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Astro Attack a bootleg version of Astro Fighter!

While on the hunt for NOS Willis and bootleg artwork, I will occasionally find some wacky artwork that has already been applied to a cabinet. It makes sense of course, as that’s what the stuff was meant for. Arcade game artwork isn’t always lying around some old, dusty, operators warehouse, sometimes the stuff was actually used as it was intended! It’s fun to find these odd ball cabinets as part of the mystery is figuring out exactly what it is, or what it was. Such is the case in this recent find by avid collector “jehuie” (his KLOV ID) out in Martinez CA. The game had been posted for sale on his local craigslist, but he never had time to check it out…until it was relisted as FREE and kicked to the curb! Free is good and in this case it’s a great thing, as he saved a game that is not listed in the arcade museum archives. I’m a big fan of preserving arcade history and it would have been a shame if this cab had met its end at the dump.

Astro Attack

The first thing that grabs you is the blatant Star Wars X-Wing imagery plastered all over the control panel, bezel and marquee. Why not? If you’re going to make a bootleg game you might as well slap some artwork on it that people recognize. It would get a few tokens for the art at least, while the gamer attempts to figure out what, if anything, Astro Attack has to do with the iconic franchise we all know and love.

John was able to get the game working pretty fast, “I actually got it going late last night. One of the circuit boards wasn’t seated in the edge connector properly and then the vertical hold needed adjusting but then it popped right in. Not a game I’ve ever seen before. The marquee is interesting. Each letter has a separate bulb and they alternate turning on and off randomly making a kinda cool effect. I’ll try to get some video or something later today if I have time.” He did have some time and shared this video with the collecting community. Pretty interesting how the marquee lights flash on and off, probably with the use of “blinker” bulbs. Might be a little distracting during game play, but still cool. (refresh the page if you don’t see the video)

John determined that the game play is identical to Astro Fighter by Sega/Gremlin/DECO. Interesting to note that the SEGA/Gremlin version of the Astro Fighter flyer has some blatant rip-off going on as well, beam me up Scotty! The game was released by a bunch of sources, perhaps that made it ripe for bootlegging, who knows? The cabinet has a simple design with an odd upright coin box and single slot coin mechanism. Done cheaply to keep costs down I’d imagine. Maybe it’s the Star Wars artwork, but I like the cabinet and would have dropped in a token or two to give it a try.

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The printed circuit board mounts on the side of the cabinet, in a cage that doesn’t look like it was meant to go there. You can see slots in the wood that would fit a larger pcb. So is this pcb a bootleg or an actual Astro Fighter pcb? Tough to tell, as Astro Fighter pcb images from the internet vary. The monitor is nicely mounted with the chassis positioned on the side of the cab for easy maintenance. Everything inside the cab looks original and the overall clean, unhacked look of the cabinet got me thinking. Maybe this generic cab would accept a number of different bootleg games. Just mount a new pcb and connect the harness to the existing cab harness with those molex connectors. No hacking or rewiring necessary, just a new control panel and some new artwork. That would make this a pretty sophisticated bootleg cab, as it was made specifically for that purpose, with multiple games in mind. A multi-bootleg? I suppose the millions of dollars being made in the 1980’s on coin-op would have brought out all the scammers!

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Of course I’m just speculating about this cabinet and its origins. If you know any facts about this cabinet or have seen other games in this style of cabinet, I’d love to know about it or see some pictures. Use the contact joystick and drop me a line.

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