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Categories: Raiders of the Lost Arcade

Raiders of the Lost Arcade: Carnival

CarnivalAt first glance, one might think this obviously ancient game is just a Space Invaders clone, with that basic shooting mechanic. However, there is a lot more happening in Carnival (released by Gremlin-Sega in 1980), and certainly enough to set it apart! Taking after the classic shooting galleries from the carnival midways of the past, the player has a gun at the bottom that shoots up towards a series of moving targets, and can move left and right. Yeah, a lot like Space Invaders! But to make things more interesting, the player has a finite amount of bullets, and depleting them ends the game. This places a real emphasis on accurate shooting. There are some dastardly ducks as well that can swoop down and eat some of your precious ammo, so taking them out first is a priority. There are a few other things to shoot at, including letters to spell B-O-N-U-S, and ammo packages. The player can also shoot out the music notes, to toggle on the love-it-or-hate-it soundtrack.

True to history, Carnival lifts its music from that venerable amusement park landmark the carousel. Coming into popularity around the turn of the century, carousels were outfitted with air-powered Wurlitzer “fairground organs” playing popular tunes of the day on pipes, drums, and glockenspiel. The song featured in Carnival is called Sobre Las Olas, or “Over the Waves,” published by Mexican composer Juventino Rosas in 1888.

Carnival is a relic of arcade history, and an amusing one at that! Give it a shot, but remember to keep an eye on those bullets!

Raiders of the Lost Arcade: Dragon’s Lair

Dragon's LairDragon’s Lair is an essential piece of arcade history, and a fond memory for anyone who ever played it. Upon its release, it was a very memorable game, to say the least. In a time when arcade games were the cutting edge of video games, everyone was used to the kinds of graphics you’d see in a Pac-Man or Defender-style game. But when Dragon’s Lair arrived, with its totally unique cartoon-that-you-play mechanic, gamers were blown away! Unfortunately, because of its laserdisc technology that allowed the hand-drawn graphics to spring to life, original cabinets of Dragon’s Lair did not have a long life span, and for most people Dragon’s Lair exists only in memory. Ground Kontrol figured out how to get one working, though!

The classic adventure sees players in control of Dirk the Daring, a chivalrous knight who always appears to have a bit of a headache. Using the single joystick and attack button, players take visual cues and time their moves just right to keep Dirk on the correct path, away from countless dangers. There is some amount of memorization involved, but being able to run through Dragon’s Lair without dying is a certain distinction few players can honestly brag about.

The Don Bluth Company is responsible for much of the game’s existence, and supplied all of the animation. Other great efforts from that company include the films “The Land Before Time” and “An American Tail”. That distinctive animation style is on full display here, with a fun, personality-filled medieval theme.

Whether you’re re-living precious Dragon’s Lair memories or stepping into Dirk’s shoes for the first time, this is a rare opportunity to play this important – and most importantly, FUN – game!

Raiders of the Lost Arcade: Pac-Mania

Pac-Mania (1987)This Monday 5/26, we’re rolling out a new game as part of our Raiders of the Lost Arcade series: Pac-Mania, Namco’s 1987 update of the all-time arcade smash hit! As Pac-Man, you’re still out to devour dots and gobble ghosts, but you’ll see a new side of your spherical hero in this installment: Now everything’s in 3D! 

That’s not all that sets this version apart. Pac-Man can also bounce over ghosts, adding an extra strategic element to the game play. No longer will you have to settle for faking and running – play chicken with a ghost and face him head-on, then hop over at the last second and race for the power pellet. Watch out for the new ghosts, though: The green and grey-colored ghosts can bounce, too!

As you travel through the four stages including the Lego-inspired Block Town and an updated version of the classic Pac-Man maze, look for new special items that can give you double speed or double the points for a limited time! Pac-Mania is an excellent update that retains the classic game play of the original game, with the right amount of new features to give it a fresh feel. Bounce in and play it today!

Of course, making room for a new game means removing our last featured title. This weekend is your last chance to play the Taito classic Elevator Action before it leaves the floor! It may return again someday, but we have no specific plans, so don’t miss out!`

New in the Arcade: Elevator Action

UPDATE: To make room for our upcoming Raiders of the Lost Arcade feature, Elevator Action will be leaving the floor after this weekend! Be sure to play it again before Monday 5/26!

Released in 1983 by Taito, Elevator Action is a classic arcade platforming game with some particularly satisfying shooter elements. The game starts off with a cool little cinema of a spy rappelling to the top of a tall building, which he must then descend – via the elevator, of course. Each floor is filled with enemy spies in film noir-esque outfits, who shoot at our hero on sight. To defend himself, Agent 17 (AKA Otto) can shoot, jump kick or crush his opponents with an elevator! The occasional red door holds a special bonus package to be collected for big points and level completion. At the bottom of each building, Otto jumps in a red sports car and speeds off – only to contend with another spy-filled building in the next stage!
Elevator Action is known for its distinctive, melodic music, which adds to the air of espionage. Taito, the makers of the wildly successful Space Invaders, popularized the game’s release using conversion kits that allowed arcade operators to change out an existing cabinet with a new game’s guts, graphics, and marquee instead of buying a complete cabinet. Try Elevator Action in two player mode for alternating gameplay and compete for a high score!

New in the Arcade: Black Tiger – More Zenny? No Problem!

