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Cops 'N Robbers was a video arcade game released by Atari back in 1976.

The story

Cops 'N Robbers was one of the first four player upright arcade games ever made. All four players played side by side on a single cabinet (most previous four player titles were done on cocktail tables).

The game

From one to four people can play at once, with the computer adding in a player as needed to keep the number of players at either two or four. Players number one and two play the part of the cops, while players three and four are the robbers. The screen is an overhead view of a city street., with the cops on one side, and the robbers on the other. Each car is in it's own lane, and an extra wide lane marks the area between the cop and robber side (that was probably confusing, so here is a rough picture.

     Cops         Robbers
      00            02
##############################
#    |    |        |    |    #
#  C |    |        |    |    #
#    |    |        |  R |    #
#    |    |        |    |    #
#    |  C |        |    |    #
#    |    |        |    |    #
#    |    |        |    |  R #
#    |    |        |    |    #
#    |    |        |    |    #
#    |    |        |    |    #
##############################

The "C" represents a cop, while the "R" represents a robber.

Each player can move up and down in their own lane, the object is to shoot down the cars of the opposite side. A beer truck moves randomly up and down the center lane, generally getting in the way.

The Machine

This game was sold in an upright format. The machine was rather unique looking as it was about twice the width of a standard arcade game, but all the other dimensions were normal (kind of like they just stuck two machines together). Later four player games would instead use a control panel that was wider than the screen.

The bulk of the machine was white, with the front being painted black for durability. Classic "Gangster" cars from the 30's filled out the sideart. There were 2 distinct monitor bezels, each with its own art. The outer one was decorated with several of the "Gangster" cars, and a design that looks similar to a stylized Japanese sunset. The inner monitor bezel had a street scene that was meant to extend the scene that appeared on the monitor itself (and to help fill in that 4 foot wide playing area). The monitor also had a color overlay to give different colors to the different sides of the game (it used a black and white monitor).

Each player has a gas pedal and a trigger joystick. The joystick was a special design. It only has an up down axis, but has seven different positions on that axis, which makes for pseudo-analog action. No one makes a suitable replacement for this stick. New ones must be fabricated from scratch, but the design is not that complicated.

The game runs on an M6502 CPU running at a smoking hot .89 Mhz

Where to play

If you want to play this game correctly, then you will have to track down an actual machine. Mame does emulate this title, but without sound, and the controls are all wrong.

There are a few things to think about if you are considering adding this game to your arcade game collection. This game is oversized and heavy, it is going to take up almost as much space as two normal games, and will be difficult to move around, especially through doorways. But on the plus side of things, oversized games usually sell very cheap at arcade auctions, so you may be able to pick this one up for next to nothing.

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