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Categories: Clash of the Classics

Clash of the Classics: Return of the Jedi VS. Metal Slug

Just when you thought it was safe to put away your quarters, a new challenger arrives!

We’re asking you to decide the fate of two arcade icons in a head-to-head battle in what’s surely one of our toughest Clash of the Classics yet.

In previous COTC challenges, we’d typically see a well-known game up against a lesser-known title. The odds generally favor the game with the bigger name, but of course there’s always room for a surprise. This time around, though, we’ve got two big games from two very different eras: The 1984 Atari sci-fi shooter Star Wars: Return of the Jedi and our custom Metal Slug multi-game cabinet, spanning 4 titles from SNK’s over-the-top military action game, from the 1996 original to 2003’s Metal Slug 5.

While Return of the Jedi was obviously based on the third film in the original Star Wars trilogy, it was actually the second Star Wars game released in arcades by Atari, beating The Empire Strikes Back by a year. Return of the Jedi is also a unique entry in that trilogy with its detailed raster graphics and isometric gameplay. At first glance, it’s more recognizably a Star Wars game than the super-stylized vector shooters that attempted to capture the experience of piloting an X-Wing through iconic Star Wars moments. However, the gameplay isn’t quite as intuitive, and “Return…” demands precise timing to navigate quick-moving levels where you’re blasting away while avoiding obstacles like fallen trees or conduits atop the Death Star. The sights and sounds do a great job of enhancing the experience, and it’s a game that draws you in with colorful graphics and recognizable audio cues, then challenges you to keep up with the action!

It’s hard to imagine an arcade post-1996 without Metal Slug: Produced by SNK for the Neo-Geo arcade system, it was easy for arcade operators to drop the cartridge in a cabinet, but tough to justify taking it out. The appeal was immediate – combining refined run ‘n gun gameplay with detailed sprites, usable vehicles, endless waves of enemies and plenty of humor; Metal Slug is like a love letter to 80s American action b-movies with a decidedly Japanese flavor. Designed to reward skill with less cheap hits than many quarter-consuming shooters and plenty of power-ups, players kept the quarters dropping to see what the game could possibly throw at them next. And when the action’s maybe too intense, a technical limitation offers a bit of relief – if there are too many enemies on screen, things slow down just a bit while you carefully clear a path to the next hostage, prize-containing crate or high-powered tank. One of SNK’s most successful franchises ever, Metal Slug’s has eight arcade entries and several console spinoffs and ports in the chamber. It’s a blast, but it’s even better with a partner!

Two great games that made an impact over twenty years apart, and they’re still going strong at Ground Kontrol today. Which one will reign supreme, and which one will return to storage to await its next shot at glory? There’s only one way to find out: Play your favorite as much as possible, and invite your friends to join you. The latest Clash of the Classics is on!

Clash of the Classics: Jungle King VS. Return of the Jedi

It’s time to pit two arcade titles against each other to see who stays, and who goes – and your quarters make the decision!

Clash of the Classics is our monthly feature where two unique arcade titles face off to see who tips the scales in their favor. Every coin dropped counts towards a contender’s favor!

This month, two titles featured in our Raiders of the Lost Arcade
series humbly ask for your attention: Taito’s 1982 adventure game Jungle King, and Atari’s 1984 adaption of the sci-fi hit of the same name, Return of the Jedi.

Jungle King’s stuck around longer than we expected – rarely-seen, it features four distinct levels that increase in difficulty as you complete each set. From vine-swinging to shark-fighting, Jungle King’s an early example of the solid platforming many gamers would come to expect from the company that would later release the enduring classics Bubble Bobble and Double Dragon.

Return of the Jedi broke from Atari’s previous space-simulating vector game play featured in Star Wars and The Empire Strikes Back for an ambitious experience that attempts to capture the most exciting moments of the film that wrapped up the original Star Wars trilogy. Not only do you get to blow up a reactor with the Millenium Falcon, you guide Leia on a speeder through Endor, and pilot a AT-ST with Chewbacca at the helm. The AT-ST stage even switches back and forth to a stage featuring Lando locked in battle with TIE Fighters in an assault on the Death Star, in a unique feature Atari called “split-wave”. Its isometric angle lends itself well to fast action, and it’s a challenging game – but would you expect anything less when you’re taking on the Dark Side?

Whether you answer the call of the jungle or use the force, it’s up to YOU to get down here and play Jungle King, Return of the Jedi or both as much as you’d like. Invite your friends, fill up the high score table and take a trip back to yesteryear. You’ll help us make room for the next featured title, and have a blast while you’re at it! Clash of the Classics runs from Thursday 7/2 through Wednesday 7/8!

Clash of the Classics: Mr. Do VS. Jungle King

Clash of the ClassicsWe’re often asked, “How do you guys decide what games to feature?” It’s a mix of what we’re fans of, what our fans want, and what just looks like a lot of fun. Sometimes, though, it’s just gotta come down to cold, hard cash – specifically quarters!

