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Categories: Raiders of the Lost Arcade

Raiders of the Lost Arcade: Sinistar

Beware! Sinistar lives!Raiders of the Lost Arcade: Sinistar

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.

Perhaps one of the most challenging Raiders of the Lost Arcade games we’ve featured, Sinistar is here to wreak havoc and put your reflexes to the test if you want to get on the high score leaderboards! Give it a shot at Ground Kontrol today!


• Short-range Sinibombs automatically targets the Sinistar when fired, but can be intercepted by a collision with an enemy Workers, enemy Warriors, or a planetoid.

• A completed but damaged Sinistar can be repaired/rebuilt by the enemy Workers by gathering more crystals, extending its “lifespan” if the player is unable to kill it quickly.

• Your ship can hold up to 20 Sinibombs at a time, a total of 13 bombs are required to destroy a fully constructed Sinistar!

Raiders of the Lost Arcade: Phoenix

Phoenix Ad Art

Rising again from the ashes for the first time in 10 years, look at what we’ve had incubating for all of you space shooter fans…

Phoenix is an outer space “slide & shoot” similar to Taito’s Space Invaders and Namco’s Galaxian, but takes the concept further with the introduction of progressive stages of play instead of simply repeating a single playfield over and over with an increasing difficulty level.

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.

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 holds the dubious honor of being one of the most bootlegged and cloned games of all time. The Apple ][ clone was called Falcons, and was one of the most faithful ports of an arcade game to the platform.

We’re proud to present you with a beautifully maintained original Phoenix cabinet for your enjoyment. Play it now before it returns to its incubation chamber once again!

Raiders of the Lost Arcade: Rally-X

Rally-XSimple yet colorful, addictive and fun, Namco’s Rally-X first hit Japanese arcades in 1980. Race your lone car through city streets and rack up points, all while avoiding the mounting number of enemies who are out to wreck your car! The game is deceptively easy at first, but it quickly escalates into an adrenaline-filled race against a dwindling fuel tank.

In Rally-X, players use a 4-way joystick to steer a car around a street maze while attempting to gather scattered yellow flags. All flags must be collected before the car’s fuel runs out in order to complete each level. Enemies working against the player are crash-determined red cars, parked cars and rock piles; all of which can cost the player a life! A smoke screen button can be used to temporarily stun the enemy cars, but utilizing it will cost the player valuable fuel. There is a handy radar display that shows the positions of flags and enemy cars, but NOT the rocks, so try to keep your eyes on the road! Naturally, the game is over when the player runs out of lives. Your ultimate goal is to beat the high score, so accumulate points by collecting flags and having leftover fuel at the end of each round!

Rally-X was introduced at the 1980 Amusement Machine Operators of America, amongst a plethora of other hard-hitting arcade games as a title licensed by Midway for American release. Video game experts had predicted Rally-X to be the most popular game at that event, however, Namco’s other maze game had upstaged it all. That game? Pac-Man. Pac-Man’s overwhelming reception and popularity left Rally-X in its shadow, unfairly so!

Give Rally-X another shot at success and play it today at Ground Kontrol!

Raiders of the Lost Arcade: Forgotten Worlds

Forgotten Worlds“Emperor Bios, the god of destruction and creator of evil. Eight evil gods he created were destroying every civilization. Destroyed cities turned into ruins called the Dust World. But aura of people’s angry mind created two super warriors to fight against evils.”

A strangely worded narrative from the 1988 promo flyer sends us into straight into the action of Forgotten Worlds! Originally crafted in Japan (thus the slightly lost-in- translation game description and title), this game was the third and last of Capcom’s “Jet-Pack Hero” shooters (following Section-Z and Side Arms Hyper Dyne) and the first to use Capcom’s “CPS1” arcade system that would power dozens of their titles from the late 80s through the early 90s.

Forgotten Worlds can be played by up to two players simultaneously, with each player controlling a futuristic, nameless Marine. The Marines are armed with muscles (lots of muscles), jet-packs and rifles containing unlimited ammo. Player 1’s soldier is equipped with a long-range automatic rifle, while Player 2’s soldier has a short-range wide shot, and your task is to guide the flying space Marines through 9 stages of fast-paced action. Killing an enemy will result in gaining Zenny (Capcom’s in-game currency that appears in several games). Players use Zenny to purchase armor, health, weapon upgrades and tips throughout the game. Weapon power-ups are crucial, with several different effects available to choose from, so don’t miss a chance to enter a Shop! As you traverse the wastelands of Earth now known as the “Dust World”, you’ll encounter daunting battles against evil gods, with the last being none other than the all-powerful Emperor Bios!

This game features a traditional joystick to control your character and a roll-switch spinner that rotates your character in any direction. This allows for incredible multi-directional shooting, a necessity with enemies swarming you from all sides. Pressing down on the roll-switch will fire your weapons; rapidly pressing the roll-switch will result in a Megacrush attack that wipes out all enemies (and sadly, some of your vitality!).

