Strap on that holster and mosey down memory lane. The year was 1975, when the vigilantism of the Old West merged with modern technology. Designed by Taito and distributed by Midway, Gun Fight might have harkened back to the days of the OK Corral, but the inner workings of this popular arcade game were purely state of the art.
The first video game to utilize a computer microprocessor, Gun Fight allowed one or two players to engage in a western duel. Armed with only a six-shooter, players would stand on opposite sides of a dusty trail and, using the scattered cacti and slow-moving covered wagons for cover, attempt to shoot their opponent all while dodging incoming bullets. Once the gun was empty, a player had to be quick on their feet as they could not reload until their adversary used up all of his or her rounds.
Players used a four-way joystick and fire button to dodge rounds, aim their gun, and position themselves strategically. And unlike most video games, there were an infinite number of lives in Gun Fight. Rather, the game ended when a timer ran out – with the person who had been shot the least emerging victorious.
With their state of the art technology and the ability for two players to duel against each other, Gun Fight soon found its way into just about every tavern and arcade across the country. In 1977, Midway released a sequel called Boot Hill, which utilized two joysticks – one for aiming and one for moving the gunfighter, and featured enhanced (although still monochromatic) graphics.
Gun Fight brought out the Doc Holiday in millions of gamers across the country, thanks to graphics that made Pong and Tank seem antiquated by comparison. And unlike the violent first-person shooters in modern video games, it somehow managed to entertain all who played without ever showing a single death or drop of blood on the screen. Like a child’s game of cops and robbers, just a pained exclamation of “Got Me!” was enough to satisfy the most ruthless of virtual gunslingers.
If you have fond memories of polishing up your six-shootin’ skills playing Gun Fight back in the 70s, we invite you to share your recollections with us in our comments section.