Thursday, March 17, 2011


Happy St. Patrick’s Day folks!

Now, admittedly, I’m not overly knowledgeable about the patron saint of Ireland, but his holiday encourages me to celebrate by drinking copious amounts of beer and putting Flogging Molly on the jukebox - that’s my kind of holiday brother!

In honor of the day I thought I would feature a unique little Irish-themed arcade game that I saw when I was at the American Classic Arcade Museum last October – Leprechaun.

Leprechaun was introduced in 1982 by Tong Electronic as one of the Moppet Video series of games that targeted a younger audience than the typical arcade rat. The cabs were a little under 4 feet tall, only weighed 110 pounds, and the difficulty level of the games was reduced so as to make it more amenable to the average 4-8 year-old.

In the game you play as a boy running around a forest searching for gold. You gain points by touching the trees which changes their color (and slows your pace as you are walking through them) and then you complete the level and get bonus points by diving into the pot of gold. Of course the wiley leprechaun is out to stop you so he chases you around and if he touches you you're dead. He also occasionally picks up the pot of gold and moves it. There are a couple of houses or similar structure on the screen that you can duck into to escape the leprechaun momentarily - you go in one house and you come out the other.

I'd never even heard of this game, but I stumbled across it in the kiddie area at the ACAM and the tiny size of the cab caught my eye so I popped in a quarter out of curiosity.

I wish I could say it was a gem and you gotta check it out, but no - it sucked.  It was pathetically easy and excruciatingly boring. I didn't even finish my game, I just left it there on auto-pilot. And there wasn't even a kid around for me to let play and be the big shot - darn!

Jean Baudin holds the official record for the game with 412,690 points on June 8, 2001. There is even a picture of him on display at the ACAM – at least I assume it was him. I don’t know how long it took him to get to that score but I salute his fortitude for hanging in there on this dull and mind-numbingly easy game - I couldn't do it. Apologies to any Leprechaun fans out there – but c’mon, you know it’s true.

After I got back home I read that Leprechaun had a big-boy version called Pot of Gold that was the same game but in a full-size cab and with increased difficulty, so I pulled it up on MAME to see if I liked it any better.

Nope it pretty much sucks too- just sucks a little faster.  But the increased difficulty at least adds a little challenge, so if you are above the age of 5 and feel the need to check out the game go with Pot of Gold instead of Leprechaun.  Just be sure to take a few shots of Irish whiskey first to grease the wheels a bit and don't expect to find a new favorite because, well, it is just like Leprechaun.

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gnome said...

Watch your back MadPlanet! And do have a beer. It'll do you good...

Fallguy40 said...

That pic makes it look like you're nine feet tall!

MadPlanet said...

@ Gnome: Oops, it didn't occur to me that I might be insulting a distant cousin of yours. Your hats are so different! No disrepect my friend. The first round's on me!

@ Fallguy40: I felt like Andre the Giant playing that thing. I had to practically do the splits to get at a workable height!