Today for T-Shirt Tuesday I bring you this Williams Electronics' Sinistar shirt from the early 80's. Arguably one of the most maddeningly difficult arcade games of all time, Sinistar can best be summed up by the game's frightening title character itself:
"I am Sinistar! Beware, I live! Run, Run, Run! Beware, Coward! Run, Coward! RAWWWAAAARRRGGGGHHH! I hunger!"
Sinistar was released by Williams in 1982 in two different formats. There was the standard upright cabinet, and a Williams' first: a state-of-the-art cockpit-style cabinet which featured the first stereo-sound ever in an arcade game. It also featured the first 49-way joystick, and most importantly -- the first Williams game to utilize digitized speech. It beckoned arcade-goers mockingly, "Beware, Coward!"
Should you have answered Sinistar's challenge and dropped your quarter into the machine, this is what you'd have experienced: Sinistar utilizes a game mechanic called Twitch gameplay; you pilot a ship that can rotate in all directions, shooting planetoids that drop crystals used to create "Sinibombs". These Sinibombs are the only thing that can kill Sinistar, a menacing skull-faced ship that is methodically being built while you are playing the game. You can try to hamper his creation by attacking while he is being built, but you must also contend with faster ships out to destroy you. Once Sinistar is built he'll quickly be on your tail, saying things like, "I Hunger Coward. RAAAAAWWWR!!!!!!" while trying to eat your ship whole.
Sinistar was not an initial success, even with all the bells and whistles. Players found the game way too difficult and would give up after only a few tries ... and never playing again. However, as time has passed, the game has amassed a huge cult following among classic gaming enthusiasts. Both the cockpit and upright cabinets are highly sought after by collectors and are becoming harder to find. This century, Sinistar'smade a few cameos, including an appearance on the epic, Emmy-winning three-part "Imaginationland" episode of South Park (2008).
Then, in the spring of 2009, a new student theater company called The Blatancy Front from The College of William & Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia, wrote and staged "a lighthearted science fiction musical" based on the game, called "Sinistar: The Musical." The brief: Air Force Capt. Paul Willoughby is summoned to active duty when it is discovered that aliens are creating a giant, living star-creature that could destroy the earth. Will he return to his beloved wife, Maggie, or will he be devoured by the Sinistar?
I'm seriously on the edge of my seat. Too bad there's no known documentation of that musical ...*sigh*