I know I talk about a lot of games on here. And one might think I know a lot of about arcade games. While I like to think I know a lot, and arguably I do, but there’s still plenty out there I’m utterly unfamiliar with. Take for example today’s game: Naughty Boy by Jaleco. I had never even heard of the game when I saw it at an arcade, but damn did that marquee and overlay do some work getting me over to the cabinet to investigate.
The game is old, coming out in the early 80s, and as such feels like a relic of its time. It’s pixilated like an old Atari game, and it features the associated blips and bloops for sounds as you’d imagine. Based on the marquee and artwork you’d think this is a Dennis the Menace type of deal, with some mischievous kid running amok and causing havoc to his surroundings. I mean, that is what it is, at its core. But instead of a neighborhood or a school or some common setting, the titular Naughty Boy is running through forests and castles, fighting ghosts and fire breathing dragons. It’s wild.
Naughty Boy is a vertical scrolling action game, meaning you’ll be moving toward the top of the screen, avoiding projectiles and enemies all the while. It’s pretty basic, with four direction movement, as well as a simple throw mechanic to toss a rock at your enemies. Shoutout to old arcade games have mini-instructions printed directly on the cabinet. Not because I cannot figure out what I’m supposed to be doing. Rather, it’s explains what exactly I’m supposed to be looking at.
I’ll give the game some slack for being old. Be prepared to be bombarded with a wild assortment of colors from everything in the game. Stages are blue and green and yellow, and I cannot quite tell where I’m supposed to be? Maybe a medieval setting, because if you do make it to the top of the screen you fight in what I think a castle? Enemies range from purple and yellow ghosts to the aforementioned dragons spitting fire. They can gang up on you Robotron style, so keep your guard up. Also, I would like to point out how violent the game can be should you succeed in destroying the final castle’s flags. Upon doing so, legit the entire screen is engulfed in flames. All the while your character keeps a nonchalant look about him. Maybe this is why he’s a “Naughty Boy”, he revels in destruction.
Gameplay aside, this cabinet’s artwork is top notch. That colorful, digitized version of a boy on the screen overlay is ridiculous. I guess the 80s were just a different time? Also, I think it’s funny the marquee appears to show the boy throwing a rock at a beehive, but I think that’s actually supposed to be what I would call a ghost in the game. I mean, unless you’re fighting animate beehives? I’m honestly not sure, I just know if they hit you you’re dead. So yes, bring on the fire.
Overall the game was a fun way to spend 10 minutes. I don’t know if the longevity of this game can stand up to more addictive gameplay loops of other arcade games out there, even other arcade games at the time like Donkey Kong, Ms. Pac-Man, and even Robotron. Much like me when I found the game in 2021, I think allure might have been to the game’s silly name and presentation. After that, I would think most players moved on to other games in the arcade. Which you might want to do too.
Played at Cidercade is Austin, TX 2021