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Bigfoot Bonkers was an old arcade game released by Meadows way back in 1976.

The story

This game was one of many titles released around that time that were all almost identical in gameplay. You controlled a line that moved around the screen, leaving a trail behind you. The object was to get your opponent to crash into your line before you crashed into theirs.

This basic game is remembered by most people as being a part of the Tron video game (the Light Cycle sequence), but Tron was merely ripping off a much older idea.

The game

This game was two player only, you must have a live human opponent to play against, or else the other players mouse (the games promotional material said the character was a mouse), will go straight into a wall, making for a very quick and boring game.

Each player moves their mouse around leaving a solid line behind them. All moves are made on an invisible grid, so you can only turn at 90 degree angles. Scattered around the gameboard are several "feet" that you must avoid, as hitting a foot is just like smashing into a wall or a line.

To win you must last longer than your opponent before hitting something (first person to hit something loses). One good strategy is to try and box your opponent in to a small section of the screen, and then just move carefully until they crash. Pushing backwards on the stick will cause you to crash into your own line, so avoid that at all cost.

ASCII Screenshot
 Score 1                                      Score 0
XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX
X                                                    X
X                                                    X
X                                             %      X
X     ########                                %      X
X     #      #                                %      X
X     #      #               <%%%%%           %      X
X     #      #                    %   foot    %      X
X     #      #                    %           %      X
X     #      #                    %           %      X
X     #      ########>            %           %      X
X     #                           %%%%%%%%%%%%%      X
X     #                                              X
X     #       foot                                   X
X     #                                              X
X                                                    X
X                                                    X
XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

This little ASCII drawing is actually almost exactly what the game looks like, it is even bordered with capitol X's. The only real difference is that it has little crude "foot" graphics instead of the word "foot". The graphics are black and white. But the game uses a green and orange overlay to give colors to certain areas of the board (it pretty much makes one side orange and the other green, and puts a bit of a pattern on the border).

The Machine

I wasn't able to locate an actual picture of one of these, but I was able to find out a few details during my search. The machine came in an upright format, used a black and white open frame monitor, and a single speaker. The control panel only had a pair of 4-Way joysticks on it. There were not any other buttons on the whole machine. Inserting a coin started the game at once. Both players got to play for a single coin. The game ended after one player chalked up two wins, but this was operator adjustable up to as high as five.

One particularly annoying thing about this title is the demo sounds, the machine would emit a series of bleeps almost constantly. You could not turn this off at all.

Where to play

You probably won't find this at your local arcade, as the operator will have sold this off over 20 years ago (probably earlier due to the annoying sounds). Prices seem to vary wildly on real cabinets of this game, but I wouldn't buy this one anyway (unless the price was just right), because the need for two players at all times severely limits home use.

MAME supports this game perfectly. So you can play it on your home computer. This title is surprisingly CPU intensive to emulate, taking about a Pentium 166 to get full speed in DOS MAME. (That might not seem like much, but this game had a .2 Mhz cpu, so that is a 1000 to 1 difference.