Forgotten Worlds is one of the more creative arcade shooters, standing out at a glance due to its unique controllers and eye-catching graphics featuring detailed sprites and a style that melds more traditional fantasy with futuristic sci-fi. Don’t miss your chance to play this hard-to-find classic in its original form!

Raiders of the Lost Arcade: Millipede

MillipedeIn a forest faraway, only you can stop the insect invaders. The King is dead and his vengeful spirit has summoned an army of bugs to destroy your kingdom. You, the Archer, must pick up your bow, head out to the mushroom garden and battle the horde of monstrous pests, including the almighty Millipede!

Millipede is the 1982 follow-up to Atari’s wildly successful Centipede (1980). 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 fundamental 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, and 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. Stop by today and do your part to save the kingdom in Atari’s Millipede!

Raiders of the Lost Arcade: Legendary Wings

Legendary WingsWith a fascinating theme that blends ancient mythology and futuristic sci-fi, Legendary Wings is an excellent and underrated Capcom shooter. Two players can simultaneously enjoy Legendary Wings, and like most shoot ’em ups it allows you to join a single-player game at any time. The game begins with vertical shooting reminiscent of Capcom’s own 1942 series, featuring targets both in the air and on land. Your character is a winged warrior armed with a laser rifle and bombs, constantly flying through the air. Fire at enemies approaching you while dropping bombs on ground-based foes. Eventually you’ll encounter a giant face on the surface of the planet, which sucks you in to a mysterious base inside of the massive enemy where you’ll switch to a side-scrolling perspective similar to Contra or Rolling Thunder. These two gameplay modes switch throughout, keeping things interesting.

In the unique world of Legendary Wings, a supercomputer that has helped humanity towards enlightenment since ancient times suddenly goes rogue, and it’s up to our characters to stop it. This computer, named “Dark”, is reached after five long levels of gameplay and acts as the final boss of Legendary Wings. While the story isn’t particularly meaty (or necessary), it’s a strange concept and world that leaves a lasting impression. Curiously, a bit of censorship changed the player avatars for the US release. In the original Japanese release, player 1 is “Michelle Heart”, a female warrior in a pink bikini, and player 2 is Kevin Walker, a shirtless male warrior. US players first saw Michelle replaced by another male character, and both heroes rendered nameless. In an alternate US version, the original characters remain, but Michelle’s bikini is inexplicably green. Michelle has even appeared in obscure cameos in Capcom games, like Marvel vs. Capcom, Namco x Capcom and SNK’s Card Fighters. Most people will likely recognize Legendary Wings from its excellent NES port that faithfully recreated the arcade experience with less impressive graphics.

Anyone who enjoys a good “schmup” will get a kick out of Legendary Wings, with the variety offered by the shifting vertical and horizontal perspectives and the interestingly realized world that looks like none other. A game that stands up nicely next to better-known classics like the aforementioned 1942, Legendary Wings deserves a place in any classic gamer’s repertoire!

Raiders of the Lost Arcade: KLAX

KLAXKLAX is a rather unique puzzle game that bears little resemblance to its better known puzzling peers. While Atari was gearing up to release it, they used the term “tic tac tile” to describe the basic gameplay mechanic. This is a fair description, but KLAX is also very animated and at times quite hectic!

Tetris was very popular at the time of KLAX’s release, so Atari wanted to bring another interesting puzzle game to a market that was ready for it. To play KLAX, one or two simultaneous players operate a paddle which can move only left and right. This paddle is situated at the end of a ramp of sorts, some say a conveyer belt, on which multicolored bricks cascade closer in five columns. It’s the player’s job to use the paddle to catch these bricks, then arrange them in a staging area depending on the completion requirements of that wave. Placing three same-colored bricks in a row, stack or diagonal arrangement, which is called a KLAX, is the way to achieve the varied goals of each level. If the player allows three of the tiles to drop off the playing field, or fills the staging area without completing the goal, the result is Game Over, with an option to continue. The player receives bonuses between each wave for extra space left in the staging area. In a pinch, the player can also toss a tile back onto the board, but this is a temporary fix at best, as the board can become quite crowded that way.

Advanced levels of KLAX can become quite frenetic, as more and more bricks fill up the ramp and speed toward the paddle. There is a finite amount of stages (100), so it is possible to actually complete KLAX. The late eighties and early nineties are well-preserved here in the charming aesthetics of KLAX. There are plenty of pinks and purples and bright colorful designs to create a strong visual appeal. It’s also got great sound: the clacking of the approaching tiles creating a sort of dynamic soundtrack, and a pleasant round of applause caps the completion of each wave. (Where’s the audience, anyway?)

KLAX enjoyed several ports to the home console market, which reflected its success in the arcade scene. As both a unique puzzle game and bit of a time capsule, KLAX is an excellent game to learn, and a difficult one to master!

