Robot Bowl © 1977 Exidy.
You have a top down view of a bowling alley with score cards shown on each side. The only thing in the game that uses an actual animation is the bowler himself, the robot has a several frame animation when he walks. Everything is (of course) shown in glorious monochrome black and white. The game begins with your robot bowler running up to the alley (his feet move faster than he does, which makes it look like he is running on a conveyor belt or something). You then have three seconds to roll the ball, before it will roll of its own accord. The game is controlled with five buttons, they are left, right, shoot, hook left, and hook right. When Exidy was making this game, they had to make a decision about how the hooking worked, and it seems that they decided that "Robots are telepaths, and can effect the balls movement after it is thrown!". You see you can't even hook the ball until after it is thrown. This makes it very easy to pick up the spare. The game makes up for that little trick by making 'splits' very common (the 7-10 split and the 4-7-10 split come up all the time). These are pretty annoying, but you can usually learn how to clear them out (except the 7-10 split, I still haven't figured out how to clear that one).
Robot Bowl was available in two different dedicated cabinets, an upright and a cocktail, both of them used the same internal hardware.
* The Robot Bowl upright was of the common 1970s 'short cabinet' design, as the machine had no marquee and was only as tall as the monitor. The cabinet itself was covered in dark woodgrain laminate (very popular back then), and all decorative touches were on the large monitor bezel, which depicted a cartoon scene of a gray robot bowling. The robot looks a lot like the Tin Woodsman from 'The Wizard of Oz', except for the top of his head, and the fact that he is plugged in with an extension cord. He is labeled 'XXIDY MFG.' on his back. Some machines also had a decorative 'ball return' on the front at the very bottom of the cabinet.
* The Robot Bowl cocktail was a square box with a perfectly round top, the player controls were on either side of the monitor (and you actually had to look at the game sideways to play). This machine had no decoration of any kind.
Main CPU : MOS Technology M6502 (@ 705.562 Khz)
Sound Chips : Discrete
Screen orientation : Horizontal
Video resolution : 248 x 256 pixels
Screen refresh : 57.00 Hz
Palette colors : 2
Players : 2
Control : 2-way joystick
Buttons : 2
Robot Bowl was released in June 1977.
At the time the game was created, Exidy had just purchased Fun Games and had a number of cabinets left over from one of Fun's driving games. They used these cabinets to get Robot Bowl into production quickly. The only problem was that the cabinets had a hole in the front where the gas pedal had been. Michael Cooper-Hart suggested that they silk-screen the words 'Ball Return' over the hole.
All In Color For a Quarter - Keith Smith