try to rob the giant of his treasures.

TURTLES- 1981, Konami

I think this was the only place I saw this game. Not bad and almost a semi-classic where you unlock cells to collect baby turtles to deposit in a safe home.

POT OF GOLD, 1982 Game Plan

This was a copy of LEPRECHAUN by Tong/Moppet Video, which was for miniature cabinets so little kids could play.

NIBBLER, 1982 Rock-Ola

This is a semi-classic to many on AtariAge but I never saw it anywhere other than this arcade.

 

Oh, the oceanside arcade I mentioned earlier also had JACK RABBIT, by Zaccharia in 1984. I don't believe it was working at the time.

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There was a small arcade on the way home from high school that had the only Polaris game I ever saw in person.

 

The Sega Center in Sherman Oaks had lots of the Sega games that I didn't typically see elsewhere like Space Fury, a few others.

 

An arcade close to my house had Space Firebird, loved that game.

 

I think there was a Castle Golf that had a sitdown Star Trek: SOS along with a sitdown Star Fire.

 

Some of the more odd-ball games weren't at arcades. Some cafeteria in the Sears at the Northridge Fashion Center mall had Canyon Bomber. A Dale's near where I used to live had an Astro Blaster. Another Sears, when I was really young, had Blasto (hated that game).

 

I can't remember where I saw the only Quantum game I ever played.

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PIETRO'S PIZZA next to my dad's bowling alley in Milwaukie, OR had some weird titles; one of the MOPPET VIDEO kiddie cabinets-- LEPRECHAUN, in the kiddie play area. As for the mini-arcade they had RESCUE.

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I don't know how you guys can remember all this stuff...

 

I don't recall playing any games BITD that you would consider off the wall titles. I could only add b/w games which are considered uncommon today but were relatively common back then: Wheels, Canyon Bomber and Robot Bowl come to mind.

 

Aside from that are the projector games which were popular in the late 70s and early 80s. I've been asking around to see if any of these survived but nobody knows what happened to them. My arcade had a row of maybe 4 or 5 of these things side by side. Wild Gunman was one that I remember well.

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Brainerd International Raceway's arcade had a Death Race game.

 

They also had some non-video, but projected image on the screen formula 1 racing game by Atari. It got quite a bit of play. Wish I could remember the name.

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Brainerd International Raceway's arcade had a Death Race game.

 

 

I remember my pizza shop had one as well as my mall arcade. It's rare today but it wasn't back then.

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They also had some non-video, but projected image on the screen formula 1 racing game by Atari. It got quite a bit of play. Wish I could remember the name.

 

Was it F-1?

 

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Was it F-1?

 

 

 

Yep, that was it. That game got quite a few plays. Crashes were frequent.

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I remember seeing a Thayer's Quest in a Circus pizza somewhere in the twin cities.

If it was only ever in ONE Circus, it was the Roseville HarMar Mall location. I only ever saw it there.

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If it was only ever in ONE Circus, it was the Roseville HarMar Mall location. I only ever saw it there.

 

There's the Circus on Robert street in West St. Paul(still profitable), but what I remember from my early days, the Circus I went to was HUGE. Too huge than I can think of to stuff in a spot in Har Mar Mall(RIP). Wasn't there one in Maplewood mall? Remember playing Assault with a friend in the early 1990s there.

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