Party Line


Concept: Bill Fisher, Keith Robinson, Andy Sells

Title Screen Graphics: Monique Lujan-Bakerink

Includes the games:


Working title: Gang Bang

Design: Bill Fisher, Keith Robinson, Andy Sells

Program: Bill Fisher, Mike Breen

Graphics: Keith Robinson

Music/Sound Effects: Andy Sells


Developed at Mattel Electronics, France

Design/program: Grahame Matthews

Graphics: Bob del Principe

Music/Sound Effects: Sam Zalan


Design/Program: Julie Hoshizaki

Graphics: Joe [Ferreira] King, Monique Lujan-Bakerink

Music/Sound Effects: David Warhol, Joshua Jeffe


Three new games in one bring new dimensions to home entertainment. Designed for two teams or two players, choose from games featuring rollerskaters, construction workers, or flying saucers.


In November 1982 -- while having lunch at D.B. Levy's Deli in Westwood, California -- Bill Fisher (Space Hawk), Keith Robinson (TRON Solar Sailer) and Andy Sells (Grid Shock) were discussing the high-profile popularity of Trivial Pursuit. News magazines favorably reported on how people across the country were getting together to play the new board game. The solitary (i.e. antisocial) fad of video games, the magazines declared, was dead.

Bill, Keith and Andy wondered, How could video games fight back? They found the answer on the deli menu, where a selection of 3- and 6-foot sandwiches was listed as "The Party Line." How about a series of video games designed to be played at parties? Over lunch, they outlined how the games would work:

Guests at a party would be divided into two teams. The number of players on each team would be entered using the hand controllers. The game would then begin. Two players, one from each team, would compete until a timer ran out, at which point the controllers would be handed off to the next person on each team.

The games would be colorful, simple, and feature loud, nonstop music. Bill, Keith and Andy pictured partiers laughing and cheering while trying to quickly pass the hand controllers back and forth.

Sure they had a winner, they returned from lunch -- an hour or two late -- eager to share their idea with VP of Applications Software Gabriel Baum. They found Gabriel furious -- they had missed an important meeting.

"Ah," he said as they walked in, "when you weren't in the meeting, I assumed that your bloody, broken bodies must lying by the side of the freeway somewhere."

Oops. Recognizing it wasn't the best time to pitch their idea, they decided to prepare a formal presentation with a prototype of one of the games. Working after hours, they put together a fairly complete Party Line game, Gang Bang, later named Blow Out.

February 3, 1983, they filled a conference room with balloons and streamers and presented the game and concept to Gabriel, along with Directors Mike Minkoff (Snafu) and Don Daglow (Utopia). Gabriel loved the idea -- breaking open a bottle of wine in his office to celebrate -- and told Bill, Keith and Andy that they would be making their presentation again to Mattel Electronics President Josh Denham and the senior vice presidents.

The presentation was delayed three months while Keith went to France to train the programmers at the new Mattel Electronics office there, but finally, on May 13, they made their presentation to the senior management.

Bill, Keith and Andy proposed the Party Line as a series of six cartridges, each sold separately. From their presentation:


Two roller-skating dancers drop darts from a scaffold onto rising balloons. An easy enough task, except these rude guys keep bumping into each other and knocking each other off the scaffold. When the music stops, that's the signal for the next players to take the controllers.


Each team is building a skyscraper. Between the two structures hangs a platform stacked with bricks. Players must grab bricks for their building without upsetting the platform. Each team can slow down the other -- or themselves, if they're not careful -- by throwing the platform off balance. First team to complete their skyscraper wins.


Teams take turns having their divers jump from the high dive. Controls allow for a forward dive, back flips, and for determining when to come out of the dive. Fancy maneuvers are possible; so are painful belly flops. Three judges hold up cards to tell you how you did.


The Party Animals have put on their finest duds and are boogeying over to your house to kick up their heels. Only problem is, these are REAL animals -- moose with wide antlers, kangaroos with long tails, hippos that weigh a ton! Players must keep destruction to a minimum. Game with excellent music potential.


Yow! Those Party Animals are back -- and they're hungry! Players must keep the punch and cookies coming, or there could be trouble!


The looniest space battle ever. Each team is in command of a decrepit flying saucer that seems to work best as a battering ram. It's outer space demolition derby!

President Josh Denham and the other senior staff were enthusiastic about the concept, but instead of six separate games, they decided that the Party Line would be perfect for the new multi-game album concept. Three of the games -- Blow Out, Hard Hat and Space Cadet -- were chosen for the cartridge. The Party Animals would appear on the title screen.

Blow Out was already done. Hard Hat was sent to the French office for programming (in the finished game, bricks were changed to panes of glass which could be knocked off of your opponent's building with a very satisfying crash). Julie Hoshizaki (Thin Ice) did Space Cadet.

The project was delayed in July 1983 when Josh Denham was replaced by Mack Morris. Morris's right-hand man, Jeff Rochlis, didn't like the Party Line, and expressed doubt that there was any market for it. He had Marketing do extensive testing; luckily the results were positive and the cartridge was back on track. An M Network Atari 2600 version of Blow Out was even ordered.

The three games were completed and shown with a title screen by Monique Lujan-Bakerink at the January 1984 Consumer Electronic Show. They were well received, but Mattel Electronics closed two weeks later.

Despite the fact that the games were done, INTV Corp. chose not to release them. For the post-crash market, INTV President Terry Valeski felt only one-player games were viable.

In 2021, Blue Sky Rangers, Inc, released Party Line in the same three-game album format as the 1984 CES showing.