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Categories: Clash of the Classics

Clash of the Classics – Joust VS Double Dribble

CotC - Joust vs DD

We are kicking off 2017 with a competition between two beloved yet very different arcade games from the 80s: Joust and Double Dribble!

One of the most enjoyable two player games from the golden age of arcade games, Williams Electronics’ 1982 classic Joust is also enjoyable as a single player, fantasy-action game. You play a medieval Knight, riding a mighty steed (actually it’s an ostrich, or stork) into battle against other Knights mounted on flying Vultures of Evil. The competition of course is the Joust. Your goal is to slay the opposing knight and then catch him before he turns into an egg and tries to get away. If you fail to catch your enemy in time, the egg he has become will hatch into an even more difficult enemy whom you will have to perform the joust with once more, and so on. The opposing Knights start out as Bounders, then Bounders become Hunters and Hunters become Shadow Lords, and if you are unable to keep them from evolving, they become quite a challenge.

Konami released Double Dribble in arcades in 1986 as a follow-up to their first basketball arcade game, Super Basketball. The game boasts realistic features including five-player teams with specialized characters, official quarters and half-time switch as well as a national anthem ceremony, cheerleaders, mascots and fans. The player can replicate all of the actions of a real basketball player: dribbling, passing, shooting, and even attempting a slam dunk, shown in a slow motion zoom shot. Referees keep an eye on the game, calling fouls and sending players to the free-throw line. The game is timed so that a credit must be added to continue game play after every minute if the computer’s team is winning, so try your best to get an early lead on the scoreboard! At the end of four quarters, the winning team holds a victory celebration.

After its release, Double Dribble quickly gained popularity and was considered the most realistic basketball game at the time due to the innovative cinematic shot and dunk animations and the impressive attention to detail. The game was then ported to the Nintendo Entertainment System in 1987 and then later released in Japan for the Family Computer Disk System under the title Exciting Basketball.

Will Joust sink a lance into its competition or will Double Dribble slam dunk its way to victory? As always, it’s up to you to defend your favorite contender and help us decide which game is more worthy of Ground Kontrol real estate. We’ll monitor each game’s earnings between Thursday 1/5 and Wednesday 1/11 and announce the winner shortly thereafter. Clash of the Classics is on NOW, so grab some quarters, tell some friends and enjoy some classic 80s arcade action!

Clash of the Classics – Aliens VS Shinobi

Clash of the Classics: Aliens VS ShinobiThere’s a tough choice to make for fans of side-scrolling action games during this month’s Clash of the Classics! We need your help in deciding who is most worthy of a spot in the arcade: Aliens or Shinobi?

Aliens is a side-scrolling shoot ’em up game developed and published by Konami in 1990. Players can choose to face the deadly Xenomorphs solo or cooperatively with another player as Ellen Ripley or Corporal Hicks. In order to survive the onslaught of aliens, players must use the a variety of iconic weapons from the films such as the M56 Smartgun, pulse rifles and flamethrowers. Some levels even feature power loaders that the players can control and inflict extra heavy damage with. Although the majority of the game is played as a side-scrolling shooter, certain sections feature vertical shooting (similar to some levels in Contra), adding more variety to the action. Aliens is considered to be one of the goriest arcade games of its time, with well animated creepy graphics that did justice to the well-loved movie series in the arcades.

Shinobi is a side-scrolling hack and slash action game released in arcades by Sega in 1987. The player controls the ninja protagonist Joe Musashi with an eight way joystick and three buttons to attack, jump and use ninjutsu techniques against the evil criminals that lie between him and his captured students. An unlimited supply of shurikens can be used to attack enemies from a distance, but the player can also punch and kick enemies at close-range. Rescuing certain hostages will grant the player attack upgrades in the form of a powerful gun for long-range attacks and a sword for close-range encounters. There are also 3 ninjutsu techniques (also called “ninja magic”) at the player’s disposal: a sandstorm, a tornado and a doppleganger attack. Although Shinobi was not the first ninja video game when it was released in 1987, it remains one of the most popular and highly acclaimed ones from its era, and the original arcade version of Shinobi is still widely considered to be the smoothest playing, finest version of the game.

