Friends, over on the Retroist… I want to say it was in 2018 I stumbled upon something that I had been entirely unaware of – which is the fact that beginning in 1983, Atari had been developing an arcade game for the then upcoming Gremlins movie. The development process as you are about to see from Andrew Borman’s latest Game Saves video actually continued into 1985 – when it was considered that the Gremlins arcade title as it was didn’t have enough appeal to allow it to be completed and released to the arcades of the day. Which is an absolute shame as from the video I shared back in 2018 – it looked like it had quite a bit of potential to say the least – what that video a couple of years back was missing though is the research that Andrew has done on the Gremlins arcade game. That includes documentation from the Atari Coin-Op Division, reports from the likes of Franz Lanzinger (Crystal Castles) that as I understand it are housed in the Brian Sutton-Smith Library and Archives of Play at the Strong. Andrew Borman is the digital games curator for The Strong National Museum of Play, located in Rochester, New York – which is why he uploads videos of prototypes and even unreleased games on his PtoPOnline YouTube channel. So without further ado, prepare to be amazed at the Gremlins the arcade game that could have been if fate had been just a little kinder to all of us video game aficionados.
From Andrew Borman’s video as well as the same 1985 video that has been made available on YouTube over the years – I really think that the design team from Atari had something special. Personally I think it was wise for the team to steer away from the first person shooter aspects – the idea of Billy Peltzer using a flashlight to not just stun but dispense of the rampaging Gremlins is a far better idea. And while I love the the various ways the Gremlins can be dispatched in the kitchen by his Billy’s Mother – especially as it ties in with the 1984 film… the hurling of kitchen knives might have raised some eyebrows from parents I bet.
Andrew mentioned it in passing in his Game Saves video – but I was always impressed by both the Commodore 64 as well as the Atari 5200 home console games for Gremlins… yet never was lucky enough to get my hands on them. Although I did get the 1990 Nintendo Entertainment System game for Gremlins 2: The New Batch by Sunsoft!