18 votes

What arcade game would you like to see preserved at a source code level?

Hi All,

I have recently completed a software archaeology project, reverse engineering Space Invaders si78c, and would like to cast around for opinions as to which game(s) to do next.

I am currently thinking of doing either Pacman, Donkey Kong or Galaga but am willing to entertain suggestions about other games of a similar vintage. Please go into detail as to why you think it's an important title.

Eventually I would like to tackle bigger games from the home micro / console market, but they are most likely out of scope for now.

Please note, this is very labour intensive work, taking several months / years at a time depending on title complexity, and I will most likely only do a handful of these (barring any great advances) in my lifetime.

Cheers,
Jason

10 comments

  1. Deimos
    (edited )
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    I think Pac-Man would be a great choice since it's possibly the single most iconic arcade game of all time. However, it's also already pretty extensively "understood" with the behavior written up...

    I think Pac-Man would be a great choice since it's possibly the single most iconic arcade game of all time. However, it's also already pretty extensively "understood" with the behavior written up in detail in places like The Pac-Man Dossier.

    Donkey Kong is a great option as well. I think my main other suggestion for one to consider would be Asteroids. Beyond that, Tempest or Frogger were other really iconic early ones.

    8 votes
  2. [2]
    pseudolobster
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    My recommendation would be some game that's not necessarily the most popular, since those are already well understood, but rather one that did something unique or new. Sinistar for example, was...

    My recommendation would be some game that's not necessarily the most popular, since those are already well understood, but rather one that did something unique or new. Sinistar for example, was the first game to have stereo sound, it had a special voice modulator chip and the enemy has several scary voice lines, it had a 49-way optical joystick custom designed for it. Moon Patrol was the first game to implement parallax scrolling. Robotron 2048 introduced the concept of a twin-stick shooter and had a custom bitmap chip to handle the ridiculous number of enemies onscreen. Pole Position was the first 16-bit arcade game, and probably the first to have pseudo-3D that wasn't wireframe.

    Pac-man, Asteroids, Defender, Donkey Kong, etc are probably all more historically significant because of how many sales they had, but from a technical perspective I think they've been picked to death already.

    3 votes
    1. joplin
      Link Parent
      Oh man, good call on Moon Patrol and Pole Position! I would love to see how those worked.

      Oh man, good call on Moon Patrol and Pole Position! I would love to see how those worked.

  3. moocow1452
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    I was always a fan of Galaga/Ms. Pacman, since you could wiggle the stick in Galaca's demo mode and play a round until it flipped back over to Ms. Pacman.

    I was always a fan of Galaga/Ms. Pacman, since you could wiggle the stick in Galaca's demo mode and play a round until it flipped back over to Ms. Pacman.

    2 votes
  4. [4]
    joplin
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    This is really neat! Thanks for putting this together. What is your overall purpose for doing this? You ask for suggestions, but without knowing your purpose, it's difficult to make a suggestion....

    This is really neat! Thanks for putting this together.

    What is your overall purpose for doing this? You ask for suggestions, but without knowing your purpose, it's difficult to make a suggestion.

    In terms of games that I played and am interested in, the top of my list would probably be things like Tempest, and any mods that worked on it. Or the Star Wars vector game (and the Star Trek mod for it). But that's just because they're classic games that I played as a kid. They do have the disadvantage of being vector games, so not as easily convertible as bitmap games, too.

    2 votes
    1. [2]
      loadzero
      Link Parent
      Good question. I have a few reasons for doing this, but I would say the primary intent is to preserve the game author(s) work by deciphering it, and then translating it into a modern language and...

      Good question.

      I have a few reasons for doing this, but I would say the primary intent is to preserve the game author(s) work by deciphering it, and then translating it into a modern language and context.

      Games that have been translated this way will be much more likely to survive the passage of time, will be talked about more, and are more likely to be studied (as opposed to just played).

      I think at least some of these games are important cultural artifacts, and deserve this kind of treatment.

      5 votes
      1. joplin
        Link Parent
        I agree with that! I think it's also interesting when a game used a new technology or used an existing technology in an interesting way. One example I can think of (that's pretty awful,...

        I think at least some of these games are important cultural artifacts, and deserve this kind of treatment

        I agree with that! I think it's also interesting when a game used a new technology or used an existing technology in an interesting way.

        One example I can think of (that's pretty awful, unfortunately) is Journey. I believe it was the first arcade game to use digitized photos as bitmaps. I read an interview with the people who created it, and they claimed that they originally planned to have a camera in the cabinet that would take a picture of the player, but it was scrapped when they realized people would probably moon the camera, or worse.

        3 votes
    2. pseudolobster
      Link Parent
      I've always been a big fan of vector-based games. I had a Vectrex, and played Elite on a Commodore 64. I always wished at the time I could combine the two and play Elite on a vector display...

      I've always been a big fan of vector-based games. I had a Vectrex, and played Elite on a Commodore 64. I always wished at the time I could combine the two and play Elite on a vector display somehow. You lost a lot in terms of colours, shading, filling, textures, etc, but you ended up with such sharp and crisp diagonal lines, which was just perfect for early wireframe 3D.

      Anyway, Battlezone is the definitive classic of the style, imho.

      3 votes
  5. suspended
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    Please, for the love of everything 80s! Galaga & Pleiades

    Please, for the love of everything 80s!

    Galaga

    &

    Pleiades

    2 votes
  6. Akir
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    The ones I would be most interested in would be the ones that would be the hardest, unfortunately. I would particularly be interested in seeing most of Yu Suzuki's games done because rumors say...

    The ones I would be most interested in would be the ones that would be the hardest, unfortunately. I would particularly be interested in seeing most of Yu Suzuki's games done because rumors say that he was basically the Japanese John Carmack. I would particularly be interested in the coding for Virtua Racing.

    I Robot would be another really interesting one since it was the first game to use full polygon graphics.