Challenging Stage: Rally-X Restoration
Updated: Jun 1, 2019
As I mentioned in my previous blog post, Rally-X is viewed by many as the unloved baby brother of the Namco family. But that isn't necessary accurate since 4 games would be released in 1980. In American market however, only Pac-Man had a major impact. And what an impact it had, becoming one of the most influential arcade icons to grace a CRT 19 inch monitor (one could argue it is the most influential, personally however I feel that honor goes to Mario from Nintendo). Namco also released the rather odd King and Ballon, and the fun but basic Tank Battalion in the USA through the now forgotten company Game Plan Inc. Rally-X was picked up by Bally-Midway along side Pac-Man which is odd to me since both games share a lot of the same play mechanics.
Rally-X was released here in the USA in three cabinet styles, which was typical of Bally-Midway at the time. From other collectors I have come up with the following educated guesses on production of these games, unfortunately no official production totals have ever surfaced
Uprights 2500 - 4000 ish
Cocktails Less than 1000
Cabaret/Mini Less than 1000
My machine is number 1508 and appears to originally not to have had any front art, so maybe the front art was optional or not applied to all game cabinets.
It's important to note here, that Rally-X was a huge hit in other parts of the world. This was especially true in Japan and in the UK, it even had a cameo in an episode of the Netflix show Black Mirror. The sequel which was little seen (but offered by Bally-Midway as an upgrade kit) was even more popular thanks to a large supply of bootleg versions of the game. Home versions also seemed to fall into the unofficial category, the most famous being the Commodore Vic-20 version retitled "Radar Rat Race". I had what would be called now a home brew version from my much loved Radio Shack TRS-80 Color Computer with some of the most annoying music ever made.
Probably the most interesting and frustrating part of this particular restoration was the audio and visual interference that was present in the game from the moment we picked it up. After trying every conceivable method to eliminate it, I was forced to rewire the entire game by building a new wiring harness and power supply system. This process is actually one I find very enjoyable, and I will probably more closely document it in future builds or restorations via a video.
One of the bigger questions I had at the end of the project was what is the legacy of Rally-X in the annals of video game history. In the United States, it's more or less a footnote. Rally-X is yet another "Captive Import" game developed in Japan and sold in the USA by an American distributor. Many of these import games were produced in low numbers and soon forgotten, remembered by only the hard core arcade fans. In other parts of the world Rally-X is considered a A list classic, especially in its native land of Japan. Rally-X flags have made cameo appearances in games like Nintendo's Smash Brothers series, and several others.
The restoration of our Rally-X is documented in the video below, so please watch if you are curious. This is only the second game I have had to make a whole new wiring harness for. I am also thrilled to have tracked down an original New Rally-X board to go along with the original Rally-X board in the machine, so we can now play both versions of the game. New Rally-X although available to the US market is seldom seen on our shores. I actually tracked this one down from a seller in Argentina, thank God for Al Gore's wonderful Internet. Thanks Al!