Steepel Chase

Steepel Chase

Arcade / Atari, Inc. 1975

Steeplechase is an arcade game developed and released by Atari, Inc. in 1975. It is a multiplayer horse racing game that allows up to six players to compete against each other. The game is set on a straightforward track where players control horses, making them jump over hurdles to avoid obstacles and reach the finish line. The simplicity of its gameplay, coupled with its engaging competitive nature, made it a popular attraction in arcades during its time.

Steeplechase was developed by Atari, Inc. during the mid-1970s, a period when the company was pioneering various arcade games. The game’s concept was inspired by the traditional steeplechase horse race, which involves jumping over barriers and water jumps. Development focused on creating an accessible multiplayer experience that could attract groups of players. The game utilized Atari’s early expertise in arcade hardware and was part of their strategy to diversify the arcade gaming experience beyond single-player or two-player games.

Upon its release, Steeplechase received a positive reception for its unique multiplayer gameplay. It was praised for its straightforward mechanics and the ability to engage a large number of players simultaneously, which was a novel feature at the time. Its colorful graphics and simple controls contributed to its appeal, making it a favorite in many arcades. The game also became a popular choice for competitive play, with players often challenging friends and family.

While Steeplechase did not see many direct sequels, its multiplayer racing format influenced subsequent arcade games. Atari and other companies continued to explore and develop multiplayer experiences, leading to the evolution of the genre. There were no significant ports or adaptations of Steeplechase for home consoles or other systems, as it remained primarily an arcade attraction. However, the concept of multiplayer racing and hurdle-jumping mechanics can be seen echoed in later games across various platforms.

Today, Steeplechase arcade cabinets are considered rare collectors’ items. The exact number of units produced is unclear, but it is estimated that only a few hundred were made. As a result, fully functioning cabinets are highly sought after by collectors and vintage arcade enthusiasts. The value of a Steeplechase machine can vary widely based on its condition and completeness, with prices typically ranging from $1,000 to $3,000 or more for well-preserved units.

Steeplechase was built using the standard arcade hardware of its time, featuring discrete logic circuits rather than microprocessors. The key components include:

Cabinet: Standard upright wooden arcade cabinet with colorful side art.
Display: Black and white CRT monitor with color overlays.
Controls: Up to six sets of buttons for jumping, one for each player.
PCB (Printed Circuit Board): Contains the game’s logic and circuitry.
Power Supply: Provides necessary voltage to the PCB and display.
Sound Board: Simple sound generation for game audio effects.
Wiring Harness: Connects all components within the cabinet.
Marquee: Illuminated sign at the top of the cabinet displaying the game’s title.
For repairs, collectors might need to source specific parts such as replacement CRT monitors, power supplies, and original control buttons. Reproduction parts and schematics are sometimes available through specialist arcade parts suppliers and collector communities. Regular maintenance includes checking and replacing worn-out components, ensuring proper wiring connections, and occasionally refurbishing the cabinet exterior to preserve its appearance.

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