So, the other day, I was watching one of my favorite movies, Midnight Madness.
In case you didn’t know, it’s about a group of college kids that take part in a city-wide game of chase. They are given clues that lead to specific destinations which eventually end up at the finish line. It’s a great movie and is one of Michael J Fox’s earliest roles. Anyway, about 3/4 of the way through the movie there is a great scene that takes place in a video arcade. It’s always been one of my favorite scenes, especially now, because you can see a bunch of old school video games as the camera changes perspective.
So, after arriving at the video arcade (which is run by a young Paul Reubens in a cowboy costume), the players discover they must play the game Star Fire, and beat it, in order to get the final clue. They gather around the machine with like a million quarters and start playing.
For years, I thought this game was a creation of the movie. The logo was obviously a rip off of Star Wars and the game play was disjointed and just looked manufactured. You could even see images of TIE Fighters in the game.
How could this crappy ass game be real? Am I right? However, just recently, while searching around the Internet I discovered that Star Fire was an actual video game. It was manufactured in 1980 by a company called Exidy. The graphics, game play and cabinet were slightly altered in the movie for the purposes of the script (which explains why it felt fake), but the game was most definitely real. Not only that, it is considered a ground breaking shoot ’em up. It was the first arcade game to use the sit down cockpit (however the movie used the stand up version) and was also the first game to keep track of player initials and high scores. Here’s a flyer from 1979 advertising the Star Fire arcade game.
(Via the Arcade Flyer Archive)
I was blown away. I couldn’t believe this was real. I’d seen Midnight Madness thousands of times and I just assumed Star Fire was fake. For me, this is nearly akin to finding out Mattel actually made hoverboards back in 1989. Earth. Shattering. I’ll have to see if I can download an emulator ROM for it.
This got me thinking about other movies with awesome video game machines that I assumed were fake but are, in fact, real.