Company: CBS Electronics
Model #:
Alex Leavens & Alex Nevelson
Year: 1982
Port of the 1981 Midway Coin-op


Port of the 1981 Midway arcade game, Kickman was long suspected to exist somewhere but was only recently found in the collection of a former Roklan programmer.  Originally called Kick (the source code still refers to it by this name), the arcade game was renamed Kickman in order to capitalize on the Pac-Man craze that was sweeping the nation at the time.  It had long been rumored that the original version, Kick, didn't contain any of the Pac-Man graphics and that they were only later added to the game when it was re-released as Kickman.  It turns out this rumor is completely false and that both versions of the game contain Pac-Man and his ghostly friends.


The goal of Kickman is to move your unicycle riding clown across the bottom of the screen and, depending on the stage, either catch balloons on your head or pop them (you must be a pinhead).  If you miss a balloon you can attempt to kick it back up by hitting the fire button.  If successful, the balloon will bounce back up and you'll have another shot at catching it.  Different colored balloons fall at different speeds, requiring you to be on guard at all times.  You can adjust the speed at with the balloons fall and the length of your kick by using the difficulty switches.

In the later rounds that require you to catch the balloons you'll see Pac-Man hanging around with the balloons at the top of the screen.  Once you have stacked a few balloons Pac-Man will fall down, if you catch him he'll eat all your balloons and you'll get a nice little bonus.  There's really no other point to having Pac-Man in the game, but since Bally Midway had the rights to him, they were going to use him.  The arcade game also featured a bonus round where Kickman had to catch balloons being thrown from windows while avoid bombs, but this seems to be absent from this port.

Although the 2600 version of Kickman is a decent port, it had to be cut down a bit to fit into 4K and to conform to the 2600's technical limits.  The most noticeable thing is that the amount of balloons Kickman can stack on his head has been reduced from eight to four.  Not only that, but only one balloon can fall at a time instead of two.  This makes the game much easier than it's arcade counterpart.  Also missing are the bonus rounds in which Kickman had to catch balloons while avoiding bombs being thrown out windows.  Interestingly the advertisements for the game actually mention these 'Challenge Racks' (as Bally/Midway liked to call them), but this could have been due to a miscommunication with the marketing department or they could have been dropped when space became low (the entire 4K rom is full).  The arcade game also makes use of a trak-ball which adds some challenge that is lacking in the 2600 port.

So why was Kickman never released?  According to Alex he designed Kickman for Midway but when they decided not to enter the home gaming market themselves they sold the rights to CBS Electronics.  CBS Electronics needed a few minor tweaks done to the prototype before they could release it so they had programmer Dick Balaska to make the changes (Alex was working for Roklan by this time and was not available).  Dick remembers doing some code compression and adding a rudimentary title screen to the game, but ultimately CBS decided not to release the game either.  This was probably due to Kickman not doing particularly well at the arcades, even with the added Pac-Man gimmick.  Interestingly CBS did make some box art for Kickman and it was advertised as being for sale in some ads so the decision to cancel the game must have been made quite late.

Kickman Ad

Version Cart Text Description
1/8/82 Kickman
95% Complete


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