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The Tech Deck

This week’s free game: “New York! New York!”

What it lacked in originality, New York! New York! made up in a signature setting and sound style when it released in arcades in 1980.
What it lacked in originality, New York! New York! made up in a signature setting and sound style when it released in arcades in 1980.

Are you a gamer? Do you like free things? Of course you do!

We here at the Tech Deck are just like you: poor gamers looking for cheap entertainment. And nothing's cheaper than cost-free gaming. Each week, we'll bring you a title (or two or three) you can legally play at home without plopping down a single dollar. If you see games you think we should be featuring on the blog, email us at dang@spokesman.com or kiph@spokesman.com.

If you're like me, you'd think a video game titled "New York! New York!" released in 1980 was about sifting through the nonsense of a Yogi Berra quote or trying to take the subway home without being beaten to a pulp by members of elaborately dressed gangs. But arcade giant Gottlieb instead took what was a pretty standard trope of video games at the time - blasting evil alien spacecraft - added in a lo-res avatar of the Statue of Liberty and called it good.

The mechanics are actually pretty sound, and the sound quality is amazing considering the era it released, even if the concept left something to be desired. Click below to play New York! New York! free in your browser, courtesy of the good folks at the Internet Archive.

Screen shot of "New York! New York!"
Click here to play New York! New York! in your browser for free!

Like many games of its ilk, "New York! New York!" tasks you with moving left or right on a two-dimensional plane to defeat waves of enemy aircraft, firing an unlimited number of missiles while dodging the enemy's ordnance. 

Gottlieb published the game, which was licensed from Sigma Enterprises. Sigma was a Japanese company created during the late 1970s video game craze in that country; like many of its counterparts, Sigma did not last the upheaval of the early 1980s in gaming, punctuated by Nintendo's rise to dominance in the Japanese market. Before Sigma folded, it released perhaps its most popular game with 1982's "Ponpoko," which was a rehash of Nintendo's successful "Donkey Kong" formula.

Gottlieb, by contrast, was based in Chicago and was focused on pinball games. New York! New York! was one of the first arcade cabinets the company built for American audiences. Gottlieb followed with Q*Bert, a smash hit developed in-house and released in 1982. 

The company was in the midst of turmoil at the time, after releasing its most famous pinball machine, Baffle Ball, more than 50 years earlier, in 1931. After a brief foray into video gaming, with the 1984 industry crash and an acquisition by Coca-Cola, the remnants of Gottlieb's team returned to pinball table production. The company's final offering was 1996's "Barb Wire," based on the comic book series and film starring Pamela Anderson.

What's your favorite game set in New York? (There's only one answer to this - TMNT IV: Turtles in Time). Let us know in the comments below and check back next week for another free video game.



Kip Hill
Kip Hill joined The Spokesman-Review in 2013. He currently is a reporter for the City Desk, covering the marijuana industry, local politics and breaking news. He previously hosted the newspaper's podcast.

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