the Horn Farm Paste Mob

the other

A few genres of arcade game that apparently thrived in Japan at some point but which I don’t remember seeing much, if at all, over here:

– Mahjong games. Not surprising that the US didn’t take to them, but these were REALLY big. Look through any list of arcade machines that tries to be at all comprehensive and you can probably find dozens of mahjong games without breaking a sweat, including some that use mahjong tiles for variant purposes. (One of those, I guess, Americans did embrace: “Shanghai”, the pair-matching solitaire with mahjong tiles.) Also, hanafuda games.

– Qix clones where your reward for capturing territory is pictures of naked women. Possibly these had some success in America, just not in the kind of establishments where I spent my quarters. Even with game design ramped up to mid-90s quality, I really don’t find Qix entertaining, though I can see how it’s a natural fit for the niche. One of these games made me choose among photos of male action heroes at first– Rambo, Robocop, Indiana Jones et al.– and I thought I might have stumbled on some kind of unlicensed beefcake fan-art game, but no, I was picking which character “I” was. It doesn’t seem like Peter Weller spends a lot of time scraping away the top layers of giant nudie canvases in real life… maybe Mel Gibson, though.

– Bubble Bobble clones. We did get the original, of course, but I had no idea back then that it spawned a whole subgenre. The mechanics got more ‘reasonable’ as they went, as in the diet-themed game where you fire food at enemies until they become rotund enough to float away, or Snow Bros, where you form enemies into giant snowballs. (As I found out a few years ago when emulation became an easy way to play obscure games, the second Snow Bros game was called “Snow Bros 2 – With New Elves”. Try to think of an entertainment franchise that wouldn’t be improved by giving one installment the subtitle “With New Elves”. You can’t do it.)

– Fantasy-themed scrolling shooters. I know I played Dragon Spirit a little when I was younger, but the rest of these are unfamiliar. These also seem more willing to move into new design territory; one fantasy shooter adds racing elements, another one is kind of a puzzle game.

Sometimes you want a bestseller list, sometimes you want a bargain bin.


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