Our monthly Clash of the Classics feature is our chance to take the weight off our shoulders and put it on the coin boxes, letting us sleep easier at night knowing some sort of arcade justice was served. How does it work? It’s simple: Whatever game earns more over the next week is the game that stays, while the runner-up retires to a temporary hiatus.

This month, we’ve got a previous winner going up against a new contender. The 1982 Dig Dug-inspired Mr. Do! is an oddity, with a cheerful presentation that belies its surprisingly difficult game play. By contrast, Jungle King (Taito, 1982) isn’t action-shy – starting off with a familiar wild scream, it throws players into a series of challenges that don’t let up.

We were pretty surprised when Mr. Do toppled Q*Bert from his perch high up on the arcade pantheon, but when you play the game, it’s easier to see why. You’ve got multiple methods of completing levels: Destroy enemies by hitting them with the power ball or crushing ’em with apples, collect the cherries distributed around the screen, or collect the E-X-T-R-A bonus and earn an extra life to boot. With even more beneath the surface, it really rewards return play.

Jungle King seems more simple – a parallax-scrolling platformer game (one of the first) where you’re generally moving right-to-left while avoiding obstacles and besting beasts, it really shines in variety and precise maneuvers. Swing vines, battle sharks, navigate rolling boulders and save a damsel-in-distress from becoming the soup du jour…and, just when you think you’ve mastered it, it all starts again with more obstacles and increased difficulty increased! It’s a great example of classic arcade game design, certainly ahead of its time.

Now it’s up to you: Get down to Ground Kontrol, play your choice contender (or both!), and make your quarters heard. Clash of the Classics runs today through Wednesday May 13!

Clash of the Classics: Q*Bert VS. Mr. Do

It’s time once again to find out which game commands more coinage, during Ground Kontrol’s Clash of the Classics!

Q*Bert’s an arcade legend – odd, orange, and sporting a comically large snout, he looks like a Jim Henson doodle scrawled on a notebook during study hall. The game was equally weird, challenging players to hop up and down pyramids to change the color of cubes while avoiding baddies like a spring-loaded snake and strange purple trolls. The act of moving up and down the cubes is simple enough, but you need to be more than a few steps ahead to really advance, or you’ll risk falling off the map altogether!

Universal’s Mr. Do bears more than a passing resemblance to Dig Dug, but it’s not simply biting the game’s style. Released just a few months after Namco’s title hit arcades in 1982, Mr. Do offered a few more layers of game play. Sure, you could still dig tunnels and drop heavy objects on the baddies pursuing you (in this case, an apple a day is enough to keep the monsters away). However, Mr. Do also has a mean throwing arm – specifically, a magic ball that bounces throughout the tunnels, taking out the first enemy it encounters. Add to that the option of spelling “E-X-T-R-A” by defeating “Alphamonsters” every 5,000 points, and a bonus credit award rarely seen in video games, and Mr. Do is a surprisingly deep game that demands more than a few quarters!

Whether you tip the scales towards Q*Bert or Mr. Do, we hope you’ll give both of these games a fair shot and invite your friends to check ’em out, too. Clash of the Classics is all about making sure your favorite game is here every time you walk in the door, one quarter at a time!

Clash of the Classics: Galaga VS. Blasteroids!

Each month, we pit our newest title against a classic that needs more attention in Clash of the Classics! This month, Galaga takes on Blasteroids!

Namco’s 1981 space-shooter Galaga really needs no introduction. A sequel to the far lesser-known Galaxian, Galaga updated the basic “shoot waves of enemies” gameplay popularized by Space Invader with several strategic elements, including the ability to allow your ship to be captured in order to increase your firepower. A fixture in arcades since its release, Galaga may have slower-paced gameplay by today’s standards, but dedicated players are rewarded with one of the best-designed arcade shooters ever.

Nearly a decade after delivering the momumental arcade game Asteroids, Atari released its spiritual successor, Blasteroids. In Blasteroids, there are still plenty of roaming asteroids to avoid and destroy, but you’ve got a few more things to do while you explore the galaxy: collect crystals to fuel your ship, transform your ship into more powerful configurations, and take on the ruler of the galaxy, Mukor. Two players can join in the action cooperatively or competitively. If one player transforms into the large Warrior ship and the other a small Speeder, you can even dock your ships together to become a multi-cannon master blaster!

From Thursday 3/5 through Wednesday 3/11, we’ll be watching to see which game earns more. If you haven’t played either game in a while, or ever, this is the perfect time to stop in!

Clash of the Classics: Dr. Mario VS Defender!

Clash of the ClassicsIt’s time once again to pit two very different arcade classics against each other in a battle for arcade glory and, most importantly, real estate! This month, the Nintendo puzzler Dr. Mario takes on the Williams shooter Defender!

Originally released for the NES in 1990, Dr. Mario was quickly released in arcades as well in two different formats – a PlayChoice-10 board, and a special VS. UniSystem version that we’ve operated at Groiund Kontrol for several years. The game sports many Nintendo trademarks – bright, colorful graphics, catchy music and refined gameplay that allows those that may consider themselves non-gamers to get sucked into the strategy of matching colored pills as they drop down, Tetris-style, to destroy attacking viruses and avoid overfilling your pill bottle!

