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Friday, February 01, 2008

My definition of Double Play

In the truest sense of the term, "dual play" or "double play" to me means walking into an arcade, sitting down (or standing) at a machine, and playing both Player 1 and Player2 at the same time. No fancy joypads, or rewired buttons, just a regular game in an arcade cabinet. Obviously the point here is to be able to accomplish this feat in public, without any special preparation. I'll get to this last point in a moment.

(Dual Play Tetris pictured)

Double Play was born in Japanese arcades by fans who were constantly looking for increased challenges during the 1990s. Now given today, inside the United States arcades are pretty rare, and ones that have vertical shooters are even rarer, its understandable that people also attempt this feat through emulation (Mame), consoles, and with dual shock joysticks, remapped buttons, or some other gadgetry. Although this is still a pretty amazing accomplishment, its still not as skilfully performed as on an arcade control panel, which requires a larger amount of hand dexterity ( versus thumb dexterity on something like a dual shock joypad). So my definition of Double Play will pretty much center around what would be possible inside a public arcade in Japan.

Now certain games lend themselves to Double Play easier than others, say for example shooting games that have only two buttons. Some Japanese arcade operators install rapid fire circuits on button C, and some do not. Some arcade PCBs have options to turn on C-Shot (rapid) through dip switches and some do not. Its mostly hit and miss based on the game and arcade operator. Generally if there is an advantage to higher scoring, operators in Japan try to please their patrons by allowing C-Shot or install rapid fire circuits.

Ok given the above setting, and not being allowed to open up or change arcade machines in public, the only other preparation that goes into Double Play may be some tape or toothpick or paper wedge to keep certain buttons held down during the entire run. This is usually to keep your hands from cramping if you constantly need to hammer on a fire button while controlling your ship.

(Next post will be on hand and finger positioning.)


  1. For some reason, when I thought of dual play for shooters, it reminded me of those fin funnel pods from Gundam (Char's Counterattack). Those mobile pods that surround the mobile suit and are controlled by the mind. Except this time, they've been set to manual. And you've got two. :)

  2. Using sticks, regardless of whether you use them for Double play or Solo play, requires more "hand dexterity" anyway; so I don't see why you have to make a distinction on whether someone used a dualshock pad or dual sticks for Double play: The game mechanics are still the same, which is the important thing... Unless you want to make a definition for Solo play that makes a distinction between pads and sticks?

    Of course, if you want to showboat on an arcade machine, you really don't have much choice! And if you're going to use toothpicks to jam buttons down (for comfort reasons), then a player using the most comfortable 'controller' option available, shouldn't make the definition any less valid; be it sticks or pads...

    I personally would add integrated scoring using both ships (as used in Raiden III, IV) for Double play to be the "true" incarnation for "Double play"...

  3. Good comments. I made the distinction between pads and sticks simply to stay true to the origins of Dual Play in a public arcade setting. I agree from a game mechanics perspective, dual play on any control scheme is an awesome accomplishment, but since you can't walk into any arcade and plug in your dualshock (disregarding the later Tekken series) its not really the same thing.

    Same with solo play on a console pad. Although this it might be an amazing accomplishment to 2ALL Ketsui, I don't think Arcadia will accept your scores unless you do this in a real arcade in Japan.