Great Gaming Moments: Lock ‘n’ Chase

My first exposure to video games was through the Atari 2600. I was probably around five or six years old when I started playing Berzerk and Asteroids. It was before I learned that these games were ports from the original arcade versions which talked to you or used vector graphics. I still have the Atari and most of the games. Lock ‘n’ Chase stands out in my mind.

If you haven’t heard of this game, think of Pac-man, only instead of ghosts there are police officers, and instead of a yellow circle, you play as a thief. The dots are gold bricks. You can close and lock up to two of the many doors in the maze to hinder the officers chasing you. The doors reopen after a short time. Collect all of the treasure, and you unlock the door to the next level. Rinse, and repeat.

It was not unusual to narrowly avoid capture by a police officer. I’ve been chased without a pixel of difference between me and my pursuer and waiting for a door to open back up so I can lock another one. I’ve laughed when the thief’s hat looked like it was being worn by an officer who was a little too close for comfort. In either case, locking a door was a great way to get the officer off of my tail. Since the officers were always moving, locking yourself between two doors was a good way to delay until the officers chasing you moved safely away again.

One day I discovered a new trick. It was probably one of the first times I had learned a new way to play a game. I was being chased, and I closed a door to avoid the first officer. A second officer turned a corner and I disappeared down a teleporter. Well, the officer turned toward the door I just closed, so I went back through the teleporter. It thought that it was a risky maneuver for me to try, but I chased the officer and placed a wall on the other side of him.

And I did it! I trapped an officer between two walls! I either yelled “Whoa!”, “Cooool!”, or “Awesome!”, but I don’t remember. I received bonus money for doing it, and the game sang out in that always-different-yet-always-satisfying Bonus Noise.

I didn’t even know it was possible to do it, and I played this game a lot. All of a sudden, there was a entirely new way to play the game. Instead of just collecting money and avoiding the Law, I could try to trap the officers. Can I trap two? How about all four? Is there anything else I can discover?

Maybe it was in the manual for the game. Maybe it was on the side of an arcade cabinet somewhere. But I was a child, and all I had at the time was the game. I felt amazing for discovering something cool on my own. It was a great gaming moment for me.

3 comments to Great Gaming Moments: Lock ‘n’ Chase

  • Funny. When I was a young twerp, we had a ColecoVision. One of the games we had on it was a port of another PacMan play-a-like, Mouse Trap. Mouse Trap was, to my knowledge, the only ColecoVision game to use the numeric keypad buttons of the controllers for anything else besides selecting number of players and skill levels to start a game. As I recall, the “5” button turned your mouse character into a bulldog so you could eat cats. Buttons 1, 2 and 3 operated doors which altered the architecture of the maze; red doors, yellow doors and blue doors. It was discovered early on that it was possible to get cats locked up between doors isolating them from the rest of the maze. My youngest sister then developed an infuriating way of playing; she would only go for all the cheese (dots) and doggie biscuits (power pill reserves) after she’d successfully locked up ALL of the cats. Needless to say, two-player games with her were long, drawn out affairs which really took the fun out of the pace of video gaming.

    Thanks for reading!

  • PRFunky: I remember playing that game on the Atari 2600! With only one button, though, the Atari version of the game was probably significantly different if you had to use different buttons.

  • Lock ‘n Chase was classic, it took just enough from Pac-Man for people to be comfortable with it, but not enough to be a rip-off, and yes, you can trap two, three, or “four” (never done four but I guess it’s doable) at 100, 300, 3000 pts for the captures 🙂

    Now on the other hand, Mouse trap was a piece of crap, Im sorry, boring as heck, no love for the cat/dog game.

    Oh, and PS, if you love it on the Atari VCS, pick up the Intellivision version of this game, you’ll be in heaven 🙂

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