The Game: Grab yer guns and draw, sonny! You face off against another player, with only six bullets and plenty of obstacles in the way – a pesky cactus or two, a roaming covered wagon, and so on. Whoever lines his opponent’s belly with lead first wins the round, and the final victory goes to whoever wins the most rounds. (Midway, 1975)
Memories: Originated in Japan as Gunman, Gun Fight holds a very special place in video game history – it’s the first arcade game with a microprocessor chip at its core. But that innovation didn’t start in Japan – it started when Dave Nutting, the brother of Bill Nutting (whose Nutting & Associates took one failed shot at arcade success with the first coin-op, Computer Space, in 1971), licensed Gunman from Taito. When originally manufactured by Taito, Gunman‘s guts were strictly analog, just like every arcade game that had come before in either country. Nutting had already been experimenting with implementing a game program through microprocessors, and decided to completely remake Gunman from the ground up.
Dave Nutting had a consulting deal at the time with Midway, and licensed Gun Fight to that company for manufacturing and distribution. Legend has it that when Taito’s engineers got their first glimpse of the American version of their game, they went back to the drawing board, reverse-engineering Nutting’s digital architecture to create the hardware platform for their next game, a little thing we now know as Space Invaders (though, in the interest of fairness, that story is also considered by some to be an urban legend). Its display covered with a transparent yellowish overlay, and with a rootin’-tootin’ red cabinet wrapped around it, Gun Fight and its epoch-making microchip took competitive two-player games to a new level – even if it wasn’t really much more than a version of Pong in which players are meant to miss the ball.