1985 - Arcade Action

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1985 was a golden year for arcade gaming, as Geek Dave explores...


1985 was a year that saw video game developers push the boundaries of arcade gaming, not just in the actual gameplay itself but in revolutionary cabinet design and experience.


Gauntlet
One player games? Pah! Two player gaming? Old news! But four players on one screen simultaneously??? That'll be Gauntlet. Released in October 1985, the never ending multi-player multi-dungeon Dungeons & Dragons style arcade game was an overnight success. Gamers loved it, arcade operators loved it - four players+one machine=four times the revenue! It gobbled up quarters like they were going out of fashion, with warnings of "Green Elf needs food badly", and "Remember, don't shoot food". Damn!


Hang-On
One of the first arcade games to use 16-bit graphics and Sega's "Super Scaler" technology that allowed pseudo-3D sprite-scaling at high frame rates, Hang-On arrived in July 1985 and featured a screen built into the handlebars of the motorbike. Instead of using a joystick to turn left or right you titled the bike itself, quite literally hanging on!


Space Harrier
"Welcome to the fantasy zone. Get ready...". Using the same technology as Hang-On, Sega launched Space Harrier to a welcoming public in October 1985. A tilt of the joystick would send the whole console tilting in your chosen direction, meaning if you manged to beat all 18 levels you probably had a wicked case of motion sickness!


Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back
Atari released a sequel to their popular Star Wars arcade game from 1983, using the same cabinets which immersed you into the action. Improved vector graphics were on show as you took part in the Battle of Hoth, brought down AT-AT's, and fought off wave's of TIE-Fighters.


Ghosts 'n Goblins
In the classic upright arcade casing, Ghosts 'n Goblins was just one of the big hits that Capcom bought us. Released into arcades in September 1985, you control a knight named Sir Arthur, who must defeat zombies, ogres, demons, cyclops, dragons and other monsters in order to rescue Princess Prin Prin, who has been kidnapped by Satan, king of Demon World. One hit from any of the nasties and you lose your armor, two hits and a life is gone! Ghosts 'n Goblins was an infuriatingly difficult game but one which you couldn't help coming back to for more!


Commando
Another huge hit for Capcom arrived in arcades May 1985. The influential run & gun, vertical scrolling game was perfectly timed to capitalise on Rambo mania (and, of course, the Arnie movie Commando!). In Commando, Rambo Super Joe is dropped off in the jungle by a helicopter and has to fight his way out singlehandedly, fending off a massive assault of enemy soldiers whilst brandishing a sub-machine gun which has unlimited ammunition, and a limited supply of hand grenades. It was insanely addictive, and much pleasure was gained by freeing the prisoners of war and shooting the cowardly enemy officer in the back. Or was that just me?

Did you play any of these arcade games?

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