Posted tagged ‘space based games’

Missing in Action: Space Games

February 6, 2008


Over the next little while I am going to run a feature every now and then where I discuss genres which have been “lost” to arcades. Where these genres were once a proud part of an arcade line-up, they have all taken a back seat to the current primary genres of the arcade industry (and in some cases they’ve been all but forgotten in the console world) which include: 1-on-1 fighters, light gun games, racers and dancing titles. Sure those are all great genres that work great in arcades but to think that they are the only ones that can do well on the arcade scene is ridiculous.

A little history first

So let’s start with a type of game that has suffered not only in the arcades but in the rest of the gaming world to an extent : the space shooter or space combat title. Why even bring up space games? I suppose they hold a special place for me as I grew up playing so many of them; on top of that I enjoy shows like Star Trek so personally my interest in such things hasn’t waned although it has in public. Perhaps the decline of interest in space games can coincide with a general decline of interest in space overall but it’s really hard to nail that down. The very first coin-operated arcade game carried the theme in both it’scompspace.jpg name and the game itself: Computer Space)pictured right, KLOV image). Computer Space was essentially Space War, which would later become the first vector arcade game in 1976 (which also was one of the best selling arcade titles that year). The space craze continued with games such as Space Invaders (1978) which is one of the most popular classic games of all time and spawned other space-related classics such as Galaxian, Galaga and Gorf; Asteroids (1980) broke earnings records and brought a new concept to the genre that would create a timeless classic; Star Wars(1980) and Star Trek(1982) brought popular sci-fi series to the arcades; it seems that most Cinematronics games featured a space theme with titles like Star Castle and Cosmic Chasm;  overall the 80’s saw many space-based games but as the 90’s came along those began to disappear slowly despite some huge hits such as Starblade, Star Wars Trilogy Arcade, Space Lords(pictured, KLOV image), spacelords.jpgthe Rayforce series (and to an extent space shmups like Raiden, Darius and Gradius) and with this decade space combat games of any type have practically disappeared as there has only been one real space combat title, Star Wars Starfighter. (I guess if you had to stretch things you could count Star Trek Voyager Arcade, which was a light-gun game; maybe throw in any Cave shmup that takes place in space). Namco was going to release a couple of space combat games a few years ago: StarBlade and Star Fox (which definently would have done well) but for unknown reasons those games were canceled. So does that mean that space games are done for? I don’t think so and let me tell you why. Hit the post break to continue reading.