Today we'll visit the game center「CLOSE ENCOUNTER」which is located in downtown, Macross City.
Ah, the typical onlooker kid that keeps on praising or criticizing your gameplay skill. It really doesn't get anymore classic than this. I think most of us can relate to this scene, after all we all started just like that.
A closer look at some of the CLOSE ENCOUNTER game center regulars.
One of the unique arcade games that can be played at this game center is a very cool-looking holographic action game.
Of course the first thing that comes to my mind while looking at this game is the 1991 pseudo holographic FMV game「TIME TRAVELER」published by SEGA. That was (unfortunately) pretty much the closest we ever got to having a game of this type.
The next game seems to be a driving action game clearly based on the car chase part of the LUPIN III movie「THE CASTLE OF CAGLIOSTRO」.
I guess the TAITO「CHASE H.Q.」game series that came out in the late '80s could be considered a fitting adaptation of this gameplay idea - they use a similar perspective, and in the second game「SPECIAL CRIMINAL INVESTIGATION」you could actually leap of the car window to shoot at the enemies.
On an interesting side-note - a very rare LD arcade game called「CLIFF HANGER」which was done splicing together animation scenes from the LUPIN III movies CASTLE OF CAGLIOSTRO and「MYSTERY OF MAMO」was actually released around this time in the west.
Apparently, this is the only game center in the universe where you can actually win back coins by beating the games. The owner unfortunately realises the flaws behind such a business practice a bit too late.
The current main attraction of this game center is「BATTROID ATTACK」- a Player V.S. Player shooting game that features two drastically different difficulty modes :「Level A」which offers your standard 2D shooting gameplay. And「Level B」which offers a more advanced and challenging 3D holographic experience.
I'm pretty sure that most arcade game fans that watched MACROSS (or in my case ROBOTECH) while growing up in the '80s, dreamed about playing a game like this someday. I sure did.
The BATTROID ATTACK Level B gameplay. Can you say holographic VIRTUAL-ON?
I think nowadays we'd be much closer to seeing a V.R. game of this kind in the future though, since the whole holographic concept has already been ditched from the general gaming scene.
「YOU ARE STRONG!!」The BATTROID ATTACK winning screen.
The「CLOSE ENCOUNTER」game center as seen in episode 24「Good-Bye Girl」of the Japanese animated series「THE SUPER DIMENSION FORTRESS MACROSS」.
Good-Bye Girl first aired in Japan on April 03, 1983. And I think it's very likely that some of the animators were actually fervent arcade players themselves, and thus the games shown in this episode are most likely the type of games they would have wanted to see in the future. Let's remember that 1983 was still years away from say; the SEGA sprite scaling-based games and cabinets that revolutionized the way arcade games looked and played.
Now is this a proper game center crowd or what?
Like most of us in the west, I only had the chance to see MACROSS a couple of years later in the mid '80s, now in the form of ROBOTECH. I was already a regular arcade onlooker kid back then, so this episode was one of the most memorable for me. As previously noted, after watching this episode I pretty much grew up wishing for a holographic arcade game like BATTROID ATTACK. Of course now I know that besides the cool holographic visual effect, in reality a game like that couldn't really offer anything that can't be done better by the super advanced 3D polygon games we have today.
Still, if anything, I think this episode is a great portrayal of how the arcade fans of the '80s envisioned the future of gaming.
I grew up watching Robotech and had the absolute pleasure of preparing the look and feel to the Macross Ultimate Collection DVD boxset for Australia and New Zealand back in 2004. I took screen grabs and vector traced the winning scene from Battroid Attack and used those graphics as a masthead to the episode titles on the back covers of the 3 DVD amaray cases.
I'd still love to play Battroid Attack...even Virtual On being properly emulated by MAME would be a good thing :-) The whole duel between Max and Miriya was one of my favourite scenes from Macross and projected ideas as to what arcades what be like in the future was incredibly exciting.