Funspot, Xybots

by Darius Kazemi on April 22, 2008

in games

So this past weekend I went to Funspot with Darren. You might recognize Funspot as the huge classic games arcade where much of King of Kong takes place. Basically it’s a giant arcade in lake region of New Hampshire where, for about $20 worth of tokens, you can play games (mostly from, say, ’78 to ’88) all day long.

In particular, I enjoyed playing Xybots, a game from 1987 that almost certainly was a direct influence on the early FPS games I loved so much like Wolfenstein 3D. I think what I like most about it is:

  • Core simplicity. The core gameplay mechanics are dead simple: you have a gun, and you have a zapper (smart bomb). That’s about it.
  • Emergent complexity. There are many interesting situations you can get in, especially when you consider the incidental powerups (move faster, shoot faster, keys to open secret doors) that can be bought with a currency system.
  • Cooperative play. I like playing this co-op with Darren (or with Jeff as I did at VXPO in 2006).

Now the Internet tells me that Xybots is available on Midway Arcade Treasures 2 for Xbox/GC/PS2. Looks like I may have to buy that.

I’ll definitely be going back to Funspot again. Hopefully I can bring a few people along with me!


Bradley Momberger April 22, 2008 at 9:16 pm

Even with the high price for fuel to get there and back, Funspot is a great value for entertainment. I would even pay more to play if they’d put a little more into the maintenance, though. The pins were especially notable in their disrepair, though I’m spoiled in that regard having played on impeccably maintained tables for tournaments.

mik3cap April 22, 2008 at 10:12 pm

I love that you can totally write that off as a business trip.

I would also say you should come to NYC to tour the game collection at the Museum of the Moving Image (you can play the collection for free), but they’ve taken the museum offline for the next two years while they expand and improve it.

Ian Schreiber April 23, 2008 at 4:13 am

“The core gameplay mechanics are dead simple…”

The core gameplay mechanics are ripped straight out of Gauntlet :)

But yes, it’s a great game.

One aspect that I think it would lose in transition to console is the quirky control scheme: you have a joystick controller that moves forward/backward/left/right, but you can twist the controller stick clockwise or counterclockwise to rotate your facing. There’s something visceral about using one hand to control both movement and rotation (even modern PC FPS games require two hands for that) that makes it desireable to play on an arcade machine.

I mean, it’s still playable on console, unlike some games (I’m looking at you, Marble Madness). But still, I don’t think a PS2 version would displace the need for Funspot.

Bradley Momberger April 23, 2008 at 2:39 pm

Regarding Ian’s response above,

I for one enjoyed the NES port of Marble Madness. That did not stop me from playing a round of the arcade version at Funspot to get my trackball mayhem fix.

That fix was satisfied again when I got my fingertip flesh jammed in it. I swear, Marble Madness has to still be responsible for more injuries than multiplayer Wii games in close quarters.

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