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The surprising, stealth rebirth of the American arcade
August 7, 2012 11:51 AM   Subscribe

"The arcade industry is dead in the United States—everyone knows it—done in by a combination of rapidly advancing home consoles and rapidly expanding suburbanization in the late '80s and early '90s. The only people not in on this bit of conventional wisdom are the ones who happen to be opening a surprising number of successful new arcades around the country."

"Could the trend continue? 'I guarantee you're going to see at least two or three [arcades] in every city in this country within the next 10 to 15 years,' said Chris Laporte, founder of Las Vegas arcade Insert Coin(s), which recently announced an expansion to a second location in downtown Minneapolis. '... People who grew up on this stuff have now grown up, but they're not really grown-ups, you know what I mean?'"
posted by SpacemanStix (177 comments total) 59 users marked this as a favorite

 
Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't one of the biggest barriers to growth in this industry the stagnation of arcade game construction? I love Ms. Pac Man as much as anybody, but I have a hard time believing lots of those old machines are in ship-shape condition.
posted by Apropos of Something at 11:57 AM on August 7, 2012


A new arcade opened up in Seattle not too long ago. As the article notes, I imagine that what makes it a profitable operation are not so much the arcade games, but the liquor license that lets them sell beer to the once-kids-now-adults who come to these places for a little nostalgic fun.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:00 PM on August 7, 2012 [14 favorites]


It wasn't so much home consoles (and even less suburbanization--why can't suburbs have arcades?) as it was the relative cost. $.25/game? Sha, as though. I burned through quite a bit of my destined-for-college paper route money that way. Certainly more than the $100 a used NES would have cost me.
posted by DU at 12:01 PM on August 7, 2012


I PRESS THE [+] AS HARD AS I CAN BUT MY FAVORITE IS THE SAME SIZE AS EVERYONE ELSE'S.
posted by JHarris at 12:01 PM on August 7, 2012 [17 favorites]


I was really anticipating the opening of Barcade in Philly, but was let down when it finally arrived. It seems like the emphasis is on the "bar" rather than the "arcade." This was in marked contrast to my experience at Ground Kontrol in Portland, which I really liked. Barcade seems to be frequently packed, though.
posted by ludwig_van at 12:02 PM on August 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


Arcade games are just about the only thing that could persuade me to go to a bar.
posted by JHarris at 12:03 PM on August 7, 2012 [9 favorites]


As long as they have Sinistar, I'm in.
posted by Jpfed at 12:03 PM on August 7, 2012 [10 favorites]


Apropos of Something, I think that you'd be surprised how well parts can be replaced - the PCBs might not be original, and that's something, but with a rewritten ROM and a working CRT and all-original joystick hardware, you're 99% there.

Some more mechanical games, like Pinball and others, require more specialized parts, but I think many arcade games really just need a little TLC and modern tech.
posted by BlackLeotardFront at 12:03 PM on August 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


The article mentions that he's buying refurbished machines. I'd think that as long as the board is in decent shape then the rest of the components like buttons, joysticks, monitors, etc are pretty modular and replaceable. I recall reading from The Ultimate History of Video Games that some of those boards are actual able to be piggybacked upon to serve as more than one game so, as long as you've got the visuals/cabinet decorations to match, you may be getting more than one game for the price of one.

Instead of quarters, ZAP charges customers a $5 door fee that grants unlimited play for the entire day, along with $15 monthly memberships that Darling compared to "going to the gym." The idea is to give parents a place they can feel comfortable leaving their children while they go out and do something on their own. "I don't necessarily want to be a babysitter, but... you can trust kids to be safe here, and they can stay and play."

I think this is the real eyecatcher from the article... That has promise as long as the places are kept, really and truly, clean and kid friendly.
posted by RolandOfEld at 12:04 PM on August 7, 2012 [3 favorites]


the liquor license that lets them sell beer

If I could go somewhere that sold be and had pinball tables, you would have to drag me out by my ankles.
posted by backseatpilot at 12:04 PM on August 7, 2012 [13 favorites]


And if you're in Denver, we have 1UP !
posted by boo_radley at 12:05 PM on August 7, 2012 [3 favorites]


BlackLeotardFront: "Some more mechanical games, like Pinball and others, require more specialized parts, but I think many arcade games really just need a little TLC and modern tech."

Are their legal barriers to this sort of retrofitting? I know a modest amount about the world of MAME cabinet building and such, but getting new / rewritten ROMs for classic games always struck me as a little grey hat.
posted by Apropos of Something at 12:06 PM on August 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


also fyi if you have an addam's family pinball machine, email me.
posted by boo_radley at 12:06 PM on August 7, 2012 [4 favorites]


I was really anticipating the opening of Barcade in Philly, but was let down when it finally arrived. It seems like the emphasis is on the "bar" rather than the "arcade."

