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Video Game
Tom Malinowski
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Protector was a videogame developed by Tom Malinowski with artwork by Q-bert's Jeff Lee for the arcade game company Gottlieb. It was also known by numerous other names during its development and test including Argus and Videoman.

Prototypes of Protector appeared in arcades in the Chicago area, including the '#1 Fun' arcade in the Brementown Mall in Tinley Park.

In the game, the players controlled a Superman-like character tasked with protecting lumbering citizens on the street below. Enemies would swoop down and punch the character; blocking or pushing the Protector around. But the enemies' primary purpose is to abduct/kill the citizens below. The player's character is invincible, and the game ended when all the citizens were killed or abducted. Each round has a number of enemies that must be dispatched before going on to the next. Each round has a different theme, though most are the same save a different backdrop. The even-numbered rounds are identical to the odd ones save that they have a 'night' version of previous round. Some 'themes' repeat before new scenes appear. Rounds include:

  • A city street scene
  • A mountain-like scene
  • A rocket launchpad
  • A moon scene (notable in that the citizens wear spacesuits and drive moon vehicles)

The player controls his character with a trackball and 2 buttons. One button fires shots at enemies. The other when pressed catches falling citizens (who will otherwise die if falling above a certain height, ala Defender) and vehicles that enemies pick up.

Some superhero-like attackers abduct citizens, damage buildings and hurl rubble. Robots appearing in later waves roam the street and hurl citizens to lethal heights requiring rescue. 'Electrodes' drop from the sky, land and explode if not destroyed. Particularly sinister lethal globs are sent down by a flying-saucer like craft which transform into monsters that eat the citizens. For some reason - possibly due to a bug - sometimes shooting the flying saucer causes a citizen to appear in its place and fall from the sky.

Gottlieb chose not to manufacture this game beyond the prototype stage. Not only are no prototypes known to exist, but Protector has recently become playable with the MAME emulator.

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