Area 51, the arcade that saved Atari Games from bankruptcy

The one with the arcade machine area 51 It is one of those extravagant stories of the industry that, in the mid-90s, managed to break all the schemes. Reviled by critics and beloved by gamers, the shooter inspired by the mythical Nevada military installation also marks the birth of one of the easter egg craziest our eyes have seen.

Even today you can come across messages that, upon discovering the mythical Easter egg on pages and forums, they reply to that “could you really do that?”, referencing the surprise that it meant for many to put yourself in front of another player’s game and be amazed at what was happening on the screen. That is area 51and this is the most insane easter egg in video game history.

The story of the two Atari

Despite the surreal situation, there was a time when two companies called Atari coexisted. After the crash of the industry at the beginning of the 80s with resounding failures such as the ET video game, Warner decided to get rid of everything that smelled of singe inside Atari.

The video games and home consoles division passed into the hands of Jack Tramiel, founder of Commodore, and Warner was left with the only division that at that time was still profitable. On one side was Atari Corporation and, on the other, the arcade division of Atari Games to which we owe today’s jewel.

Dissatisfied with the deal, Warner ended up selling part of the company to Namco and they returned to get rid of part of their control, remaining in the hands of the employees. A pifostio of heads and decisions that would not be fixed until, after the merger with Time Inc, Time Warner would regain control of the company.

We owe games like Marble Madness, Paperboy or Gauntlet to this festival of contracts, assignments and sales, but with the arrival of the 90s and the beginning of the decline of arcades motivated by the explosion of consoles, Atari Games began to be involved in a wave of failures that predicted an imminent closure.


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The Creation of Area 51

In the midst of an era marked by Street Fighter, Tekken, Daytona USA and the rise of 3D, in Atari Games They decided to bet everything on the fashionable arcade genre, that of light guns. Unfortunately, they were as good at creating big hits with the public and critics as they were at maintaining developers, so seeing how their big names fled to other companies like Electronic Arts, they ended up turning to an external team to save the ballot.

The result was the release of area 51a Frankenstein of concepts that, trying to replicate the success of Mortal Kombat, brought together ideas such as 2D sprites, 3D vehicles and scenarios, and the use of stop motion and real actors as in the interactive films of the time a la The 7th Guest.

Closer to what had been seen at the beginning of the 90s with Mad Dog McCree than to cosmic pickles of the time like Virtua Cop, the critics of the moment were not enthusiastic about the idea of ​​taking a step back in terms of visual display. refers, but the Americans embraced the game until it became a success.

With more than 20,000 arcade cabinets sold, area 51 became one of the most successful arcade games of 1995, ahead of his own Virtua Cop and very close to other great successes such as Sega Rally Championship or Mortal Kombat 3. A success that a year later, after the purchase of WMS and already under the name of Midway, they tried to monetize with ports for PSX, Saturn and PC that were far from the initial enthusiasm.

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The most insane easter egg in video game history

On these lines you have already been able to see how Area 51 spent them on a visual and playable level, so you can imagine to what extent the people of Atari Games they dodged a fateful bullet considering Time Crisis wasn’t released until late 1995.

However, beyond that brief success, this arcade game is worth remembering for its easter egg that its creators introduced without notifying anyone of it. A relatively similar path within the adventure itself that, instead of putting us in the shoes of a soldier, put us in control of a member of a third infiltrated alien race that had to kill humans and aliens alike.

By shooting all the humans that appear on the screen and avoiding shooting the rest of the aliens, the game entered a kind of LSD trip that is not recommended for anyone with the slightest possibility of suffering from attacks of epilepsy. A lot of eye to the invention because it has no waste.

In case you ever thought that playing a shooter as if you were after the vision of Predatorthe easter egg area 51 He will probably have invited you to completely forget about that possibility. Of course, having planted yourself in front of the machine after having seen it two hundred times and seeing that someone took out the Easter egg must have been quite an experience at that time.

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