More Art of the Arcade Machine Marquee…

Apr 11th, 2011 | Categories: Coin Op / Pinball | Fantasy | Graphics | Illustration | Low Palette | Retro | Sci-Fi | Typography

Space Odyssey Marquee

Super Qix Marquee

King of Dragons Marquee

Castle Of Dragon Marquee

Bubble Bobble Marquee

Out Run - Marquee

Galaxy Force - Marquee

Warp Warp - Marquee

Nemesis Marquee

Lifeforce - Marquee

Splatterhouse - Marquee

Here’s a continuation of one of the more popular features I ran last year ‘The Art of the Arcade Marque‘ with a further selection of 12 primary coloured beauties. First of all a quick refresh on what an Arcade Marquee actually is, basically it’s the flat, often illuminated panel at the top of an Arcade Cabinet. The above examples date from the late 70′s through to the early 90′s, essentially this was the golden age of Arcade / Coin-op games, this era faded quickly as the power and playability of Home Console/PC gaming began to catch up and supersede the majority of the arcade experience. When you think back even the full on 3D Games of the Mid 90′s such as Sega Rally or Ridge Racer are now well into their respective teens, an eon in terms graphics and processing technology.

Fast forward to 2011 and the ‘Age of the App Icon’. With potentially 100′s of games on just your phone alone the concept of giant power hungry cabinet capable of playing just one game over and over seems pretty antiquated, leaving most cabinets to exist today as retro curiosities, often long forgotten. But though the bright neon days of the 80′s may have dimmed, retro culture plus legions of devoted fans and collectors empower that the magic still lives on. As a total ex-arcade nerd myself I’m doing my bit here to bring a bit of past graphical wizardry back to the fore.

Right then, before I start with the run down of each of the featured examples I’ll just point out a couple of valuable resources and where I’ve actually collected the artwork from. First up is KLOV or ‘Killer List Of Video Games’ essentially this is Wikipedia for Coin-Op’s, it’s amazing. Secondly I’ve also heavily referenced who specialise in ‘Authentic & Reproduction Arcade Artwork, Arcade & Mame Marquees, and Home Arcade Bartop Cabinets’. If your after purchasing any of this artwork then Emdkay might be the best place to start.

Here’s the notes on the images, from top to bottom.

Space Odyssey (Sega/Gremlin) 1981.
An early vertical Shoot-Em’-Up that looks like it alternates and also plays horizontally, for the time probably something of a novelty. KLOV ranks is it as scare, and I confess that I’ve never heard nor seen it… The monochrome red marquee with it’s spindly space ship and black hole is fab though, so It gets a special mention here!

Space Invaders (Taito / Bally-Midway) 1978.
From a rarity to the game the started it all, Tomihiro Nishikado’s Space Invaders caused a temporary shortage of 100-yen coins upon it’s release in Japan and Guiness World Records still ranks it as the top arcade game ever. This marquee, from the US Bally Midway version will surely jog you memory as to what the cabinet looks like, I’ve never been too sure where exactly the Yeti type alien appears exactly in the actual game but as it’s earned Taito over $500 million dollars in the last 32 years or so, it’s hardly my place to be picking holes!

Super Qix (Taito) 1987
A fairly common fantasy themed puzzle game from 1987, not one I’ve seen myself but the graphic is certainly striking and slots in here’s nicely next to the other dragon themed marquees.

King of Dragons (Capcom) 1991
This scrolling swords &s ocery beat-em-up is one I do remember playing, basically a more sophisticated Golden Axe type game which supported up to 3 players. Another lovely graphic, reminiscent of Gauntlet but sadly missing a scantily clad, amazonian type warrior babe.

Castle of Dragon (Seta) 1989.
A side scrolling platform fighter, this is another one I’d not heard of till researching this post, and judging by the scarcity rating on KLOV, It’s not just me that missed it. In truth it looks pretty average, and I wonder if it even made it’s way to distant British Shores. Marquee’s cool though.

Bubble Bobble (Taito) 1986
Another massive Taito classic that was ported across the board to pretty much all systems of the time. Bub & Bob (as featured here) are actually twin ‘Bubble Dragons’ there in game mission; to save there girlfriends from monsters… Is it me or does that sound somewhat familiar?

Outrun (Sega) 1986
Whilst 1986 saw the release of the immensely playable Bubble Bobble amongst others, nothing made jaws drop like Outrun, an Audio/Visual feast delivered with the help of pioneering sprite scaling technology that gives a real sense of speed. Despite now being 25 years old IMHO even today it’s a driving game that still looks and plays fantastic. Quick note on the marquee itself, whilst it’s obviously an instantly recognizable classic, but I’m wondering, is the perspective ever so slightly out? the truck looks a little too elongated.

Galaxy Force (Sega) 1988.
Another Sega game to employ Outrun’s sprite scaling technology was Galaxy Force, a pseudo 3d space shoot-em-up very similar to Afterburner, though far less common. This is one that used to fascinate me, not because of amazing playability (in retrospect it was more of a tech demo) but rather just because of the sheer size of the moving cabinet! have a look over at at KLOV…

Warp Warp (Rock-Ola Mfg Corp) 1981
One more game I was completely unfamiliar with till composing this article, Warp Warp looks as if it plays as a hybrid of the more popular game types of it’s time, though since I don’t have Mame installed I can’t confirm. The marquee is interesting in that it kinda reminds me of the work of Ian Anderson’s Designer’s Republic though it predates there formation by at least 5 years, still I wonder if Ian ever saw this?

