The Game: It’s like pinball, but not quite. Not only are the bouncing-ball physics and bumpers of pinball present, but so are walls of bricks which, when destroyed, add to your score and sometimes redirect your ball in unpredictable directions. Pinball meets Breakout. (Namco, 1978)
Memories: If you’re wracking your brain trying to remember this game, don’t spend too much time – not that many gamers actually got to play it first-hand. It is, in fact, only in retrospect that Gee Bee‘s true historical significance has been revealed.
Gee Bee was the first game designed by Japanese programmer Toru Iwitani, who later designed a little game for Namco that involved some little yellow guy running around a maze and eating dots. In interviews, Iwitani has said he was always more of a pinball fan than a video game fan, and that shows through quite vividly here, with a healthy dose of pinball-style physics figuring into the game play.
Iwitani created two further iterations of his unique take on video pinball, Bomb Bee and Cutie Q, before moving on to designing Pac-Man with a small team of artists and programmers at his command.