I'm pretty sure this is both intentional and critical. An arcade is a difficult business to keep running these days, for the many oft-cited reasons. The fact that Barcade is most definitely a bar means that it's a perfectly sensible destination for a "mixed group" of nerds and non-nerds. I've often gone with a whole pack of people, where half of us spend the train ride over smack-talking about Joust and laying down bets on Centipede high scores, and the other half are bemused significant others who'll cheer us on, maybe play a couple rounds of Dig Dug, and otherwise just enjoy it as a bar.
posted by Tomorrowful at 12:07 PM on August 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


Maybe one of the best: Ground Kontrol in Portland, 21+ After 5PM
posted by wcfields at 12:07 PM on August 7, 2012 [4 favorites]


If you're into arcade machines and you're in the area, you've got to get yourself to California Extreme one of these days. Just don't be a narc.

Apropos of Something, I think that you'd be surprised how well parts can be replaced - the PCBs might not be original, and that's something, but with a rewritten ROM and a working CRT and all-original joystick hardware, you're 99% there.

Some more mechanical games, like Pinball and others, require more specialized parts, but I think many arcade games really just need a little TLC and modern tech.


From my crude understanding, yeah, old arcade machines aren't all that hard to refurbish and keep up. One of the main problems these days is that there just aren't a lot of CRTs being manufactured anymore. And the purists of course wouldn't dream of using LCDs. Pinball machines are much harder though. They have more parts and their parts degrade naturally much faster.
posted by kmz at 12:08 PM on August 7, 2012


If I could go somewhere that sold beer and had pinball tables,

Pinballz Arcade in Austin allows BYOB until they get a liquor license.

I'm glad I live in a world where I can still take my kids to a real arcade, a real bookstore, comic shop--now if we could just bring back the Automat...
posted by mattbucher at 12:10 PM on August 7, 2012 [3 favorites]


I recall reading from The Ultimate History of Video Games that some of those boards are actual able to be piggybacked upon to serve as more than one game ...

I remember reading that the inside of some video games were just the innards of virtually off-the-shelf systems (an Amiga 500 was the example I read) in a sling with custom ROMs.

Wow ... picking up a whole arcade cabinet and dropping it just to reseat Agnus. What a drag.
posted by mph at 12:11 PM on August 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


I know a modest amount about the world of MAME cabinet building and such, but getting new / rewritten ROMs for classic games always struck me as a little grey hat.

If you're interested in learning more about the early roots and the legal reasoning behind the current stuff then that book I mentioned in a previous comment is really, really informative and presents the information in a digestible and entertaining manner.
posted by RolandOfEld at 12:12 PM on August 7, 2012


Arcade games are just about the only thing that could persuade me to go to a bar.

I used to live down the street from the Barcade in Brooklyn -- which seems to be considerably better known as a craft beer bar than an arcade -- and it was (is?) impossible to play video games there on a Friday or Saturday night.
posted by griphus at 12:12 PM on August 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


Not only does Seattle have the aforementioned Add-A-Ball, but they're opening a second location.

There's also Full Tilt Ice Cream, particularly the Ballard location, which is chock full of great pinball and arcade games. They're also rumored to be expanding to more locations.
posted by action man bow-tie at 12:13 PM on August 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


As long as they have Sinistar, I'm in.

It's Galaga for me.
posted by jquinby at 12:13 PM on August 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


also fyi if you have an addam's family pinball machine, email me.

These Team Fortress hats are really getting out of hand.
posted by griphus at 12:13 PM on August 7, 2012 [7 favorites]


maybe play a couple rounds of Dig Dug

I saw a 16 year old with a dig-dug shirt on a few weeks ago and I just didn't even know how to process it mentally. I mean I like Nina Simone's music that was made before I was ever born, but I'm not sure what to think when you're wearing a t-shirt for an arcade game you almost certainly have never played.

I wonder if it was just a meaningless logo to that kid. Just another "Jimmie's Frisbee Shop" non-existent business created for the front of a tshirt for sale at urban outfitters and old navy. Or did an older relative talk about it, and have knowledge of one of the surely 10 or less places in the country that actually have a working game to play, and they played it. Or did they just borrow the shirt from an older sibling? I just got stuck on stupid for what felt like 10 seconds, mumbled 'nice shirt' and looked away.
posted by cashman at 12:15 PM on August 7, 2012


impossible to play video games there on a Friday or Saturday night

Also, I will admit that the only times I've been to Barcade I've already been pretty deep in the sauce, but it also seemed that their games are set to be pretty hard.
posted by uncleozzy at 12:15 PM on August 7, 2012


Rusty Quarters opened here in Minneapolis. It was there that I was able to once again enjoy the joy that is TEMEPST!
posted by djseafood at 12:16 PM on August 7, 2012 [7 favorites]


If I could go somewhere that sold be and had pinball tables, you would have to drag me out by my ankles.

