Weekend Pickup! Omega Race Cabaret

One out one in! A few changes to the arcade Blogger line-up in recent weeks. Someone made an offer for my Gravitar upright and after much thought I decided to move it on. As lovely a thing as Gravitar is, it is a huge beast and I found myself not playing it regularly, so figured someone else could enjoy it.

But with that, came an opportunity to replace the Gravitar with something else. Omega Race is always a game I’ve admired from afar – there is some debate about whether or not it saw a release over here in the UK. The trade press was certainly referencing it, and reading the comments below, it seems some UK arcade goers do recall playing the game. I don’t recall the game at all and played it for the first time a few years back during a trip to the USA.

Released in 1981, its a cool looking cabinet, especially in upright form – but what makes it interesting and unique, is it is the only vector title ever released by Midway. Here’s a slideshow of the sales sheet produced by Midway announcing its launch:

As you can see, it is one of a select number of arcade releases to be housed in upright, cabaret, cocktail and cockpit variants. Best described as a shoot-em-up within a racing game, Omega Race is a lot of fun to play. Here’s the marketing hype:

In the year 2003, the Omega System developed a method of training its warriors to protect their star colonies against Android forces over the city of Komar. Omega fighters raced to engage and destroy these aliens and the mines they planted. The Omega method is so successful, it commands fear and respect from all throughout the galaxies. This method id code names OMEGA RACE

Midway marketing sales sheet for Omega Race

Don’t you just love 80s arcade manufacturer marketing? I love that someone’s job was to play a vector game and come up with that backstory. Set in 2003, which of course was way in the future back then, but is now 20 years ago, which blows my mind a little….

Putting that blurb to one side for a minute, this video gives a good demonstration of gameplay of the game, and a look around a cabaret cabinet. Check out the first 10 minutes or so:

Todd Tuckey talks about common issues with Omega Race PCBs, shares his Omega Race cabaret and some gameplay footage

So back to my situation – entirely coincidentally, an Omega Race cabaret came up for sale and I thought “why not?”. One vector out, another vector in and in small form factor.

So the deal was done and I made a drive up north to collect the cabinet:

Here’s the Omega Race secured and in the back of the SUV!
Back home, let’s see what we’ve got
Here she is. Its a nice looking cabinet. I love the design of these Midway cabarets. They actually called this style of cabinet The Mini Myte

So on the surface of things all is well. But there’s a number of things that I’d like to work on:

Omega Race has an interesting control system. The spinner on the left rotates your ship, thrust and fire on the right do as you’d expect. The decision to use a spinner is an interesting one – especially give Atari’s use of left/right buttons on Asteroids. Notice the chunk taken out of the artwork there. I’d like to get this piece scanned and replaced.
The marquee lights up and looks really cool. Its sporting some heavy scratches currently which can easily be taken care of with some Novus polish
A standard Midway coin door – this one has some scars and a nasty dent there at the bottom. All fixable with some tools and time!
Bit of a strange fix at the back. The door actually split in half at some point and someone has screwed this plank of wood across the door to repair it! I can make a new door to put this right

But its a handsome cabinet. I’m very pleased with it. Closer inspection does reveal some crumbling edges here and there. Its sporting DC Fix on the sides, and I’d like to figure out why this was done and if I can do a better job at some point and give it a better restore.

Midway Omega Race cabaret!

So the usual process had to take place to get it upstairs to the arcade room.

Got everything stripped out to reduce the weight and got it up the stairs
Took the opportunity to give the insides a good clean. It needed it
There’s a lot going on inside. Everything is compact and crammed in.
The cabinet came with the original PCB, which needs repairing, but meantime its running the super reliable Omega Race FPGA board which accurately emulates the original game
A close up of the control panel. Great artwork on this
All put back together and 100% working!

I wouldn’t mind betting this is the only Omega Race cabaret over here on these shores, and there’s probably very few in total here in Europe in total (it was actually distributed in Germany by Wulff)- so its a rare beast and I’m delighted to be able to add it to the collection!

So there you have it. Super pleased with the new cab. I’d like to get to it in the summer and give it a full strip down, clean and restore. There’s a lot to do here, but meantime its fully playable and I’m enjoying the gameplay!

It’ll be a couple of months, but I’ll be sure to document any restoration work here on the blog of course, so keep an eye out for that.

Thanks for checking in this week.


8 Comments Add yours

  1. Mark Hoepfl says:

    Hi Tony

    Awesome story

    Here is a recent Australian arcade doco I sure you and your friends will love. Just came out. It’s excellent.

    Cheers Mark



  2. Lappan says:

    There’s nothing like the year 2003 labelled as the far future to emphasise how long ago this machine, and my misspent youth, are.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. ieure says:

    The back door may or may not have broken, but the panel over it on the outside is factory. It’s to provide clearance for the monitor, which would interfere with a flat door. Similar to the bubble on Midway minis (and some uprights, like Gorf and Wizard of Wor) with a vertical monitor, but much smaller, since the horizontal vector doesn’t stick out as much.


  4. Gareth Flaneur says:

    I saw this in the arcade in Clevedon, Somerset in the early 80s – it was there for a while, probably years. So maybe it did get a UK release.


  5. James says:

    I played Omega Race back in the early ’80s at Leicester Forest East Services on the M1. They also had a Death Race that was never turned on and a working Mr Do’s Castle which I went there to play at nights after finishing shifts in a nearby hotel.


  6. Faust says:

    I remember seeing this game quite a few times as a kid. I wasn’t very good at it, but it was fun. I think this was a bit of an odd release too. Games were moving towards color monitors and controls were moving more towards joysticks. The black and white screen made it look like a 70s game when it was up against other games from that year like Defender, Galaga, etc.


  7. discogod says:

    Shipley’s Amusements in Stourport-on-Severn (arcade heaven back in the day) had one of these cabs at least until the late 1980s. It was amongst a row of older cabs at the back of the arcade, most of which were broken or switched off. They all disappeared when the arcade was cut in half and a bowling alley added around 1990.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Chance says:

    Really Enjoyed the Aussie arcade doc that Mark linked to. Thanks for that! Omega Race is great, cabarets are great, perfect match! I played the cockpit at Galloping Ghost last summer and it was amazing. Not nearly as big as I had thought it would be.

    Liked by 1 person

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