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Gun Fight

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Gun Fight, known as Western Gun in Japan[1] and Europe,[2] is a 1975 arcade shooter game designed by Tomohiro Nishikado,[3] and released by Taito in Japan[1] and Europe[2] and by Midway Games in North America.[1][3] It was a historically significant game,[4] and a success in the arcades.[5][6]

Gun Fight was a major video game hit for its time,[3] selling more than 8,000 cabinets in the US.[1] Following a flood of Pong clones, Gun Fight helped revitalize a declining arcade video game industry that was flooded with Pong clones.[7] Its success also opened the way for Japanese video games in the North American market.[8] It was also the first video game to use a microprocessor.[8] It was soon ported to the Bally Astrocade video game console[5] as a built-in game[9] in 1977[10] as well as several home computer platforms,[4][11] and has been referred to as "the Halo of its day."[12]

The theme of the game involves two Old West cowboys armed with revolvers and squaring off in a duel. Whoever shoots the other cowboy first wins the duel. Unlike in a real-life duel, however, both cowboys get numerous opportunities to duel in order to score points (one point per successful draw).[1] The game was included in GameSpy's "Hall of Fame" in 2002.[13]

Gameplay and story

Western Gun was an early, on-foot, multi-directional shooter,[1] that could be played in single-player or two-player. It also introduced video game violence, being the first video game to depict human-to-human combat,[5] and the first to depict a gun on screen.[1] The game also introduced dual-stick controls,[14] using two distinct joystick controls per player, with one eight-way joystick for moving the computerized cowboy around on the screen and the other for changing the shooting direction.[1][15] Unlike later games, Western Gun has the main joystick on the right instead of the left. It was also the first known video game to feature game characters and fragments of story through its visual presentation, marking the beginning of cinematic elements in video games.[3][16] The player characters used in the game represented avatars for the players,[5] and would yell "Got me!" when one of them is shot.[16]

Other features of the game included obstacles between the characters, such as a cactus,[17] and in later levels, pine trees and moving wagons; these objects serve to provide cover for the players and can be destructible. The guns have limited ammunition, with each player given six bullets; a round ends if both players run out of ammo.[4] Gunshots can also ricochet off the top or bottom edges of the playfield, allowing for indirect hits to be used as a possible strategy.[4][17]

Development and technology

Taito employee Tomohiro Nishikado designed Western Gun as a character-based game with fragments of story. While it lacked the cutscenes or fleshed-out character designs of later games due to technological limitations, the game presented early cinematic elements, through artwork of cowboys in the Wild West on the video game arcade cabinet which matched the in-game graphics featuring cacti, covered wagons, rocks, and human characters. In contrast to earlier games which used miniature shapes to represent abstract blocks or spaceships, Western Gun featured cartoon-like human characters, influenced by Japanese manga.[3] In addition, in contrast to previous arcade video games such as Pong that produced blip sounds, Gun Fight featured the use of a one-channel amplifier to provide mono gunshot sounds.[18]

Taito licensed its game Western Gun to Midway for release in North America, the second such license after the 1974 scrolling racing game Speed Race,[19] also designed by Tomohiro Nishikado.[20] The title Western Gun, while making perfect sense for Japanese audiences in that it conveys the setting and theme as simply as possible, was considered to have sounded odd to American audiences, so it was renamed Gun Fight instead for its American localization.[19] The manga-inspired artwork in the original Japanese version was also changed for release in North America, where most players were initially unaware of the game's Japanese origins.[3]

Tomohiro Nishikado's original Western Gun design was based on discrete logic, like most video arcade games of the time.[3] When Dave Nutting adapted it for Midway, he decided to base it on the Intel 8080, which made Gun Fight the first video game to use a microprocessor.[8] This was the first time the public used a CPU-powered device, without even realizing it. [2]

Nishikado believed that his original version was more fun, but was impressed with the improved graphics and smoother animation of Midway's version.[21] This led him to design microprocessors into his subsequent games, including the blockbuster 1978 shoot 'em up hit Space Invaders.[16] Gun Fight uses a black-and-white raster monitor and a yellow screen overlay.

