Gun Fight, known as Western Gun in Japan and Europe, is a 1975 arcade shooter game designed by Tomohiro Nishikado, and released by Taito in Japan and Europe and by Midway in North America. It was the first video game to depict human-to-human combat, while the Midway version was also the first video game to use a microprocessor. Following its November 1975 release in North America, it went on to sell over 8,000 arcade cabinets in the United States. It was ported to the Bally Astrocade video game console as a built-in game in 1977 as well as several home computer platforms.
|Designer(s)||Tomohiro Nishikado (original) |
Dave Nutting (US version)
|Programmer(s)||Tom McHugh (US version)|
|Platform(s)||Arcade, Astrocade, Atari 8-bit, Commodore 64|
|Arcade system||Taito Discrete Logic (original) |
Midway 8080 (US version)
|CPU||Discrete logic (Taito) |
8080 @ 1.9968 MHz (Midway)
|Display||256×224 resolution, monochrome|
The theme of the game involves two Old West cowboys armed with revolvers and squaring off in a duel. Whoever shoots the other cowboy first wins the duel. Unlike in a real-life duel, however, both cowboys get numerous opportunities to duel in order to score points (one point per successful draw). The game was included in GameSpy's "Hall of Fame" in 2002.
Western Gun was a fixed screen shooter where two players could compete in an old west gun fight. It was the first video game to depict human-to-human combat. When shot, the characters in the game fell to the ground and the words "GOT ME!" appeared above the body. The game had two distinct joystick controls per player, with one eight-way joystick for moving the computerized cowboy around on the screen and the other for changing the shooting direction. Unlike other dual joystick games, Western Gun has the main joystick on the right instead of the left.
Other features of the game included obstacles between the characters which block shots, such as a cactus, and (in later levels) stagecoaches. The guns have limited ammunition, with each player given six bullets; a round ends if both players run out of ammo. Gunshots can also ricochet off the top or bottom edges of the playfield, allowing for indirect hits to be used as a possible strategy.
Development and technologyEdit
Both Western Gun and Gun Fight had artwork of Wild West cowboys on the cabinet, with matching in-game graphics featuring cacti, rocks, and human characters (and a covered wagon in Gun Fight). These cartoon-like humans were in contrast to earlier games which used miniature shapes to represent abstract blocks or spaceships.
The original game, Western Gun, was created by Tomohiro Nishikado for Taito. Taito licensed Western Gun to Midway for release in North America, one of the first such licenses, after the 1974 scrolling racing game Speed Race, also designed by Nishikado, and the 1974 sports game Basketball. The title Western Gun, while making perfect sense for Japanese audiences in that it conveyed the setting and theme as simply as possible, sounded odd to American audiences, so it was renamed Gun Fight for its American localization.
Taito's version was based on discrete logic, like other arcade video games of the time. When Dave Nutting adapted the game for Midway, he decided to base it on the Intel 8080, which made Gun Fight the first video game to use a microprocessor. Nutting's company Dave Nutting Associates had already used microprocessor technology in prototypes of arcade pinball machines, and the first arcade pinball machine to include a microprocessor, The Spirit of '76 by Mirco Games, had used this technology under license.
Midway's version, which had a black-and-white raster monitor with a transparent yellow screen overlay, used bitmapped framebuffer technology to display the game text and graphics, including its animated human-like characters. To make the animation fast and smooth, the game included a special barrel shifter circuit built from multiple discrete chips. The microprocessor used this to shift each pattern of picture bits, byte-by-byte, to the proper horizontal bit offset, reading back each shifted byte and then writing it into the framebuffer. The 8080, like other microprocessors of its era, had shift instructions that could only shift by a single bit position. With the shifter circuit, the microprocessor could quickly shift a picture byte by several bit positions, giving it more time for other work. A similar shifter circuit was used in later Midway and Taito games whose hardware was based on Gun Fight, such as Sea Wolf and Space Invaders. (In some later Space Invaders derivatives, such as Taito's Space Invaders Part II of 1979, this circuit is a Fujitsu MB14241, a single-chip implementation of the barrel shifter.)
Nishikado believed that his original version was more fun than Midway's, but he was impressed with the Midway machine's improved graphics and smoother animation. This led him to design microprocessors into his subsequent games, including the blockbuster 1978 shoot 'em up hit Space Invaders.
