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Rare East German Arcade Game Unearthed 368

Lancey writes "While hunting for work stuff I found this press release about an old Soviet games machine, apparently there are only three surviving units from a production of 1500 - most of them were destroyed after the Berlin wall came down. Thought you might find it interesting..." There are screenshots and photos in this BBC story.
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Rare East German Arcade Game Unearthed

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  • by ack154 ( 591432 ) * on Tuesday July 13, 2004 @03:44PM (#9689931)
    Games include:

    Hirshjagd (Deer Hunt)
    Hase und Wolf (Hare and Wolf)
    Abfahrtslauf (Departure Course)
    Schmetterlinge (Butterflies)
    Scheissbude (literal translation "crap booth"!)
    Autorennen (Racing Car)
    I wonder what you have to do to win at Crap Booth... Get to the toilet paper on the other side of the river? Flush the toilet to avoid the evil crap monster? Or is it like whack-a-mole, but with turds? What's the objective?
    • by DjMd ( 541962 ) on Tuesday July 13, 2004 @03:47PM (#9689965) Journal
      So...In Soviet Russia polyplay plays you???
    • Schiessbude (Score:3, Informative)

      by Throtex ( 708974 )
      ...appears to be a carnival shooting game... or something.
    • by fuxoft ( 161836 ) on Tuesday July 13, 2004 @03:48PM (#9689985) Homepage
      Isn't that "Schiessbude" (shooting booth)? See Schiessen vs. Scheissen...
      • by TopShelf ( 92521 ) on Tuesday July 13, 2004 @04:00PM (#9690149) Homepage Journal
        Oh poo, you ruined all the fun...
      • Well, I guess that fuxoft is right, it is most likely a shooting game :-)

        BTW, folks, Frantisek was a great ZX Spectrum guru east of the Iron Curtain. That was quite a few years ago, but your games had quite a following :-)

      • Speaking of literal translations ... While literally correct, "shooting booth" is not the idiomatic translation of "Schiessbude." Native English speakers say "shooting gallery," or "shooting range."
      • It is. (Score:5, Informative)

        by Gorath99 ( 746654 ) on Tuesday July 13, 2004 @04:36PM (#9690526)
        Isn't that "Schiessbude" (shooting booth)? See Schiessen vs. Scheissen...
        It is. See an image over here [] (the text on the page spells it wrong though).

        Is it just me, or do a lot of native English speaking people seem to have a problem with the difference between "ie" and "ei"? I would understand if they always wrote "ei", but I see too many instances of "wierd" for that to be true. Odd...

        • Re:It is. (Score:5, Funny)

          by operagost ( 62405 ) on Tuesday July 13, 2004 @04:46PM (#9690641) Homepage Journal
          So would "Scheiss Schiess" be a crap shoot?
        • by Baumi ( 148744 ) on Tuesday July 13, 2004 @06:27PM (#9691558) Homepage
          The page linked above [] also has a link to a MAME file [].
          • I downloaded the ROM, and it works fine. How is this possible?

            How can MAME emulate hardware which is 'Apparently based on a Russian minicomputer/PC of the day'? Doesn't the fact that the software works on MAME mean that the basic game hardware must be some stock system from the west?
            • No. The MAME team writes custom drivers for many games. Sometimes they have to write more than normal, to emulate a special chip. Most of the time, they have to emulate the board, but the CPUs are already available n another driver.

              If it's a special minicomputer, then they wrote a driver for it. As a case in point, several MAME drivers have to emulate early 3dfx chips, hard drives, and weird controllers, which are most definitely not a stock systems.
            • by Baumi ( 148744 ) on Wednesday July 14, 2004 @04:51AM (#9694843) Homepage
              I was wondering about that, too, here's what I found:

              A MAME status report from April 2000 [] states that "Martin Buchholz sent in a Poly-Play driver (the only arcade machine ever produced in GDR, the former East Germany) with thanks to Jürgen Oppermann, Volker Hann and the Videogame Museum [] in Berlin (especially to Jan-Ole Christian) - without them, the driver would not have been reality."