Nemesis (Konami) 1985
Nemesis was an immensly playable side scrolling shoot-em-up which featured (for it’s time) a revolutionairy weapon’s power up system, again as with Outrun it’s something that still plays great today. A further note on something that’s always slightly confused me, the game is better known ‘Gradius’ not quite sure why the name swap happened for different regions, anyone know why?

Life Force (Konami) 1986
More name swapping trickery here from Konami, Life Force is also known as Salamader it’s an indirect sequal to Gradius/Nemesis apperently set in ‘the same universe’. The game features one of those great lost in translation arcade moments, the second playable craft is known as “Lord British” but due to ambiguity of Japanese-to-English romanization is often referred to as “Road British”.

Splatterhouse (Namco) 1988
Though predating by approximately 8 years ‘Splatterhourse’ is undoubtedly a spiritual precursor to the Resident Evil series, It’s a horror themed linear side scrolling beat-em-up featuring some fairly gory graphics and somewhat questionable content. When ported to home consoles the game featured a ‘parental advisory warning’ on the box art. The marque itself is rendered in a classic B-Movie esque style.

The Art of the Arcade Machine Marquee (1)

Feb 23rd, 2010 | Categories: Coin Op / Pinball | Computer Game | Fantasy | Graphics | Illustration | Low Palette | Sci-Fi

Alien Syndrome Marquee

Sinistar Marquee

Commando Marquee

Asteroids Marquee

Tempest Marquee

Crystal Castles

Zaxxon Marquee

Galaxian Marquee

Galaga Marquee

Bosconian Marquee

Rastan Marquee

A selection of Coin-Op/Arcade Machine “Marquees” beaming gloriously in brash 80′s technicolor… Marquees (in case you didn’t know) are used to illuminate the name of an arcade game at the top of its cabinet.

Stopping with a friend recently I was reminded with just how amazing this art is as he has a small selection of these marquees as fridge magnets! and I haven’t featured any Coin Op / Pinball design for a while, so figured it was about time to run an update…

So what makes this Art so cool? for me it’s the punchy low palettes & comic-type colouring, mix this up with super striking Logotypes and the fact of course that the whole thing is designed to be backlit! It’s actually worth pointing out that I worked in a seaside arcade as a 16 year old, in retrospect it’s obviously mcuh more than just the game themselves that made a major impact me… My Favourite ever Coin-Op’s ? Turbo Out Run, Aliens, Rolling Thunder and Special Criminal Investigation aaah, things were simpler back then!

So a bit more more about the samples collected here:

Top: “Alien Syndrome” – A top down Commando/Gauntlet-esque shooter dating from 1986, designed and manufactured by Sega, it’s one I missed in the Arcade, though played it on the 8-bit home systems of the day, decent game! Here’s a video

2nd Top: “Sinistar” – By Williams in 1982, this an evolution of Asteroids, and is similar to Bosconion embarrassingly I’d never even heard of Sinistar before researching this post! I’m still not sure how I’ve missed it! Check the freaky Sinistar Sample too:

3rd Top: “Commando” – From Nihon Bussan/AV Japan released 1985. Another genre-defining rock solid classic, I’m more familiar with the Speccy version where you had to rotate the joystick 360 degrees to lob a grenade (very difficult).

4th Top: “Asteroids” – By Atari 1979. One of the most popular arcade games of all time, this marquee featuring an obvious Battlestar Galactica reference. You must of seen Asteroids, so here’s a clip of Atari’s lesser known 1987 sequal “Blasteroids

5th Top: “Tempest” – By Atari, released 1987. The wireframe vector graphic legend that’s been recyclced many times,

6th Top: “Crystal Castles” – Another Atari title, this time from 1983 – this is an Isometric platform/maze/puzzler which utilises a bizarre collection of sprites, a game I loved as a kid, and like most games I’m still completely useless at it…

7th Top:”Zaxxon” – More isometric viewpoint action, this one from Sega and dating from 1982. Supremely ambitious for it’s time, in many ways this still looks great

8th / 9th Top: “Galaga” and “Galaxian” – These classic precursor’s to the Vertical Shoot-em-up both hail released from the Namco stable, appearing 1979 and 1981 respectively. Just in case you forgot how Galaxian plays:

10th Top: “Bosconian” – The original 8 way shooter from Midway, released 1981. Again this is one I remember from the 8-bit systems rather than in the arcade itself, here’s a video:

Bottom: “Rastan” – A left scrolling fantasy platform fighter from Taito released in 1987. If the throttled Lizard-Man hasn’t jogged your memory, here’s a clip:

All games referenced via KLOV “The Killer List of Video Games” AKA
a superb reference site…

Images collected from various sources via The Google.

Paul Faris – Xenon

Oct 30th, 2008 | Categories: Coin Op / Pinball | Illustration | Retro | Sci-Fi

Xenon - Pinball Flyer

A Disco-esque Sci-fi flyer produced for the 1980 Bally Midway Pinball Machine “Xenon”.  See The Internet Pinball Database for more info and a full gallery of this machine in all it’s glitzy glory.

Artwork Sourced from The Internet Pinball Database, excellent resource for Data mining absolutely anything related to all things Pinball.

Addendum: July 2009

See how Suzanne Ciani designed the games audio – an Omni Special via Youtube
many thanks for the link there Karl.

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