Gun Fight was a cowboy themed arcade game released by Midway in 1975.

This title has the distinction of being the first arcade game ever to use a microprocessor (the Intel 8080).

Gun Fight was also the first ever Japanese game to be licensed for US release. The original Japanese version did not have a processor, but Midway redesigned the whole game to make it better and more interesting. The designers (Dave Nutting and Tom McHugh), opted to use an 8080 processor to allow for more advanced effect than any previous title.

The game

This game may be a little more simple than the first person shooters most of you kids are used to playing. But it is good clean killing fun when played in two player mode.

The graphics are in a style that is unique to the Pre-Galaxian era of arcade games. They are monochrome, featuring white characters on a black background (although a real arcade version will have a yellow overlay, making the graphics black and yellow instead). I say the graphics are unique because only these really old games had large detailed characters rendered in monochrome. What they were lacking in color, they made up for in detail (the gunfighter's hat alone had as much detail as an entire ship in Galaxian, and that was just his hat). Graphics changed a bit with the advent of color arcade games. It was several years before the color ones became as detailed as the old monochrome ones were. The reason being was keeping track of color information required memory, and processor power that the monochrome games were able to use on detail instead.

Each player (up to two people may play at a time, and you will want to play in two player mode), controls a gunfighter. You use a joystick to move up and down, the stick also has a trigger button. While you used a spinner to aim your pistol. Your only goal is to shoot the other player, who is right across the screen from you (who will then fall down and say "Got Me"). It isn't usually a straight shot, as there will always be a cactus somewhere between the two players (it is in a different spot each time you play).

Just shoot the other player for points. The game is time based, and not life based. The factory setting is for a 90 second game, but this is operator adjustable. The computer opponent is quite easy to beat into the ground with a little practice, but a human opponent is much more challenging.

The game cabinet

This game was released in two different dedicated cabinets in the US (I can't find a lick of information on the Japanese cabinet, I am only describing the American ones here). The first is an ornate upright machine, while the second version was a pentagon shaped cocktail table.

The upright version was mostly red, but it was covered with painted cowboy sideart. There was no marquee at all, the game had its title printed on the monitor bezel, down towards the control panel. The machine overall had an attractive (but dated) look, that sort of reminds me of the furniture they had on The Brady Bunch.

The cocktail version was shaped like a pentagon, with the monitor aligned towards the bottom section of the pentagon. The players would line up with the next two sections of pentagon (facing slightly towards each other). This machine only had a wood grain finish, and was not nearly as ornate as the upright version.

Both versions used a 19" monochrome open frame monitor. They both had one 2-Way trigger switch joystick, and one spinner for each player. Although the spinners were tall and skinny, as opposed to short and fat like a normal spinner. Strangely enough the game places the joystick in the player's right hand, and the spinner in the players left hand. This is not the optimum setup at all. Very few games since then have put the joystick in the players right hand. So you may have trouble playing this game at first, especially operating the spinner stick with your left hand, as spinner games are usually played with your right hand. (You may think all that is pendantic. But I have 20 years of muscle memory telling me that the joystick goes on the left, and the spinner goes on the right).

Proper replacement parts are no longer made for any of the controls in this game. But standard replacement parts can be modified to work with it fairly easily.

Where to play.

Well your first choice should be to track down an original machine. They aren't everywhere, but I estimate there are about 300 to 500 of them still around. Actually, you might as well buy one of these if you can find it. The average market price for these machines is less than $200 for a nice one in working order (price is USD, current as of 2002). The good thing about these old black and white machines is that they were not converted very often, as new titles required color monitors, and more generic controls. By the time you bought a new monitor, new controls, and a conversion kit, you might as well have bought a new game in the first place. So they were often simply put away in a warehouse sometime in the early 80s, often still functioning.

If you can't find a real one (or think I am an idiot for suggesting you find one of these), then you can play it on MAME. But you won't have the yellow overlay, or the correct controls. Even if you have a MAME cabinet, you still won't have the correct controls (unless you happened to have mounted a 2-Way trigger joystick on your cabinet).

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