Early Arcade History – 1978 – Part 2

Gee Bee (1978)

Gee Bee was the first game developed at Namco, and was designed by Toru Iwatani (who later went on to create Pac man).  It has been said that Iwatani had wanted to develop pinball machines under Namco, however this was hindered by the fact that the company wanted to focus primarily on modern video games. Therefore, Iwatani developed a video game that was in a pinball-style, which can be seen in this game.

The gameplay consisted of the player controlling a ball and paddle, alike Atari’s Breakout (1976), the aim of the game is to keep the ball bouncing off of the paddle to break the blocks above. Gee Bee took inspiration from the newly released Space Invaders and added in a high score count.

Fire Truck (1978)

Fire truck is considered to be one of the first games to encourage co-operative gameplay; which can be shown alone through the design of the cabinet. This was a seat with a wheel and a stand at the back of the seat which also provided the second player with a wheel.

The idea of the game was for two players to race though traffic without crashing, although the game can also be played with just one player. The player at the front controlled the tractor of the truck, also controlling gas and breaks as they are the seated. Whereas, the second player steered the rear wheels, determining the swing of the trailer. Additionally, the cabinet had further features of bells and horns, although these extras served no purpose in the game-play.

Atari Football (1978)

Atari Football is considered by many to be one of the most physically challenging video games ever manufactured, and is a game which is said to accurately depict the sport of American football. This was due to the addition of a trackball, which players would have to spin as fast as they could within the 90 second game-play, since the speed of the character was determined by how fast the trackball was spun. Because of the physical demand needed for this game, the trackball often left people with injured and blistered hands. Despite this, it is famed for being the game that popularised the trackball. It has been claimed that during the football season in 1978, this game was just as popular as the hit-game Space Invaders. Later, two and even four player versions of the game were released.