The legend goes that in the heyday of arcades, a mysterious cabinet called Polybius was tested in Portland, OR. It made many people who played it ill, and men in black suits were seen collecting data from it before it disappeared. As someone who lives in Portland, I’m rather skeptical….there was parental paranoia about arcades back then, and when you combine this with our local overactive media, a game that fried people’s minds would have blanketed the news for weeks. If it had happened, we would have known!
Polybius has made cameo appearances in movies and TV shows, like The Simpsons (above). A Polybius machine was originally in the opening sequence of Wreck-It Ralph (it can be seen in the trailer, but is replaced in the final movie). And there have been attempts to make the game itself, but none quite as bold as Jeff Minter’s. He’s going to SELL a game called Polybius, as one of the first titles available for the Playstation VR.
Here’s where it ties together: Alleged descriptions of the gameplay in Polybius make it sound similar to Tempest, an arcade game that was actually out at the time. And while there are no news reports of Polybius’s existence, there is a report of someone getting sick after playing Tempest in Portland around 1983. Jeff Minter happens to be the guy who singlehandedly coded Tempest 2000, a sequel to that game that most people consider the only real reason to own an Atari Jaguar.
Here’s the gameplay that Minter’s “Polybius” will sport. Does it look familiar to you? It should — it started out as yet another Tempest game before Atari’s lawyers went after him.
Essentially, by making another Tempest, Minter really is creating Polybius — if you want to think of it that way. And since it’s VR, it could actually make people sick! But then there are those who say it doesn’t count unless a secret government organization is involved.