The Seattle Pinball Museum is what you are looking for. God, that place is brilliant.
posted by Sticherbeast at 12:16 PM on August 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


Great, now I want to play a cheap bootleg romhack called TEMEPST.
posted by griphus at 12:17 PM on August 7, 2012 [3 favorites]


Oh right, emulators. Duh.
posted by cashman at 12:18 PM on August 7, 2012


have knowledge of one of the surely 10 or less places in the country that actually have a working game to play

I'm pretty sure there's versions of Dig Dug available on consoles and PCs.

If you're interested in learning more about the early roots and the legal reasoning behind the current stuff then that book I mentioned in a previous comment is really, really informative and presents the information in a digestible and entertaining manner.

One random factoid: Ms Pacman was originally an unlicensed sequel to Namco's Pac-Man, released by U.S. Namco distributor Midway.
posted by kmz at 12:19 PM on August 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


Seattle Pinball Museum

I'm going to Seattle in a month, coincidentally! I wonder if I can somehow "come down with the flu" on my way there and skip my meetings...
posted by backseatpilot at 12:19 PM on August 7, 2012


In addition to the newly opened Emporium in Wicker Park, there's also a great record store / arcade in Logan Square, called Logan Hardware. The idea is that you browse around for records and stuff, and as long as you buy something, you can get access to the arcade room with unlimited plays for as long as you want. GENIUS. Yes, I'll buy that strange-looking Chinese surf record for $8 and then play the hell out of some pinball and Robotron for the next 2 hours.
posted by naju at 12:20 PM on August 7, 2012 [4 favorites]


We have a retro-arcade called 1984 here in Springfield. Not only do they not serve alcohol, they explicitly bar alcohol and drunkenness from the business.

And they've been open since 2005!
posted by General Tonic at 12:21 PM on August 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


Yeah, Pinballz is heaven on earth. 120+ mint condition Pinball games, another 70 or so classic arcade games. Where's the last place you went that had Pinbot, Bride of Pinbot and JackBot? Or Batman, Batman Forever & Dark Knight? Black Knight and Black Knight 2000? Star Wars (1992 pinball), Star Wars Episode I (pinball), Star Wars Trilogy (pinball), Return of the Jedi (video), Star Wars (1983 video game), and Star Wars podracing? It's insane.
posted by dirtdirt at 12:21 PM on August 7, 2012 [6 favorites]


//I'm pretty sure there's versions of Dig Dug available on consoles and PCs. //

The PS2 had a very good version of Dig Dug - it was on one of the compilation discs along with a few other arcade classics.
posted by COD at 12:21 PM on August 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


The best arcade is in Manitou Springs. There's no alcohol inside (there's a bar next door, and a mineral spring outside) but many of the games are outdoors.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 12:22 PM on August 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


Oh, and in Ithaca there is Pixel, where I spent an awful lot of my free time.
posted by griphus at 12:23 PM on August 7, 2012


Rusty Quarters opened here in Minneapolis. It was there that I was able to once again enjoy the joy that is TEMEPST!
posted by djseafood


Don't get too attached. I'm pretty sure the space they're in is cursed. That place kills businesses like my dog kills squirrels.
posted by COBRA! at 12:25 PM on August 7, 2012


so who's gonna open up FLYNN'S?
posted by djseafood at 12:26 PM on August 7, 2012 [5 favorites]


In various locations worldwide there are Winnitrons - video game cabinets hooked up to a laptop with an internet connection, connected to a database of Winnitron exclusive indie games. Anyone can make games for the database if they follow the specs, last I checked. Still don't have one in Boston, though. :-/
posted by Peevish at 12:26 PM on August 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


COBRA! I know they've had some troubles, hopefully they can keep the quarters plunking and/or find a new space.
posted by djseafood at 12:27 PM on August 7, 2012


...but I'm not sure what to think when you're wearing a t-shirt for an arcade game you almost certainly have never played.

That was probably a Uniqlo shirt. They put out media-themed shirts regularly, but occasionally they'll dive into some pretty obscure licenses. Dig-Dug isn't terrible odd, but I am entirely sure the teenager I saw on the bus today has never seen David Lynch's The Straight Story.
posted by griphus at 12:28 PM on August 7, 2012


It seems like the emphasis is on the "bar" rather than the "arcade."

