10 Things You Didn’t Know About the History of Arcade Games

Anyone born in the 90s or earlier probably remembers – or has at least seen – an arcade machine. These cabinets, often built from wood with a CRT screen, joystick and buttons, were coin-operated machines usually created to play a single game. Pinball machines were the first to introduce the concept in the 1930s, whereas classic arcades with video games started making their presence known in the early 70s.

 The late 70s and early 80s were the huge breakthrough, with classics like Space InvadersMissile Command and Pacman making arcades a hot commodity in fast-food restaurants, as well as college dorms. While the 80s started introducing home consoles in a big way – Atari 2600 and the Nintendo Entertainment System being two of the major players – arcades started to slowly decline in popularity as console games provided an easier way to enjoy arcade-style action at home. By the mid-90s, arcades were mostly a special interest niche, and, today there is a huge surge in retro-nostalgia where avid gamers can get systems that not only play their beloved arcade memories perfectly, like the AtGames Legends Gamer Pro – but a real, full size, multi-game arcade cabinet of their own, like the AtGames Legends Ultimate, with 300 games built in and the possibility to easily add more!

 Here are ten, little known facts and trivia, about some classic arcade games:

 1. Missile Command was among the first group of major arcade hits in the US. It even got its own mod-kits, created by students who were fans from MIT.

 2. Pong (1972) was the first successful arcade game brought into American homes through Atari’s Home Pong console, released through Sears in 1975.

3. While the AtGames Legends Ultimate is an arcade machine with more than 300 different games built-in, the original arcade machines and home Pong consoles only played one type of game at a time. The first home video game system to accept interchangeable cartridges was co-created by pioneering African-American engineer Jerry Lawson in 1976. The system was originally called the Fairchild Video Entertainment System (VES), and later the Fairchild Channel F (short for “Fun”). It was, however, soon eclipsed after the third ever programmable video game console, the Atari Video Computer System (VCS, or 2600), was released less than a year later.

 4. The inventor of Tetris, Aleksej Pazjitnov, didn’t get any money from his game until about 10 years after its initial release. He was a Soviet computer scientist and the USSR took all the money he would have gotten.

5. Centipede was one of the first games to become popular with female players. This may be because of the fact that Dona Bailey – who was involved in its development – was one of Atari’s few, female employees at the time.
6. 64th Street – A Detective Story (1991) was a popular beat’em-up in the arcades, published by Jaleco. This two-player revenge story built on the classic beat’em-up legacy from the 80’s like Double Dragon (1987).
7. Asteroids displaced Space Invaders in popularity in the United States and became Atari’s best-selling arcade game of all time, with over 70,000 units sold.
8. Data East’s Boogie Wings – known as The Great Ragtime Show in Japan – was pretty obscure when originally released as an arcade game in 1992. Over time the beautiful shoot’em-up has become a fan-favorite and dark horse classic, often praised and well-talked about in retro-gaming communities for its originality and variety in gameplay.
9. Joe and Mac: Caveman Ninja was such a popular platformer in the arcades that it was later converted to no less than eight different console and computer formats, the latest one being the Nintendo Switch. Not bad for a 30+ year old gaming classic!
10. One of the games revered by arcade-buffs is Zoo Keeper, TAITO’s 1982 classic and one of the first of three arcade games ever released for the American market by the company. The              player needs to contain escaping animals from the zoo that have captured the protagonist Zeke’s girlfriend, Zelda (!). This is done by running around the compound, planning your moves.  But did you know the game was originally named King Crab?

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