There isn’t much arcade news this week, so let’s jump into something from the days of arcade past; something that had it been released “in the day” would have been almost three decades ahead of it’s time.
When Atari was the proverbial “800lb. gorilla” of the industry, they had a lot of engineers working on a wide number of concepts. Sometimes those ideas never left the paper phase, while others made it a little farther along.
Per this tweet from a curator at the Strong National Museum of Play in New York, one of those concepts made it far enough along for Atari to produce a video and some graphics for it, but it is unclear if this was just fooling around or if the company had developed technology for detecting a person’s body movements. That was something called the Atari Dance Machine, a concept I’ve never seen mentioned on any unreleased/prototypes game list from the company. Check it out via this 30 second video, then we’ll discuss further:
Check out this video of “Dance Machine,” a concept created by Atari in 1984 that was found during the @museumofplay U-Matic digitization project made possible by the @RRLC1966! Just imagine the technology that would be required to make it, especially in the 1980’s. pic.twitter.com/PQSOYeermg
— Andrew Borman (@Borman18) February 27, 2019
While conceptual, a couple of things are clear. This would have used laserdisc technology for the full-motion video. At 26 seconds in the video, the text overlay is typical of laserdisc games, and nothing else would have worked for fullscreen video at the time. The stand-in concept also used a variation of Atari’s massive TX-1 game cabinet, which used three screens, although who knows if they would have kept that for the final release, as this obviously was a “photoshop” just to show the idea.