While Aliens and Shinobi are both great games that deserve the attention of all side-scrolling action game fans, the time has come to give one of them a break from the arcade floor and allow room for a newcomer. You have until the end of Wednesday, December 7th to vote, so grab some quarters and head over to Ground Kontrol to play your favorite today!

Clash of the Classics – Bubble Bobble VS Sinistar

Clash of the ClassicsThis month, Bubble Bobble faces a rather “sinister” opponent in Clash of the Classics. Yeah, we went there! Bubble Bobble is going up against Sinistar and it’s up to you to decide who keeps their spot on the floor!

Taking after some established platforming tropes, Taito released Bubble Bobble in 1986 with a mechanic new to the genre. Playing as a pair of adorable dragons Bub and Bob, the players use their bubbly breath weapon to trap enemies and pop them away. A stage is complete when all of the baddies are dealt with, and Bub and Bob spelunk further to do it over and over again. There is of course, much more to it than that. Players can unlock secret caverns (with really spooky music!), obtain powerful items, and gain points by eating tons of cool-looking food items. There are also a lot of clever hacks to earn plenty of extra points – it really is a game that one can become quite skilled at.

Noted for its widely-appreciated NES edition, Bubble Bobble is an even better experience in the arcade. That calm addictiveness is just as much a part of the game in cabinet form, and it’s also easy to get your quarter’s worth; one quarter can last several stages. The funny part is, as soon as you finally beat that last level, and find yourself back at the beginning, you’ll have no problem starting all over, and taking the plunge another time.

Fast-paced, gripping and utterly ahead of its time, the 1982 Williams outer-space shooter Sinistar is an early example of what would become known as a “twitch” game. You pilot a lone fighter ship, initially blasting away at drifting planetoids to mine Sinisite Crystals to create Sinibombs while contending with agile Warrior ships. Meanwhile, Worker ships work to construct a Sinistar nearby. When the Workers complete the Sinistar, it comes to life with a frightening “Beware, I Live!!”, and comes after you!

Sinistar represented a number of firsts in game design. It was the first game to use stereo sound (in the sitdown version), with two independent left and right sound boards for this purpose. It was also the first to use the 49-way, custom-designed optical joystick that Williams had produced specifically for this game.

One thing that Bubble Bobble and Sinistar have in common is that they both have hardcore fans. So, we’re counting on you guys to show your love for your favorite game and use your quarters to battle it out until the end of Wednesday, November 9th in this month’s Clash of the Classics!

Clash of the Classics: Robotron: 2084 VS Phoenix

CotC: Robotron 2084 vs Phoenix

October has arrived and it’s time for fans of truly classic hardcore games to help us make a tough choice here at Ground Kontrol! This month during “Clash of the Classics”, the relentlessly difficult 1982 Williams action game Robotron: 2084 takes on the 1980 Centuri outer space slide & shoot classic Phoenix!

Many have tried to master Robotron: 2084, but few succeed in beating even a few levels. Created by Eugene Jarvis (Defender, Smash TV) and Larry Demar (Stargate, Blaster), Robotron’s world is one where humans have all but been eradicated by evil robots. You’re humanity’s last hope, fighting seemingly endless waves of enemies while trying to rescue innocent humans before they’re turned into mindless “progs”. The twin-joystick gameplay was not only revolutionary at the time, but it returned in Smash TV and created an entirely new genre of “twin-stick shooters”, recently seen in dozens of console and PC games including the hugely popular Geometry Wars series. Now, the time has come to ask Robotron fans old and new to step up and show us if they want this game to remain fully operational!