              This German article [] elaborates on that a little bit. Basically, they analyzed existing hardware and built a MAME driver for it. That's what they do for other games, too - usually, however, implementing a platform will give you more than one box to emulate...
              (The museum people were quite happy to have the MAME emulation, of course, because one of these days, the hardware is going to fail, and now they'll at least still have the games in working order.)

              The second article also talks about four missing games: Their names are in the software and people in the comments section remember playing them, but none of the surviving machines seems to have the games.

              Their names are:
              "Der Gaertner" (The gardener)
              "Im Gewaechshaus" (In the greenhouse)
              "Hagelnde Wolken" (Hail clouds - apparently some kind of Space Invaders clone)
              "Der Taucher" (The diver)

        • Re:It is. (Score:3, Funny)

          by Jonathan ( 5011 )
          Is it just me, or do a lot of native English speaking people seem to have a problem with the difference between "ie" and "ei"? I would understand if they always wrote "ei", but I see too many instances of "wierd" for that to be true. Odd...

          Yes. My landlord (in DC) is named Bernstein, but he always pronounces his name as if it were spelled Bernstien. Makes me want to give him a German textbook so he can learn how his name is supposed to be said.
    • Hase und Wolf (Hare and Wolf)

      That wouldn't be a game based on 'Noo, Pagadee' ('I'll get you!' sorry for the transliteration) would it? My father-in-law gave me one of the handheld 'Noo, Pagadee' games after I found a derived game for the Palm Pilot.

      "Noo, Ziatz! Pagadee!" ("I'll get you, hare!") :-D
    • Given the perpetual shortage of toilet tissue in the Eastern bloc (it's a fact, anyone born there knows what I'm talking about) maybe the objective was simply to collect as many rolls as you can before other shoppers?

      Would that make it Virtual Reality Soviet bloc style?

      • by Rich0 ( 548339 ) on Tuesday July 13, 2004 @04:48PM (#9690660) Homepage
        I guess that is the problem with central planning...

        Ok, the latest extimate is that we have x people.

        Figure we can let them go to the bathroom y times per day.

        When they go we'll let them use z squares of TP.

        As a result, annual production of TP shall henceforth be set at x*y*z*365 squares of TP. Success to our five year plan!

        Remember - your TP belongs to the people. If you use z+1 squares you're stealing from the old lady down the street...
    • Here is a good site that explains this machine and the games more. (even Scheissbude) ly play.htm

    • that probably should be
      Abfahrtslauf is a skiing game (downhill racing)

      and Scheissbude should be Schiessbude (shooting booth) *g*
    • Seeing as how the games seem to be in German, why is the game machine named (and prominently so) in English? (Or is "Poly Play" also German?)
      • Re:English? (Score:3, Interesting)

        by ncc74656 ( 45571 ) *
        Seeing as how the games seem to be in German, why is the game machine named (and prominently so) in English?

        Ordinarily, I'd chalk it up to the way German borrows fairly heavily from English (have a look here [] if you don't believe me). I suspect the East Germans didn't do nearly as much borrowing from English as the West did, you suppose they ended up appropriating Russian words?

    • by Srsen ( 413456 ) on Tuesday July 13, 2004 @04:25PM (#9690410)
      I wonder what you have to do to win at Crap Booth...

      It's a First Person Shitter.
  • How long will it be before it's on MAME or on a pinball simulator?
    • Re:MAME? (Score:5, Informative)

      by strictnein ( 318940 ) * <> on Tuesday July 13, 2004 @03:52PM (#9690040) Homepage Journal
      It's been in MAME for quite some time.
      PolyPlay is one of the the (few) legal ROMs for MAME. From []
      (C) 1985 VEB Polytechnik Karl-Marx-Stadt.
      Owing to the collapse of East Germany, there does not appear to be any copyright holder for this software.

