The games of Chicago: Defender

In 1979, arcades were just beginning their boom.  Accompanying the traditional pinball machines were increasing amounts of electronic game cabinets.  Williams Electronics, at the time a pinball game developer, saw an opportunity to branch out and become part of this new electronic gaming craze.  In 1980, the company released Defender, and began to leave its mark on the video game industry.

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The Games of Chicago: Injustice: Gods Among Us

I know there are a lot of games that have come out of Chicago that aren’t related to the Williams / Midway / NetherRealm legacy.  Don’t worry, we haven’t forgotten about those, their time is coming.  That said, on Saturday at the 2013 VGX awards, Chicago’s own NetherRealm Studios took home top honors in the fighting game category with Injustice: Gods Among Us.  It truly is a great fighting game, and given it’s recent win, now seemed like the perfect time to give it some recognition here on the blog.

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The Games of Chicago: NBA Jam

When NBA Jam hit the arcade scene in 1993, Midway Games were already enjoying great commercial success with Mortal Kombat.  During that period it would have been hard to believe that Midway would ever cease to be an entity…but that’s a story for another day.  NBA Jam‘s formula of combining the biggest stars in the NBA (save for one very conspicuous absence) with over-the-top, arcade style action proved to be a huge hit in arcades.

Heating up.

In 1993 the NBA was riding a huge wave of popularity.  Players like Charles Barkley, Shaquille O’Neal, and Scottie Pippen,  were becoming household names, and the game was playing faster and bigger than it ever had before.  When Midway began development on NBA Jam, they capitalized on these facets of 90’s basketball, ditching realism for a hyper-stylized approach.  Players took control of the most notable 2 players from an NBA team, and faced off in what can only be loosely considered a basketball game.  There were no fouls, no out-of-bounds, and no penalties other than goal tending.

On fire!

While the loose rules of NBA Jam made the game suitable for arcade style play, it was really the slam dunks that stole the show.   Continue reading “The Games of Chicago: NBA Jam”

The Games of Chicago: Mortal Kombat

We here at the Chi-Scroller love our city, and our games.  If you’ve read much of our content, that should be old news to you.  That said, it’s time to begin focusing on the actual games that our fare town has produced.  There are a whole lot of them, and the number is growing by the day, so it should be a long and arduous journey to catalog them all.  Truthfully, I wasn’t even sure where to start — chronological order, number of units sold, cultural significance?  Ultimately, I’m starting with the games that were significant to me personally.  We’ll spiral out from there.


The original Mortal Kombat was developed by the now defunct Midway Games and debuted in 1992 as an arcade machine.  The original concept for Mortal Kombat was to be a game featuring Jean-Claude Van Damme, but when the idea fell through, the fighting game franchise that we know today was born.  Much like it’s most notable counterpart Street Fighter II, Mortal Kombat allowed the player to choose one of several characters, each with a distinct fighting style and move set.  Players would square off against each other, or an AI opponent.  Unlike Street Fighter II though, Mortal Kombat was distinctly more mature. Continue reading “The Games of Chicago: Mortal Kombat”