MattWalsh: I remember playing this game at the Brementowne Mall arcade, "Just for Fun" (aka "One for Fun") right outside the movie theatre. This was before they expanded to double their original size. Anyway, sure enough, I remember playing this game, trackball and all. I recalled white blobs falling from the sky which would kill pedestrians which you were to intercept. I also recall the graphics standing out as much better than other games at the time. Was this one of the first color games? Years later, at Williams in 1990 Larry DeMar knew the game, recalling its rarity and expressed surprise I'd have seen such a rare game. It still seems strange that Gottlieb would test games as far south as Bremen...It also troubles me that I would find such a poorly-received game so memorable...anyway, here's more info on the game from people that know much more...
GV101-PROTECTOR (Videoman/Guardian/Argus/Why Me?/Superman)
Release Date: prototype
Programming: Tom Malinowski and Warren Davis
Sound: David Thiel
Video Graphics: Jeff Lee
Number produced: 4
Notes from Warren Davis:
"GV101 was Protector a superhero game designed and programmed by Tom Malinowski (with programming help from Warren Davis). It tested very badly. The name was also changed at one point to Guardian, and then Argus (why I don't know!). I remember that our joke name for it became "ProVidGuardArgus". I also remember the Waxman version of the hero that Jeff made, which was a total riot."
Various Waxman scans from the original graph paper layouts (1) (2) (3). (courtesy of Jeff Lee)
Ultimately Tom Malinowski's game was called Protector (the official test name was VideoMan
). Tom wanted Gottlieb to get the Superman license but they didn't. VideoMan
was too close to SuperMan
(since the game's hero was a caped superhero) so they went with Protector - which is what you did in the game.
Player control was a trackball where you pushed your superhero around. Bad guys would swoop down and punch you; blocking or pushing the Protector around. Players perceived the results as the trackball performing badly. During a couple of focus group tests of the game, players suggested using a joystick to control the Protector. Tom did that. It was worse. Unfortunately, there are some kinds of action that should not be controlled by a proportional controller (unless it has tactile feedback) - Protector had this kind of game action. Protector did have some fun stuff, like the ability to knock chunks out of buildings (Warren did the rubble stuff) and pick up a city bus.
The game may have been buggy, Tom was not the best designer or programmer, but the game design was primarily responsible for it's failure to test well. You have to remember that this was early days in computer game design and there were lots of elaborate ways to fail for the first time. Tom was a pioneer in his own way. Protector's failure was hard to accept, as Reactor had not done well either.
Chris Krubel recalls, "a better remembrance was one of the many incarnations of Protector/VideoMan being taken into some arcade that we must have used several times, not unlike that place that Williams always used. Anyway, I remember Rick (Beau) Tighe saying that when they set it up, there were a bunch of little kids there that said something quite bad about the game, that sort of ended Tom's feelings about game design. Not unlike me setting the record for the Lowest Collecting game on test."
While work on Reactor was proceeding, designer Tom Malinowski was at work on Videoman (aka: Protector, Guardian, Argus, Why Me?, and sometimes jokingly referred to as Pro VidGuardArgus
), a side-scrolling superhero game where the player’s on-screen alter ego (which at one point was designed to look like Ron Waxman) could make use of super powers such as heat vision to thwart his video enemies while protecting resources from destruction. For control, Videoman used Reactor’s trak-ball system
Excitingly, you can play this on Mame now! See the screenshots below.
- 02 Sep 2003