BADLANDS / Konami / Arcade

Is Badlands the rarest of the Laserdisc arcade games? I've seen comments in a couple of places suggesting only 200 were made for U.S. arcades (no mention of Japan or the PAL territories.) That seems low, but KLOV has only ten people registered as owning it, with only three of those owning an actual cabinet. I visited arcades all over the U.S. from 1985 to 2000 and I don't recall once ever seeing it anywhere. I went to arcade mecca Funspot a number of times during that period and I don't recall even them ever having a cabinet.

So, normally I don't do links to copyrighted stuff here. However, given how rare this game is, it's one of those that literally is in danger of going extinct. You certainly can't just go and play a cabinet without going through a whole lot of expense and rigamorale. Konami has abandoned the game since it left arcades, and they've never done anything to indicate they intend to revive it in any way. In fact I'd wager the bulk of their upper management at this point probably doesn't even know it ever existed. So, since it's up to us, you'll find links below to snag the disc images and roms, and you can play the game with the Daphne emulator.

It's like Dragon's Lair, but with only one button (representing your six-shooter.) I like this game better than Dragon's Lair for a number of reasons, and one is the simplicity in control. All you have to do is identify a threat and push the button as fast as possible. If you shoot too early, however, you'll be hung, or thrown in jail, or hung then thrown in jail. And of course, if you shoot too late, U Fail It. You get instant feedback on what you did wrong, however, and you can get much farther much faster in this game without foreknowledge of the moves than you can in Dragon's Lair, which virtually required someone to tell you the move sequences at some point or another (unless you had $2000 in quarters to spend experimenting for days on end.) The timing can be REALLY finicky in some scenes, to the point of frustration, but I'm not sure how much of that is Daphne's imperfect emulation v.s. the original game design, so I'm giving it a pass on that.

Another thing I like is that the game is a bit more randomized than most Laserdisc games. Our hero Buck chases down twelve outlaws, who basically serve as the game's bosses and usually a division point between levels. A few of the bosses can come at you in different ways, however. There's also a lot of random civilians who you encounter along the way, and there's a 50/50 shot they'll try to kill you or just walk on by, so you have to watch carefully even in scenes you've already passed.

The final thing is the game's odd juxtaposition between serious themes with morbid violence, and cutesy cartoon goofiness. The game opens with Buck's family getting gunned down by the outlaws "for noooo reeeeason!", and frequently the showdowns with them have a grim tone. Buck also encounters completely random shit along the way, however, like a fire-breathing dinosaur and the Creature from the Black Lagoon. The death scenes also seem to be evenly split between really goofy and really bloody, and you're never really sure what you're going to get. It's really the main thing that makes the game memorable, that and the fairly high quality of animation for the time, which seems to have been done by Toho (the people behind the G.I. Joe cartoons among other things.)

Links :

* Daphne emulator
* Disc Image and ROMs
* Arcade Museum page

Videos :

* Full game, no deaths
* All death sequences