Reminds me of the progression of the Replay Lounge in Lawrence, KS. Started out as a video game bar in '95 or so. Their logo is a gleaming pinball! They had sit-down Omega Race! Tempest! Funhouse! Addams Family! And booze! Then they opened the beer garden out back..... Now it's just a hip dive bar with a couple pinball machines. That's all right, but it ain't the same.
posted by fleacircus at 12:28 PM on August 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


the bar that is shouting distance from my house has a Galaga/PacMan machine and also Mortal Kombat.

i LURV Galaga but only the arcade style. playing it on a console was just never as much fun. that machine gets a lot my quarters that are meant for the laundromat.
posted by sio42 at 12:28 PM on August 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


naju, Logan Hardware is a secret that you should not be talking about.

Being the center of pinball and all, Chicago still has plenty of places where you can go and drink and play. There are a handful of bars with one or two machines within walking distance of my place. But if you're willing to travel a bit, and give up on the drinking, you can find places like The Galloping Ghost. $15 for free play on hundreds of machines and a dozen or so pins. And just down the road is a bar with three machines including, gods be good, Cactus Canyon, which is probably the third-rarest game out there (it's the last "real" pinball Williams ever made. They actually stopped production and shipped it in an incomplete state to make way for Pinball 2000.)
posted by SpiffyRob at 12:28 PM on August 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


That was probably a Uniqlo shirt. They put out media-themed shirts regularly, but occasionally they'll dive into some pretty obscure licenses.

I think my "favorite" one of those is the Uniqlo shirt for the Pentax Q, which is an obscure small-sensor interchangeable lens camera that I have never seen anyone use in the real world.
posted by Sticherbeast at 12:30 PM on August 7, 2012


It totally does feel like a secret room the public isn't supposed to know about, SpiffyRob. Hope I'm not crossing some boundaries.
posted by naju at 12:32 PM on August 7, 2012


Do modern arcades have the same problem of shady drug dealers hanging around?

I can only play Gorf when I'm really high.
posted by orme at 12:33 PM on August 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


Yeah, I can see how someone who spends all their time at Greenfield Village could conclude that buggy whips are here to stay.
posted by The World Famous at 12:33 PM on August 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


People who grew up on this stuff have now grown up, but they're not really grown-ups, you know what I mean?

Thank God, speaking as someone smack dab in that age group. Adults suck.
posted by Celsius1414 at 12:35 PM on August 7, 2012 [4 favorites]


griphus: "These Team Fortress hats are really getting out of hand."

Jesus that would be my dreaaaaaam. Thing as a pyro hat, pencil staches and mouthy-lightbulb misc items.
posted by boo_radley at 12:36 PM on August 7, 2012


Not only does Seattle have the aforementioned Add-A-Ball, but they're opening a second location.

If I could go somewhere that sold be and had pinball tables, you would have to drag me out by my ankles.

also fyi if you have an addam's family pinball machine, email me.


Not to jump on the Seattle bandwagon, but we also have Shorty's, which indeed has an Addams Family pinball machine and beer.

But you wouldn't want to move here, weather is absolutely horrid... horrid I tell you.
posted by formless at 12:38 PM on August 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


The best arcade is in Manitou Springs. There's no alcohol inside (there's a bar next door, and a mineral spring outside) but many of the games are outdoors.


I second and third this! The Arcade has been there forever and they never get rid of anything.
posted by Isadorady at 12:38 PM on August 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


I knew if I just waited long enough, I'd have an excuse for not building my MAME cabinet.
posted by Kafkaesque at 12:39 PM on August 7, 2012 [4 favorites]


Don't get too attached. I'm pretty sure the space they're in is cursed. That place kills businesses like my dog kills squirrels.

Isn't Rusty Quarters owned by the same people who owned the last two short-lived things that were there? Double Danger and then some shop that I never figured out what it sold? Granted, that doesn't say much for their business acumen...
posted by hoyland at 12:41 PM on August 7, 2012


Celsius1414: "People who grew up on this stuff have now grown up, but they're not really grown-ups, you know what I mean?

Thank God, speaking as someone smack dab in that age group. Adults suck.
"

When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.

For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.

And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is my high score on Sinistar which nobody could beat, even Charles, yea, even when he called me a dickwad and threw a soda at me.
posted by boo_radley at 12:42 PM on August 7, 2012 [13 favorites]


Can't believe we've made it this far without a mention of the Pinball Hall of Fame Pinball Museum in Las Vegas, which is every bit as amazing as it sounds.

The games I'd most like to play now are pinball, Dig Dug, Q*Bert, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
posted by EJXD2 at 12:42 PM on August 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


boo_radley and all, if you want to find Addam's Family or any other pinball game, start with the pinball map.

Also, the Pinball Hall of Fame in Las Vegas, Nevada is totally worth a visit.
posted by chrchr at 12:44 PM on August 7, 2012


One of the main problems these days is that there just aren't a lot of CRTs being manufactured anymore. And the purists of course wouldn't dream of using LCDs.

