Sunday, August 21, 2011

New cab: Cloak & Dagger - Atari 1983

Finally! After looking for this game pretty seriously for the last ten years, I have finally found one! Cloak & Dagger is my holy grail of cabs, having become obsessed with it a few times over the years. Words cannot really do justice to my happiness and excitement, especially after playing it for the first time last night, on a dedicated cab and not through emulation. It's very similar to Robotron: 2084 in that it is a two-stick shooter, but differs in that there is an end to the game and warps to later levels and way more interesting floors and layouts.

You start out on the first floor, going down into Dr. Boom's Bomb Factory complex to find him and there are 33 levels downward. Once you hit the bottom, you get a chance to fight Dr. Boom, recover the stolen USAF plans and head back to the surface, now with harder floors. Each floor on the way down has a bomb in the center of the floor with a burning fuse, so you enter the floor, kill the guards, get pieces to a map to get out of a minefield map every 4 floors or so, sometimes grab an extra life in a box and head to the exit. You also have an igniter button, so that if you want to rack up some good points, you can ignite the fuse at a way shorter point to set the bomb off sooner. If you can time the bomb explosion - which engulfs the screen when it detonates - getting you into the elevator at the end of the level just before the blast reaches the door, you'll get a ton of points and flames will lick out from the cracks between the elevator doors in the cut scene. Awesome, just awesome fun.

I got into it at first as a child after watching the Disney movie of the same name and thinking how amazing the game looked, how cool the elevator cut scenes were, how awesome the music sounded. Later, when I started buying arcade games in the mid to late 1990's, I started looking for one again, reconnection with the interest in it of my youth, but I could not find one anywhere at any price. And these were the days when op's were dying to sell you stuff out of the backroom, before nostalgia hit on arcade cabs and where you could walk out with original Star Wars and Tron's for $150 a piece.

I kept looking around for years, finding a few for sale from time to time, but I was either too late or the price was waaaaaaaay to high. Finally, I found a local collector who had a B, B+ machine for sale for $1250 and as I was hemming and hawing, out of the blue came an email from someone on VAPS with a Cloak & Dagger, A- condition with a spare original marquee, a spare Agent X board (prototype version of C&D) and a spare C&D board too for $650. Holy. Shit.

I completely flipped out. He sent pictures and video's of the machine, its full sideart, its nearly pristine control panel and I just exploded with happiness. I immediately accepted his offer without any haggling and agreed to make the trip up from Chicago to Minneapolis, MN that following weekend and 15 1/2 hours later, here we are.

I installed it into the SRAM arcade for the time being and need to get some castors on it and tweak the monitor a bit too, but the rest of it is tip top. The joysticks are even tight and the CP is so clean underneath, it looks like it just came out of the factory, as does the coin box and all of the boards inside the cab. Just crazy nice.

I got in a few credits on it and posted a 900K score on it the first night, ending at level 30 on the way back up, using the warp on level 7 to head to level 30. There are a number of warps in the game and I will work on the short path first to get a good score and then maybe other longer paths to maximize the score if possible. The WR is 1,497,744 and I think I can give it some serious competition. My 900k score puts me in 3rd place for the game on Twin Galaxies with over 25 submitted scores, so I feel pretty good about that.

I'm super happy to own this and it came at a time when I had spare cash and time, like fate stepped in a decreed it was my time to own one. Thanks, fate. I'm f*^king happy as hell.


gunbird18 said...

Insane! What an awesome story! (which you seem to have plenty of, LOL)

I would love to give those cabs at teh SRAM arcade a go when I am in Chicago!

Thanks for sharing!

drboom said...

You will definitely have to get some time in on it when you come up next. Super fun and very different. For some reason, I seem to like a lot of the later boom period games that came out right before the crash in 1983. Crystal Castles, Cloak and Dagger, I, Robot, Food Fight and Major Havoc. Some really good games from this period, most of them pretty hard to find too.

drboom said...

Little bit of a scare and a little bit of an update: After work about four days ago, we started up the SRAM Arcade and played few as usual, then went outside to finish stripping the ambulance we got for our divisions vehicle. We were outside about an hour and a half and when we got back to our floor, the Cloak & Dagger was down. Power, but no game. I was super deflated. In all my years of owning arcades, I have never had one go out on me. I was devestated - here was the game I Had been searching for and so excited about and now its not working.

I did a bunch of research and found out very little I could use. I checked the fuses and they seemed ok. I checked the connectors and reseated all of them - nothing. I swapped the boards for other boards I have. Nothing.

I called a buddy of mine who repars games for a living and coaxed him out. He pointed out that there was no 5v power going to the board, replaced a fuse and boom - back in business!

How many times have I seen old games non-working with the tag "probably just needs a fuse" and laughed it off and craziness. It's always something terrible, especially with Atari or Sega vector games - my earlier infatuation.

A fuse. Awesome. He even got the monitor working a bit better. We played a few games and I kicked my old high score off the board, but I'm sure I have a better one coming.

Anonymous said...

Insane! I also spent my whole life looking for and dreaming about this game, being tricked as a kid thinking there actually was an Atari 5200 Cloak& Dagger in the stores..

I'd love to hear more about the cab, and one of these days actually play one.

Brian S.McDonald

drboom said...

Yeah man - I have al least seen some of the prototype screens from the the ill-fated Atari port, but this is the game and this is the game in the movie.
It's funny, but anyone that plays a few rounds, really likes the game! I'm pretty sure its failure in the arcade had more to do with the industry tanking than the actual game.
IO should have a few posts following this one about gameplay and high scores as it was just fixed after a power supply burnout - stay tuned!

Ted Hooper said...

If you would like to play all of those games and more they are just a stones throw away from you in Chicago ;)