Dave Nutting (US)
|Programmer(s)||Tom McHugh (US)|
|Platform(s)||Arcade, Astrocade, Atari 8-bit|
|Arcade system||Taito Discrete Logic (original) |
Midway 8080 (US)
|CPU||Discrete logic (Taito)|
8080 @ 2 MHz (Midway)
|Display||256 × 224, monochrome|
Gun Fight, known as Western Gun in Japan and Europe, is a 1975 arcade multidirectional shooter designed by Tomohiro Nishikado, and released by Taito in Japan and Europe and by Midway in North America. Based around two Old West cowboys armed with revolvers and squaring off in a duel, it was the first video game to depict human-to-human combat. 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 and later the Atari 8-bit family.
Western Gun is a fixed screen shooter where two players compete in an Old West gun fight. It was the first video game to depict human-to-human combat. When shot, the characters in fall to the ground and the words "GOT ME!" appear above the body. The game has two joysticks per player: an eight-way joystick for moving the computerized cowboy and the other for changing the shooting direction. Unlike later dual stick games, Western Gun has the movement joystick on the right.
Obstacles between the characters 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 ricochet off the top and bottom edges of the playfield, allowing for indirect hits.
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, 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.
- Boot Hill (1977)
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- 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.
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