Black Tiger

Have you seen this man?

This ball-and-chain wielding, knife-spraying thug in a horned helmet is the protagonist of the Black Tiger arcade game.

This game stuck in my imagination for years, along with Gauntlet (and some unidentified game mentioned later) in defining what a sword and sorcery videogame should include. It has always been an icon of nostalgia for me. I think the only thing necessary to make this picture complete would be Benjamin Bird (the local arcade god) carrying a tube full of quarters on a lanyard.

My hat is off the guys at who helped track down the title based on my sketchy description. Imagine my surprise and delight to find it available free online!

Playing it again (now with unlimited quarters to fuel my sorry gaming skills) Black Tiger still lives up to my expectations. Gameplay is a treat, the graphics are nice (though some of the upper levels seem to have glitches), the backdrops are evocative, there hidden treasures to plunder, and sweet looking weapon upgrades to purchase.

But I think most of all I love the monsters. There are a pretty wide selection, but a couple I’ve always loved include:

Betentacled, poisonous, chomping mandrakes that spiral up out of the ground at you.

And hulking, flame-spewing, cycloptic mummies.

At this point there’s only one other beloved arcade game of yore I’ve never been able to track down. Anyone able to find a game fitting this description would certainly earn my gratitude:

IIRC the character was a little guy with a sword. I think each level would begin with the hero falling down a shaft into a dungeon. At different points in the dungeon you could climb up using ropes.

There are only three things I can remember about the monsters:

  • One type of the standard wandering monsters resembled a disembodied eyeball, cut of steak, or paramecium which would bounce down the corridor toward you.
  • I think there were several bosses that were dragons.
  • Some of the bosses (or maybe not bosses, just opponents to be overcome?) consisted of swarms of something. Like I seem to recall one where you entered a room you couldn’t climb out of and there was a magician who would send a swarm of flying brooms or pixies or magic wands or something to attack you. But maybe I’m not remembering this accurately.

4 thoughts on “Black Tiger

  1. That’s interesting that this game made a lasting impression on you too. Mike and I played it when we were younger in some flea market and could never remember what it was. Years later we tracked it down on the internet and relived some of the experiences. It was a cool game.

  2. yeah — i don’t know what it was about that game… something about the weapons, the sounds, the general chunkiness of things — it is a cool game

  3. I pumped hundreds of quarters into this game when I was a kid. Easily my favorite arcade game of all time. When I first discovered arcade emulators on the internet as an adult, this was the first game I tracked down, and it was every bit as a fun as I remembered. πŸ™‚

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