Series

  • Western Gun / Gun Fight (1975)
  • Gunman (1977)[22]
  • Boot Hill (1977)

Ports

 Reception
Aggregate scores
Aggregator Score
Atari Age 95%[23]
Review scores
Publication Score
Atari Age 100%[23]
Planet Atari 81%[23]
The Video Game Critic A[23]

In 1978,[24] the game was introduced to the home market with its port to the Bally Astrocade console,[5] which included a color version of the game within the system's ROM.[25] That same year, David Crane programmed his own version of the game, entitled Outlaw, released by Atari for the Atari 2600 console.[26] Sears also released a version for the Atari 2600 called Gunslinger that year.[27]

In 1981, the game was ported to the Atari 8-bit personal computers by Hofacker / Elcomp Publishing.[28] In 1983, Epyx also ported Gun Fight and another Midway game, Sea Wolf II, to the Atari 8-bit computers, and released them in an "Arcade Classics" compilation.[11] In 1987, Interceptor Software ported Gun Fight to the Commodore 64 and Commodore 128 computers.[29] In 2001, another version of the game was released by Manuel Rotschkar for the Atari 2600.[23]

Popular culture

The opening chiptune used in Gun Fight[30] is sampled by the hit 1978 song "Computer Game" by Yellow Magic Orchestra.[31]

In the hit 1978 movie Dawn of the Dead, Peter and FlyBoy are playing this game at the mall. Peter loses as the allusion of Flyboy is bad shooter in real life.[32]

