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(I originally asked this in the "gaming"/Arqade section. However, it was suggested by a commenter that I should instead migrate it here. Since I don't know how one "migrates" a question on this site, I'm instead re-posting it here and then they can do what they want with the old question.

When I tried this classic arcade game in an emulator and watched it boot up, I was very puzzled by the text I saw on the screen:

screenshot

It talks about "DOWNLOADING TEXTURES", "LINK PAL", "LOADING OS-WMS", "SATELLITE COMM", "NETLINK", "CONNECTING TO HOST", "PUBLIC-KEY", "FTP"...

While I'm aware that 1995 isn't exactly the dark ages, and I'm well aware that car games of that era in the arcade could be connected locally together (although I don't personally remember seeing that for this particular game), while that might explain some of the text, it certainly does not explain the mentions of "satellite comm" and "downloading textures".

Why would an arcade game need to "download textures" from a satellite? Did it receive frequent updates that were distributed via satellite? It all sounds so very strange; even if it did use the network to fetch updates, why specifically talk about "satellites"? Wouldn't it just be using the normal network of the arcade house/cruise ship? (Which of course could be using a satellite Internet connection, but the game wouldn't have any idea.)

It almost seems like this is just random nonsense/word salad, but it's not even displayed to customers, but only for the initial boot before they let people in to pay and play the games. Also, it's written in an extremely cryptic and concise manner. Just makes no sense to me. It looks to me more like the kind of output you'd see in a military computer from the 1960s.

What could possibly explain this?

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    Please don't cross post. You should delete the other question if you intend to ask here instead. Commented Jun 24 at 12:04
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    In joke and\or easter egg.
    – Alan B
    Commented Jun 24 at 13:19
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    It might also just mean satellite in the uninflected sense of a smaller unit controlled by a larger — companies have satellite offices, big and powerful countries have satellite states, etc.
    – Tommy
    Commented Jun 24 at 21:40
  • Perhaps it's a code word, for debugging or something. They could have had a glossary to "translate", something like "I-NODES ALLOCATED, DCS DECODED (14-1715)" translates to "The checksum passed, and it is 14-1715". Now the maintenance engineer knows what it means, but to anyone else, it'll just look like gibberish. I think we will need a disassembly to be sure though. Commented Jun 25 at 14:46
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    @OmarandLorraine Bear in mind that, aside from possibly having debug messages hidden in it, GGMG-he-him on the Arqade post points out that Midway has a history of "Reticulating Splines"-esque tongue-in-cheek status text for flavour, with Off Road Challenge's startup sequence including messages like "Scanning U.S. Geography".
    – ssokolow
    Commented Jun 25 at 17:16

1 Answer 1

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Some manuals for this game are available at Arcade Museum.

The "Single sit down" manual doesn't mention any of the text in question in its Servicing, Menu System Operation, or Troubleshooting sections.

However your screenshot indicates its in "Head 2 Head" mode, checking the "Sitdown linking kit" manual we can see that the data link is actually a simple 25-pin D connector with no other networking connections.

enter image description here

It feels safe to conclude its just Reticulating splines

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