Raiders of the Lost Arcade: Astro Blaster


Astro BlasterPilot your lone Blaster through enemy sectors shooting down wave after wave of glowing, shifting alien ships in the rarely-seen Sega/Gremlin classic, Astro Blaster from 1981!

Answer the game’s call for fighter pilots, and put your quarter in to save the galaxy. Don’t hesitate! You must quickly destroy several formations, fly through the outer asteroid field and dock with the mother ship before fuel reserves run out. Aim carefully, too: your ship’s laser temperature increases with each firing and can temporarily overheat after too many wasted shots.

To aid you in battle, your ship is equipped with Warp drive that temporarily slows down enemies and their weapons for easier targeting, and a speaking computer that audibly updates you on fuel status, laser temperature, seconds of Warp time remaining and other conditions throughout play. Earn secret bonuses by meeting conditions like not wasting a single shot, destroying all enemies before they leave the screen, or docking with the mother ship without using movement controls. There are more hidden bonuses to find, too!

Astro Blaster is one of the earliest shoot ’em ups, coming out after Space Invaders and Galaxian but predating Galaga. It scored “best video game speech” in several gamers’ magazine polls of the time, and its sound effects and synthesized speech are still impressive today! Atari gamers may remember a stripped-down version called “Megamania”, but this cabinet is the only way to experience this underrated shooter in its original form!

Raiders of the Lost Arcade: Bust-A-Move

Bust-A-MoveBub and Bob from the arcade classic Bubble Bobble take their bubble-bursting action to a new game with Bust-A-Move, the 1994 puzzle game from Taito that kicked off a successful series.

Bust-A-Move actually debuted earlier in Japan as Puzzle Bobble (a title that actually makes a lot more sense), but when it hit US arcades as a Neo-Geo title, it sported a new title and the requisite “Winners Don’t Use Drugs” message. The game play is simple: Bub and Bob are at the bottom of a playfield full of colored bubbles with a cannon that shoots, you guessed it, bubbles! Your goal is to clear the playfield by strategically shooting bubbles to match colors. Attach three or more colored bubbles and they’ll pop, taking all of the bubbles hanging from them along. As the level progresses, the ceiling lowers, heightening the pressure to make the right shots. Let the playfield overfill with bubbles and it’s game over! Don’t think for too long, either – the game will automatically shoot the next bubble if you don’t make a decision quickly enough.

Once you’ve got the basic bubble bursting down, get creative and try to clear more bubbles by dropping, not popping. Dropped bubbles (the ones that fall down along with matching popped bubbles) are worth more points, and try to beat a level in 5 seconds or less for the maximum time bonus! Of course, you can play a competitive 2-player game as well. Clear a large group of bubbles and you’ll send more to your opponent’s screen, making it even tougher for them to win!

Bust-A-Move’s addictive gameplay led to several sequels and spin-offs, and you can certainly see its influence in modern hits like Peggle. The arcade cabinet’s artwork also proudly advertises the imminent Super Nintendo and Game Gear ports, unsurprising considering console gaming was coming on strong as near arcade-perfect ports were possible in the 16-bit era. Fortunately, the charm of playing a classic game in its original form still holds true to this day, so don’t just stand there – Bust-A-Move!

Raiders of the Lost Arcade – Tetris: The Grand Master 3 – Terror-Instinct

Tetris:  The Grand  Master 3 - Terror-InstinctThe inexplicably titled Tetris Grand Master 3: Terror-Instinct is the latest in a series of Japanese tournament style Tetris arcade games. While there are many modern iterations of Tetris in play today, the Grand Master series takes the competitive aspect to a whole new level, and commands the true skill of a high level twitch player.

Someone best acquainted with those timeless editions of Tetris from the NES or Game Boy will be familiar enough with the basic Tetris gameplay here, but the levels of speed with which the “tetriminos” drop is on a different scale. Instead of the basic level up scheme found in the older games, the Grand Master series employs a much finer set of levels, from 1 to 999. Additionally, these speed increases occur often, at just about every move the player makes. The result is an incredibly fast, hyped up Tetris game with the blazing speed and high skills found in the Japanese arcade scene.

The player also earns a grade, something not unlike a chess rank or a bowling average, for competition placement and bragging rights. The highest grade in the game, and the ultimate goal, is that of Grand Master. At the time of writing, only six people in the world have ever achieved Grandmaster, and witnessing one of these runs is a sight to behold.

It doesn’t take long to get used to this new, crazy fast type of Tetris, and suddenly your old school game will feel antiquated and slow. That’s a good thing though, as a good round of Tetris Grand Master is a rush intense enough to make this classic feel like a whole new game!

Did You Know?

  • Achieving Grandmaster involves a quick round of invisible Tetris, where the pieces fall at their highest speed, and become invisible when they land! Geez.