One of the first fighting games, Warrior was developed by Cinematronics and released under the Vectorbeam name, and debuted late in 1979.
The gameplay is simple. Two knights, armed with swords, meet in a room with virtually overlaid stairways and two pits. Their battle will be legendary, perhaps fighting for the love of a fair maiden, or perhaps one knight is fighting for his honour after being insulted by the other. Whatever the reason, this early vector arcade game has made its mark on history.
Tim Skelly, the designer of games such as Star Hawk, Armor Attack and Star Castle, worked for Cinematronics from 1978 to 1981. One of his creations, a game called Rip-Off, was the first arcade game with two-player co-operative play. Vector games of the day weren’t in colour – they were simple (by today’s standards) black and white games, and colour was added by having a plastic film physically laid over the screen. In the case of Warrior, only the knights, the score and a timer are displayed on the screen.
Warrior is unique. The early hardware didn’t allow for a single player adventure. There was no “AI” to speak of.
Two players begin in opposing corners of the arena, which is made up of staircases, with two pits in the center. As the game starts, each knight approaches the center, raises their sword towards the other in a motion of respect and readiness, and the game is on.
Once the duel starts, each Player approaches the other by using the outer staircases and by crossing a pathway in the center to meet and do battle. There are two ways a Player beats the other – by hitting them with their sword before the other hits them, or by forcing the other to fall into a pit.
Warrior was an underrated game, which came in a cabinet adorned with beautiful art. The gameplay, while simple, was exciting for its time and allowed two friends to play against one another. The page at the Arcade Museum/KLOV reports that there are presently only twelve original cabinets remaining, eleven of which are running original hardware, so unless you’re lucky enough to know one of the owners, you may be resigned to playing the game using MAME emulation. Whatever the method, this classic arcade game shouldn’t be missed.
So, find a friend, pop in a quarter, and raise your sword to your opponent in a rousing game of Warrior!
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