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June 2015 Retro Gaming Article


June 10, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

The Polybius urban legend is the “Bigfoot” of the arcade world

Polybius marquee Just when I thought the Atari Landfill legend was as crazy as things get in gaming lore, I discovered a Kickstarter campaign to investigate a mysterious early 1980s arcade game said to have been released in the Portland, Oregon area. I don't believe there have been any Bigfoot sightings in arcades, but there are plenty of fuzzy pics of an arcade game called Polybius.

It's mystery is not rooted in anything as sane as debating discarded game carts in a landfill. The Polybius mystery surrounds an arcade game many have heard of, few have seen, and fewer have actually played. One might like to believe that it was an amazing game that lost funding and disappeared or that it was created by an enterprising game company who wanted to test their creation in the real world. But, No. That is not the legend of Polybius.

They say it came. Epic lines formed. Then it was gone. Players were changed by it. Some died. Some went insane.

Allegedly a Polybius Arcade game It sounds like a combination between the films Brainscan and The Ring. I'm all for an eerie tale - especially if it involves video games, but this one is way out there. As much as I love watching Finding Bigfoot on Animal Planet, I know they'll never find a Squatch regardless of how many foot prints they cast or how much Squatch poop they think they've found. They've never even produced a single blurry photo.

With tales of endless lines of kids waiting to play Polybius, why are all the pictures Photoshopped or just plain blurry? Where are the news stories. Pac-Man fever was declared in everything from local newspapers to People Magazine. Lines going out the door of an arcade over a single game? OK, where was the news media that day?

Even though those "researchers" will never find Bigfoot, the show is fun to watch. I'm sure this documentary film will have the same appeal and it surrounds video games... Gotta like that!

The game is described as similar to Tempest but seemed to mesmerize players and leave them altered in some fashion. It wouldn't be a complete tale without some Government conspiracy facets - like men in black coming to retrieve data from inside the arcade cabinet.

Allegedly a Polybius Arcade game Polybius even made an appearance on The Simpsons complete with a Gov't Property stamp. Classic! Polybius even made the Simpsons which certainly gives it a lot of pop culture credibility. Although finding more tangible credibility may prove difficult. It was rumored that someone discovered a Polybius arcade cabinet in an Oregon storage locker. Alas, no pictures surfaced. Yep, this tale is steeped in urban legend, but that's what makes it fun and appealing.

Polybius Kickstarter Campaign The Polybius kickstarter didn't make it's goal, but I'm almost positive it made $25,000 in the last few hours. I recall it being around $50K a few hours before it ended and suddenly it was at $73K. That's pretty amazing! Everyone loves a good story - even if if may be as contrived as Bigfoot. Keep an eye out for this film. Despite not making their Kickstarter goal, I'm sure it will be released and it should be a great story!

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