[New column 'The RePlay Files' will reprint classic features and news stories from seminal arcade/amusement trade journal RePlay Magazine, with the kind permission of the magazine's creators - check out their website for info about subscriptions, news, and the contents of the latest issue. This initial batch of three articles kicks off with a feature on the launch of Bally's Rampage, from the August 1986 issue of RePlay, including photos and info available online for the first time.]

Bally Readies Choice Entertainment Line-Up

Such was the wild day at Bally Midway when execs and designers put down their tools and camped it up for our readers to launch their equally zany (but appeal-packed) new 3-player upright suitably called Rampage.

Company execs like President Maury Ferchen, Sales VP Steve Blattspieler and Sales Manager Dick Konopa (plus other staffers like Barbara Seifert and John Flakne) had a ball watching the design team don costumes and strike poses evoking the characters and actions on the Rampage scene. Spirits were up, up, up and as Ferchen said: “We’ve waited a long time for a piece like this!”

For want of more adroit descriptions, Rampage is like “Godzilla meets the Three Stooges.” It’s a “Saturday Morning TV cartoon adventure” starring George (the gorilla), Lizzie (the lizard) and Ralph (the wolf) who, with the active guidance of game players, proceed to bash just about every city in North America to smithereens in search of food.

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Letting down their hair (plus whiskers and fangs), the costumed ‘Rampage’ designers mug it up for the camera in celebration of their new Bally Midway attraction. Included in that fearsome bunch are Mike Bartlow, Jim Belt, Sharon Perry, Jeff Nauman and Brian Colin.

With insatiable appetites, the three literally go from Peoria to Plano (and 83 cities in between) reducing each cityscape to rubble by punching through walls while avoiding a host of adversaries and other dangers to keep alive and keep up the mayhem.

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No mercy in the sales department as Ralph Wolf and George Gorilla pay an unexpected and rather violent call on Blattspieler, who’s attacking back with his favorite weapon – the phone.

The game offers the continuous action feature as players inject successive quarters to keep their individual character alive and bashing just as it’s about to get zonked. And this need for an additional quarter and then another one comes up (on average for a decent player) every two minutes, 45 seconds, so those quarters really add up. (Novices will have to drop additional coins a heck of a lot quicker until they come up to speed.)

There’s a mob of things to do besides wreck real estate, of course, but that’s where most players begin, and you learn these as you go along. Since it’s a three-player, Bally says that new players often get an introduction from those already at the upright and that the learning curve is quick (e.g. a fellow player can tell you to avoid grabbing the toaster since that means electrocution).

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Designers Jeff Nauman and Brian Colin join Bally Midway execs Maury Ferchen (left) and Steve Blattspieler by their new 3-player upright. Humorously dubbed “Godzilla meets the Three Stooges” by RePlay, the unit begins shipping to distributors middle of the month.

Bally Midway’s design team under leader Jeff Nauman has been programming Rampage since last January at the Franklin Park, Ill. Shop and has injected a lot of skill into the attraction that players will pick up on as they go along. But even at first blush (first bash?), the friendly but ferocious destruction is more than enough to keep the crowd happy.

By punching the “jump” and “punch” buttons and using the 8-way joystick, the idea is to grab food (for points), spit out “poison” and generally avoid harm. Godzilla himself couldn’t imagine such a field-day in his wildest dreams (and you can bet Godzilla has some wild dreams). You could write a small book about all the madness in this piece (oh yes, there’s a train crash in there too) but right now, let’s simply say Bally Midway could have a boomer here and do a ton of business.

“We’ve tested it and we’re proud to say Rampage is a record-breaker,” noted Blattspieler. “It looks like most operators will recover their investment faster with this than on any dedicated video in recent memory,” he added. “The ‘Join the Action’ buy-in feature is put to full use. Players want to see what comes next or they want to keep up with better players. There are 768 different screens in this but it will take a lot of hours of play before even the best video aficionado can get through the whole entire course,” he stated.

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Bringing new meaning to the phrase “dishpan hands”, Sales Manager Dick Konopa gets into the spirit of Bally Midway ‘Rampage’ day.

Bally Midway is proud that the whole package was designed and built at their suburban Chicago plant. Production models will begin shipping to dealers mid-August and the firm is actually saying the piece could take its place next to the likes of Space Invaders, Pac-Man and Spy Hunter in the “Midway Hall of Fame.”