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Stargate and trademark trolling (why no Food Fight or I, Robot?)

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I like a couple of mid-1980s games from Atari, "Food Fight" and "I, Robot." They arrived late in the lifespan of pre-split Atari, and I guess they're a little bit off-kilter and possibly harder to emulate than Centipede et al. But they were innovative and fun, with nothing quite like them today. Unlike the usual fare, these haven't been re-released and re-hashed to death.

 

It just occurred to me that maybe it's because of the names, not the games. "Food Fight" is a super generic name and I'll bet others have jumped on the concept. "I, Robot" was stolen from Asimov books and was a Major Motion Picture. Then I remembered how Stargate got renamed to "Defender II" out of copyright fears. Modern Atari can't do much right nowadays, but they've never met a trademark/copyright lawsuit they didn't like.

 

Do you think I'm onto something? Does anyone know for sure?

This brain fart was brought about by the existence of this modern "brand exploitation" of the Ninja Golf name and concept, from the Atari 7800 days.

 

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Charley Chuck's Food Fight is an EXCELLENT game.

 

(and yes, it's basically just Food Fight, but I was copying from the Wiki page.. I knew the alt name was somewhat longer)

 

 

I have it on my 360 Game Room, but nowhere else other than MAME.

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Posted (edited)

For "I, Robot" I think the 3D is more the issue. See how some people consider that even PS2 graphics are ugly and too blocky and imagine trying to present "I, Robot" as an arcade game of 1983. Most people wouldn't even believe it's that old. It's also possible that Infogrames is too lazy to bother picking up an emulator to run I, Robot on other platforms, or that their remaining people aren't programmers but lawyers (sounds very possible, since they basically just manage their IP now)

Edited by CatPix
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Charley Chuck's Food Fight is an EXCELLENT game.

 

(and yes, it's basically just Food Fight, but I was copying from the Wiki page.. I knew the alt name was somewhat longer)

 

 

I have it on my 360 Game Room, but nowhere else other than MAME.

 

Heh, I forgot about the "full name." I guess that's one way to differentiate the thing. The 7800 version was ported to the first Atari Flashback (nintendo on a chip, not emulation), and is slated to be on the Evercade handheld in cartridge form. But like you, Game Room and MAME are the only places I've seen it outside an arcade.

 

post-2410-0-77265200-1559152957.jpg

 

@Catpix it was the first solid polygon arcade game, you'd think 3D would count for it, not against it.

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Oh for me it counts, being the first "true" 3D video game, but for the general public, 3D games appeared with the Playstation so...

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Yes of course, for me as well -- plus I think it's a fun, weird, interesting game in addition to being a historical first. I would be leveraging the living merde out of it if I owned the rights to that game.

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Posted (edited)

It could very well be a trademark thing. There's lots of old and obscure games on the Atari Flashback Classics Vol 1-3 (e.g. arcade pool shark, 2600 backgammon) so I don't think the quality of the games has anything to do with it. Still I don't remember Food Fight or I Robot from the arcades. Maybe I Robot but I don't think I played it.

 

Regarding Stargate apparantly Williams was concerned the name infringed the trademark of a 1979 board game called Stargate.

Edited by mr_me

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You know what I always thought was a huge missed opportunity?

 

2 player, or even better, 4 player simultaneous sequel to food fight, where not only are you fighting the chefs, but also each other in a capture the flag version (or co-operative mode)

 

Add different floor layouts like cafeteria, assembly hall, gym class, science lab.

 

Add power ups.

 

Bonus rounds.

 

Name the other three player characters:

 

Bob Lob

Rick Flick

Theo Throw

 

Each with different speed/abilities like Gauntlet.

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I'd play that. Could even allow the players to control Angelo, Jacques, Oscar, and Zorba.

 

For all I know, there's already an online version called FoodFight.io

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That's the most brilliant, amazing, unexpected technical breakthrough since DOOM on Intellivision. The 2600 had such amazing depths of untapped power. I wouldn't be surprised to find an entire Atari Jaguar hiding under that woodgrain.

 

Oooo I hadn't seen that! Need to try it out, thanks!

 

..Al

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Name the other three player characters:

 

Bob Lob

Rick Flick

Theo Throw

 

Going to have to come up with three double-meanings, like Chuck (verb, throw, or one noun meaning a specific type of food).

 

The full title is much deeper than any of us imagined!

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Then I remembered how Stargate got renamed to "Defender II" out of copyright fears.

Speaking as someone who heard it from the horse's mouth (i.e. a Williams exec), it wasn't just fear, they were actually legally threatened. There was a Ouija Board style thing named Stargate and the owner wished to reserve the right to distribute a computer version, so was claiming trademark infringement. There were justifiable suspicions this was just a shakedown, but rather than engage they just renamed the game "Defender II" in the home releases.

 

Consequence for me was I had to edit the Stargate ROM to say "DEFENDER II" on the title screen instead, which included defeating all the tamper protection in the ROM specifically designed to thwart people from changing copyrights or branding. Caused some "interesting" QA headaches.

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@Jeff

I would think that this has blown over by now ...any chance of Midway bringing back the old name? Or does Defender carry more sway in these modern times?

 

I think I need a Defender game with simplified controls for mobile. :lol:

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There has since been other video games named Stargate, based on the movie/tv show.

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@Jeff

I would think that this has blown over by now ...any chance of Midway bringing back the old name? Or does Defender carry more sway in these modern times?

 

I think I need a Defender game with simplified controls for mobile. :lol:

Wouldn't know. The new owners are Warner Bros. and they rarely return my calls. :) (Haven't done anything with them since the Ready Player One tie-in. I'd love to get a new Midway compilation out with the games from Midway Arcade Treasures 1-3 in one purchase, but there's been no bites yet. Seems like they like to treat these games as bonus material, like in Lego Dimensions, rather as their own headliners.)

 

Anyway, knowing how lawyers work they will do what they have the best paper trail for. Defender II has greater precedent these days, so I expect they'd stick with that.

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Midway Treasures in one fell swoop on the Switch would be aces. Maybe they could call it Warner Treasures and throw in the Road Runner game.

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