Bartlow’s Dread Machine Recreates Antique Arcade Shooter

Wednesday, January 22nd, 2020

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President Teddy Roosevelt has been kidnapped, and it’s up to you to save him in Bartlow’s Dread Machine!

In 1907, Arthur Harrington Bartlow created an impossible invention: the video game. Unfortunately, this extraordinary device often injured those who played it, and Bartlow died penniless, his groundbreaking invention lost to history — until Seattle-based game developers Beep Games and Tribetoy recreated it using archived diagrams, surviving fragments, and Bartlow’s journals.

Fun revisionist history aside, Dread Machine is a dual-stick arcade shooter with a turn-of-the-century steampunk aesthetic. The game’s backdrops and visual effects draw heavily from stagecraft and puppet theater, and characters and environments are rendered in tin to better show degradation from bullets. Composer Steve Kirk adds an extra dimension to the game world, incorporating era-appropriate instruments like hammer dulcimer and harmonium, early electronic gizmos, and live musicians playing a vast array of horns and strings.

From the developer:

Anarcho-Satanists have kidnapped President Teddy Roosevelt! Playing as the Secret Service agent tasked with his rescue, pursue his relentless abductors through New York’s Central Park, across the Great Plains to the rubble of post-earthquake San Francisco, and through the newly excavated Panama Canal into the South American jungle. The future of the American way of life rests on your tiny tin shoulders!

Bartlow’s Dread Machine is an intense arcade shooter with single-player and couch co-op modes. Choose from eight diverse agents and unlock playable historical figures including Annie Oakley and zombie General Custer. Shoot down enemies with a variety of ranged weapons, from six-shooters and machine guns to Nikola Tesla’s Lightning Precipitator and Marie Curie’s Radium Expulser. And stay alert, as there are rumors Bartlow himself left hidden messages in his creation…

Dread Machine will release in Summer of 2020 on the Xbox One, Windows 10, and Steam.

About Leah McDonald

Leah's been playing video games since her brother first bought an Atari back in the 1980s and has no plans to stop playing anytime soon. She enjoys almost every genre of game, with some of her favourites being Final Fantasy Tactics, Shadow of the Colossus, Suikoden II and The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past. Leah lives on the East Coast with her husband and son.