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This is vague, but I remember seeing several different arcade machines, probably in the early 90s, with various sorts of "holographic" 3D displays. By that I mean that they produced depth perception and at least a somewhat viewing-angle-dependent image without the player/viewer wearing any sort of glasses or headset. I believe they all utilized a display that was significantly sunk behind glass, so you couldn't get too close to it and the range of viewing angles was fairly limited. I seem to recall there being one or several such overhead-adventure games and maybe one fight game, but I may be mixing up memories of different (non-3D) games here.

Were there actually such games? If so, what were their names and what type(s) of technology did they use for the displays? Some basic googling for holographic display yielded mostly technologies that would not have been around at the time and which look fancier that what I remember seeing.

  • Welcome to Retrocomputing. This is an interesting question - such effects are possible by displaying a flipped image on a monitor above or below the box (facing into the box) with a diagonal pane of glass in the box. This gives the effect of depth, making the reflection appear to not be a reflection and instead be floating in mid-air. This tricks the brain into thinking that more viewing angles of the (flat) image are 3D. It doesn't work for very many viewing angles (it only really eliminates the "you can see the skewed background" effect) but as it's a bit further away there's a multiplicativ – wizzwizz4 Nov 1 '17 at 17:04
  • @wizzwizz4 that's Pepper's ghost, right? Also commonly seen at Disneyland, and for all those "holographic" Tupac/etc appearances of recent years. – Tommy Nov 1 '17 at 17:06
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Yes they existed, and they were produced by Sega, with the interactive movie Time Traveler being the most common though Holosseum, an upgrade kit for Time Traveler, is probably the fighting game you are thinking of.

It wasn't a real hologram, obviously, but just a 2d image projected via a concave dome-shaped mirror to give the appearance of floating in space, with some abstract physical props placed around the outside of the display to give the general impression of a 3d scene. If you position it carefully relative to something like a light you can recreate the same effect using the bottom of a drinks or deoderant can.

The process was invented and manufactured by Dentsu, using a Sony TV for display of the interactive portion of the game.

Some marketing fluff on Time Traveler can be seen here and a game of Holosseum on real hardware can be seen here.

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    I've seen both of these in person. They are actually really impressive when viewed from the right angle. The gameplay was... If you look at it from the right angle you can see the TV hidden inside it. – LateralTerminal Nov 6 '17 at 16:59
  • @LateralTerminal yeah, I think the limits of the technology — interactive elements are limited to a small flat surface with a fixed place in a 3d scene — suggest restricted use cases: games must be from a side view, have no camera movement, and not involve any sort of depth. So you lose more than you gain as a long-term proposition, especially two years after Hard Drivin' and just one year before Virtua Racing. I'll bet they made a lot of money on it though. – Tommy Nov 6 '17 at 18:45
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    "According to archived news video footage from TV stations in California, US, the game was considered a financial success for Dyer's company Virtual Image Productions and SEGA, earning an average of US$1 million per week during its peak at the arcades. The game's commercial life was not long. With fighting games such as Street Fighter and Mortal Kombat becoming extremely popular, SEGA released the game Holosseum as a conversion kit for the arcade cabinet about a year after" They were powered by laser disc which I think is really cool. – LateralTerminal Nov 6 '17 at 18:53
  • To be clear you could move a little bit without it loosing its "3D" effect. The person to the left and right of you could probably see the 3D effect. It just didn't work if you were too far to the left or right. – LateralTerminal Nov 6 '17 at 18:57
  • en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Arcade_closeup_part1.jpg Here's a good pic of the inside. – LateralTerminal Nov 6 '17 at 18:58

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