Shark JAWS

This arcade game was released by Atari in 1975 (under the pseudonym Horror Games). The machines were labeled with the word "Shark" in tiny letters, and the word "Jaws" in huge honkin capital letters. Atari had tried to buy the game rights to the movie Jaws. The studio wanted too much money, so Atari just made a throwaway company (Horror Games), and released it anyway (adding "Shark" in tiny letters).

This game is the crown jewel of my arcade game collection. There are only two known copies of this game at the present time, mine which is the only copy registered with the Video Arcade Preservation Society, and the one on display at the Videotopia travelling arcade museum. There are probably a few more copies of this game gathering dust somewhere, but it can't be many, the production run was less than a thousand in the first place.

The game is exceptionally simple. It is just a little man on a screen, the only other graphics are a shark and a fish (oh, and the score). You simply try and catch the fish, without getting eaten by the shark. Then the score counter increments by one, and the fish respawns somewhere else. The graphics are black and white monochrome, and the game is controlled by a single joystick (no buttons).

The PCB to this game is very simple, no processor, no RAM, only off the shelf electronic components, and three rom chips that hold the images of the fish, shark, and man respectively. The game has a single dip switch, which selects one play per credit, or 2 plays per credit (default is two). The only other option is a knob that controls the length of the game. Most really old games played on time limits, not lives, and this was no exception.

Sadly, my copy of this game doesn't work. Either one of the components on the board is bad, or it needs a new power supply (it uses wickedly nonstandard voltages). If it is not the power supply (which I still need to test with a multi-meter), then it can be fixed through trial and error,as every single item on the PCB is a standard part that can still be bought today (this particular game will still function even with bad roms, the graphics will just show up glitched).

There is no program that emulates this game (not MAME or any other emulator). So the only way to play it is on a real machine (right now that is limited to the Videotopia exhibit, but hopefully that will change soon). Emulation is a problem with games that do not have processors (you have to emulate lots of circuits and analog stuff instead), which is why there are no emulators for any of the really old arcade games.

Update March 28, 2002
Another machine has surfaced in Florida, but it doesn't work either. So now there are three of these left.

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