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The 10 Greatest Arcade Games of 1977

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By Kieren Hawken

Anyone who knows me knows that I love arcade games. I grew up with them from a really young age, staring at those glowing screens and struggling to reach the controls!

Many of my happiest memories of being holiday as kid revolve around playing arcade games at places like Butlins and Pontins, not to mention when the fun fair came to visit my home town and they were all at such easy reach. In my teenage years I would visit the arcade on the side of my local cinema to check out the latest games and compete for high scores with my friends. Arcades were always around and as soon as I owned a home computer of my own coin-op conversions were always the first games I seeked out.

With all that in mind I thought it would be great to return to the year of my birth and see what the arcades had to offer back then. Games still didn’t have colour, microprocessors were a new and very expensive thing and high scores were only just starting to emerge over timed games. Despite their primitive state you’d be surprised just how fun many of them were, as this list proves!

Boot Hill – Midway

Midway’s Boot Hill was the sequel to the revolutionary 1975 coin-op Gun Fight, which was the first game to feature human combat and also the first to have a microprocessor. This follow-up was pretty much more of the same, only a bit slicker and was an equally huge success for the company. The main difference between this game and Gun Fight was that you could now play against the computer, as opposed to the two-player only action of the original. As well as the two cowboys trying to shoot each other you also had some scenery to hide behind now too.

The game inspired many clones and copies, most notably Atari’s own version of the game Outlaw that will be well remembered by both Atari 2600 and Atari 8-bit computer owners. It seems simplistic by today’s standards but back then Boot Hill was a real blast and set new standards for competitive two-player arcade games.

Space Wars – Cinematronics

Spacewar! is widely regarded as being the first ever proper video game and was played on giant PDP-1 mainframe computers in the universities of America. Although that game first appeared in 1962, it didn’t make its way into arcades until 15 years later!

The basic gameplay of Space Wars involves two armed spaceships attempting to shoot one another while manoeuvring within the gravity of a star. Each player controls one of the ships, and must attempt to simultaneously shoot at the other ship and avoid colliding with the star. There is a hyperspace feature that can be used as a last-ditch means to evade enemy missiles, but the re-entry from hyperspace would occur at a random location and there is an increasing probability of the ship exploding with each use. If you could find somebody else to play with then Space Wars was more than worthy of your coin.

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