by Dark Watcher
The Bally Professional Arcade (a.k.a. Bally Computer System, a.k.a. Bally Astrocade) was released in 1978 in order to compete with the
Atari 2600. The console was designed by their Midway Games division (funny to know that the makers of Mortal Kombat once made a
videogame console ). With a small keypad built into the console, the unit was capable of writing very simple basic programs, as
well as playing it's cassette shaped games. The Astrocade also came with 4 built in games (Gunfight, Checkmate, Calculator,
The Bally Astrocade had other unique innovations that set it apart from other consoles of its time. Rather then using different controllers for different games like it's competitor Atari, the Bally Astrocade decided to create a single controller with a variety of game play options. This controller was truly ahead of its time. It resembled the pistol grip of a gun, and even featured a trigger-like action button. A small joystick rested on the top of the pistol grip for normal game play. The joystick also featured a twistable knob that could be used for paddle games such as Pong or Breakout. Essentially the Bally Astrocade controller was both an analog and digital controller. The Astrocade was also one of the first consoles to have 4 controller ports.
Even though the Astrocade seemed to have more to offer then the Atari 2600, it was another victim of Atari hogging all arcade
licensing rights. Although they lacked the licenses, many of the Astrocade games are actually clones based on some Atari titles,
and many are considered to be of better quality. Unfortunately, the "Great Videogame Crash of 1983" killed off the Astrocade as
well as many other videogame consoles.
FACT: An interesting note about this system was its appearance in the movie National Lampoons Family Vacation. While Clark mapped out the family's route on the family computer, Russ was somehow able to chase the family car Pac Man style....
"Russ, don't eat the family Truckster."