Name of the Game

Paragon Park's Bermuda Triangle

Paragon Park's Bermuda Triangle

Back in the mid-80s – and specifically, IIRC, the summers of ’84 and ’85 – I worked at a now-defunct amusement park in Hull, Massachusetts, called Paragon Park (which proudly advertised itself as featuring “the world’s oldest all-wooden rollercoaster,” like that was a good thing). And in the park’s arcade area, hidden amongst the pinball machines, was the most amazing video game I’d ever seen.

I don’t remember what the game was called, but it featured a race among flying cars zooming along a highway that twisted and curved through outer space (so one had to dodge random asteroids and so on). This game not only had far more sophisticated and realistic digital imagery than anything I’d seen before – it also had far more sophisticated and realistic digital imagery than anything I would see for years after that, while relatively unfancy-looking games like Space Invaders, Donkey Kong, Pac-Man, and Snake continued to dominate the market.

Eventually, of course the look of my mystery game became standard throughout the industry, and its quality has long since been surpassed. Still, for a long time that game was, in my experience at least, a solitary advanced scout for the wave of the future, without contemporary parallel or, apparently, contemporary fame. So my question is: do any of my readers have any idea what this game could have been?

Not having a picture of the game, I offer a picture of my favourite ride (both to ride and to operate) at Paragon Park – the Bermuda Triangle.


8 Responses to Name of the Game

  1. Neverfox November 19, 2009 at 1:36 pm #

    Was it Cosmos Circuit? It was released in 1984 but only in Japan by Taito. It’s possible that someone could have installed a copy at your amusement park but no known copies of this game exist anymore. The descriptions of it are minimal but it is described as “featuring a furturistic autorace in outer space.” Do you recall the kind of controls it had? Cosmos Circuit had a steering wheel, a two-position shifter and a single pedal in a vertical orientation.

    • Roderick November 19, 2009 at 4:11 pm #

      I don’t recall the controls.

  2. Jeff November 19, 2009 at 2:01 pm #

    If neverfox is right, and this video is accurate, then that is very impressive for 1984.

    • Roderick November 19, 2009 at 4:18 pm #

      Well, the road looks similar, but not seeing any of the vehicles or obstacles I couldn’t tell. Then at the very end of that clip they show a vehicle; if that’s how the vehicles looked in the game, then the game I played was more sophisticated-looking than, and at any rate different from, Cosmos Circuit, since the vehicles were narrower, sleeker, and less clearly car-looking — more like a cross between a car and a motorcycle. (Allowing, of course, for the accuracy of my memory.)

  3. Aster November 19, 2009 at 3:01 pm #

    I love wooden rollercoasters! They creak and groan like they’re alive beneath you. You’re aware you’re on a physical ride. Whereas most steel rollercoasters enclose you in a snug padded box, precluding any suspension of disbelief of danger.

    Wooden rollercoasters can’t turn you upside down or through corkscrews, granted. But that never appealed to me as much as watching the tracks visibly sway a meter as the train passes, a few minutes after you rattled along those same tracks.

    So how long until they close down all the world’s rollercoasters because we can’t afford the fuel, and because our collectivised science can no longer keep up the pace of invention we remember from the XIX century?

    • bosco November 19, 2009 at 6:51 pm #

      Wooden rollercoasters are experiencing a resurgence. Now if only pinball machines would do the same.

  4. Dain November 20, 2009 at 1:34 am #

    I thought Dragon’s Lair was super cool for it’s time.

  5. MBH November 21, 2009 at 1:31 pm #

    I seek feedback on this story from the greatest Aristotelian this side of the equator.

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