Recently introduced as part of our “Raiders of the Lost Arcade” series, Phoenix is an outer space “slide & shoot” similar to Taito’s Space Invaders and Namco’s Galaxian. The original developer of Phoenix is unknown. According to Centuri’s Joel Hochberg, the game was licensed from “a smaller Japanese developer.” Amstar Electronics (which was located in Phoenix, Arizona) licensed the game to Centuri for manufacture in the United States in 1980. Phoenix took the “slide & shoot” concept further than its peers at the time with the introduction of progressive stages of play instead of simply repeating a single playfield over and over with an increasing difficulty level. The Phoenix mothership is one of the first video arcade game bosses to be presented as a separate challenge, before the term “boss” was coined. Phoenix provides a tough challenge to newcomers of the game, but once you’ve taken down your first mothership, it’s easy to get hooked!

Once again, your quarters tip the scales: Choose your favorite game to support, or play them both as much as possible over the next week. Spread the word and invite your friends, too – we want to create new fans for both games and let the people have their say! On Thursday, October 13th, we’ll announce the winner and give a fond farewell to the runner-up as it returns to storage. So, what are you waiting for? October’s Clash of the Classics starts now!

Clash of the Classics: Smash TV VS Forgotten Worlds

Fans of musclebound men with unlimited firepower and the ability to shoot in any direction, take note: You’ve got a tough decision to make during this month’s Clash of the Classics! One game stays, one game goes, and only your quarters can truly decide.

We’re pitting the 1990 Williams shoot ’em up Smash TV against the 1998 Capcom shoot ’em up Forgotten Worlds! Similar in concept but different in design, both games feature endless waves of enemies, shirtless protagonists, and 360-degree aiming to keep you on your surely-muscular toes.

Smash TV is quite possibly the perfect distillation of action movie excess and game show greed. Obviously inspired by semi-satirical sci-fi classics The Running Man and RoboCop, designer Eugene Jarvis brought the twin-stick-shooter gameplay of his 1982 classic Robotron: 2084 to the 90s with this game that dropped you in a twisted TV experience where you fought for your life in addition to big money and big prizes (“I love it!”). Set in the then-semi-distant future of 1999, up to 2 players were challenged to make their way through a labyrinth of rooms filled with increasingly dangerous (and plentiful) enemies, while collecting as much loot as possible.

Just like Robotron, the controls in Smash TV were deceptively simple for the level of difficulty you’d quickly face. Moving your hero with the left joystick in any direction and firing your weapon with the right joystick in any direction made you feel nearly unstoppable at first, but the first second you’re swarmed, you realize it’s not that simple! Fortunately, power-ups litter each room along with prizes, and playing with a friend not only makes it less difficult but more fun, too. Completing the game wasn’t enough of a challenge for gamers of the 90s – the fabled “Pleasure Dome” teased by the game had to be added after the fact once Williams got word that their game had been conquered but players were still seeking the ultimate reward.

Forgotten Worlds offers less humor and more complicated (arguably better) gameplay. Two soldiers equipped with jetpacks set out to traverse the crumbled remains of the planet in search of the evil god Emperor Bios to give him a piece of their mind (and about a million laser bullets). Blending fantasy tropes and sci-fi stereotypes, you’ll use high-tech weapons to take on all manner of mythical monsters, with five stages and eight bosses to conquer. Along the way, make sure you collect every glowing blue coin you see – it’s Zenny, and you’ll need it to buy power-ups, armor and more at the shops you’ll encounter in your quest!

Capcom made a concerted effort to stand out with the controls for Forgotten Worlds, forgoing traditional attack buttons or joysticks for a unique puck-shaped spinning controller. As with Smash TV, you move your player character with the left joystick. When it comes time to send a flying lizard man to its spectral home, you press down on the button/joystick to fire. Continue to hold down while you rotate, and pressing it rapidly will “megacrush” every foe on the screen, at the cost of precious hit points.

So, which is it: Entertaining television audiences for fortune and freedom in Smash TV, or saving what remains of the world in Forgotten Worlds? You’ve got a week to play your favorite as much as possible and make your choice known. Can’t decide? Play both and see where the coins fall! After Wednesday August 10, we’ll see what game stays and what game goes!

