Amazing Maze was an old arcade game released by Midway in 1976. This title is often referred to as The Amazing Maze Game, and simply Maze. The machine is labeled with all three titles in various places.
This is one of the first maze games ever produced, and far more complex than you may be used to. This is no Ms. Pac-Man. The mazes in this game are as complex as ones you might find in those little maze books you may have had as a child, none of that multiple path, wishy washy stuff like Pac-Man or Ladybug. These mazes have only one correct pathway through them.
The graphics are done in monochrome white on black. With no detail on anything. The maze walls are only a pixel thick, while the characters themselves (simple shapes), are not much bigger. The mazes are not stylized in anyway. The look exactly like the kind of maze you would do with a paper and pen.
Each player (up to two people may play at a time, two player mode is more fun), controls a little geometric shape. Each player starts at opposite sides of the maze. The object is to get to the point where the other player started, before they get to where you started. You use a 4-Way joystick to guide your "character" through the maze.
The game is time based, and you score a point for each maze you beat faster than your opponent (or the computer player if you are going solo). The factory setting is for a 90 second game, but this is operator adjustable. The short game length makes this one low scoring game.This may be the only game you will ever be proud of scoring a 5 on (now a days it seems like you get 10 million points just for punching the other player in the glut of fighting games currently on the market.
My personal strategy is not to move very far until I have figured out the maze. You do not want to lose time backtracking, watch the other player as well, so you can follow his path back once you encounter him. It is especially important to watch the other player when playing the computer, as the computer player never makes a wrong turn, it simply moves slower than your player does.
The game cabinet
This game was released in an upright dedicated cabinet. There was also supposed to be a cocktail version, but I have never seen one in that format.
The cabinet is white and tan with sideart covering the entire machine. Like many other early titles, there was no marquee at all. The name was merely on the monitor bezel (on the top in this case). The name confusion about this game comes from the fact that the monitor bezel says "Amazing Maze", while the sideart says "maze" and the game itself says "The Amazing Maze Game" on the title screen. The marquee, or monitor bezel title is generally considered to be the definitive one in the case where a game has conflicting titles like that.
This game used a 23" monochrome open frame monitor, and was wired for compatibility with other Midway games from that era (they call that the "8080 conversion class). The only thing is that most of the 8080 based games from that era used wildly different controls, so you could plug the game board into another cabinet, but you could rarely play because the controls would be wrong.
The control panel was simple, and featured a 4-Way joystick for each player. But, player 1 had to use his left hand for the stick (like most games), but player 2 had to use their right hand, due to the control panel layout. Games are never set up this way anymore, but back then there wasn't really a standard yet.
Where to play
This game has become fairly rare. I was unable to track down an instance of anyone claiming to actually own this game, until I ended up with one in a trade. I wouldn't really buy this one unless you are a hard core collector (or it was only like $50 or something). Because this title doesn't really stand up very well to repeat play, unless you are playing in two player mode, as any title is fun when you are competing against a friend.
In the absence of a real machine you can still play this title using either the MAME or Laser emulators. But neither version has sound support (all those beeps, blips, and bloops you won't get to hear). You won't need a joystick to play the emulated version, as it controls nicely with just the keyboard.