Create an 80's era arcade machine tie-in for the car chase classic Smokey and the Bandit? It ain't never been done before, hot shit.
"Why?" you ask. Well, sometimes you just try and cram all the things you love into a single project that is why :-). And besides, if Krull deserved an arcade translation then surely Smokey and the Bandit does. So, we set out to correct history's mistake by making our own custom new-but-old Bandit cabinet. It took a couple years from start to finish, mainly due to life and work schedules
One goal with the project was to make something that would not look out of place in an 80's era arcade. No LCD's, no 3D, no high resolution graphics or audio. At Spacebar it sits in line with a Galaga and Ms. Pac-Man and it looks right at home.
We followed the norms of the era, where (being generous here) gameplay is based loosely around the narrative of the source material. You are The Bandit, and your avatar is an 8-bit rendering of a black 1977 Trans-Am. Except unlike in the movie, your Trans-Am can jump at will and scoop up Coors off the road at highway speeds. The goal of the game is simple enough: collect all the Coors you can while avoiding obstacles. You get points for collecting Coors cans and for executing turns on backcountry roads. The faster you go, the more points you earn. Over time the courses get longer, the speed get faster, and the placement of Coors and obstacles becomes more erratic. It basically does this until it becomes impossible to play.
We looked at a few different platform alternatives, from re-programming old arcade hardware all the way up to using a modern PC. In keeping with the goal of having something that was era-correct, we narrowed it down to two choices:
Use a Nintendo Playchoice board. This was attractive becuse we could target development to the Nintendo N.E.S., a platform that has great support in the retro-programming community.
Ultimately convenience won the day. The Uzebox is easier and less expensive to source, easier to develop for, and because it is Jamma, easier to integrate into pretty much any arcade cabinet. It is a genuine 8 bit platform with similar specs to early videogame systems - somewhere between an Atari 2600 and a Colecovision. The constraints of the system render the games retro - just what we were looking for!