In 1983, Epyx ported Gun Fight and another Midway game, Sea Wolf II, to the Atari 8-bit family, and released them in an Arcade Classics compilation. In 1987, Interceptor Software ported Gun Fight to the Commodore 64 and Commodore 128 computers.
- Boot Hill (1977)
- Stephen Totilo (August 31, 2010). "In Search Of The First Video Game Gun". Kotaku. Retrieved 2011-03-27.
- "Western Gun". The Arcade Flyer Archive. Killer List of Video Games. Retrieved 2011-04-02.
- Chris Kohler (2005), "Chapter 2: An Early History of Cinematic Elements in Video Games", Power-Up: How Japanese Video Games Gave the World an Extra Life, BradyGames, p. 18, ISBN 0-7440-0424-1, retrieved 2011-03-27
- Cassidy, William (May 6, 2002). "Gun Fight". GameSpy. Archived from the original on 24 January 2013. Retrieved 14 September 2012.
- Steve L. Kent (2001), The ultimate history of video games: from Pong to Pokémon and beyond : the story behind the craze that touched our lives and changed the world, p. 64, Prima, ISBN 0-7615-3643-4
- Shirley R. Steinberg (2010), Shirley R. Steinberg; Michael Kehler; Lindsay Cornish (eds.), Boy Culture: An Encyclopedia, 1, ABC-CLIO, p. 451, ISBN 0-313-35080-9, retrieved 2011-04-02
- Mini-micro systems, Volume 11. Cahners Publishing. 1978. p. 46. Retrieved 12 February 2012.
- "Gunfight (Astrocade)". GameFAQs. Retrieved 12 February 2012.
- "Gun Fight". Archived from the original on 2014-11-14.
- "Atarimania - Arcade Classics: Sea Wolf II / Gun Fight". Retrieved 2011-02-01.
- Cassidy, William (May 6, 2002). "Gun Fight". GameSpy. Archived from the original on 25 April 2012. Retrieved 3 December 2011.
- "The Arcade Flyer Archive: Western Gun". Retrieved 2015-06-18.
- Western Gun at the Killer List of Videogames
- Rusel DeMaria & Johnny L. Wilson (2003), High score! The illustrated history of electronic games (2 ed.), McGraw-Hill Professional, pp. 24–5, ISBN 0-07-223172-6, retrieved 2011-04-02
- Chris Kohler (2005), Power-Up: How Japanese Video Games Gave the World an Extra Life, BradyGames, p. 211, ISBN 0-7440-0424-1
- Chris Kohler (2005), Power-Up: How Japanese Video Games Gave the World an Extra Life, BradyGames, p. 16, ISBN 0-7440-0424-1
- The schematic for the "game logic" board of Gun Fight has a shifter circuit made from four AMD Am25S10 4-bit barrel-shifter chips wired together, along with several 74175 latches to hold the data to be shifted and the number of bit positions to shift by.
- "src/mame/drivers/mw8080bw.cpp". Retrieved 2020-03-09.
Most of these games do not actually use the MB14241 shifter IC, but instead implement equivalent functionality using a bunch of standard 74XX IC's.
- "src/mame/drivers/8080bw.cpp". Retrieved 2020-03-09.
... data shifter, using either ~11 74xx chips, AM25S10s, Fujitsu MB14221 or Fujitsu MB14241 chips, which all do the same thing.
- Chris Kohler (2005), Power-Up: How Japanese Video Games Gave the World an Extra Life, BradyGames, p. 19, ISBN 0-7440-0424-1,
As a game, I thought our version of Western Gun was more fun. But just from using a microprocessor, the walking animation became much smoother and prettier in Midway's version.
- Chris Kohler (2005), "Chapter 2: An Early History of Cinematic Elements in Video Games", Power-Up: How Japanese Video Games Gave the World an Extra Life, BradyGames, p. 19, ISBN 0-7440-0424-1, retrieved 2011-03-27
- Gunfight (Bally Professional Arcade)[dead link] at AllGame
- Rusel DeMaria & Johnny L. Wilson (2003), High score! The illustrated history of electronic games (2 ed.), McGraw-Hill Professional, p. 48, ISBN 0-07-223172-6, retrieved 2011-04-02
- Gunfight (Commodore 64/128)[dead link] at AllGame
- "Atarimania - Gunfight". Retrieved 2012-03-08.
- "The Duel".