      There's a link there to download the game. So go grab your favorite version of MAME and play the game! Interactive news! It's the future!
      • Re:MAME? (Score:5, Informative)

        by k98sven ( 324383 ) on Tuesday July 13, 2004 @04:07PM (#9690220) Journal
        Owing to the collapse of East Germany, there does not appear to be any copyright holder for this software.

        I'm not certain the MAME guys should be so sure of that though. Had it had any commercial value whatsoever, you can bet someone would've claimed it.

        There have been cases [] of rights disputes over Soviet creations, not to mention the big fuss over Tetris [] back in the day.

        • Re:MAME? (Score:5, Insightful)

          by pla ( 258480 ) on Tuesday July 13, 2004 @04:44PM (#9690620) Journal
          I'm not certain the MAME guys should be so sure of that though.

          You make the mistake of assuming people really care about the legality of MAME (or any emulator, really, although at least for most of the single-console emulators, they have homebrew games to justify their existance).

          Really, how many arcade machines can you fit in your living room? Even (former) arcade owners would realistically only have the right to use a few dozen games at most. Yet most MAME users have literally hundreds, if not thousands, of games.

          Not to say that strictly legal users don't exist, but I would consider them in the tiny minority.
          • Re:MAME? (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Hatta ( 162192 )
            Indeed. We're fortunate MAME is as comprehensive and functional as it is today. As DRM becomes more commonplace, and games become as crappy as the movies they're spun off from, you can expect MAME's popularity to increase. Concurrently, you can expect the making and/or use of emulators to be crushed legally, by stuff like the INDUCE act which doesn't even care if there's a legit use.
    • Re:MAME? (Score:3, Informative)

      by grm_wnr ( 781219 )
      It's on MAME. Google for "MAME polyplay". I actually played it. Problem: It's really boring.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    ...announced reruns of Worker & Parasite cartoons.
  • Well (Score:4, Funny)

    by arieswind ( 789699 ) * on Tuesday July 13, 2004 @03:45PM (#9689949) Homepage
    Ill take pong over "crap booth" any day
    • How about pong with two TP rolls instead of paddles and a long brown ball? There! Now you have Crap Pong! The worst of both worlds.
  • Imagine.. (Score:3, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 13, 2004 @03:46PM (#9689952)
    A Beowulf-ski cluster of these
  • by suso ( 153703 ) on Tuesday July 13, 2004 @03:46PM (#9689956) Homepage Journal
    In soviet russia, the dots eat you.
  • it's made of cardbord, can fold into a briefcase, but does get 50 continues to the quarter rubel!
  • by eltoyoboyo ( 750015 ) on Tuesday July 13, 2004 @03:48PM (#9689980) Journal
    It is always a good day when you get paid to surf the internet.

    Google search on "Soviet Video Games".... Hey, does this guy post on slashdot? []

  • by ( 583077 ) <nospam AT minotaurcomputing DOT com> on Tuesday July 13, 2004 @03:48PM (#9689983) Homepage
    I find it strange that the BBC would decide to host this article on one of the game machines in questions. Tis a pity.
  • History! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 13, 2004 @03:48PM (#9689986)
    Hey! Have SOME respect. This is history being preserved here.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 13, 2004 @03:49PM (#9689999)
    They both sometimes have joysticks. They both take lots of quarters to play.

  • by lawpoop ( 604919 ) on Tuesday July 13, 2004 @03:50PM (#9690008) Homepage Journal
    Here. []

    "Crap booth" is not as interesting as it seems, but apparently communist Germany and capitalist America aren't really that different.

  • by gevmage ( 213603 ) * on Tuesday July 13, 2004 @03:50PM (#9690009) Homepage
    For those like me who are geographically challenged, Bath is in the United Kingdom, a couple of hours west of London.
  • oh no! (Score:5, Funny)

    by liquidpele ( 663430 ) on Tuesday July 13, 2004 @03:50PM (#9690014) Journal
    So Pac Man was a communist?
    Say it ain't so!
    • by MooseByte ( 751829 ) on Tuesday July 13, 2004 @03:58PM (#9690115)

      " So Pac Man was a communist?"

