"The End" was a classic early 80s arcade shooter. This title was originally programmed by Konami back in 1980, but they licensed it to Stern. North and South American gamers got the Stern version of the game, while the rest of the world got the Konami version. There were a few minor differences between the two versions, which I will detail below.
Yet another game about bugs in space!
The late 70s to early 80s was a time when a peculiar genre of shooter was popular, the "bugs in space" genre. There were a lot of these games. You are probably most familiar with Galaxian and Galaga, but there were many other good ones as well, like Stern's "The End".
In "The End" you control a ship whose mission is to zap as many bug-ships as possible, before you run out of lives, or the bugs manage to spell out the word "END" with little chunks of brick. You can move left and right, and the bugs attack from the top of the screen, coming out of a large mothership. But the bugs have another mission besides just blindly attacking you. That other mission is to systematically steal the bricks from your three bases, and use them to spell out the word "END" up near the top of the screen.
Lets talk about your three bases, because they are very important, and they are completely different between the two versions of this game. In the Konami version, the bases are above you and you can use them as cover, but they block out a lot of your potential shooting area. In the Stern version, the bases are below you, which gives you a free path to shoot everything in sight, but also means that you have nowhere to hide. I personally prefer the Stern version, as it is much easier to shoot the bugs before they manage to grab a piece of yr base, even though it is also a lot easier to get blasted.
That is basically all there is to this game, just shoot the bugs, and keep them from spelling out "END". You would do well to attempt to target bugs that have already grabbed a piece of your base, as the piece will be returned if you manage to blast them.
"The End" was available in both upright and cocktail formats. I am only going to be discussing the Stern cabinets, and not the Konami ones, as I have never seen a Konami one.
The upright version came in the standard Stern cabinet, which was the same cabinet that most Stern games came in. The only real difference between different Stern cabinets was the Berzerk and Frenzy cabinets had an access door in front, and other Stern cabinets did not.
The game was black with black t-molding. The sideart consisted of a really awesome looking painted rendition of some sort of blue blasting machine shooting at a pair of bugs. The marquee and monitor bezel are covered with a great scene showing evil looking bugs assaulting a wall, drawn in classic Marvel Comics style. Stern really had some great artists back then, the only manufacturer who was even close to them in this department was Atari.
The control panel was aluminum, and had some game instructions and a basic design painted onto most of its surface area. The controls consisted entirely of pushbuttons, with the same layout as the panel on Space Invaders.
Internally the game used a standard 19" arcade monitor for display purposes. The game's code ran on the Scramble platform, which consisted of 2 Z80 processors and a pair of AY-8910 sound chips Several other games run on this exact same mainboard, and can be swapped in with an EPROM swap.
Their were two different cocktail versions of "The End", a small one with a 13" monitor, and a larger "Deluxe" one with a 19" monitor. They were similar in design to the Midway Cocktail (Pac-Man/Galaga/et cetera), but with control panels that sloped slightly upwards. You probably won't ever see one of these, they didn't even make a lot of them back then, and it is doubtful if more than one or two have survived to the present day intact.
Where to play
This game was never ported to any home systems, at least not that I am aware of. But it is supported by two emulators, MAME and Vantage.
You are probably going to have a hard time finding a real "The End" machine to play on. They are out there, but they are few and far between. Despite the scarcity of these machines, they are still relatively inexpensive, usually selling for only a few hundred dollars.