Arcade Firsts

This page is a reference for “firsts” in arcades – either the first time anywhere that a feature, idea or technique was implemented in an arcade machine, OR recording the first time that some aspect or innovation made an appearance in an arcade game. It is a page to refer to a deleted section of the Arcade Heroes vidcast about graphics.

This is a “Work In Progress” and is subject to change with new information. This data is presented as “to the best of my knowledge.” At times there are certain things in dispute; If you have evidence for something to correct the information below, then please contact us so it can be fixed!

Last update: 9/23/2023

The first video game to be coin-operated: Galaxy Game (1971)

First video game to be mass manufactured: Computer Space by Nutting Associates (1971)

…to be produced in a fiberglass cabinet: Computer Space by Nutting Associates (1971)

…to use a joystick controller: Computer Space 2-player model (1972?73?)

…to become a major selling (and copied) video arcade game: PONG by Atari (1972)

…to be produced in a cocktail cabinet: PONG by Atari (1972; Cocktail model was 1973, produced for Japan)

…to break 10,000 unit sales (some guesswork on this as to the timing): Paddle Battle by Allied Leisure (1973)

…to use true RGB color: Gotcha! Color model by Atari (1973)

…presented as a maze/labyrinth game: Gotcha! by Atari (1973)

…to be recalled/retooled due to a controversial game feature: Gotcha! by Atari (1973)

…to handle up to four players at once: Tennis Tourney by Allied Leisure (1973)

…to use contiguous characters (using something akin to a ROM): Tank by Atari/Kee Games (1974)

…to allow one player to use two joysticks simultaneously: Tank by Atari/Kee Games (1974)

…to use the iconic ball-top joystick: One On One by PMC (1974)

…presented as a car racing/driving game (with steering wheel, gas pedal) : Gran Trak 10 by Atari (1974)

…presented as a video light-gun game: QWAK! by Atari (1974)

…to use human characters: Basketball by Taito (1974)

…to use vertical scrolling: Speed Race by Taito (1974)

…to feature animated characters: Shark JAWS by Atari (1975)

…to feature an “Easter Egg” (hidden, undocumented element): Anti-Aircraft II by Atari (1975)

…to use perspective scrolling: Road Race by Sega (1975)

…to feature a licensed likeness of a celebrity : Fonz by Sega (1975)

…to be made in a sit-down cabinet: Hi-Way by Atari (1975)

…to feature a cabinet design molded to look like an animal: Maneater by PSE (1975)

…to use a CPU: Gunfight by Midway/Taito OR PT-109 by Micro [both 1975; disputed]

…to handle up to eight players at once: Indy 800 by Kee Games/Atari (1975)

…to use first person view camera: Cobra Gunship by Meadows (1975)

…to feature music: The Amazing Maze by Midway (1976)

…to penalize the player for shooting a friendly character: Bazooka by Project Support Engineering (1976)

…to be at the center of national controversy due to violence (also first to receive local bans): Death Race by Exidy (1976)

…to use a half-silvered mirror in front of printed artwork (pseudo-hologram effect): Cops ‘N Robbers by Atari (1976)

…to present a 1v1 character fighting game: Knights in Armor by Project Support Engineering (May 1976)

…without animals but 1-on-1, mano-a-mano: Heavyweight Champ by Sega (October 1976)

…to use an analog storage medium (tapes) to hold game data: Quiz Show by Atari (1976)

…to use a vector monitor: Space Wars by Vectorbeam (1977)

…to feature scaled 2D character sprites: Star Ship 1 by Atari (1977)

…to use 8-way scrolling: Super Bug by Atari (1977)

…to use a dedicated video processor: M-79 Ambush by Ramtek (1977)

…to have a “pinball” light-up marquee feature: Skydiver by Atari (1978)

…to be a multi-game cabinet (single cabinet with two games (and two monitors) inside): 2 Game Module by Atari (1978)

…to feature two player co-operative play: Fire Truck by Atari (1978)

…to feature a trackball controller: World Cup by Sega (March 1978)

…to be produced in a cockpit cabinet: Star Fire by Exidy (Dec. 1978)

…to feature a high score table with user input: Star Fire by Exidy (Dec. 1978)

…to power the game using modified home console hardware: Tournament Table by Atari (1978, Atari 2600-based)

…to feature two monitors for the same game: Subs by Atari (1979)

…presented as a virtual pinball game: Video Pinball by Atari (1979)

First video arcade game to use multi-colored objects: Galaxian by Namco (1979) [Atari’s Superman on the Atari 2600 may have beat the idea of a multi-color 2D character object to the punch by mere weeks or months, although the 2600 doesn’t render objects as sprites like arcade hardware typically did]

…to use digitally synthesized voice: Stratovox by Taito (1980)

…to feature a radar map of the entire game world: Defender by Williams/Midway (1980)

…arcade game to feature an active game world where things happened off-screen: Defender by Williams/Midway (1980)

…to use a moving monitor (the monitor would move according to the player’s input): Space Tactics by Sega (1980)

…to feature hills in a driving game: Turbo by Sega (1981)

…to use a color vector monitor: Space Fury by Sega (1981)

…to allow options to be adjusted via software menu instead of DIP switches: Defender by Midway/Williams (1981)

…to use stereoscopic 3D graphics: SubRoc-3D by Sega (1982)

…to feature the parallax scrolling technique: Moon Patrol by Irem (1982)

…to present the games graphics in an isometric fashion: Zaxxon by Sega (1982)