Donkey Kong’s failing liver: What the death of the CRT display technology means for classic arcade machines

posted by straight at 12:44 PM on August 7, 2012 [5 favorites]


I just want to find that ONE Last Starfighter cabinet.

You know the one....
posted by Nanukthedog at 12:45 PM on August 7, 2012 [6 favorites]


Isn't Rusty Quarters owned by the same people who owned the last two short-lived things that were there? Double Danger and then some shop that I never figured out what it sold? Granted, that doesn't say much for their business acumen...
posted by hoyland


I think you're right. I couldn't remember if RQ was the same people as the previous two shops or not, but I think it is.

I do wonder if having an arcade next to Bryant-Lake Bowl hurts them or helps them. They're always going to be overshadowed, but the BLB's so crowded that it's easy to imagine people saying "fuck this, let's go play Centipede" when they can't get a lane or a table.
posted by COBRA! at 12:47 PM on August 7, 2012


Although check out the comments from that article about CRT display tech for people saying stuff like this:

Most people are buying old CRT TV's at pawn shops or flea markets, and taking the tubes out and putting them in old arcade monitor chassis' to basically "rebuild" them, so to speak.

The production on new CRT tubes may be an issue but there are plenty of low hour tubes around just waiting to be used.

posted by straight at 12:48 PM on August 7, 2012


EJXD2: "The games I'd most like to play now are pinball, Dig Dug, Q*Bert, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles."

Can I get a crew of 6 together to play the full version of the X-Men arcade beat-em-up? I'd like to play Raiden Fighters without buying an XBox 360 as well.
posted by mkb at 12:49 PM on August 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


Ooh, neat.

Are they going to resurrect that Polybius rumor that's been floating around the 'net for years?

And isn't this kind of like a less crappy version of Dave & Buster's or Gameworks?
posted by FJT at 12:51 PM on August 7, 2012


Can I get a crew of 6 together to play the full version of the X-Men arcade beat-em-up?

Less talk, more action. Dibs on Cyclops.
posted by RolandOfEld at 12:51 PM on August 7, 2012 [3 favorites]


Rampart!
posted by BeeDo at 12:51 PM on August 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


BeeDo: "Rampart!"

Crystal Castles!
posted by boo_radley at 12:53 PM on August 7, 2012


haha, oh man, we're so old.
posted by boo_radley at 12:53 PM on August 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


If the place had a functional Chiller machine, I'd be pumping quarters in all day.
posted by dbiedny at 12:53 PM on August 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


Or did an older relative talk about it, and have knowledge of one of the surely 10 or less places in the country that actually have a working game to play, and they played it.

They might have played it on MAME, on their browser or at one of these arcade collections that companies put out from time to time. Dig Dug is not a low-profile name if one starts looking for old games. Its variants are fun too.
posted by ersatz at 12:53 PM on August 7, 2012


old as balls.
posted by boo_radley at 12:53 PM on August 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


A puddle with turd floating in it would be a less crappy version of Dave & Buster's.
posted by griphus at 12:54 PM on August 7, 2012 [5 favorites]


I want that awkward tension when another, bigger kid wants to play when you are done. The kid smacks the quarter on the glass. There's that little bit of an edge where the screen glass meets the cabinet just above the joy stick. They would put the quarter there. You knew the kid was a jerk when they would put several quarters up.
You spend the rest of the game feeling their eyes on the back of your head.
posted by hot_monster at 12:56 PM on August 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


We've had a Dave & Buster's out here for a decade now, and it got old really quick for me. Most of the games are gigantic things you have to sit in instead of stand-up or tabletop cabinets, so they're a lot more expensive to play, and they generally seem to be more about impressing people with whizz-bang stuff than decent games. Plus, the size of them really limits the number of different games you can keep in one building. They have drink service, with waitresses walking around bringing drinks to people playing the games, but I'm just not good enough at anything to be able to stay alive from the time I order something to when the waitress finally comes back with my drink.

It's Galaga for me.

That's my weakness as well. The Casbah in San Diego has an old one - not one of the Galaga/Ms. Pac-Man ones where you can fire willy-nilly at the incoming aliens and make it to level 20 without breaking a sweat - an old one where you can only have two shots on the screen at any one time. They've also got a Donkey-Kong and a couple other games from the 80s, but they suffer frequent breakdowns.
posted by LionIndex at 12:56 PM on August 7, 2012


Chiller is gross. They have it at Funspot.
posted by helicomatic at 12:57 PM on August 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


Though the progress of console games has been steadily upward (from Goldeneye fifteen years ago to Skyrim now), anyone who put in a coin-operated Defender machine in my city today could make their money back from me in quarters before Christmas.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 1:01 PM on August 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


Can I get a crew of 6 together to play the full version of the X-Men arcade beat-em-up?