      Not a chance. Else Pac Man would have stood waiting in line for hours to get one dot, and all the bonus items would been deemed decadent Western evils. Unless you entered the secret "Member of the Politburo" code, in which case see below.

      No, Pac Man was purely a consumerism capitalist, endlessly gobbling up things, the faster the better in order to gobble still MORE things, all while dodging the tax collectors to the best of his ability.

  • What (Score:4, Informative)

    by stratjakt ( 596332 ) on Tuesday July 13, 2004 @03:51PM (#9690020) Journal
    When it was first launched in 1985, the computer technology was 10 years out of date by western standards. It has text-based graphics generated with a Russian 8-bit processor compared to the 16-bit processors used in western home computer games, or 32 bit processors used in western arcade machines at the time

    In 1985 where was MY 16 bit game console and 32 bit arcade machines?

    Hell, Super Mario Bros 2 came out in 1985. "Western life" wasn't that advanced.
    • Re:What (Score:3, Interesting)

      by AndroidCat ( 229562 )
      In 1985, 68000s were only being phased in coin-op machines at the top-end. The Z80 was still the mainstay for a while longer. (You have to be kind and allow the 8088 and 68000 their 16 and 32bit-hood.)
    • Re:What (Score:3, Informative)

      by Gldm ( 600518 )
      In 1985 where was MY 16 bit game console and 32 bit arcade machines?

      Well, while the first 32bit arcade games [] weren't around until 1990 or so, I believe your 16bit console [] had been around for 5 years or so already.

    • Which Super Mario 2? (Score:3, Informative)

      by Luyseyal ( 3154 )
      See Super Mario Brothers 2 [].

      Japanese (basically extra levels to original): 1986
      USA (Doki Doki Panic + Mario sprites): 1988


    • Re:What (Score:3, Informative)

      by jridley ( 9305 )
      I think this person is a LITTLE wrong on "home computer games" being 16 bit by then.

      However, for arcade games, state of the art then was 16 bit. Pole Position was released about then I think, and the arcade I worked at for a summer job got a brand new one. I checked out the schematics. It had two Z80 peripheral CPUs, one to do the quadraphonic sound and some other tasks, and one to draw clouds and other background stuff. The main CPU was a Z-8000, which was the 16-bit version of the Z-80.

      There were o
    • Re:What (Score:5, Informative)

      by master_p ( 608214 ) on Tuesday July 13, 2004 @04:58PM (#9690777)
      Dude, In 1985, SEGA created Outrun: 2x68000, Z80 for sound, a tremendous sprite scaler engine that could scale many many hardware sprites at real time...the 68000 had a full 32-bit architecture, but a 24-bit data bus. You can easily google arcade Outrun specs.

      Furthermore, many mainframe systems used the 68000 with some version of Unix.

      Furthermore, in 1985, you could buy an Amiga 1000 in US.

    • Re:What (Score:3, Funny)

      by mc6809e ( 214243 )

      Hell, Super Mario Bros 2 came out in 1985. "Western life" wasn't that advanced.

      Yeah, but I bet you had soap powder, toothpaste, and pantyhose.

      MIKHAIL GORBACHEV, General Secretary, Communist Party, 1985-1991: There was a government commission to examine the problem of women's pantyhose. Imagine a country that flies into space, launches Sputniks, creates such a defense system, and it can't resolve the problem of women's pantyhose. There's no toothpaste, no soap powder, not the basic necessities of life.
  • When I read that the machines had been dismantled, I assumed there was some sort of political theme, which made me want to write a Pokemon meets Michael Moore game.