…to establish the “dual stick” shooter genre: Robotron 2084 by Midway (1982)

…to be blamed for a player’s death (heart attack): Berzerk by Stern Electronics (1982)

…arcade game to mix humor into the gameplay: Berzerk by Stern Electronics (1982)

…to feature micro-transactions: Lost Tomb by Stern Electronics (1982)

…to use a Laserdisc for the storage medium: Astron Belt by Sega (1983)

…arcade game to be a home-to-arcade port instead of the other way around: Cosmic Chasm by Cinematronics (1983)

…to use true 3D polygons (first true 3D game) : I, Robot by Atari (1983)

…to feature three monitors for a panoramic view: TX-1 by Tatsumi/Namco/Atari (1983)

…to feature controller force feedback: TX-1 by Tatsumi/Namco/Atari (1983)

…to feature forks in the road in a racing game: TX-1 by Tatsumi/Namco/Atari (1983)

…to feature digitized graphics: Journey by Bally Midway (1983) [featured partially digitized graphics, taken using an early digital camera)

…to be based upon a musical band: Journey by Bally Midway (1983)

…arcade game to feature official licensing from a sports organization (including real teams & players): NFL Football by Midway (1983)

…to feature true stereo sound: Marble Madness by Atari Games (1984)

…to use the “anti-aliasing” graphics technique: Star Wars: Return of the Jedi by Atari (1984)

…to use a widescreen monitor: GP World by Sega (1984)

…arcade game to feature a QWERTY keyboard for the controller: Thayer’s Quest by RDI Video Systems (1984)

…arcade game to feature four player co-op play: Gauntlet by Atari Games (1985)

…to feature two monitor images overlaying the other: Wyvern F-0 by Taito (1985)

…to feature a swivel seat bike controller: Hang-On by Sega (1985)

…to feature a motion base for simulated movement: Space Harrier by Sega (1985)

…uses multiple monitors to create one single image: Darius by Taito (1986)

…arcade game presented as a “Beat ’em up” or “brawler” (side-scrolling+depth movement+martial arts): Renegade by Taito (1986)

…arcade game to put the player in the role of the villain: Rampage by Bally Midway (1986)

…to feature 3rd person 3D maze design: Xybots by Atari Games (1987)

…arcade game to use hardware networking to link multiple units together: Final Lap by Namco/Atari Games (1988)

…to feature beyond-screen background rotation/scaling effects (often known as “Mode 7”): Assault by Namco/Atari Games (1988)

…to work as a full 3D driving simulator: Hard Drivin’ by Atari Games (1989)

…to use the raycasting graphics technique: Last Survivor by Sega (1989) [Note: Unsure if Atari’s XYBOTS from ’87 specifically uses raycasting or not]

…to feature a gyroscopic motion cabinet: R360 by Sega (1990)

…to use a foot pedal for something other than gasoline control: Space Gun by Taito (1990)

…to use an Augmented Reality (AR) control enhancement: Laser Ghost by Sega (1991)

…to use a Virtual Reality (VR) headset: SD1000 (multi-game VR unit) by Virtuality (1991)

…allowed the player to change the camera view on the fly: Virtua Racing by Sega (1992)

…to present a “Fatality” moment at the end of a fight: Mortal Kombat (1992)

…to use digitized characters instead of hand-drawn sprites in a fighting game: Mortal Kombat by Midway (1992)

…used a speaker inside of the controller: DragonGun by Data East (1993)

…to feature 3D characters in a 1v1 fighting format: Virtua Fighter by Sega (1993)

…to use texture map filtering: Daytona USA by Sega (1993)

…arcade game to use a computer hard drive as the game data storage medium: Killer Instinct by Rare/Midway (1994)

…arcade game to use the pre-rendered sprites technique: Killer Instinct by Rare/Midway (1994) (Unsure if any console games had done this prior; if so, not many)

…to feature the auto combos game mechanic: Killer Instinct by Rare/Midway (1994)

…to feature a fan to produce wind effects: Prop Cycle by Namco (1996)

…arcade game to feature “rhythm” or musical gameplay: Beatmania by Konami (1997)

…arcade game to connect to the internet: San Francisco Rush 2049: Tournament Edition by Atari Games (2000)

…arcade game to use the “normal mapping” graphics technique: Virtua Fighter 4 by Sega (2001) [Unsure if any console game had used this technique prior]

…arcade game to use a modern HD display (720p in this case): Wasteland Racers 2071 by Trio Tech (2005)

…to use a dome shaped screen: Kidou Senshi Gundam – Senjou no Kizuna (Gundam Battle Pod) by Bandai Namco (2006)

…to use a water mist sprayer: AquaRace Extreme by Simuline (2008)

…arcade game to feature game achievements: H2Overdrive by Specular Interactive/Raw Thrills (2009)

…to use sand: Edel Sand by Sega (2014)

…arcade game to use projection mapping/mixed reality technology (MXR): Edel Sand by Sega (2014) (MXR tech used in something that is an actual game though would be Mystery Island by Touch Magix)

…arcade game to follow the “MOBA” (Multiplayer Online Battle Arena) genre format: Wonderland Wars by Sega (2014)

…arcade game to use a 4K screen: Cosmotrons [Deluxe model] by Arcadeaholics (April 2018)

There are more “firsts” that the arcade industry introduced or had take place in it’s realm, I’ve just overlooked them or ran out of time to compile. Please contact me about anything that has been missed or is incorrect!