Clash of the Classics: Centipede VS Millipede

Clash of the Classics - Centipede VS MillipedeWe’ve given our games a bit of a break from our semi-regular Clash of the Classics challenge, where two games compete to earn the most quarters, with the winner earning a spot on our arcade floor and the loser exiled to storage. Now it’s time for another tough decision: Do we keep a well-known classic, or its more complicated sequel?

Centipede (Atari – 1980)

Centipede is widely considered to be the first arcade game developed with the female player in mind, as well as an all-time top-10 classic. Donna Bailey, one of the only women in the games industry at the time, specifically wanted to develop a game that not only stood out from the crowd, but drew a new group of players to the arcade. Both ladies and gentlemen took to the insect-inspired adventure, with the game’s success continuing from its 1980 arcade debut to ports for Atari’s line of home consoles.  Known for its distinctive pastel graphics, its turbulent soundscape, and the top-notch side art, Centipede is a well-known classic for good reason, and deserves every bit of its enduring fame. Not many trackball games were quite so fast-paced at the time, as Centipede’s control scheme depends entirely on twitch movements and high-speed button mashing. And, while it takes after Space Invaders a little bit, the gameplay here is considered entirely original, spawning clones of its own.

The action starts slowly with the titular centipede descending down the vertical playfield. Any time it hits one of the many mushrooms scattered about it, it turns around and continues towards the player, who is shooting up from the bottom of the screen. The centipede splits when fired upon, and each segment destroyed adds more mushrooms to the playfield, further complicating matters. Additional flea and spider enemies take aim on the player, who must employ speed and accuracy to last any amount of time in the increasingly fast levels! NOTE: Centipede was recently moved upstairs at Ground Kontrol, so don’t worry – it’s not gone yet! Simply head upstairs, take a left, and you’ll find it near Aliens Armageddon.

Millipede (Atari – 1982)

Sequels were as unavoidable in the early days of arcade gaming as they are in modern gaming, and Atari worked fairly quickly to deliver a follow-up to their smash hit Centipede. Employing similar graphics and gameplay as its predecessor, Millipede is noted for being the far more difficult of the two games. One or two players use Atari’s “Trak-Ball” to control the Archer at the bottom of the screen. A single fire button is used to shoot the Archer’s ammo toward the approaching Millipede and its posse of bugs. Careful! One enemy strike and the Archer loses a life. Players must avoid and destroy all segments of the Millipede and other enemies in order to score as many points as possible.

The arrival of Millipede introduced new enemies and features not seen in Centipede. Additions included: inchworms that can slow time, DDT bombs that clear all nearby enemies, swarm waves as bonus rounds. Despite the additional features and more intense gameplay, Millipede did not achieve the same fame as Centipede. However, popular opinion today regards Millipede as one the most challenging and overlooked arcade games of all time!

It’s an age-old debate – what’s better, the sequel or the original? It’s up to you to decide! Each quarter dropped in both games will contribute to its success at remaining in Ground Kontrol’s library. You’ve got until Wednesday 7/20 to play one or both games as much as possible. In a week, we’ll weigh both coin takes and see who stays, and who goes!

Clash of the Classics: Trigger Zone VS Legendary Wings

Clash of the Classics - April 2016This month’s Clash of the Classics is a shoot ’em up winner takes all, with our multi-game Trigger Zone taking on our latest Raiders title, Legendary Wings!

It may seem a little unfair to pit three shooters against one, but these two cabinets are on level ground when it comes to real estate. Since they take up the same amount of space in our arcade, we’ve got to make a tough decision somehow, so it’s down to this: Whichever cabinet is played more stays, and the loser retires to storage!