FUCK YES YOU CAN!

My friends and I beat both X-Men and The Simpsons at consecutive birthday parties. I need to re-create that experience.

Six of us with a roll of quarters each should be able to swing this.
posted by Doublewhiskeycokenoice at 1:06 PM on August 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


WILL TRADE MONEYS FOR PINBALL.
posted by Theta States at 1:07 PM on August 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


oh, god. I was just dropping into a nostalgia k-hole the other day watching arcade games on YouTube. Satan's Hollow. Mr. Do. Sinistar.

I AM SINISTAR.

I . . . HUNGER.

RUN, COWARD!
posted by exlotuseater at 1:13 PM on August 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


RUN, RUN, RUN.

RRRAAAAAAOOWWWWWWW!
posted by exlotuseater at 1:14 PM on August 7, 2012


Asheville has one (Arcade). We had a MeFi meetup there once. Besides the classic games, they have a Kinect that was pretty funny to thrash around with.
posted by rikschell at 1:20 PM on August 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


Insert Coin(s) in Las Vegas is a lot of fun, although many of their machines suffer from the aforementioned lack of maintenance.

Disney's California Adventure had a great version of Flynn's Arcade during their "Electronica" phase, but sadly it's all gone now.

For those in the L.A. area, there's a fun little place called Blipsy Barcade which has about a dozen popular classic games in very well maintained condition. Pinball enthusiasts might want to check out Pins and Needles in Echo Park.

There definitely seems to be something of a renaissance for classic arcades, although just like in the past, many of them seem to come and go very quickly.
posted by ShutterBun at 1:23 PM on August 7, 2012


I saw this article yesterday on some other site. The very same day, Seattle's local used game chain announced a Kickstarter for a barcade. They only say it'll be in "a popular Seattle neighborhood" right now; I'm hoping that it ends up being in the U, because that's where I live!
posted by egypturnash at 1:26 PM on August 7, 2012


Not too impressed with arcades these days. I think I've grown out of them

Barcades on the other hand...
posted by Slackermagee at 1:27 PM on August 7, 2012


boo_radley: You win best comment of 2012. This comment starts the reader out thinking we have some jerk posting some pretentious crap illustrating how damn smart they are and how they can quote well known bible passages.

Then we reach the portion regarding Sinistar. It is at this point, the very definition of humor, that the reader is forced into laughing fits and must explain to those around him/her what the hell is wrong with them.

Bravo.
posted by MustardTent at 1:29 PM on August 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


I dunno about the Las Vegas Pinball Hall of Fame. When I went there the machines weren't in great shape, and a lot of them were in five balls per play which feels like too long a game. And it just didn't feel like an inviting place.

The Pacific Pinball Museum (formerly Lucky Juju's) in Alameda, CA, OTOH: their tables skew a little old, but still I <3 it so much!

I was in Ground Kontrol this Saturday night as part of a 30 hour long Tron / Wargames-themed puzzle hunt, but we had this puzzle to solve about quarters, so I didn't have time to play anything other than the one game of Tron they had me play to earn the puzzle. I so want to go back there, but didn't get a chance before my flight home.
posted by aubilenon at 1:40 PM on August 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


Can we get a bunch of T-Mek machines in linked mode too?
posted by mkb at 1:42 PM on August 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


My avatar in every site or IM application that supports it is Sinistar.

No one gets it.


If you're into arcade machines and you're in the area, you've got to get yourself to California Extreme one of these days. Just don't be a narc.

Did someone say Narc?
posted by CaseyB at 1:47 PM on August 7, 2012 [3 favorites]


BeeDo: Rampart!
boo_radley: Crystal Castles!

No, Rampart.

I'm serious. Rampart is wonderful-amazing. Crystal Castles is great, yes, but Rampart... ooooh. It was the classic Atari Games' last hurrah.

I'm pretty sure this [that an arcade has to also be a bar] is both intentional and critical. An arcade is a difficult business to keep running these days, for the many oft-cited reasons.

I'm not sure this is true, but it IS true it has to be positioned correctly. Subsisting purely off of pay-for-play is hard nowadays because arcade machines aren't getting any cheaper, but there are several kinds of businesses that could be helped by having an arcade adjunct. Most of the arcade machines I've seen in the past few years have been in some kind of movie theater context.

I was thinking the other day, when that Disney movie Wreck-It Ralph comes out in a few months it'll probably result in some extra business, just from the cultural push that big-budget movies leave in their wake.

I remember reading that the inside of some video games were just the innards of virtually off-the-shelf systems (an Amiga 500 was the example I read) in a sling with custom ROMs.

