VIDEO WIZARDS PODCAST – Episode 20: March 1981

In episode number 20 of Video Wizards, we travel back the furthest yet: all the way to March 1981. With baby Ben keeping his parents awake all night with his lung and vocal chord exercises and Michiel celebrating his 5th birthday, the arcade game scene is typified by innovation and the establishing of brand new genres, with seminal releases like Scramble by Konami and Defender by Williams. Bally Midway are less interested in innovation, however, as they dare to release the plagiarism heavy Gorf, as developed by Dave Nutting Associates. And in the meantime, Namco introduce Rally-X, a vehicle based variation on their very own Pac-Man.

Home gaming is still ruled by the likes of the Atari f***ing 2600, but we also witness the release of Sir Clive’s ZX80 home computer, the imaginatively titled ZX81. Trash from the Classifieds morphs to The Classifieds Report, for a more dynamic dive into the sales ad pages of computer and video games magazines, Hip Hop music sees some truly foundational releases and in the world of guitars, the UK spearheads a new wave of domestic metal music production. Those looking to hit up the movie theaters are advised to stay home, however, as Sam Neil’s antichrist and Gary Coleman himself tag team terrorise the silver screen in this time period.

So you see, despite the early goings, there is no shortage of video games and popular culture to discover and discuss in March 1981. Enjoy 5 more hours of Video Wizards audio goodness!


By The Arcade Flyer Archive, Fair use,


By The Arcade Flyer Archive, Fair use,


By, Fair use,


By, Fair use,
The top billing arcade games of the era we discuss on Episode 20, L-R: Scramble, Rally-X, Defender, Gorf

Show theme tune: NEON CITY, composed by Ed 「イートレム」 Tremblay for Mudprints Music and licensed exclusively to The Video Wizards Podcast, ©2019 Mudprints Music, all rights reserved.

Baller of the Month Jingle composed by Yuli Anna and licensed exclusively to The Video Wizards Podcast, ©2022 Yuli Anna, all rights reserved.

Other music used in this episode:

  • TV Theme Style (The Winner) – by Colin Thomson, 2018
  • Main Theme – by Toshio Kai for Rally-X, 1981
  • Fantastic Voyage – by Lakeside, 1981
  • Burn Rubber on Me (Why You Wanna Hurt Me) – by The Gap Band, 1980
  • Don’t Stop The Music – by Yarbrough & Peoples, 1980
  • Rapture – by Blondie, 1981
  • Put the Boogie in Your Body – by The Treacherous Three, 1981
  • Jazzy Sensation – by Afrika Bambaataa & The Jazzy 5, 1981
  • The Adventures of Grandmaster Flash on the Wheels of Steel – by Grandmaster Flash & The Furious 5, 1981
  • Wrathchild – by Iron Maiden, 1981
  • Bringin’ On the Heartbreak – by Def Leppard, 1981
  • In League with Satan – by Venom, 1981
  • Once in a Lifetime – by Talking Heads, 1981
  • Planet Earth – by Duran Duran, 1981
  • Kids in America – by Kim Wilde, 1981
  • In the Air Tonight – by Phil Collins, 1981
  • Embarassment – by Madness, 1980
  • Vienna – by Ultravox, 1981
  • Theme of Robin’s Nest – by Brian Bennett, 1981

Episode edited by: Juli Reed

And finally: our special thanks to Andy Hofle.

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Published by videowizardspod

Video Wizards is a podcast about the arcade games of the 1980’s and 1990’s and their cultural context, by Ben Cartlidge and Michiel Kroder.

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