With three games completed, Walker and Gibson packed their system into a rented Nissan van and headed to the Cunard Hotel in Hammersmith for the London Previews (a prominent British trade show). They set up a small both next to a major manufacturer (where the near constant music from a Frogger machine nearly drove them mad) and got their system up-and-running, which required loading the operating system from cassette tape - a process that took fifteen minutes or more. Then, five minutes before the show started, an electrician told everyone they were going to turn off the power for a few minutes. Panic set in as Walker and Gibson had to hurriedly reboot their system and wait several painstaking minutes as the first visitors wandered into their booth only to be greeted by a screen with a “loading…” message.
In the end, however, things worked out just fine. They made the acquaintance of Norman Parker, who headed Zilec Electronics in Burton-on-Trent, one of the U.K.’s leading arcade game manufacturers. Parker took a look at their system and was duly impressed. After the show, Walker paid a visit to the Zilec factory and Parker suggested he show his system to Centuri sales exec Joel Hochberg, who was Zilec’s agent (it appears that he had also set up his own company called Coin-It by this time). Hochberg was interested in their system and had them ship it to him in Florida (Zilec actually handled the shipping). During testing in Miami, The Pit proved to be the most popular of the system’s three games and Hochberg quickly licensed it to Centuri, netting AW Electronics a royalty of $136 per machine at a time when the going rate was around $40. Hochberg took a large part of the royalty for himself, but Walker didn’t mind since Hochberg had given him the foot in the door he needed to establish himself in arcade industry. While Hochberg liked the game, the multi-game system proved impractical
Meanwhile, Zilec/Zenitone produced a version of The Pit for English arcades based on the Galaxian board and assigned the task of porting the game to a pair of new Zi lec engineers – brothers Chris and Tim Stamper (who went on to form their own company called Ashby Computers & Graphics, designed the game Blue Print for Bally/Midway, and later founded the software company Rare).
The Pit was a digging game – a kind of crude predecessor to Dig Dug, Mr. Do, and Boulder Dash (whose creator, Peter Liepa, named The Pit as a major influence). The player guided a "space prospector" through an underground landscape strewn with boulders in an effort to collect a series of seven gems while avoiding enemy astronauts and falling rocks. Three of the gems were located in a large rectangular "pit" at the bottom of the screen whose ceiling was lined with falling enemies. Other obstacles included a pool of green acid(?) with a disappearing floor above it. While the player collected gems, the "zonker" (a name had chosen for the American version) slowly chipped its way through a mountain protecting the mother ship. If the player made their way back to the mother ship before the zonker "zonked" it, they received a bonus depending on how many gems they collected. As with most games, there were a few features that didn’t make it into the final version. The game was originally to feature additional levels, culminating with a fight against the "Grand Dragon". Despite the fact that the Grand Dragon never made it into the game, it may have influenced a much more popular digging game.
This has nothing to do with Centuri but I was recently discussing Taito America's games and thought I'd post the following. It's a marquee for the ultrarare Taito America game Black Widow that was sent to me by the game's designer, Mark Blazczyk. Some report that the game was unreleased, but Mark recalls that a few copies made it out the door.