Trigger Zone (Capcom – 1987, Psikyo – 1997 + 2000)

Our custom multi-game cabinet Trigger Zone has been on the floor for nearly 11 years now, featuring a lineup of shooters including the all-time Capcom classic 1943 and two games from Psikyo: Strikers 1945 and Dragon Blaze. While we don’t operate many multi-game cabinets at Ground Kontrol, they’re sometimes the best way to feature a lot of games without taking up a lot of space. Trigger Zone employs the multi-JAMMA interface (developed by Ground Kontrol co-owner Clay Cowgill) to let you switch between multiple arcade PCBs connected to a single display and set of controls. Translation: Press the “game select” button on the control panel and when you see the game you’d like to play, insert your coin(s) and press Start!

19431943 is, of course, the 1987 sequel to the highly influential military shooter 1942. Set in World War II, you pilot a U.S. military P-38 Lightning fighter plane against the Japanese forces across 16 stages, leading to a final battle against the Japanese battleship Yamato. The controls are simple: steer your aircraft with the joystick, use one attack button to fire your machineguns, and the other attack button for a special evasive loop maneuver, or lightning attacks that consume fuel. There’s a bit of variety in the stages, with most featuring air-to-sea battles with big boss aircraft carriers or battleships, and the others exclusively air-based affairs that pit you against a giant bomber at the end. It’s easy to see why 1943 (and its precursor) were so popular in the arcades, with multiple console ports and updates of each game bringing the action to later generations. The action is fast-paced without reaching the “bullet hell” levels of difficulty that came later for the shooter genre, and the precise controls mean it’s almost certainly your fault when your energy bar is depleted and it’s time to continue. Hey, no one said defending freedom would be easy!

Strikers 1945The World War II theme continues – sort of – in Psikyo’s Strikers 1945. Set after the conclusion of World War II, Strikers 1945 sees a new global threat, CANY, appearing with high-tech weaponry and evil intentions. You select one of six planes to set out on eight missions, beginning in more conventional locales in Europe and ending with three stages that take the battle to outer space and the (spoiler alert) alien base! Released in 1997, a full 10 years after 1943, Strikers 1945 definitely offers more intense action and deeper (and stranger) gameplay. In addition to avoiding waves of bullets and attacking enemies, you have to keep an eye out for gold bars that cycle through shiny-to-dull, and grab ’em while they’re shiny to maximize your points. Instead of automatically exploding when you collide with an enemy ship, you power down, provided you’ve collected at least one power-up. Those extra layers of strategy makes Strikers 1945 an attractive challenge for players that have conquered more conventional games like 1943!

Dragon BlazeAnother Psikyo classic, Dragon Blaze, abandons the usual military setting for an anime-inspired blend of fantasy and sci-fi. Choose one of four dragon-riding human warriors on a quest to defeat the Demon King. Each warrior-and-dragon combo offers unique capabilities, so you’ll want to try each to figure out which one works best for you. Like Strikers 1945, Dragon Blaze isn’t satisfied with an old-fashioned “just shoot everything and don’t get shot yourself” approach, instead featuring an interesting scoring system that rewards the risky behavior of dismounting your dragon and sending him (or her!) like a battering ram towards your enemies. Fortunately, your player doesn’t fall to the ground when this happens, and you can actually gain more valuable coin drops by carefully employing this technique.  The most difficult game of this trio, Dragon Blaze demands great skill, but offers an entertaining theme and unique endings to reward dedicated players!

Legendary Wings (Capcom, 1986)

Legendary WingsReleased the year before 1943, Legendary Wings features a strange setting that mixes art inspired by Greek mythology with futuristic touches. It’s a more moderately-paced shooter with one major difference from the games in Trigger Zone: Some horizontal shooting! While vertical shooting tends to be more popular, Legendary Wings switches mid-stage multiple times to horizontal sequences, giving you a chance to see how your winged warrior fares on foot. In the vertical portions, you fire ahead of yourself and collect powerups while bombing ground-based enemies (and special targets to reveal power-ups and secret passages). Be wary of the giant faces on the ground, as you can be sucked into their mouths and enter a horizontal stage where you traverse simple sets of platforms and ladders while fighting a variety of enemies. These stages also offer some secrets as well, namely the ability to shoot through most of the walls to advance. Many gamers will likely recognize Legendary Wings from its NES port, as the arcade game is rarely seen. Legendary Wings never took off like Capcom’s other shooters, but it still stands up as a really interesting title that deserves a second look, especially by hardcore shooter fans!

