Gotcha was an early Atari
arcade game. It was released in 1973, a year after Atari's Pong
. Atari had great, early success with Pong, so great a lot of machines were breaking down because they could not be emptied of quarters fast enough. Pong status as a cash cow
was short lived, however. Atari founder Nolan Bushnell
made a small mistake in releasing Pong. He failed to secure intellectual property rights
to the game. When he finally filed for patent
protection there were some 50 imitators on the scene. Soon, only about 1/3 of pong-style games in public locations were genuine Atari models. Most were knock offs.
Bushnell concluded that Atari's competitors were good at copying but were not innovators. For Atari to make money, it had to release innovative games. The following year it released Gotcha, along with Space Race
, Pong Doubles
, and Elimination
Gotcha was a two player maze game
. The maze
was rendered from a top-down perspective. The goal was for one player to chase another player around a blocky maze. Unlike Pong, Gotcha proved some what boring
and wasn't a great success.
Gotcha was a bit ahead of its time in two ways. It was a maze chase game, a theme used with much much greater success by Pac Man
. To add some visceral
appeal to the "thrill of the chase" Gotcha used an electronic beep
that increased in frequency as the pursuer neared his target. Asteroids
would later use simple changing auditory feedback to heighten the player's visceral response to the game.
Gotcha is unique in that few games have ever had such a high "giggle factor
" when it came to cabinet design. Each player used a fleshy pink rubber mound to move his player. To all, the game looked like it was sprouting two boobs
and was quickly dubbed "the boob
While most versions of Gotcha used Pong's grey on black monitor
, Atari released a few experimental versions that used color monitors (albeit
in a monochrome mode
, i.e., green on black). Gotcha has the distinction of being the first arcade game to use color without the aid of a physical over lay.