[50/50] Video Game #19: Tail Gunner

Thursday, January 17th, 2013

Video Game #19: Tail Gunner (1979)*

Tail_GunnerAnother space shooter, Tail Gunner put you in the back seat of starship where you had to fend off wave after wave of starfighters intent on blowing up your ride. Unlike the many pixel-based games that came to dominate the arcade in the 1980s, Tail Gunner was vector-based, using straight lines generated by electron beams to create objects. The glowing wireframe images certainly made you feel as if you were playing in a high-tech computer, and lent itself very well to space settings, as you will see.

I actually missed this game when it first came out and only discovered it years later in a forgotten corner of the massive arcade at Hersheypark, the summer I worked there. The amusement park had been collecting video and pinball games for decades, and with each new generation of releases, older titles were pushed further and further back into the building. The version they had — virtually the only one I ever saw, in any arcade anywhere — was a large enclosed cockpit with the joystick and controls on the side of the gunner’s chair. This unusual set up made Tail Gunner particularly challenging, and immersive in way few video games were at the time.

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3 comments on “[50/50] Video Game #19: Tail Gunner

  1. Thomasl says:

    I loved this game! It was, indeed, a totally immersive experience. The cockpit version of this in our local spaceport got a lot of my change. Can’t remember if it was 50 cents or 1 dollar to play; it was more than any of the other games. Tank commander was around at the same time, and the talking pinball machines were in vogue.

  2. JayDee says:

    I loved this game as well. It gave me an adrenaline rush like few others ever have since.

    • jape77 says:

      It’s strange, because it really was just a few white lines against a dark screen. Many of my all-time favorites (esp. the first Star Trek and Star Wars arcade games, and Space Wars!) were vector games. So simple, so much fun.

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