Do you prefer a cabinet that packs three shooters with a lot of variety, or are you committed to classic gaming strictly in its original form? Take a shot and play Trigger Zone, Legendary Wings or both as much as you possibly can and help us decide which game should remain in service and which one will be (temporarily) decommissioned! Clash of the Classics ends Wednesday 4/20!

Clash of the Classics: RoadBlasters VS. Bust-a-Move

This month, two very different games face off in our “Clash of the Classics” competition for a spot on our arcade floor: The post-apocalyptic action-racer RoadBlasters, and the bright & bubbly puzzle game Bust-a-Move!

The action is simple in Atari’s 1987 classic RoadBlasters: Step on the pedal, don’t crash, and keep your tank full of fuel as you blast enemies in your way. Set in a distant future, your racer continues down a path towards the horizon as enemy vehicles attack, and cannons fire at you from the sidelines. Floating green and red orbs give you fuel, adding to your main tank and your reserve tank. You can crash and burn over and over, but you’ll lose precious fuel (and time), and if you run out before you cross the finish line, it’s game over. Halfway through each level, a checkpoint will refill your main tank to its starting level, to help you make the final push. Occasionally, a mysterious ally will fly overhead with a weapon power-up, and you must steer to collect it. A well-designed Atari System 1 title with graphics that are still impressive, RoadBlasters is a great game evocative of Spy Hunter, and it even spawned a Matchbox toy line that tried to add a bit of story and character to its world!

Fans of Bubble Bobble will immediately feel at home with Bust-a-Move, the 1994 puzzle game that brought Bub and Bob’s bubble-bursting to a new genre. Players are faced with a screen full of colored bubbles, and they must clear the playfield as quickly as possible by shooting them with matching colors. Another game that appears pretty straightforward upon first glance, Bust-a-Move (originally released as Puzzle Bobble in Japan) offers deeper strategy once you get the hang of it. Bounce bubbles from the walls to hit ones you can’t strike straight-on, and try to knock bubbles down by bursting clusters they’re hanging from — you can clear a level in seconds with just a couple of shots! Taito created a successful franchise with this unassuming game with Bust-a-Move appearing on many platforms, but nothing’s as satisfying as the arcade experience!

So, do you prefer to drive Mad Max-style into the digital sunset, or do you want to pop bubbles with a pair of prehistoric pals? From Thursday November 5 through Wednesday November 11, drop quarters in your favorite game and help us decide which game stays, and which game goes! After the end of the competition, we’ll announce the winner and give you a few more days to play the one that’s making an exit. Clash of the Classics starts… now!

Clash of the Classics: Tetris Plus VS. Tetris: The Grand Master 3 – Terror-Instinct

Tetris Plus VS. Tetris: The Grandmaster 3 – Terror-Instinct? Our first Clash of the Classics for the autumn season might seem a bit redundant, but read on and you’ll learn why these games offer very different experiences!

Tetris Plus (Jaleco, 1990) offers a clever twist on the classic Tetris game play with the introduction of “Puzzle Mode”. Instead of just dropping blocks and clearing lines to score points and keep the level from topping out, you’re helping an intrepid explorer get to the bottom of the level and escape certain doom from the slowly lowering spiked ceiling. How? By dropping blocks and clearing lines, of course! Clear a path for the professor through four worlds, and you’ll reach the final stage, Atlantis. Of course, you can compete against a friend in “VS. Mode” as well! Tetris Plus’ Puzzle Mode is a great choice for anyone looking for a new Tetris challenge, and its cute and colorful graphics make it very approachable.

