Tag Archives: Bally Midway

Tapper, Arcade

Tapper (sometimes known as Root Beer Tapper) is an iconic arcade game first manufactured in 1983 by Bally Midway. It features gameplay based on the job of bartending – serving drinks to customers and cleaning up after them.

Each screen presents the player with a row of bars and you situated at one end. Customers gather at the other end of the bars and you serve them beer by sliding full glasses down towards them. Once they’re done drinking they’ll slide the empty glasses back towards you and you have to catch them.

A bonus intermission screen sees you trying to choose the right can on a table. A guy quickly shakes up the cans, but leaves one unshaken. If you open the wrong can: it fizzes up in your face. If you open the right can: it doesn’t, and you win a bonus.

Tapper was originally designed to be installed in bars and featured Budweiser branding, with logos appearing in various places in the game. Unfortunately this drew criticism from some people who accused the manufacturers of trying to market alcohol to minors. Developer Marvin Glass and Associates later changed the name to “Root Beer Tapper“, and removed the Budweiser logos, which allowed the game’s general release into arcades.

The grabs here show both versions of the game. The original Budweiser version first, then Root Beer Tapper second.

Tapper is a classic arcade game that is still fun to play now. It’s been converted to most home systems and it still pops-up in compilations and in retrospectives from time to time, and is fairly easy to find.

More: Tapper on Wikipedia

Domino Man, Arcade

This strange 1983 arcade game from Bally Midway is based on the bizarre-but-satisfying craze of ‘domino toppling’.

In it you play the balding, titular ‘Domino Man‘, a guy who runs around, dropping down lines of dominoes, and trying to protect them from sabotage by outside protagonists. A trail of black dots on the floor designates where to put the dominoes, and when the line is complete you can go for a bonus and topple them yourself.

Domino Man can push most enemies away if they’re heading towards his line of dominoes, although some (like the Killer Bee or The Bully) require different tactics.

One thing I noticed was the similarity of the main character sprite to the one seen in the game Tapper, which is an indicator that both games were developed by the same company – Marvin Glass and Associates; a Chicago-based toy development company.

In spite of the reasonably interesting premise, Domino Man is limited gameplay-wise. A simultaneous two-player mode might have improved things, but the Domino Man two-player game is the usual ‘take turns’ on the single-player game.

More: Domino Man on Wikipedia

10 Best Spy Hunter Conversions

LISTS/\ as decided by The King of Grabs, in order of greatness:

These are just an opinion, but please do feel free to comment with your opinions. Unless you’re a spammer. In which case: do feel free to f*ck off.

Bally Midway‘s classic Spy Hunter is a brilliant overhead race game with guns and bumping cars and speed boats and chasing helicopters, and general high-speed excitement. It is such a good game that it has been converted to pretty much every gaming system known to man.

Here’s our rundown of the top 10 Spy Hunter conversions…

1. Nintendo Entertainment System < Probably the most fun
2. Atari 800 << Better than most
3. Commodore 64 <<< Entertaining
4. ZX Spectrum <<<< A fun conversion
5. ColecoVision <<<<< Pretty good
6. Amstrad CPC <<<<<< Reasonable
7. Atari 2600 <<<<<<< Basic
8. BBC Micro <<<<<<<< Forgettable
9. Apple II <<<<<<<< Rubbish
10. PC MS-DOS <<<<<<<<< Utterly terrible

And, of course, not forgetting the utterly brilliant arcade original.

More: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spy_Hunter

Spy Hunter Amstrad CPC 01

Spy Hunter, Atari 2600

You’d expect the Atari 2600 version of Spy Hunter to be the runt of the litter, and… it’s actually not too bad.

It’s certainly more playable than the DOS version, and more colourful too. Unfortunately the graphics are very basic. The car sprites are pretty good, and recognisable, but the backdrops are plain and empty with hardly a tree in sight. There are some weird glitches onscreen too, characteristic of certain Atari 2600 games.

Gameplay-wise, there is some fun to be had here. Bumping other cars off the road is satisfying, and quite easy to do. The speedboat section is in there, but – like the flawed Apple II conversion – it’s compulsory. Also: I’m not sure if there are any helicopters. I certainly didn’t see any.

Unsurprisingly, this is a pretty pathetic excuse for Spy Hunter, only really to be played out of curiosity or blind fanaticism.

More: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spy_Hunter

Spy Hunter, BBC Micro

David Hoskins made this BBC Micro conversion of Spy Hunter for Micro Power, Sega and US Gold (not to mention Bally Midway) in 1986.*

It’s a strange conversion overall. For starters: the scrolling play area is really vertical – more vertical than the arcade original – which is weird. Secondly, the roads are quite empty and there’s only one skill level (that I could find), so no way of increasing the difficulty or the amount of traffic. Thirdly, the speedboat sections come too frequently (the opposite of the arcade version, which is rare, and the NES version, which is super rare), which lessens their ‘specialness’.

Overall, the BBC Micro version of Spy Hunter is a mess. Yes, it’s slightly playable, but it isn’t much fun and it seems to be one of those conversions where the programmer didn’t care enough (or couldn’t see their mistakes) to make it a reasonable representation of the arcade game. Don’t listen to anyone who tries to tell you that this is a good game…

* = That’s a hell of a chain of command – four major games companies and they still can’t come up with a decent game… BBC Spy Hunter should have been a lot better considering those involved.

More: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spy_Hunter

Spy Hunter, Apple II

Like the MS-DOS version of Spy Hunter, the Apple II conversion of the classic Bally Midway arcade game is a bit… erm, rubbish.

Barest of the bare graphics (are they trees, or sprouts?), dodgy controls, and unforgiving gameplay – Apple II Spy Hunter‘s only saving grace are the extra colours (over the DOS version anyway) and the minimal playability.

One to be forgotten, unfortunately.

More: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spy_Hunter

Spy Hunter, Amstrad CPC

Released by Sega in 1986, this Amstrad CPC conversion of Spy Hunter drives well enough, but looks a bit dented on the outside. Meaning: the graphics are a bit basic.

I thought the Commodore 64 conversion of Spy Hunter was chunky – until I saw this… Thankfully it plays reasonably well, if a little slowly.

What lets the game down, though, is the rather small play window. I would have preferred it if they’d used a bit more of the screen. Amstrad Spy Hunter is still worth a spin if you’re interested in the series.

More: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spy_Hunter

Spy Hunter, Atari 800

The Atari 8-bit version of Spy Hunter is a cracking rendition, with smooth scrolling and decent sprites. It’s a little chunky, graphically, reminding me of a cross between the Commodore 64 version and the Amstrad version, but the car moves very well and all the Spy Hunter features are present, so it’s not a disappointing experience.

There are two levels of difficulty: Novice and Expert. In Expert there are more vehicles on the road and more helicopters chasing you, making it much more challenging.

The Atari 8-bit version was released on cartridge, as well as disk.

More: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spy_Hunter

Spy Hunter, PC

Spy Hunter for PC MS-DOS is unfortunately a terrible stinker of a game.

I can forgive the four-colour, CGA graphics, but I can’t forgive the repetitive, dull gameplay and the unresponsive controls.

Other than the scrolling road and the cars and helicopters there is very little here that actually represents the classic original. Other deviations include: the boat section being compulsory, and the boat itself looking like a Pac-Man ghost… There’s so much wrong with this conversion that you have to wonder if the programmer gave even the slightest care about what he was doing.

The DOS version of Spy Hunter was developed by Sega and released in 1984. Shame on them for releasing such dross.

More: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spy_Hunter