It varies according to the age of the game we're talking about, of course. Classic-era games ran on microprocessor hardware that was also frequently used in 8-bit home computers, just because of the sheer ubiquity of the 6502 and Z-80 chips. Several classic Midway games ran on hardware originally designed for the Bally Astrocade console.

As long as they have Sinistar, I'm in.
It's Galaga for me.


Ima let you finish, but Robotron was robbed.

One random factoid: Ms Pacman was originally an unlicensed sequel to Namco's Pac-Man, released by U.S. Namco distributor Midway.

Ms. Pac-Man got its start as a bootleg version of Pac-Man hacked up by General Computer Corp. (GCC), who were also responsible for Atari's Food Fight and Quantum. They're still around as a laser printer company!

They produced another Pac-sequel in the grossly underrated Jr. Pac-Man, which word is was the game that caused Namco to terminate their license agreement with Midway. But that's a shame, because Jr. Pac-Man is a much better (although harder) game than most of the sequels Namco was making at the time (compare it to Pac-Land), and the Atari 2600 port is one of the best games on that console (although even harder).
posted by JHarris at 1:50 PM on August 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


As long as they have Sinistar, I'm in.

Well as long as you can get within about a 6 block radius, you should have your answer, no problem.
posted by BigHeartedGuy at 1:51 PM on August 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


Can we get a bunch of T-Mek machines in linked mode too?

I'd love to play 4-player Cadash again, which requires two linked cabinets.
posted by JHarris at 1:52 PM on August 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


Oh: does anyone know of any good arcades in Atlanta? I'm going to be there again for DragonCon, and I might as well use the time to play some real games.
posted by JHarris at 1:53 PM on August 7, 2012


Do not, in a fit of nostalgia, set your phone ringer for your job to the Sinistar roar, no matter how amusing it may seem at the time. Especially if you work a job that requires you to be on call.

Absolutely terrifying way to wake up, no matter how hilarious it is after the fact... I went into complete fight or flight mode, and shot out of the bed in a way I never have before. I'm pretty sure that same middle of the night call also ended a relationship (of course, that's how I found out she didn't know Sinistar -- it was doomed anyways.)
posted by MysticMCJ at 1:55 PM on August 7, 2012 [4 favorites]


I love Barcade. They do not have games from over a certain year, so newer games like Mortal Kombat, Street Fighter and Terminator 2 are not included at the bar. The microbrews on tap are fantastic, however the crowd can be a bit dude heavy at times. Great place for a Bday party during the week and beer literally anytime. Literally. Anytime.
posted by Roger_Mexico at 1:56 PM on August 7, 2012


JHarris! I've been looking for an hour trying to remember Cadash!
I only played that once.
posted by hot_monster at 1:56 PM on August 7, 2012


They also have really good jerky.
posted by griphus at 1:58 PM on August 7, 2012


Also. They have Toobin, one of the greatest two player games of all time. OF ALL TIME!
posted by Roger_Mexico at 1:58 PM on August 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


I really dislike Barcade in Williamsburg. It isn't great for a bar or an arcade. It may be different now, but the entire place is concrete and corrugated metal, sounds reverberate in the strangest ways. The place is full of dogs. Really full, I mean like two dozen dogs easy. Everyone thought it would be cool to bring their dog. The dogs chase each other and bark, and the barking echoes and reverberates off the concrete. The bar is like three feet too tall. I may be crazy, but the bar seems to be the wrong height, and the people working behind it seem to be higher than the customers. Walking up to the bar is like what I imagine it is like to approach the bench in a court. The bartenders peer down at you and you have to reach up to hand them money. In Practice it isn't even really a bar since it is more like a stage with a counter. Between the games, the people all the dogs and the acoustics it is like a cacophony in there, with people peering down at you as you attempt to play joust and tapper.
posted by Ad hominem at 1:59 PM on August 7, 2012 [3 favorites]


That's my weakness as well. The Casbah in San Diego has an old one - not one of the Galaga/Ms. Pac-Man ones where you can fire willy-nilly at the incoming aliens and make it to level 20 without breaking a sweat - an old one where you can only have two shots on the screen at any one time.

1. This is operator adjustable, it is not endemic to all 20th Anniversary cabinets. It can also be set to provide the "speed up" Ms. Pac-Man that makes her much faster than the ghosts, which is a much easier game.
2. Next time you see one of those machines, put in a credit. When on the screen asking if you want to play Galaga or Ms. Pac-Man, enter on the joystick: Up, Up, Up, Down, Down, Down, Left, Right, Left, Right, Left. When done correctly, the red monster on-screen will turn pink. Now press the Ms. Pac-Man start button to play the original Pac-Man.
posted by JHarris at 1:59 PM on August 7, 2012 [6 favorites]


Also. They have Toobin, one of the greatest two player games of all time. OF ALL TIME!