    "Look! Secret Service in front of Saudi Embassy! <snaps picture>"
  • by Myrmi ( 730278 ) on Tuesday July 13, 2004 @03:52PM (#9690034)
    The Berlin wall was the largest official game of Breakout to have ever existed. They won.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    'Put it in "H"!!!!!'
  • by jcostantino ( 585892 ) on Tuesday July 13, 2004 @03:54PM (#9690057) Homepage
    In the former East Germany... games pl^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H you play games!
  • by BinBoy ( 164798 ) on Tuesday July 13, 2004 @03:55PM (#9690064) Homepage
    Proving once again if there's one thing you can say about East Germans it's that they really knew how to have fun.
  • Priceless? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Concerned Onlooker ( 473481 ) on Tuesday July 13, 2004 @03:55PM (#9690077) Homepage Journal
    And what about it's value? Simon says it's hard to say; as it's only one of three in existence, it could be priceless.

    Well, it certainly could be worth quite a bit and it is a fascinating find, but priceless? Perhaps they should list it with Sotheby's. Do you think it will fetch more than a Vermeer?

  • by b0r0din ( 304712 ) on Tuesday July 13, 2004 @03:57PM (#9690087)
    naturally, being a commie Pac Man game, you would team up with your commie buddies as comrades (ghosts) fighting against the capitalist pig (ie. Pac-Man).

    Makes you wonder if that was subconsciously the point of the original Pac-man, in reverse.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 13, 2004 @03:57PM (#9690091)
    Bratwurst-Time (The burgertime counterpart)
    Soulkrauten (soulblade...but everyone looks like Sigfreid)
    Aryan 51 (a shoot-em-up game)
    Operation Wulf (a Taito port)
    Building Castle Wolfenstein (Tetris clone)

    And the yet-to-be-released:
    Kaiser Gassem Forever (hey, it's about as bad as Nukem)
  • I remember that (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Gropo ( 445879 ) <<groopo> <at> <>> on Tuesday July 13, 2004 @03:59PM (#9690135) Homepage Journal
    I was fortunate enough to go on a trip to the (soon to be defunct) U.S.S.R. in 1988. Our last leg of the tour was in Moskow, where we stayed at the 'Pionir' hotel (where the capitalist swine were usually contained on their visits apparently)

    In the lobby there was a PolyPlay and a couple other old "mechanical" video games... I recall a light-gun shooter and something else.

    That array of games--being a 13 year old proto-geek--was actually the creepiest thing I experienced on the entire trip. The thought of Russian kids having "fun" on these creepy old bland games just kinda chilled my spine for some reason.
    • Re:I remember that (Score:3, Informative)

      by queequeg1 ( 180099 )
      They actually let Soviet citizens in the hotel? When I went over there (a year earlier), Soviet citizens were not allowed in most hotels where westerners stayed (although security was relatively lax and it wasn't too difficult to get people in).

  • by Gallowsgod ( 766508 ) on Tuesday July 13, 2004 @04:02PM (#9690168)
    From the article: "The Poly Play videogame was Eastern Bloc's answer to the capitalist's Pac Man"

    In short, the object of the game is for the ghosts to crush the despotic tyrant McPacMan. After voting two of the ghosts as their representatives in the socialist ghosts party these two ghosts share all the dots between them leaving one dot for the other two ghosts to share. The number of votes each ghost gets is based on the number of dots in their region of the screen.
  • I knew it! (Score:4, Funny)

    by sulli ( 195030 ) * on Tuesday July 13, 2004 @04:02PM (#9690173) Journal
    The original champions of DDR!
    • Even though I was going to post something like it myself when I read the topic, I salute you :)
      Just a shame today's mods don't get it...

