Tough day at school? Siblings giving you a hard time? What you need is a little cathartic activity to make things seem all better. All can be cured with a trip down to the local Chuck E. Cheese (or Showtime Pizza, if you prefer) where a plastic mallet and a field of unsuspecting rodents await your assault. The game is called Whac-A-Mole, and it’s been delighting kids for decades. Oh, and quite a few adults as well…
Invented in 1970 by Aaron Fechter, and trademarked by Florida’s very own Bob’s Space Racers, this anger-abating coin-op game was played for redemption tickets or for points. There were five holes from which the moles popped out, and as the game progressed, the faster and faster they reared their cloying little heads.
There was no strategy here, no patterns to memorize-all you needed was some good old-fashioned hand-eye coordination. And forget about bopping your brother on the head when he came over to heckle your gaming skills-the cord attached to the hammer didn’t reach that far. Apparently Bob’s Space Racers intended violence for moles only.
If the animal lover inside felt badly about beating down critters, there were other versions of the game, including Whac-A-American-Footballer, Whac-A-Warden, or Whac-A-Saurus. And if hammer-happy parents wanted to raise the little ones to become high-scoring whackers someday, they could train them on the Kiddie Whac-A-Mole -three holes instead of five, and a lower cabinet.
Whac-A-Mole‘s long-lasting success led to the creation of an entire arcade genre, the ever-popular “whacker” game. Titles like Wacky Gator and Cracky Crab added new beasties and new twists, but the stress-busting premise remained the same. Today, Whac-A-Mole and its descendants can still be found in carnivals and arcades everywhere, not to mention a nifty home version that is sold by Mattel. That’s right, now young tykes can beat these rodents senseless from the comforts of the breakfast table.
If your day at the local arcade just didn’t seem complete without a little mole-whacking session, we welcome your memories of this popular arcade game in our comments section.