Midway's 1980 Space Zap

Space Zap was essentially a space themed arcade version of one of those handheld reflex games that were so popular back in the day. But instead of memorizing patterns or colors, it's just pure reflex action. With a simple control scheme consisting of up, down, left, right, and zap; your job is defense. Defend your base, located in the center of the screen, from attacking enemy swarms. Lucky for you enemies only attack in one of four different directions. The more you zap 'em, the faster they come at you until you eventually defeat the wave of invaders. Later levels mix it up a bit by including disappearing ships and attackers that can encircle your base.

Missing Ingredient
Pain! Did you ever see that Bond movie Never Say Never Again? Remember that tabletop game that Bond and Largo played? If either player allowed their opponent's missile through the shield they would receive an electrical shock through the controllers. "Unlike armchair generals, when we make a mistake we will feel the pain of our fallen comrades!"

If Midway only had the foresight to hook up a car battery to the button controls, people would probably still be flocking to the arcades to play Space Zap! Accidentally let an invading enemy demolish your base and you will feel the price of slow reflexes.

20 years before rumble packs and dual-shock controllers ever entered our living rooms, Space Zap could have been a truly memorable experience and shocking game to play.

Or maybe just watch others play.

Thanks to Jeffrey Carl at ServInt for providing the space for CinemArcade


All content © Dave Dries unless otherwise stated