Defender hit arcades earlier in 1980, but made a lasting impact with its revolutionary-for-the-time gameplay and graphics. Sporting several more buttons and quite a few more things to concern yourself with than Dr. Mario, Defender definitely aims for the hardcore gamer and even challenges them to their limits with a mix of blasting aliens, saving astronauts and keeping your ship from being obliterated on the surface of an unknown planet. Defender’s a game that many people ask for, but few people truly excel at – and we want to see even more people give it a shot!

From Thursday 2/5 through Wednesday 2/11, your quarters will tip the scales in favor of either Nintendo’s prescription for fun or Williams’ impossible mission. When we open the coin boxes of Dr. Mario and Defender after the games goes quiet after the challenge closes, we’ll find out what game you really want on our floor – and what game you don’t mind sending back into our secret video game cavern, to collect dust and quietly wait to bleep and bloop another day.

Whether you catch Dr. Mario fever, protect Defender’s legacy or choose to support both, we want to see you and your friends down here giving these games their due. With Clash of the Classics, the true winner is you!

Clash of the Classics: Robotron 2084 VS. Lady Bug!

Clash of the ClassicsOne of the most difficult and addictive games of all-time faces a challenging month at Ground Kontrol: This month during “Clash of the Classics”, the 1982 Williams action game Robotron: 2084 takes on the Pac-Man inspired maze game from 1981, Lady Bug!

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 the hugely popular Geometry Wars series. With a game so legendary and influential, how could we even consider removing it from the arcade floor? The truth is, we’ve put it off for a long time, but 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, Lady Bug is one of the better Pac-Man inspired maze games. At first glance, you think you’re just sending the titular ladybug protagonist through static mazes. You’ll quickly discover you can change the shape of the mazes by passing through special rotating walls, creating new paths and blocking off old ones on-the-fly. You’re also unable to attack enemies, so it’s a hectic game of evasion as you try to keep baddies from getting too close while you avoid deadly skulls (and maybe send your pursuers to their doom with strategic misdirection). Can this unique game from Mr. Do! publisher Universal Games overrun Robotron? It’s up to you to tell Lady Bug to stick around or fly away home!

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, January 8th, we’ll announce the winner and give a fond farewell to the runner-up. The second Clash of the Classics is ON!


Introducing Clash of the Classics: Wizard of Wor VS. Tempest!

Clash of the Classics
Choosing a favorite game is tough – and choosing a game to remove from Ground Kontrol’s floor is even tougher! Sure, once in a while a game lets us know it’s ready to move on by simply not booting up any longer. For the most part, though, our well-maintained library of titles demands our intervention when it’s time to bring in a new game. Even longtime GK mainstays sometimes end up getting the boot to make room for a fresh face! So, we’re asking fans of each game to decide who stays and who goes. We’re calling this head-to-head arcade competition Clash of the Classics!

This month, we’re pitting Midway’s maze-crawling shooter Wizard of Wor against Atari’s trippy tunnel blaster Tempest for precious arcade real estate! Wizard of Wor’s been featured on the floor for about a month now as our latest Raiders of the Lost Arcade title, and Tempest has been a GK fixture for over 10 years. One of these games will leave our floor in a couple of weeks, and you get to make the call! All you need to do is play the game as much as you’d like and invite your friends to do the same. We’ll keep track of the games’ respective earnings and the game that commanded the most coinage will stick around, while the poorer of the two will take a trip to storage.

Although Wizard of Wor and Tempest were both released in 1981, each game demands a different approach to game play. Do you join a friend and carefully explore the dangerous Dungeons of Wor? Or do you test your twitch reflexes and plunge into a nightmare-inspired, seemingly endless void of monsters? You’ve got through Sunday, December 21st to play your favorite of the two (or both!) as much as you possibly can. On Monday, December 22nd, we’ll announce the winner along with the latest title new to Ground Kontrol.

We’d love to keep every single game on our floor forever, but there’s simply not enough room in our arcade. (Plus, we’d need an endless supply of repair technicians, as well…) It’s up to YOU to vote with your quarters – each coin drop in Wizard of Wor or Tempest will shift the balance, and when we empty the coin boxes, we’ll crown the first champion in Ground Kontrol’s Clash of the Classics!

Clash of the Classics: Finding the best games, with your help!

Ground Kontrol’s fans know we’ve got games – a LOT of them. We’re always on the search for more – from basements to back rooms, we’ve crossed state lines and braved rickety staircases to bring you classic cabinets in the original forms you know and love. Now it’s time to focus our search on the games YOU want – games that even a bunch of die-hard arcade aficionados may have overlooked in our ten-plus years of preserving the dream of the 70s, 80s and 90s.

We’re getting ready to begin the ultimate arcade game showdown – an elimination tournament that will take any and all challengers and leave us with the best games standing!

First, we need your suggestions. What must-have games do YOU want to see at Ground Kontrol? Head on over to our Facebook page and let us know!

Stay tuned – we’ll be kicking off the Clash of the Classics next week!