For Halloween night, let me point to the first game to terrorize parents over video game violence, Exidy’s 1976 Death Race.
In the game you drive a vehicle around a play field, chasing stick figures who flee randomly in all directions to avoid becoming a hood ornament. If and when you strike one, the victim screams and turns into a grave marker, complete with cross. If you have a buddy with you with a handy quarter, you can both mow down “gremlins”, as they were described in the game cabinet text, simultaneously.
Even though with 1976 black and white graphics things are barely sketched out for you, the game brought a firestorm of controversy, which only helped to increase sales for Exidy. They moved over 1,000 units of the game, their best-selling up to that point.
Fire Truck. What, you thought I meant something else?
Of course, this game just might have caused you to drop a few F-bombs in 1978, as your buddy sat in the seat steering the titular vehicle and controlling the gas and breaks, while you struggle to keep the trailer straight with a tiller wheel mounted behind on a control panel. The game can be played solo, but since it’s the first arcade game to offer simultaneous co-operative play, a two-person crew is really necessary to get the most out of it. A purely one-player version would be released by Atari later as Smokey Joe.
Try to keep collateral damage to a minimum as you fight fires, will you?
I’m not sure if I always ended up finding Fire Truck cabinets with defective second steering wheels, or if the game was shipped this way from Atari’s factory, but I found it impossible to control the trailer with the tiller wheel. No matter how gently I handled that second wheel, the trailer would seem to have a mind of its own and just swing all over the place, usually into houses or other vehicles.
Still, Fire Truck was a unique game that had players working together instead of against each other. That’s worth a few smashed and/or burned houses, I guess.