For an explanation of this series and my Ranking System read here.

When I first introduced this series for the end of 2012, I mentioned that we’d be looking at one arcade machine flyer amidst the pinball ads.

When I was searching for, and vetting, flyers I wanted to review, this one was among the first I earmarked. And, despite various elimination rounds, the ad just kept finding itself still in the running. Finally, I had to admit to myself; there was something about the flyer for Universal‘s 1981 arcade video game LadyBug that just had me completely fascinated.

Here’s the front;

The front page of my ad flyer for arcade machine LadyBug. Copyright 1981 Universal Co., LTD.

And the rear;

The rear page of my ad flyer for arcade machine LadyBug. Copyright 1981 Universal Co., LTD.

Okay, I’m going to be honest; it took me a while to figure out why the Hell I was so captivated by this flyer. It is actually pretty droll; the illustrations on the front are flat-colored with some odd black fills, we only get one look at the cabinet and cocktail table set-ups, and the back is monochrome with a layout like an Atari 2600 game instruction manual. And, from what I can tell, the whole “enemy in a bubble” doesn’t actually happen in gameplay!

But sometimes I am far more sold on concept than execution. During one round of elimination this almost got struck down by my “a sexy fantasy costume does not count as a fantasy woman” rule, until I took a good look at the wings and antennas – the way they are placed does not imply that there is an outfit holding them on.

So I concluded that the characters pictured must be tiny winged women whose dress is inspired by insects. Winged women so tiny that one can be trapped in a bubble, but still float without popping it. Lovers of fairies, shrunken women, magic casting women, and possibly insect-fused females should take notice.

So, already, my imagination was running wild thanks to the art on the front of the flyer. And that is a good thing in the time of 8-bits.

As I admitted earlier, the art isn’t masterful. There’s no shading whatsoever, and Lady Bug and “Madame Lucanus” (no name listed elsewhere so that’s my reference for the woman in the bubble) have odd black fills in certain spots…but those don’t appear on the same art on the cabinet’s backglass.

For every flesh-colored eyeball there is a surprisingly closely caught detail; Lady Bug’s overlapping wings have a color differential, and I’ve followed a number of the nicely curved lines along Madame Lucanus’ outfit. And although the backglass implies that Lady Bug’s stance is really to show she has just trapped her enemy in a bubble, it looks to me like she doing “Talk to the hand!” to Lucanus.

Which just makes me laugh.

Honestly, this little scene has played so many questions through my head – “How long will Madame Lucanus be in the bubble?” “Can she escape?” “What would she do to Lady Bug if she caught her?” “What does Lady Bug do with the green balls?” – I was really excited to get to this flyer just to look at it again.

I think the sassy, sexy quality of Lady Bug, and the “Oh nos!” look of her antagonist, easily qualify both of these winged lovelies as Fantasy Women of the Arcade.

Besides the two front-and-center ladies, the front of the flyer has the game’s logo and two build-out options. I’m a big fan of the curvy logo. And without doubt I would choose the cabinet over the table, as the art features two more women. The one to the right of the screen has an interesting outfit and wings, while the character to the left…honestly, all I can say is she is standing. The rest of how she actually looks boggles my mind. We can also see on the cabinet that the game screen and character sprites are in color, which is good because the back of the flyer is nothing more than blue and white.

Although it would be great to see more of the cabinet and table, video games don’t have the same need for multiple angles as pinball machines do, so that you can see the table. If you can see a video game’s screen, and you have an idea of the what the game looks like, you’re pretty much set no matter where you look at it from.

Which is good, since all the ad’s rear tells us is everything you’d need to know the play the game, with one all-blue screen shot. And it makes me wonder what the Hell a “longicorn” and a “rearhorse” are (but my imagination is already working on that). It would be easy to say the game is a Pac-Man variant, and that wouldn’t be false (in fact, I think there is an actual variation of Pac-Man that plays very similarly to this). But LadyBug has a significant difference from Pac-Man; the seeming inability to directly attack your opponents! You can avoid them by activating turnstiles, but the on-screen bonus items are entirely dedicated to increasing lives, continues, or scores. You are defenseless with no offensive option, relying solely on skill and extra lives to keep your game going – no Bubble Bobble powers to be seen despite what the cabinet art may imply!

Besides the screenshot and the instructions, the rear of the ad covers the dimensions of the cabinet and table, provides contact information for the various Universal offices across the globe, and…that’s it! About as cut-and-dry as you can get!

Ultimately, this flyer has made me want to…

Own – Honestly, is anyone surprised? The art has something about that has my mind all a’thinking. The description of the game tells me what I need to know, that – if I like Pac-Man – I could enjoy the variation on the maze game that LadyBug provides. The flyer did exactly what it should do; get me interested in the art and gameplay of the machine.

Yes, the backglass art may imply something not in the game. And yes, the game may be derivative. But, honestly, past all that the flyer got me thinking how I really want to have that art of Lady Bug all lit up and saying “Talk to the hand” to Madame Lucanus in my home.

And sometimes that is all one needs.

Back to pinball for our next and final entry, which is also the last post for 2012!