I read the news that the UK/French offices of Midway are renaming themselves Tradewest. It’s somewhat amusing to me as Midway (then Williams) bought out Tradewest to get into the home console market and not rely on Acclaim to publish their arcade games.

Maybe some of you younger folk remember or at least heard of Tradewest.

You would know it more as the NES version of Double Dragon. Or Battletoads. Or that inexplicable Tarot card game, Taboo: The Sixth Sense. But for me, I knew it a little differently.

I was born, raised, and grew up in the small town of Corsicana, Texas. One average, the town has only been 23,000-24,000 people, and is more world famous for its fruitcake than its history in the video game industry (in the defense of Collin Street Bakery, they have amazing cherry ice box cookies).

But as a kid growing up in a small town like that, knowing that a video game country lurked out there by the highway was somewhat intoxicating. We weren’t Los Angeles, California or Redmond, Washington or even Austin, Texas. And we certainly weren’t part of Silicon Valley. Having Tradewest and seeing our hometown printed on the back of a Nintendo box was actually something pretty special as a kid.

Sometimes, Tradewest would allow kids to come test out a new game. One of my friend’s Dads worked out there. I never got to take part of any of those play sessions in middle school, but I swore I’d get involved somehow.

And I did, eventually. I was in junior college when I answered an ad to play their latest game. I had applied to them before for a job as they transitioned into Williams (I didn’t get it, by the way), and here was my chance to finally infiltrate their inner sanctum, as it were.

The game turned out to be Doom for the SNES.

I played that, gave them my opinion, got a sneak peek at Mortal Kombat 3, played it, gave them my opinion…. Next thing I know, I was hired on the spot, and that’s the “origin story”, as it were, on how I got into the game industry. It was still Tradewest at heart, at the time. Before Doom and MK3 even released, I still had to field game counselor calls, and attempt to explain that downright evil speeder bike level from Battletoads.

I still can’t beat that damn level, by the way.

So Midway Europe can change its name and possibly resurrect some of those old relationships with Technos or Rare, and maybe we’ll see a new Magic John’s Fast Break, Solar Jetman, or God forbid, another Taboo: The Sixth Sense. But it will never BE Tradewest. Not like I knew it. It’s not the place I was enamored of and amazed by as a kid, and it won’t ever have the heart of the people that I was proud to have worked with and cultivated so many life-long friendships. They may even dig out the old logo. That legacy won’t be there past the name.

But I’ll be curious to see what they attempt to do with that history.

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