Disco No. 1

Disco No. 1You’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)

See the videoAnd 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).

Disco No. 1A 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 Disco No. 1one 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.)

3 quartersOne 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.