Black Tiger“Long, long ago, three dragons descended from skies above with a rolling thunder and destroyed a kingdom into darkness. From lengthy suffering and darkness of the kingdom came one brave fighter.”

Become Black Tiger, the fearless barbarian, as he adventures through 8 sprawling, scrolling levels in a crumbling action-packed fantasy kingdom seeking to defeat The Black Dragon!

Armed with a whip-like chain-link weapon and throwing daggers; jump, climb, and battle various mythological creatures as you explore your surroundings and collect Zenny coins. Zenny coins are in-game currency that can be used to purchase upgrades to weapons, armor, keys to treasure chests, and anti-poisoning potions!

Suited up with a helmet, gauntlets, breastplates and the like, avoid becoming a lifeless skeletal hero by dodging falling objects, fireballs, traps, and heavy hitting beasts! Break false walls and visit side route dungeons for bonus points, extra time and Zenny. Each timed level starts with a limited amount of lives and separate meters for armor and health, so watch out! Revive stone statues of old wisemen and be rewarded with helpful hints (and sometimes useless advice!), extra time, extra Zenny, or the opportunity to shop.

Regarded for its budding RPG-like mechanics, Black Tiger’s ability to allow players to upgrade their weapons and gather an inventory was a novel concept for games of this era, considering that most games were designed to be played for only minutes at a time. This 1987 Capcom classic is a rewarding experience for anyone brave enough to slay dragons and accept the challenge of an arcade game that plays more like an at-home console game! Zenny-way you want it, that’s the way you need it – journey down to Ground Kontrol and play Black Tiger today!

Raiders of the Lost Arcade – Gondomania

GondomaniaTake to the sky and battle the Gondos in Gondomania, an obscure Data East shooter released in 1987! The evil Gondos hold your women captive on their “Planet of Thorns”, and it’s up to you and an ally to mount your airbikes and save them!

Wield two weapons at once against your foes as you fly over an alien landscape, with enemies on the ground and in the air greeting you with not-so-friendly fire. You can throw an unlimited supply of daggers, but you’ll need more than that to defeat Gondo’s forces. Use grenades, hatchets, deathstars and fireballs to ground enemy ships and and decimate seemingly unending waves of troops. Pick up coins to buy powerful upgrades and be ready to face a massive boss at the end of each level! Two-player simultaneous gameplay is supported, too, so you won’t have to defeat the entire Gondo planet alone.

The game’s unique rotating LS-30 joysticks allow you to pilot your airbike in 8 directions while aiming and firing in a 360° circle, heightening the havoc and giving you deeper gameplay strategy than your average shooter. The rotating joysticks are a totally unique control experience that can’t be replicated by any home port of this game. In the late 80s, a handful of games were released using LS-30 joysticks (including the Ikari Warriors series), and none of them can be played properly outside of an arcade! Specialized controls were one way of setting a game apart and hopefully giving it a longer lifespan in the still highly-saturated arcade market of the 80s. Gondomania never set any sales records, got a sequel or developed more than a niche following, but its bizarre theme and quirky controls make it a game worth playing. Come down and try it – it’s on our arcade floor for a limited time!

RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARCADE – GK’s Rotating Game Series

“It belongs in a museum!”

While remodeling Ground Kontrol in 2010, we discovered a hidden trap door leading to a secret basement. Inside was a crawlspace to the  tunnel network beneath Old Town / Chinatown.  Intrigued, we secured the services of a noted gameologist, Doctor Henry “Oregon” Jones of Portland State University, to explore further.

Deep in the musty catacombs, Dr. Jones discovered a trove of classic video games from the golden age of arcades: rare and quirky titles that haven’t been seen in the wild for decades!

Since Dr. Jones’ discovery we’ve been excavating these vintage arcade cabinets and dusting them off. As we revive them, we’ll exhibit each one for a limited time in Ground Kontrol’s “living museum” environment. Look for Dr. Jones’ insightful commentary and interpretive descriptions posted nearby!

The bounty of these raids are a golden opportunity to discover the secret treasures of gaming’s past, and maybe even see a lost jewel from your own childhood. Be sure to stop in often and keep an eye on the website; there’s no telling what long-forgotten favorite will be on display, or for how long!

Raiders of the Lost Arcade – Star Castle

The first entry in our Raiders of the Lost Arcade exhibition is Star Castle, the spacey shooter from 1980.  Against a cool starry backdrop, the player’s ship attempts to destroy a giant space cannon, which is encircled by a series of rotating shields.  If the player can manage to shoot through the shields, the cannon at the core will be exposed, which also fires back with devastating accuracy.  To further complicate matters, space mines home in relentlessly, preventing a stationary assault.  Good gameplay involves striking a balance between finding a good spot to take aim on the core, and keeping mobile enough to stay safe.

Star Castle was released pretty early on in the video arcade wave, and takes after the preceding Asteroids in many ways.  There is no joystick, and the player uses rotate and boost buttons to navigate.  The screen is equipped with a tinted overlay fitted to the black and white monitor for a nice 3-color effect.  Fans of vector graphics (like those seen in Tempest and Star Wars) are in for a treat with Star Castle.  The game is also equipped with some pretty impressive sound – finally managing to take out the main cannon rewards the player with a satisfying explosive boom (and an extra ship!)

Star Castle would later become the forerunner for the very popular Yar’s Revenge and was also ported to the elusive Vectrex home console.  If you haven’t had a chance to take aim on Star Castle, don’t miss this opportunity to enjoy a true gem of early arcade video action!