Game show in which the object for the contestants was to identify song titles based on hearing instrumental versions.

The show began on radio in 1952 and moved to television a year later, premiering on June 29, 1953. Two contestants stood 25 feet away from a bell; when the orchestra started playing a song, the first contestant to run to the bell, hit it, and name the song title earned points. The contestant with the most points played the Golden Medley bonus round, identifying seven songs in 30 seconds for up to $1,600 in prize money.

The songs used in the Golden Medley round were suggested by home viewers. Towards the end of the run of the original version, "Name That Tune" tried to compete with the big money quiz shows by adding the Golden Medley Marathon. If a contestant identified all seven songs in their Golden Medley, the home viewer would be flown in and the two would team up to identify five songs in 30 seconds for up to five weeks in a row, earning $5,000 every week.

The televised "Name That Tune" began on NBC with radio host Red Benson; it moved to CBS after about a year with new host Bill Cullen, who was himself replaced a year later by George DeWitt. DeWitt stayed with the show until it left the air in 1959.

In 1974, it was revived simultaneously in syndication and on the NBC daytime schedule, with Tom Kennedy hosting at night and Dennis James during the day. The bell was gone, and instead, there were several different rounds to determine which contestant played the Golden Medley, which this time had no home viewer involvement.

The first round was Melody Roulette, so named because the host spun a wheel to determine the dollar value of each tune. The contestants used their buzzers to ring in and identify each tune.

The second round, Bid-a-Note, created the catch phrase "I can name that tune in one note." The contestants bid against each other to try to name a tune in as few notes as possible; the bidding started with seven notes and either ended with one contestant challenging the other to name that tune, or with one of the contestants bidding zero notes. Since the host also read a clue to the tune, bidding zero notes didn’t necessarily turn the show into a psychic exercise.

The final round again involved the contestants ringing in to identify tunes, this time without the distraction of the money wheel from Melody Roulette.

Although this version continued in syndication through 1981, the daytime version left the air fairly quickly, and a new daytime version in 1977 left the air even faster.

In 1976, the show became "The $100,000 Name That Tune," with a tournament added every few months in which past contestants came back to compete for a $100,000 prize package.

Occasionally, songs on this version were performed with vocals, although obviously not if the title was also the first line of the song. The singer, then named Kathie Lee Johnson, later changed her name after she got married and became known as Kathie Lee Gifford.

"Name That Tune" was revived once again in syndication during the 1984-85 season, this time with Jim Lange as the host and the title "The All-New $100,000 Name That Tune," although the format was essentially identical. The third round was now called Tune Topics, with all the songs used falling under one of five categories picked at random. This version later appeared in reruns on both USA Network and then the Family Channel; the most memorable thing about it was Lange’s "Yowza!" exclamation whenever he spun the Melody Roulette wheel.

Name that Tune was an old arcade game released by Sente way back in 1986.

The story

Oh boy was this game a big fat mistake. Lets look at the timing on this one. This game came out in 1986 when arcades were at a very low point. But someone over at Sente gets the bright idea that a big honking upright "Name that Tune" machine would make lots of money. So they proceeded to pay big money to license the show, and then they went ahead and started pumping out "Name that Tune" arcade games. It was a big flop. They were targeting the wrong audience with this game. Teenagers simply weren't interested in trying to name old 40s and 50s songs. This game could have done fine if it was in a bartop unit instead.

The game

The game itself was an almost exact translation of the 1980s incarnation of the gameshow. It was all colors and text, and the only animation in it was a little hand that played notes on a piano. The interface had to be simple, as they used up all the ROM space on the different songs.

The Machine

This title was available only as a conversion kit for machines with the Sente "SAC-I" hardware installed. This meant that most of them ended up in the futuristic looking all-metal SAC-I cabinets. You can read more about those machines in the Sente node.

There were supposed to be several different upgrade chips available for this game, but they seem to have fallen off the face of the earth. My guess is that nobody was interested in upgrading this game, because it never really made any money in the first place.

As far as controls go, this game had two banks of buttons running down the control panel, which corresponded to the onscreen numbers of the tunes.

Where to play

You will probably have to play this title with the MAME emulator, as original machines are rather hard to find.

If you want to add this game to your arcade game collection then your best bet is to hit yourself over the head with a hammer, and ask yourself why you would want this game. Then if you still want it, then send a few messages out in the arcade newsgroups, and check eBay, eventually one will show up.

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