 

Tetris: The Grandmaster 3 – Terror-Instinct (Arika, 2005) has a lot going on beneath the surface. Again, you can start off with a pretty straightforward Tetris mode with “Easy” mode. Dig in deeper with “Sakura” mode, where you must focus on clearing special jeweled blocks in order to succeed. “Master” mode offers classic Tetris with the chance to become promoted (or demoted) with occasional challenge trials. You can try to make it to Grand Master, but don’t forget about the uniquely difficult “Shirase” mode, where the blocks appear almost immediately at the bottom of the screen, giving you mere moments to react and place them properly! Tetris: TGM3 is not often seen in the U.S., and it’s got quite a reputation among serious Tetris players.

So, when it comes to dropping blocks, there’s more than one difference between these two entries in the most successful puzzle game franchise ever. Which game do you prefer: The world-traveling action of Tetris Plus, or the intense strategy of Tetris: TGM3? You’ve got from today through Wednesday

Clash of the Classics – Robotron: 2084 VS. Congo Bongo

The end of the summer brings with it many difficult realities: Returning to school, saying farewell to sunny weather, and, most importantly: Choosing between two classic arcade games to remain on the floor at Ground Kontrol! This month, Clash of the Classics pits two very different titles against each other: The multi-directional mayhem of Robotron: 2084 is challenged by the pseudo-3D platforming of Congo Bongo!

Released in 1982 by Williams, Robotron: 2084 has an extremely strong pedigree. Designed and programmed by Eugene Jarvis and Larry DeMar, Robotron hit arcades years before “twin stick shooter” was a common descriptor for a style of video game. While the style of game play may have first been seen in Taito’s Gun Fight (1975), Robotron was the first arcade game to really make an impact with the unique control scheme – one joystick controlled player movement, the other your attack’s direction. Moving in any direction and shooting in any direction was as easy as rotating each joystick whichever way you needed to escape enemies closing in, or launch an attack. Playing the titular Robotron, your mission is to “save the last human family” from robotic apocalypse. You fire and move in eight directions, and the on-screen guidance is minimal, leaving you to focus on the battle at hand. Destroy everything in sight, but don’t forget to rescue the wandering humans, especially before they’re brainwashed into hopeless “Progs”. Lauded as one of the best arcade games ever created as well as one of the most difficult, Robotron fits the classic mold of “easy to pick up, tough to master”, as the learning curve is essentially non-existent, while the difficulty ramps up just as quickly as your superhuman hero materializes on-screen.

Sega’s 1983 arcade platformer Congo Bongo was introduced to Ground Kontrol as a “Raiders of the Lost Arcade” title, and it’s the perfect example of one – a great game that’s hard to find, and nearly criminally under-appreciated. While on the surface, it seems like a Donkey Kong rip-off, Congo Bongo actually blends the game play and level design of a few landmark arcade titles to create a new experience. You’re the nameless Hunter, and the game starts with a brief scene in which you’re rudely awakened by a hot foot delivered by the game’s titular aggressive ape. From there, your mission is simple: Find him, and take revenge! This isn’t a hyper-violent vengeance story, though – you really just need to avoid his animal allies and catch him snoozing, so you can return the favor. The psuedo-3D isometric angle makes this game stand out, and the graphics are genuinely impressive for the year – take a look at this game, and compare it to Nintendo’s notable 1983 titles, Mario Bros. and Punch-Out!! – Congo Bongo just looks better! Elements of Frogger and Donkey Kong in particular make this game feel familiar. As a platformer, it’s not the tightest, but once you get the hang of it, it’s hard to not drop “just one more” quarter to perfect your next play-through or beat your high score.

So, your September challenge is this: Decide whether you’d rather retain the non-stop intensity of Robotron, or the charming and careful platforming of Congo Bongo. How do you make a choice? Well, by dropping a quarter in one or both games and inviting your friends and fellow arcade fans to do the same! From Thursday 9/3 through Wednesday 9/9, we’ll monitor each game’s earnings. At the end of the challenge, a winner will be decided – and the loser will be temporarily retired. It’s the Clash of the Classics, and it starts… Now!