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 Stephen Totilo (August 31, 2010). In Search Of The First Video Game Gun. Kotaku. Retrieved on 2011-03-27.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Western Gun. The Arcade Flyer Archive. Killer List of Video Games. Retrieved on 2011-04-02.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 3.6 Chris Kohler (2005), "Chapter 2: An Early History of Cinematic Elements in Video Games", Power-Up: How Japanese Video Games Gave the World an Extra Life, BradyGames, p. 18, ISBN 0744004241, http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=auMTAQAAIAAJ, retrieved 2011-03-27, "Meanwhile, Nishikado at Taito was developing character-based games like Western Gun, which was released in the US, by Midway, as Gunfight. Few American players knew at the time that they were playing a Japanese game, but the difference was clear. Taito was adding characters and fragments of story. This is not to say that Western Gun had story sequences or fleshed-out character designs, but it had artwork of wild west cowboys on the cabinet, and the in-game graphics, with cacti, covered wagons, rocks, and player-characters that identifiably human, matched the out-of-game artwork. Gunfight became Midway's first major video game hit. Its popularity could certainly be attributed to its originality amongst a field of identical games. What made it original was its use of human characters in a modern setting. Rather than miniature shapes that represented either spaceships or abstract blocks, Gunfight featured almost cartoonish humans. The original Japanese advertisement flyers for Western Gun showed that these were video game versions of Japanese manga characters. Of course, these manga style drawings were not used in the US, and even if they were, nobody would know they were Japanese — how could cowboys be Japanese, anyway?" 
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 Gun Fight at Allgame via the Wayback Machine
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 5.4 Shirley R. Steinberg (2010), Shirley R. Steinberg, Michael Kehler, Lindsay Cornish, ed., Boy Culture: An Encyclopedia, 1, ABC-CLIO, p. 451, http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=XRGEIqzv5rsC, retrieved 2011-04-02 . ISBN 0313350809.
  6. I. M. Stoned (2009), Weed: 420 Things You Didn't Know (Or Remember) About Cannabis, Adams Media, p. 158, ISBN 1440503494, http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=wrDGMocQr6oC, retrieved 2011-04-02, "Before you assume it required you to type things in like “Go North” or “Examine Corpse,” you should know that Gun Fight was the Halo of its day." 
  7. Kubey, Craig (April 1982). The winners' book of video games. p. 253. http://www.digitpress.com/library/books/book_winners_book_of_video_games.pdf. "Its Gun Fight and Sea Wolf games, introduced in 1975 and 1976, helped revitalize a weak industry that had over-bought Pong-style games and then had nothing with which to follow them." 
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 Steve L. Kent (2001), The ultimate history of video games: from Pong to Pokémon and beyond : the story behind the craze that touched our lives and changed the world, p. 64, Prima, ISBN 0761536434
  9. Mini-micro systems, Volume 11. Cahners Publishing. 1978. p. 46. http://books.google.co.uk/books?ei=mYQ3T9SFMcrR8QPP-tS6Ag&id=cmNVAAAAMAAJ&dq=gunfight. Retrieved 12 February 2012. 
  10. Gunfight (Astrocade). GameFAQs. Retrieved on 12 February 2012.
  11. 11.0 11.1 Atarimania - Arcade Classics: Sea Wolf II / Gun Fight. Retrieved on 2011-02-01.
  12. I. M. Stoned (2009), Weed: 420 Things You Didn't Know (Or Remember) About Cannabis, Adams Media, p. 158, ISBN 1440503494, http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=wrDGMocQr6oC, retrieved 2011-04-02, "Before you assume it required you to type things in like “Go North” or “Examine Corpse,” you should know that Gun Fight was the Halo of its day." 
  13. Cassidy, William (May 6, 2002). Gun Fight. GameSpy. Retrieved on 3 December 2011.
  14. Brian Ashcraft & Jean Snow (2008), Arcade Mania: The Turbo-charged World of Japan's Game Centers, Kodansha International . ISBN 4770030789.
  15. Western Gun at Museum of the Game
  16. 16.0 16.1 16.2 Chris Kohler (2005), "Chapter 2: An Early History of Cinematic Elements in Video Games", Power-Up: How Japanese Video Games Gave the World an Extra Life, BradyGames, p. 19, http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=auMTAQAAIAAJ, retrieved 2011-03-27 . ISBN 0744004241.
  17. 17.0 17.1 Rusel DeMaria & Johnny L. Wilson (2003), High score! The illustrated history of electronic games (2 ed.), McGraw-Hill Professional, pp. 24–5, http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=HJNvZLvpCEQC&pg, retrieved 2011-04-02 . ISBN 0072231726.
  18. McDonald, Glenn. [gamespot.com/gamespot/features/video/vg_music/p2_01.html A Brief Timeline of Video Game Music]. GameSpot. Retrieved on 25 May 2011.
  19. 19.0 19.1 Chris Kohler (2005), Power-Up: How Japanese Video Games Gave the World an Extra Life, BradyGames, p. 211 . ISBN 0744004241.
  20. Chris Kohler (2005), Power-Up: How Japanese Video Games Gave the World an Extra Life, BradyGames, p. 16 . ISBN 0744004241.
  21. Chris Kohler (2005), Power-Up: How Japanese Video Games Gave the World an Extra Life, BradyGames, p. 19, "As a game, I thought our version of Western Gun was more fun. But just from using a microprocessor, the walking animation became much smoother and prettier in Midway's version." . ISBN 0744004241.
  22. Gunman at Museum of the Game
  23. 23.0 23.1 23.2 23.3 23.4 Gunfight. Atari Age. Retrieved on 8 March 2012.
  24. Gun Fight at Allgame via the Wayback Machine
  25. Rusel DeMaria & Johnny L. Wilson (2003), High score! The illustrated history of electronic games (2 ed.), McGraw-Hill Professional, p. 48, http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=HJNvZLvpCEQC&pg, retrieved 2011-04-02 . ISBN 0072231726.
  26. Brett Weiss (2007), Classic home video games, 1972-1984: a complete reference guide, McFarland, p. 87, http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=BzxTtml8Jq4C&pg=PA87, retrieved 2011-04-02 . ISBN 0786432268.
  27. Gunslinger. Atari Age. Retrieved on 8 March 2012.
  28. Atarimania - Gunfight. Retrieved on 2012-03-08.
  29. Gun Fight at Allgame via the Wayback Machine

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