Designer: John Newcomer
Added to my collection: April 5, 2003
Sold: October 26, 2015
Almost all of the Williams arcade games are coveted by collectors. Personally, I've never been a fan of most of them. I think that both Defender and Robotron: 2084 are far too difficult to be fun. Sure I'd like to have them in an "ultimate arcade" for their historical value, but my space is limited, so I have to pick and choose.
Unlike the aforementioned games, Joust is a hoot! Not only is it conceptually straightforward, it is weird and quirky (two very important elements that are usually discarded early in the design process in today's games). In this game, you are a futuristic-looking knight mounted on a trusty flying ostrich steed. Your mission: to out joust your opponents (who are mounted on buzzards), all the while avoiding the evil pterodactyl and the grasping hands of the infamous lava troll.
One of the other semi-unique elements that sets this game apart from much of the competition is the ability for two players to play simultaneously. You have the choice of jousting against your fellow player or cooperating with him/her against the in-game enemies.
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Despite the fact that Joust isn't quite as sought-after as some of the other Williams games, it is usually fairly expensive and difficult to find. There are always some on eBay, but they sometimes sell for as much as $900 for the upright model. Not a price I'm willing to pay, especially when you factor in the shipping.
I picked up my machine at the April 5th, 2003 game auction in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. There were two Jousts there (which is rather unusual). The first one, which had some monitor problems, sold for $600 (a bit much in my opinion). The second one was semi-hidden in the back of the building, and no one even plugged it in (to my knowledge) before the bidding started. I got caught up in the bidding (it happens to the best of us) and ended up getting the machine for $525. I hadn't played it, nor had I seen anything but the startup test--not a wise move in most cases.
As it turns out, I got a deal. The side art--which is stenciled on and, thus, hard to replace--is intact. There are a lot of the usual dings on the sides, and it looks as if someone drilled a bunch of small holes at the top of the right side for some reason. They're noticeable up close, but not bad from a distance. The control panel is filthy and has a one-inch tear on the right side, so I'll eventually replace it. The marquee light wasn't working, as per usual on just about every game I've ever purchased, so I had to replace the bulb, starter, and ballast.
The game worked almost 100% when I bought it. The monitor was bright and clear with some burn (but nothing outrageous). The game played well, though the joysticks are a bit looser than I'd like. The only real problem was the fact that the high scores and setup information wouldn't save. There were three AAA batteries on the board which I replaced, but to no avail.
A local collector with way more electronics savvy than me installed a new lithium battery upgrade on the board (thanks, Mark!). This cheap upgrade is the perfect solution to the battery problems that plague Williams arcade PCBs, and is available for less than $10 from Bob Roberts, one of the foremost suppliers of replacement arcade parts on the Internet.
So, Joust is now a fully-functional addition to my arcade!
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Joust's options are set via on-screen menus rather than DIP switches. I eventually plan to add a .pdf version of the manual to the site. Stay tuned.
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