Atari’s critically acclaimed Area 51 still stands today as an arcade machine hit. Development started on the classic light gun game when Atari really needed a breakthrough after a series of failing games and losing staff to their rival – Electronic Arts (EA). The company reached out to 3rd party developers to help create Area 51, which went on to sell over 20,000 arcade cabinets whilst being ported to multiple consoles.
The game followed a military team named STAAR (Strategic Tactical Advanced Alien Response Team) who had been assigned the mission of preventing aliens (known as Kronn) and alien zombies from taking over the military base – Area 51. STAAR would then activate the nuclear self-destruct sequence for the mysterious base.
To start the game, the player would have had to kill any genetically altered STAAR soldiers and aliens without harming any allied team members. If the player hit 3 or less STAAR soldiers, they would advance to the Kronn Hunter mode. Within this mode of game play, the player would become a hunter who has been sent by the Kronn to eliminate the rebels.
As a light-gun shooter game, various weapons were available to the player. Starting off with a semi-automatic pistol. Other guns included an automatic machine gun, pump shotgun and automatic shotgun. These could be upgraded when found throughout the game play. However, if the player was hit at any point they would automatically be downgraded to the starting pistol once again.
Other weapons included grenades (hidden in crates and bonus rooms) that would destroy the majority of on-screen enemies when used. The player could hold up to 9 of these within game play. Additional yellow boxes and barrels (marked “flammable”) could also cause fires and explosions upon being shot.
Rife with hidden mini games, weapons and secret passageways to further the player to later levels of game play – Area 51 was an innovative and addictive game to say the least.
With an epic backstory, Pulstar was an arcade hit of its day. Set in the year 2248, a signal starts to emit from Mars which signals alien life. Then, an object travels through the solar system at the speed of light. Scientists on Earth warn the planet at the signs of potential alien attack.
8 years later, aliens begin attacking a human ship that was based by Neptune, starting a long war with many casualties. Within 2 years, Neptune had been disintegrated, Jupiter has been turned into a star and Earths continents had sunk.
The player took on the role of Kaoru Yamagazaki, a lone pilot and one of the few surviving humans. With a similar look and feel to R-Type, the player navigated the solar system – fighting off alien invaders and protecting their ship.
Street Fighter: The Movie
Street Fighter: The Movie was the adaption of the 1994 film (based on the hit series of arcade games). Rather than using the normal sprites for the characters – the actors in the film were digitised.
Though classed as a main Street Fighter arcade game, the game play differed a lot from the standard found in the classic series. There was an over-emphasis on air combos and the player could now cancel special moves. On top of this, new special moves were created for the famous characters. These included: Bison’s ‘Electric Arc’, Cammy’s ‘Whip Choke’ and Guiles ‘Handcuff’ (which was interestingly added as a nod to a glitch in Street Fighter II). The player could use special attacks by pressing a button, rather than the usual combo of button/joystick movements. Another added attack, was the ability to reverse/block a throw attack.
In single player, the player would compete in 14 matches (included one clone match). Furthermore, there were several secret games modes included as easter eggs.
Interestingly, Street Fighter: The Movie was (and still is) the only Street Fighter game to use the western names for boss characters (Balrog, Vega, Bison and Akuma) in Japan. To stop confusion, Japanese instruction cards printed the Japanese names next to the western names.