Eliminator was developed by Sega/Gremlin in 1981. During development, the internal names for it were "Screw your buddy" ("F*** your buddy") or "Meatball" ("Meatball" can be found screened on some of the early production sound boards for the game).
Eliminator was part of the Converta-System introduced by Sega/Gremlin. The system was designed such that operators could easily convert from one game to another just by swapping game cages, controls and artwork WITHOUT having to do any rewiring, and without even having to move the game!
In Eliminator, your object is to 1) Destroy any threats (opposing players or drones) by forcing them into a large floating asteroid (known as the Eliminator Base) using your energy bolts, which "push" ships, and 2) Fire an energy bolt down a narrow opening in the Eliminator Base, thus destroying it. Of course, you will have to survive an onslaught by your opponents, drones, and the Eliminator itself (a deadly ship that comes out of the Eliminator Base, lauches fireballs and destroys opponents on contact).
The flyer for Eliminator shows the game on the left. Flyers typically show the earliest version of the game it is promoting, so I assume that this is the original version of the art release. The game on the right has another version of the artwork. At first glance, there doesn't appear to be much difference, but the art on the right is missing the lower left ship on the monitor bezel, the marquee art is different, and the control panel art, especially around the buttons, is different.
There are two different ROM versions of this game floating around. One set is the more common set where the drones are colorful (blue and yellow), and they are relatively dumb. The second set is what I call "Tournament Edition" because it is far more challenging and competative. In this version, the ships are slightly smaller and are smart! They appear to be faster and more accurate than the other version. Also, there is a separate counter for each player that begins at 30 and decrements whenever you....??? I haven't quite figured that out yet, but it seems to be decremented when you destroy the Eliminator Base, and sometimes when you destroy ships, or in some cases, just shoot them.
"Four against one is fair play when that one is the mighty Eliminator--a large spheroid that floats randomly about the video screen. This Eliminator is invulnerable except through a narrow passage (it's throat?) to its core. During the game, the Eliminator sends out ships bent on destroying the up-to-four players (who can choose to work alone or in teams of two). You and your fellow players, while avoiding Eliminator ships, attempt to force opposing players' spaceships (with energy bolts that push objects) into a deadly collision with the Eliminator base. The lone surviving player must then fire down the Eliminator's throat to win the game."
The description above is for the four player version of Eliminator. In this version of the cabinet, players stand at each side of a table that has controls for a ship. This is considered the best version of Eliminator. This cabinet is considered very rare. To date, I have only located about 10 people total who have this cabinet other than myself. Eliminator as has the distinction of being the only 4-player vector game ever made.
There are two different flyers for this game shown here:
The flyer on the left shows a version of Eliminator which I believe was never released. It shows black control panels with numbers for each player. However, if you look closely, you will notice that the lock goes right through the middle of the instruction text. This was probably a prototype design. The little box shown mounted on the cabinet is a "Tip Card" holder, which Sega/Gremlin used to promote the game, and to give the players more detailed instructions and game play tips.
The flyer on the right shows the typical 4-player Eliminator. Two noticable differences (besides the picture) is the addition of the cabinet specs (lower right of the picture), and the size of "SEGA" in the logo. A power struggle between the two companies, perhaps? ;-).
On the back of the original flyer, it simply shows a picture of the cabinet again. On the back of the flyer on the right, there is a picture of the cabinet with a rare (and not yet found) promotional canopy (see below). It does exist, as a few people remember it (including Mark Turmell, Director of Midway Sports).
Update: it does exist! A hacked together Eliminator was found on a KLOV forum, a very frankenstein-like monstrosity, but the base of it was the four player canopy! The canopy is much different than I had anticipated. From pictures, it appears that the canopy was completely hollow, and just a flimsy metal frame that held four marquees.
Apparently there was a screw up when they reformated the text for the new canopy picture, because the sentences from different paragraphs are merged together. The text is correct on the original flyer.
Here is picture of a reproduction canopy that I made for my 4-player, along with instructions on how mine was made.
Although the 4-player cabinet was not designed to be a convertible cabinet, the control panels are the same size as the uprights. I added some extra wiring and internal connectors just like the upright Converta-cabinets, allowing me to swap control panels and boardsets to play any of the Sega XY games.
Like the upright, the 4-player also has 2 ROM version. One is the production version, while the other is a prototype version. The prototype version starts a 4-player game by simply pressing any button on the control panels, and the Eliminator in the game becomes very agressive quickly.
The cocktail version of Eliminator is unique in that it is a rare example of a 2-player simultaneous cocktail game which is played with the person sitting across from you (thus the screen is upside down for them). To compensate for this, this game contains yet another version of the ROMs. In fact, Eliminator may be the only game to have 3 different cabinet configurations with a different ROM set for each version (and there are 2 versions for the upright and 4-player)! That's a total of 5 different rom versions for a single game!Back to M.A.R.S.