Sunday 12 July 2009

Shooting down 48 UFOs

Before Nintendo had any sort of foothold in the video games market, they, like so many others, produced Arcade games. After Taito released Space Invaders in 1978, every video game company on the planet decided it would be fun to... uh... make more Space Invaders, and Nintendo swiftly followed.

Nintendo's first attempt was actually a game called Space Fever, though it never made it outside of Japan. Basically... it's just Space Invaders but with three different options that change the course of the invaders. Oh and there's some colour. Needless to say it was outclassed by Taito's machines, which were all over the globe, but hey, it's close.

Then came Space Firebird (which I'm not picturing because the pixel ratio is nuts) a galaxian/galaga clone which added bombs into the mix and for some reason felt it would be nice to have the player move in an arc, rather than a staight line. Again... not much success here, though it is worth noting that this game was published by Sega-Gremlin (yes, THAT Sega). Gremlin died during the video game crash of 1983, in case you're wondering.

And finally Radar Scope came along. Though it looks a bit like a "tilted" Galaxian, it's actually a very different game. Bare in mind that in 1979 there wasn't much you could do with a Space Shooter without spending too much money, Radar Scope gives the bottom of the screen some health and you're tasked with the job of protecting it. Plus, despite that "tilted" look being a bit dated in this day and age, it too was pretty impressive for the era. Remember, this was all before Donkey Kong and Pac-Man or DigDug or whatever

Unfortunately by the time it reached western shores, people had simply stopped caring about the game, and Nintendo of America were forced to convert 2000 of the machines into Donkey Kong ones (apparently if your DK Arcade machine is red, it used to be a Radar Scope one). But the sad thing is, despite Nintendo's commitment to dig up the past at every given opportunity, they've clearly lost the hole they buried Radar Scope in, because it hasn't been seen, referenced or duplicated since. It didn't even get a port to the NES, even though the less advanced Galaxian managed with no problems at all. Even other games such as Gorf or Phoenix, which I would have cited as being more obscure, have had ports. Exerion, as I mentioned below, nearly got TWO ports to the NES and that arguably aged worse than Radar Scope, which still doesn't look too bad today, and was actually made by Nintendo. Crazy.

So yeah, Radar Scope. Give it a try sometime.

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