From 2010 to 2014 Richard cobbett wrote Crapshoot, a column on rolling the dice to bring random dark games back to light. This week, quite possibly the fastest extinction ever – an arcade feel with no shadow of a chance to be brought back.
There has been a lot of talk lately about 3D, Oculus which brings back virtual reality, Retina screens and CAVEs and even Microsoft which patents the first holodeck. Will they make the difference? Perhaps. But as fun as it is to look to the future, I can’t help but remember the arcade machine that made the lifespan of the instants of the original VR feel like to have to watch a documentary about raising whelks on the first day of summer. In the saddle, cowboy. We’re off for a shootout at the Not Even OK Corral.
Now I know what you are thinking. “What the hell?” you demand. “An arcade game? Have you gone crazy, you fool of illusion? PC player, no … no … does Arcade Weekly exist? It doesn’t matter. This is not the place for such irrelevant chatter! “And, in a certain sense of it, you would be right.
However! While I don’t think this is a big seller, for reasons that will soon become clear there is has been actually a PC version of this game, as well as a DVD version designed for consoles that could play such things. So, hah! I dance the victory dance to your imaginary mockery including the really hard part with the balloon animals, the cheese dip and the nude somersaults!
Many games like this ended up being ported directly to PC, but made available separately on DVD so that they could run on consoles as well (and with the benefit of not having to officially go through Microsoft / Sony and so give them a cut). I own a few – Space Pirates and Who Shot Johnny Rock being the funniest – and I can safely say that the only type of game the DVD performs really well is Frisbee. This is the worst possible format for playing a game, with every interaction or even a frozen interaction point for noticeable movement, the animations and controls being out of sync, and really making it clear how primitive these things are. . Still, I guess it works loosely if you absolutely have to play style rather than substance and have zero standards.
Myst fans, for example, are likely to love it.
A little more on the home version later. Hologram: Time Traveler was something of a prestige arcade game, often sitting next to an expensive VTOL unit that would allow kids to pay around £ 2 for a chance to put on headphones, look around. of a fuzzy low polygon world and crash immediately. At least that was my experience. Maybe I just wasn’t ready to step into that level of reality.
Looking back, especially if you’re young enough that you don’t remember rushing home from school to watch Knightmare and being terrified of the wall monsters, it can be hard to appreciate just how much the games arcade games were exciting, even the crappy games. Let me put this in a little historical context.
It was 1991, right after the decade that a dancing flower was considered great and the average home computer arcade game got the chance to look like Altered Beast. Geek-friendly stuff wasn’t cool yet, but elements were creeping in slowly. Often very strange stuff. In 1992, for example, the BBC created the world’s weirdest Saturday morning magazine show – Parallel 9, set in an alien penal colony, starring an old prince who frighteningly kidnaps a girl from the Earth in his sleep, gets trapped in the Phantom Zone by the Milkybar Kid and a group of Jawas, and is only allowed to interview pop stars and present a children’s version of The Toxic Avenger. A job, it should be noted that he happens to look like one of those Jawas giving him an invisible blowjob offscreen. When people found it “unusual,” the BBC made up for it by adding a lick of paint and a talking dinosaur called Brian.
These were weird, weird times. Then the word “cyber” got into fashion, and the following years became very, very painful for everyone. Oh, the horrible, horrible memories …
The arcades, on the other hand, were always exciting. Home computers were mostly rubbish, especially for arcade style games, as these noisy worlds had huge screens, laser discs, epic adventures with real actors running and fighting, glorious animation and anything a child could want to see.
Most games could draw a crowd, especially when everyone realized that the person playing wasn’t just the first level, with stuff like Street Fighter 2 obviously becoming the big draw for viewers. FMV / animation games like Dragon’s Lair, Mad Dog McCree, and Space Pirates were equally popular, although they weren’t very good as raw. Games . You would just look to see how far the person playing could go – which usually wasn’t very, as they were. brutally unfair and overpriced. A fairly typical move would be to knock a character down to the ground after you’ve shot them, apparently dead, only to suddenly raise their gun and shoot from the ground. They were memory tests, really. Still, they were huge.
Hologram largely missed that, thanks to its gadget. It was designed by Rick Dyer, co-creator of Dragon’s Lair and whose name also conveniently describes at least that part of his CV. It was a large, futuristic-looking white cabinet that would stand out prominently in the arcade … but unfortunately had to cover the action of a dome. It was basically a hidden TV screen and concave mirror, which refracted light to make the characters look like little holographic projections. The only catch was … well … look at it. And it wasn’t much more captivating on the move.
Here’s a hilarious attempt to make this look like more than an amateur theater review at your local village hall. Can’t you just feel the gravity? Authenticity? It’s like you’re really there!
The plot is your typical “save the princess” fare, with cowboy Marshall “I See What You Did There” temporarily moved to travel through seven time zones differentiated solely by the props of his inky black universe, and the player having to hit the right buttons to avoid watching expensive death streaks. A game classic it wasn’t, especially at a squillion of pounds on the fly.
I remember it was that, anyway. At least in kid-in-arcade money.
In all fairness, Hologram did landing right before Mortal Kombat made a big deal out of controlling real people, so that part was still pretty neat. It was, however, almost 10 years after Dragon’s Lair had done the exact same basic action, and even the sequels of that game – Space Ace for example, not to mention other attempts like the renaming of Lupine III Cliff Hanger. – had not worked very well. Everyone realized that all you were doing was pushing to the right when the game became ‘push to the right’, so much so that the only people who play it was they who showed they could end up in one credit, or kids who didn’t know better. Here, there wasn’t even the curiosity to see what was to come next and what weirdness would unfold. It would be a blurry cowboy shooting somehow on a black background.
Oh. In front of the 3D primitives, of course. Rotating 3D primitives … OF THE FUTURE!
So here is. It’s no surprise that while it got a lot of attention for about five minutes, everyone quickly went looking for something more fun. As far as I know, Sega has only tried this idea once again, in a game that would be completely forgotten if it wasn’t embarrassingly called “Holosseum”.
While this isn’t a fair comparison and I’m really only doing this to have an excuse to add a link, it’s worth noting that the Painstation had a longer lifespan – and this was Pong’s version in a special cabinet designed to whip and burn your hands while you played it. Saying is all.
And so for the home game. What do you do when you have a game that entirely relies on an awesome, bespoke arcade machine for whatever interest? If there is any justice in the world, you sell about four copies, and those to internet critics who just want to make a video about them. Maybe he sold more, I don’t know. Funly though, to make up for the fact that without the gadget this is one of the worst arcade games ever, it comes with 3D glasses and a special version of the footage that at least attempted to recreate the idea at home. It wasn’t renamed, however, presumably on the grounds that if the original wasn’t a hologram either, it didn’t matter much.
The only real way to play it today, no matter how much fun you get, is to find a real arcade machine. Your best bet is at conventions, but if you wish, in a pinch, you can try to find one in the wild.
I suspect though that it will eventually … wait for it … wait for it … a holo pursuit.
Hmm. This hand isn’t going to give a high-five itself, guys.