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Prop Cycle

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Released: 1996

Genre: Racing

Format reviewed: Arcade

Publisher: Namco

Developer: Namco

Certain games are perennial mainstays of arcades; they just never really go away. There’s the worn down and abused Real Puncher that has sat there since the mid-Nineties, one of the Time Crisis sequels for sure, and probably a twin sit-down Dayona USA. But also standing proud is an old Prop Cycle cabinet, one of the most unique attractions ever to reach an arcade.¬†These date back to the Nineties, and with good reason – the Nineties were a time when outlandish cabinet designs really came back into vogue, with Sega’s fully rotating R-360 and Namco’s Ridge Racer Full Scale leading the charge. Sure, there were lots of competitive fighters in standard cabinets too, but the unique ones drew the less hardcore gamer in – and Prop Cycle was a smaller, more accessible attraction.

Prop Cycle is not a complex game, at its core. Your goal is to pop all of the balloons in a stage before the time runs out, effectively making the game a relatively simple aerial racer. However, the key to the game’s popularity was its unique control system, consisting of a static bike to control acceleration and handlebars to control steering. There was nothing like it then and to this day, no similar titles have been released. The accessibility of the game makes it perfect arcade fodder, and while the 3D visuals have dated technically, the stage designs remain very attractive. With all those qualities in its favour, there’s no question as to how it has stayed in so many locations after almost two decades.

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