Favorite Arcade Game Theater: Cliff Hanger (1983)

I was so thrilled when this American version of the famed feature CASTLE OF CAGLIOSTRO (directed by master Hayao Miyazaki) was released as an arcade laserdisc game in 1983. Re-titled CLIFF HANGER for gaijin, these animated games didn’t do as well as hoped, with Don Bluth’s DRAGON’S LAIR the most notable casualty. Eventually, video games reached a staggering level of graphic quality, but I wished there had been a few more counterparts. Still, this was one of the few arcade games I made it all the way through, literally playing the entire manic clever feature surrounded by an audience. This promotional feature for CLIFF HANGER is fascinating and a blast to the quarter-killing past…


15 Responses to “Favorite Arcade Game Theater: Cliff Hanger (1983)”

  1. Finally, my curiosity is satisfied regarding the guts of old video games.

    I don’t remember this one, though I’ve seen the film — one of those early Miyazakis from before he really found his style. But I do remember the similarly animated Dragon Slayer. It was entertaining just to watch my expert-level buddy play the thing.

  2. I used to love this game and was dazzled by the animation and stoked when I finally found the film that it was based on.

    Do you remember the game show STARCADE where contestants used to play video games against each other and see who could rack up a higher score in a limited amount of time? Used to love that show. There is even a really cool official site out there that brought back so many memories. I remember when they did a whole show dedicated to DRAGON’S LAIR – a laser disc game I was obsessed with when it came out. Actually saw a guy get all the way to the end…

  3. DRAGON’S LAIR was amazing, despite the bo-ring gameplay. tough game. don bluth really was ahead of the cartoon industry on this one. in retrospective though, the “flash and click” gameplay was totally adapted to the cartoon experience…

    • I admire Bluth a lot tho I’ve never been drawn (sic) to his animation style.

      • I dig his style of animation – loved TITAN AE fer example. But hey, to each their own.

        • I was never attracted to Disney style art — as a kid I immediately could tell the Japanese animation was different, more detailed, better directed. Love FANTASIA and SLEEPING BEAUTY of course. And Pixar today.

  4. THE SECRET OF N.I.M.H. had some great, intense sequences. The cat and owl, specifically.

    Re: early vs late Miyazaki – I passionately mildly disagree with you!!!!

  5. Used to have a Cliff Hanger at the local Chuck E. Cheese. As soon as I saw Castle of Cagliostro, I knew I’d seen it before. Such a good movie. Never played the game, as I was terrible at those laser-disc games. (Except Cobra Command. Best attract mode ever: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GLVBvRet8g0 )

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