      For those who don't get the joke it's a play on words (or acronyms rather):
      DDR = Dance Dance Revolution (popular arcade dancing game)
      DDR = Deutsche Demokratische Republik (the official name of the state of East Germany)
  • Green Mode (Score:4, Informative)

    by trifakir ( 792534 ) on Tuesday July 13, 2004 @04:05PM (#9690208)
    I wonder what is the power consumption of this gadget. Probably you have to switch-off one or two districts in the neighbour and it needs an additional water cooling. A Soviet refrigerator, for example, consumes probably 1Kw and most of the energy is converted to sound as it is louder than a truck...
  • 3 in existance ? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 13, 2004 @04:07PM (#9690223)
    I had one of those. And I know about a dozen of other PolyPlays

    Its rare, but not that rare. there are more PolyPlays in Germany (east&west) than PacMans.

    There are several different cab versions of it (due to lack of rescoureces)

    And its really not worth anything........not really.
  • book (Score:4, Interesting)

    by oxymor00n ( 780866 ) on Tuesday July 13, 2004 @04:17PM (#9690327)
    Marcus Hammerschmitt, a german author, wrote a science fiction book about it. [] A really good read, if you understand german.
  • Could the pinacle of superior Soviet gameing technology stand up to the 3D card accellerated game fests of today?

    Sadly, for many of the games on the shelf these days, the answer is yes. I'm willing to be ploy play could still stand up to a lot of the fare they sell for 60 euro in east(ern) germany today.

    "Capitalist Fools! Only classless video game offer true excitement!
  • Itchy & Scratchy (Score:3, Interesting)

    by British ( 51765 ) <> on Tuesday July 13, 2004 @04:32PM (#9690469) Homepage Journal
    Looking at this poly play game reminds me when Krusty aired a Russian version of Itchy & Scratchy. The cartoon was really crudely done(think of the Cheat's animations) and there was a political slant. Okay, no political slant in Poly Play, but man look at that cheesy neon logo for the marquee!

    And to think in west Germany they were making Porsches and such, and just over the border, crap technology like the Lada car. Funny!
    • Re:Itchy & Scratchy (Score:4, Informative)

      by daviddennis ( 10926 ) * <> on Tuesday July 13, 2004 @04:49PM (#9690667) Homepage
      Worse than that, actually. A Trabant in East Germany was issued after you saved most of your spare money for 10 years.

      if you did the same thing in West Germany - an act that would admittedly take tremendous willpower - you could afford a 911, easy. A 911 is only about ten times as fast from 0-60 as a Trabant. Well, a Trabant can't even make it to 60 (it has a top speed of 56mph) but you get the idea.

      Not much of a joke if you have to live it, alas :-(.

  • by fuxoft ( 161836 ) on Tuesday July 13, 2004 @04:39PM (#9690570) Homepage
    As a citizen of former Communist block I distinctly remember there were MANY official amusement games (mechanical / electronic hybrids, not videogames). There was bowling (the "fake" one, where the ball doesn't really touch the hanging pins but presses sensors under them), there was "Zimnaya ochota" - shooting at blinking animals with lightgun, various "racers" (mechanical model traveling over the projected road), there was a sub shooting torpedoes at the ships (also mechanical, using ship models and mirrors). Most of them were made in Soviet Union. I even remember a Russian pinball (I think the theme was "Ruslan & Ludmila"). I suspect most of them were ripped of from similar U.S. games of 60s and 70s. But I also remember several communist VIDEO games. There was Russian game of multiplayer horseracing - there were about six or so horizontal racetracks and everyone had to press his button for a horse to jump over the obstacles. The color was provided by colored celophanes glued to the screen. I remember spending dozens of hours at the "arcades", watching these marvels. There was also definitely Pong made in Czechoslovakia (this was a home videogame you could buy around 1985). Also, several Nintendo Game & Watch games were ripped off and officially sold as Russian games. I remember THE EGG, which slightly changed the wolf's face and turned the hen into the hare, thus making it a game based on popular Russian "Nu pagadi" cartoon about Wolf battling the Hare...
  • by PsiPsiStar ( 95676 ) on Tuesday July 13, 2004 @05:06PM (#9690845)
    It translates to "How are you gentleman. All your dacha are belong to us..."

Thus spake the master programmer: "Time for you to leave." -- Geoffrey James, "The Tao of Programming"