Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Pre-Arcade Memories: Gun Fight

I was a child when video games first began to emerge on the scene, and it occurred to me that while I have lots of memories of early games, I haven't really written about where my interest may have started.

After some consideration, and a little corroborative research, I'm pretty sure the first video game I ever saw in action was not Pong, not Space Invaders, nor any of the recognized classics.  It was Midway's coin-op Gun Fight, sublicensed from Taito, featuring two cowboys trying to shoot each other from across a heavily-trafficked expanse of desert.

Wikipedia tells us that this game was renamed from Taito's considerably more Japanese-sounding Western Gun, and was also the very first video game to use a microprocessor instead of analog circuits, as converted for the US market by Dave Nutting Associates, the engineering firm that would go on to produce Gorf and Wizard of Wor

I saw this machine in a Circus World toy store located in the Southland Mall in Taylor, Michigan, at some time prior to mid-1976.  Since Gun Fight came out in 1975, and was in black-and-white, matching my recollection, it seems likely that this is the game I saw.  The very similar sequel, Boot Hill, didn't come out until 1977, by which time I was living in a different part of the state, and the Atari 2600 wasn't around with its obviously derivative Outlaw cartridge at the time either.

I didn't actually get to play Gun Fight when I saw it that memorable day -- a quarter was a good chunk of my weekly allowance at the time, and my limited spending power was primarily devoted to purchasing Aurora dinosaur and monster model kits.  But the image stuck with me, along with the intriguing concept that, in the near future, you could do more than just sit and watch television.

Thank you, Gun Fight.

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