In TROPICAL ANGEL, you are the person who leads a beautiful lady known as TROPICAL ANGEL to achieve her goal of obtaining the highest grade in water ski, A MASTER OF WATER SKI.

Tropical Angel promotional material, circa 1983.

Tropical Angel is an old arcade game that lets you control a water skier. This is probably the best water skiing title out there, and it is certainly better than the ultra-frustrating Water Ski. It has large colorful graphics and music that sort of reminds me of Out Run.

The game is fairly simple, you control your skier in an attempt to dodge all the obstacles, and make it to the end of the course. The controls consist of a joystick that can move left and right, a "gas" button, and a "trick" button, although some machines may have alternate controls (see below). You pretty much just keep the gas button pressed down all the time, and try to dodge the rocks that litter the water in front of you. The boat that tows you makes this difficult, because it keeps turning so the rocks end up directly in your path. I guess they never heard about watersports safety?

In addition to dodging rocks you can press the "trick" button to make your little skier girl turn around backwards, you cannot steer while you are backwards, but it is good for adding more points to your score. As the game progresses small ramps, circular buoys, and sharks come into play. The small ramps can be jumped to add to your score, although they always seem to be in difficult to reach locations. The buoys are usually very close together, but skiing inbetween them is good for a few more points. Finally, the shark will appear from time to time, running into him means game over, no matter how much time you have left.

Falling down subtracts from your time remaining, and starts you over at the last checkpoint. This can be really frustrating, because their are often difficult obstacles right before each checkpoint, crashing into them sends you all the way back to the last one.

Overall this is a very fun title. It is rather difficult at first, but the obstacles seem to appear in the same places every time, so it is easy to get better with practice.

Harware information

This title was only available as conversion kit, there were no dedicated cabinets made. The kit for this title would install in any cabinet with a horizontal monitor. The kit was rather different in the fact that it supported both joysticks and analog driving controls. But I imagine very few of these actually got to be used with the analog controls, what operator in their right mind would convert Turbo or Pole Position into a water skiing game?

This title ran on the Irem M57 hardware, along with MotoRace Usa and a few other titles. The game normally used a 2-Way joystick for controls, of course you can also use a 4-Way or 8-Way one as well, with no ill effects. The marquee to this game bore a photo of two cartoon water skiers being pulled behind a boat, one of which was in the process of falling down.

DIP switch settings
  • The timer can be set from 180 down to as low as 120.
  • The background sound can be toggled between a boat motor sound, or music. I prefer the music myself.
  • You can also set the game to use an analog gas pedal and steering wheel rather than a simple "Gas" button and joystick, although the kits did not seem to include those controls.
Where to play

You can play this game under the MAME emulator. It plays perfectly on most pentium computers, although the analog controls seem to be broken, but the standard controls work fine.

This is a pretty decent game to add to your arcade game collection. It was only available as a kit, so all you have to do is acquire the kit and install it in almost any cabinet. The gameboards seem to pop up on eBay and usenet from time to time, prices are usually from $20 to $100, although you may have some trouble finding the sideart and control panel art, but those are not really necessary anyway.

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