Rumors of Rock Band’s disappearance from Ground Kontrol were greatly exaggerated! Back from a month-long Sabbatical at neighboring Backspace, Rock Band Tuesdays at Ground Kontrol (or “RB@GK” for short) returns this Tuesday with two big new features: a computerized rotation system, and instant purchasing of any song in the Rock Band Network Store.
Author: Anthony Dandrea
We pride ourselves on seeking out and restoring the best videogame titles of arcade history. One chapter has remained noticeably absent, however: The games of Encom, originally designed by programming wünderkind and arcade legend Kevin Flynn. Space Paranoids, Matrix Blaster, Vice Squad: a whole slew of them, thought to be lost forever.
That’s changing today, however. Thanks to the detective work of a few dedicated fans, we managed to locate an almost complete collection of Encom titles hidden away in a mysteriously abandoned game room. Beneath the layers of dust, they appeared almost untouched in the 28 years since they were created!
Now, we’re pleased to bring this exclusive lineup from Encom’s early days to the Ground Kontrol arcade floor of today!
The fearsome Recognizer made its debut in this classic title famous for its real time 3-D shaded graphics, an impossible computing feat in 1982. Cruise the canyons in your Tank, but stay vigilant or risk being Recognized into oblivion!
Don’t bother trying to top the world record score, by the way…it’s remained unbeaten since Flynn himself set it in his own arcade. “All in zee wrist,” as he would say.
Forget the 1999 movie; blast into the original Matrix with the classic top-down shooter that introduced “bullet time” to arcades. Pilot your Z-fighter through the game grid to blast Bugs in four directions. Things getting a little too intense? Hit the “Warp” button to slow down the action for a limited time.
Freeze, perp! Vice Squad gives the old game of Cops And Robbers an electronic update, with players facing off on opposite sides of the law. “Hey, if this is about those parking tickets I can explain, okay?”
Encom’s advanced video games sometimes seemed to defy the laws of physics, but nothing could have prepared arcade fans for Arc Wars, the first and only arcade game to feature an X-Y-Z monitor capable of drawing vectors in three-dimensional space. Spin the pitch, yaw and roll knobs to fling your glowing cursor through the air, drawing curves that deflect your opponent’s attacks. You gotta be good if you want to survive!
No arcade lineup would be complete without this smash hit! Race lightcycles, pilot a tank through the game grid, “upload” yourself via an I/O tower and infiltrate the MCP. It’s all in a day’s work for the world’s top security program!
(Space Paranoids repro cabinet artwork courtesy of Arcade Aid. Thanks, Zack!)
Step right up to the Funhouse pinball machine and meet the talking puppet Rudy, your capricious and lively host! Rudy talks, taunts, heckles, and keeps a constant eye on the ball, beckoning you to experience his amusement park world filled with Mystery Mirrors, Wind Tunnels, and Crazy Steps.
Advance the clock to midnight and Rudy falls asleep, snoring loudly. Target his open mouth to begin 3-ball multi-ball play and try for million-point scoring! A second plunger doubles the fun, adding skill shots for Rudy’s Hideout, Extra Ball and Frenzy scoring.
Ace of Base reference aside, Ground Kontrol is finally getting lit outdoor signs, and we have the photos to prove it. (click thumbnails to see full image)
Nice, huh? The glow behind the “GROUND KONTROL” lettering isn’t a Photoshop trick; it’s the effect of white LEDs facing backwards inside the letters, lighting a blue panel behind them.
Here are mockups of how they’ll look on the building:
Signs will be installed this coming Wednesday and Thursday (Jan. 27th and 28th) between 8AM and 3PM. The electrical work needed to light the signs at night will be completed a month or so later.
We think the new signs will be quite eye-catching when viewed from the sidewalk, street, or MAX trains. Be sure to swing by and check them out!
Ground Kontrol’s mission to provide the classic arcade experience on a full-time basis in the present day calls for both preservation and modernization. To meet these sometimes conflicting goals, we try to retain the original look and feel of the equipment as much as possible while using modern parts and materials to ruggedize them for full-time play. Our treatment of X-Men’s joystick controls is a good example of achieving this balance.
The basic components of most arcade games are basically the same: power, processor, input (controls) and output (audio and video.) Our 6-player X-Men is no different, except that some of the components are big and/or customized. We’ll save the controls for tomorrow and look at the rest of the innards today.
Now that we have editable copies of the original art, we set to work adapting it and adding our own creations.
The control panel’s original background, a tiled pattern of tiny X-Men logos, is serviceable but leaves plenty of room for improvement. Deciding that the villains deserve some representation, Isaac drafts a Sentinel mounting a formidable attack on the players:
11/29/14 Update! Some of our reproductions of the original artwork are now available for download. Files are in PDF format and ready to print.
After searching for suitable artwork online and coming up empty, we decide to capture the artwork on our cabinet and digitally restore it ourselves. We start by trying the flatbed scanning technique outlined in excellent detail at Jeff Rothe’s blog.
The bulk of the original cabinet’s size comes from its display hardware: Two 25″ monitors, one facing forwards from the back of the cabinet and another facing upwards towards a mirror that superimposes its image alongside the other to create a single widescreen display.
If we somehow found a way to display the two original images (one reflected top-to-bottom) on a modern LCD panel, we could replace the original rear half of the cabinet with a “slimline” version… READ MORE >