Crazy Climber brought to mind the ancient myths of poor mortals cursed to repeat the same quest over and over again with no end in sight. That’s not to say it wasn’t fun. In fact, it was addictively so, enough to lure arcade aficionados to spend their hard-earned quarters ascending skyscraper after skyscraper in this endearing (and enduring) game, released by Taito in 1980.
Crazy Climber started off his ascent with relative ease, taking care to avoid windows randomly opening and closing. As the Climber climbed higher, the obstacles became more numerous and more dangerous: little bald men would pop their head out of a window and drop assorted objects on the Climber; iron girders fell from high up on the building; live wires threatened electrocution. In addition, a giant condor was circling above the Climber dropping eggs and…other things, trying to knock the poor guy down. And of course no video game would be complete without a big gorilla who wanted to smack you down.
The higher the Climber went, the more frenzied the action around him became; the side of the building was full of falling objects and condor guano. If the Climber got knocked off, another Climber took his place at the exact spot. The only helpful thing for the Climber was a red balloon that, if grabbed, could carry him for a handful of stories in relative safety.
When (if) the Climber reached the top of the skyscraper and grabbed on to the runner of a departing helicopter, he would be deposited near another skyscraper to be climbed, featuring more dangers and obstacles. Conquering all four different buildings put the Climber back on the first skyscraper to begin the climb again with increasing levels of difficulty.
The music cues and constant fear of condor droppings made Crazy Climber an undeniable hit when it debuted in the arcades. A sequel, Crazy Climber 2, was released eight years later, and was essentially the same game, but with superior graphics. Also, an Atari 2600 home version was quite popular in the early 80s, leading to eventual versions for the Playstation, Playstation 2, and the Wii. All in all, three decades is some respectable longevity for a franchise that revolves merely around climbing buildings and being pelted in the process, a testament to the sheer fun-factor surrounding the game.
Do you harbor fond memories of dropping your own hard-earned quarters into Crazy Climber? Or playing it on one of the many home consoles in which it was available? We’d love to hear your memories of this classic arcade game in our comments section