One of the craziest stories in video game history
I’m still not entirely sure if this is some super elaborate April Fools joke that I have yet to get or a real story that is really this crazy but it’s worth a read. An article over at IGN describes a really weird set of events. It involves the declining arcade market, Will Wright (Creator of SimCity and The Sims among other things) and Chris Taylor (Creator of Total Annihilation and Supreme Commander), a crazy trip to Japan involving living off of room service for six months, a cursed game made on equipment bought through room service and a run in with the Yakuza. If that doesn’t sound like a thrilling if odd tale than I don’t know what is. Hit the jump for more info.
The game in question is an arcade game called Vavatron which is described as a mix between Tempest and Robotron (neither of which I have played) and also described as cursed by both Wright and Taylor. To go with the story, IGN have taken the code and released an emulated version through FilePlanet (I know queues suck but it’s worth it). I have played it and I really like it. It makes me want to put this in a real cabinet and have it kicking around for parties. The article is well worth a read, but if you don’t want to read the whole thing, below is the condensed version.
Casey Staubach was sent to japan to find a new arcade game to save the US arcade market in 1982. He found both Will Wright and Christ Taylor and took them with him to help find said game. As soon as he arrived, he was told to return. As he knew he was going to be fired but also knew the room was going to be his for six months, he decided to take a holiday. Eventually, through some crazy deal making and a little work Staubach, Wright and Taylor created a game and mounted it inside an arcade cabinet.
After some failed attempts to show it to companies, they showed it off without permission at an arcade show in the men’s bathroom of all places (set up in the third stall using a car battery to power the cabinet). From that they got a deal to produce 500 cabinets and sell them in America, with a member of the Yakuza. This member died from blood loss when the cabinets were lost at sea and the removing of his digit didn’t combine well with his hemophilia. Staubach, Wright and Taylor fled the country before the Yakuza, who blamed them for the death, caught up with them and killed them.
When they got to America, they found they had three cabinets left. The first chance to get big was when it was scheduled to be shown on Diff’rent Strokes. All was going well and the cabinet was there for filming. Until it wasn’t. It disappeared and was never seen again and a fake game was used instead. The second chance came when, after showing some people at Atari, a cabinet was sent out to be tested in an arcade. Until it was put on the wrong truck and also disappeared, never to be seen again. The third cabinet was set up at Staubach’s new job and eventually found it’s way into a warehouse and was then found again and this story was discovered.