You’re on the dance floor, they’ve dimmed the lights, the feeling is right, and you’re gonna boogie tonight. Leaving temporary, light-cycle-style tracers behind you, you have to impress all the lovely ladies by literally skating circles around them. When you accomplish this, you claim a bit of territory on the dance floor. (Data East, 1982)
And here you thought Xanadu was the only pop culture celebration of roller disco – not so! This bizarre little coin-op number brings roller boogie back from the brink of extinction (being the voracious second-hand consumers of American pop culture that they were, God bless ’em, the Japanese apparently missed the memo that disco was “dead” by this point).
A novel take on the basic concept of a game built around “space claiming”, Disco No. 1 eschews Qix-otic abstraction in favor of a theme that, it must be said, is less bizarrely goofy than Pepper II. Granted, the character that looks like a man in a giant duck suit pushing a broom (surely that’s not what the game’s designers intended) pushes Disco No. 1 thoroughly into the surreal category, but hey, who’s counting? All you need to know is that he’ll take one of your lives, and generally, I assume that about any man in a giant duck suit, broom or no, that I might happen to encounter in my daily life.
Disco No. 1 seemed to catch on with someone out there; with its roller skating disco dancers traded out for ice-skating penguins (c’mon, admit it, that makes even more sense!), the basic game play of Disco No. 1 was transformed into one of the signature Intellivision games, Thin Ice. (It’s worth noting that this may not necessarily be a rip-off; Intellivision had a licensing deal set up with Data East, which brought arcade games like Bump ‘N’ Jump and Burgertime into the Intellivision stable. Mattel’s game designers may well have licensed Disco No. 1 and changed it to suit the American market better.)
One thing that would’ve improved the arcade game: some real live disco music, or an electronic approximation of same. Because I sure couldn’t boogie to the tunes that were built into Disco No. 1 – nor would you want to see me try.