Electromechanical games are what arcades used to have, before arcade games came along.
An electromechanical game is any coin operated game that has neither a microprocessor (nor an approximation of one with logic gates like SHARK Jaws, Computer Space, and others used), or a proper monitor. An electromechanical game is run through switches, relays, motors, and lights. Any electronic circuitry in the machine will be very simple.
The most common type of electromechanical games were early Pinball machines, all of them up to the late seventies were electromechanical (the industry switched to microprocessors around 1978 or so). Other electromechanicals include most early slot machines and Pachinko machines, although the earliest ones were completely mechanical.
But wait, theres more!
Early versions of Skee Ball, Whack-a-Mole, and even those little domed hockey games were electromechanical. There were also hundreds of other kinds of electromechanicals, in addition to the game types which have survived to the modern day. I will detail a few later on that I have encountered or read about.
These games had one big problem, they broke down all the time. This is why you never see any electromechanicals anymore (aside from a few really old Skee Ball machines). The mean time between failures on most of these machines could be measured in days. Some were more reliable than others, but in general the more complex ones were constantly failing. Any individual game may have hundreds of moving parts, which were often subject to abuse. This makes functioning electromechanicals very rare today.
A brief list of unique electromechanical titles
Feel free to msg me if you have encountered any other electromechanicals (there were hundreds of unique titles).
- Shark Attack
An image of a shark was projected into a box in pseudo-3D (using lenses and a slide projector type setup). The player would attempt to "shoot" the shark using a large harpoon mounted to the game.
- Spirit of St. Louis
I saw this one in a non functional state in a reception hall many years ago. It was about the size of a pool table, and was covered with a plastic dome. Inside the dome was a landscape (like you might have in a detailed model train setup). The idea behind the game was to pilot an airplane around inside the dome (which was a plastic jobber mounted on a stick).
- Motorcycle Chase
Played this one once in a bowling alley when I was about 12. It was another game inside a bubble. This one had a motorcycle mounted to a control stick in front. The cycle sat on a belt fed track, so the cycle itself stayed still while the track moved under it. The idea was to dodge the images of the other vehicles which were printed on the track. The game kept score somehow, and was time based.
- Arm Wrestling
There were many different arm wrestling machines made. You would simply arm wrestle again a mechanical arm, with varying levels of strength.
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