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Space Invaders

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Having become hooked on early Arcade Video Games I had been primed for the glory years that were to follow. The late 70's was an era when Video Gaming went supersonic. After the early basic black and white vector games there needed to be something come along that would break the mould, to kick start the revolution. Hello 'SPACE INVADERS'.

Still being at school in the late seventies half terms were a time when I still had to go on holiday with my parents. We often upped sticks and migrated to a campsite in the West Country called Whitemead Park. One spring half term while camping there with my good friend Mr. David Brown we discovered that sitting proudly in the corner of the clubhouse was a snubbed down version of a SPACE INVADERS cabinet.

Yes you guessed it, we played it all day, well for as long at least that our parents would let us and until our credits ran out!

Snubbed Space Invader

Snubbed SPACE INVADER cabinet with joystick CPO

The campsite's owners had three sons and the youngest - who would have been a few years older than us - was truly a master of his art on that Invaders machine. He had already mastered the now defunct looking Breakout sitting quietly in the corner beside it and now he ruled the roost on SPACE INVADERS.

This kid held court on the cabinet and so we watched, learned and eventually got our go on the machine. It had the two button control mech for movement and a third button for firing. We learn't the rhythm for firing, where to hide on the screen, which column to take out first, where to wait and fire for UFO's. We played doubles for the first time which added to the excitement and our scores gradually increased.

SP Control Panel

The famed SPACE INVADERS control panel!

Even back then I realised that my gaming had entered a new era. I remember dreaming of what games would be like by the time I was old and in my forties, and wondered whether I would still play them...hmmmm.

The game swallowed all my money, my credits ran out and all I wanted to do was get back home, get hold of some more money and find a local arcade that had one of these machines in it.

Having played Invaders there was no turning back, the thudding repetitive sound of the columns of Invaders coupled with the piercing wail as a UFO entered overhead would not leave my head. I was on the path of no return, and the games industry would not let us young addicts down or off that path of quarter dropping.

Original Space Invaders

An original SPACE INVADERS screenshot

Over the next few years the games that would be released would go down in gaming history as some of the best the industry would ever produce, and my friends and I could hardly wait for the next big game to hit these shores from the States or Japan.

From now on how good or bad a holiday was would more or less depend entirely upon which Arcade Games there were to be played on campsites around the UK and Europe. Some of the more notable games fondly remembered from my holidays include: LadyBug, Scramble, Galaxian and Space Chaser.

LadyBug & Space Chaser

LadyBug and Space Chaser screenshots

Many a credit was spent mastering SPACE INVADERS et al. Eventually I was the proud owner of my first High Score on a SPACE INVADERS cabinet at a highway service station on the Severn Bridge Crossing on the borders with Wales. There it was written in large pixels for all the world to see...Video Games had arrived...better than that, I had arrived...I had a High Score.