It is very good yes. Playing the version on Midway Arcade Treasures, I've managed to collect all the letters and reach the Free T-Shirt screen (which offer, of course, has long expired).
posted by JHarris at 2:00 PM on August 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


I love Barcade! The place is full of dogs! Really full, I mean like two dozen dogs easy! Everyone thought it would be cool to bring their dog! The dogs chase each other and bark, and the barking echoes and reverberates off the concrete!
posted by Greg Nog at 2:06 PM on August 7, 2012 [8 favorites]


JHarris! I've been looking for an hour trying to remember Cadash!
I only played that once.


I've one-credited it on the easiest difficulty with three of four characters. But even so that's the solo game.

There are more depths to Cadash than you'd think. However it should be noted the US ROM is much harder than the Japanese; the price of inn stays shoots up much faster, so you can only really get four stays throughout the game. The version in Taito Legends 2, I hear, uses the Japanese ROM rules.
posted by JHarris at 2:07 PM on August 7, 2012


I love Barcade! The place is full of dogs! Really full, I mean like two dozen dogs easy! Everyone thought it would be cool to bring their dog! The dogs chase each other and bark, and the barking echoes and reverberates off the concrete!

The cacophony created by the interaction of people cheering, dogs barking and bartenders tending from their perch of microbrew heaven echoes vibrations of delight throughout the postindustrial landscape as gaming voyeurs seek partners for other adventures in the north Brooklyn night.
posted by Roger_Mexico at 2:14 PM on August 7, 2012


Whoa, didn't mean to upset lovers of dogs, cask aged ale or poured concrete rooms that are more like a 4h pavilion at a state fair than a bar. I just don't care to stand around in a poured concrete garage full of dogs while drinking or playing video games.
posted by Ad hominem at 2:23 PM on August 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


I just don't care to stand around in a poured concrete garage full of dogs while drinking or playing video games.

I am with you. I just couldn't resist. I have had some lovely nights at Barcade, and I will have more in the future, but my love tends more towards Noorman's Kil, Nite of Joy and the Drink in the neighborhood. :-D
posted by Roger_Mexico at 2:29 PM on August 7, 2012


I used to trawl through catalogs of arcade spare parts. An electronic arcade game, the kind designed for arcades that is, even decades old, is normally remarkably robust to abuse and easy to repair.

They're designed for minimum downtime, because they are (or were) expensive, and given they get put not just in arcades but in bars, where people smoke and spill drinks and kick the cabinets when they get mad, well, they're pretty solid. The purchase price, when new, for an arcade game could be in the thousands of dollars, so operators wanted near-zero downtime.

With few exceptions, parts that the user touches or sees are replaceable in the field and designed for abuse: buttons, the joysticks, the coin mechanisms, are all more durable than what something you'd buy for home. And the wood cabinets house the whole deal and provide for plenty of added protection.
posted by zippy at 2:34 PM on August 7, 2012


Oh, I loved arcades so much. I don't drink or smoke, and wouldn't do drugs even if I knew how to find them - but going to the arcade and blowing a dollar was (and is) something I was genuinely addicted to.

The long line to play the first Star Wars game, swearing at the damn UFO in Asteroids... Swearing at the frog in Frogger... Watching people die playing Dragon's Lair... Playing 1942 for what seemed like hours (but was probably less than 15 minutes). Pumping quarter after quarter into the side scrolling shooters and fighting games... Joust, Spy Hunter... Waiting in line to play Gauntlet with two random strangers who suddenly became my best pals, then doing it again the next week with two different people... Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, NARC... I know it's coloured by addiction, but I had so much fun in arcades they genuinely were some of the best times of my life. Just hearing those 8 bit noises again takes me back to a time where anything could happen and the fun was unlimited as long as the quarters held out.

If they start building arcades again... Boy oh boy, I'm gonna need a new source of income.
posted by Kevin Street at 2:40 PM on August 7, 2012 [3 favorites]


JHarris: "No, Rampart."

I just thought we were yelling things out.
posted by boo_radley at 3:04 PM on August 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


In my dreams, I envision an entire industry established on making genuinely new video games (i.e., intellectual properties), in the cabinets, that have a retro-feel to them. Just like Super Meat Boy and Mega Man have cashed in on some of the old-school goodness on modern day consoles, brand new games in arcade cabinets might bring people out to play them. Throw in some of the older games themselves, and you might have a winner.
posted by SpacemanStix at 3:04 PM on August 7, 2012


That has promise as long as the places are kept, really and truly, clean and kid friendly.

The new one in Chicago mentioned in the article (Emporium) does not allow anyone under 21 at any time. a friend tried to take his nephew in one afternoon. They have good beer on tap but I wouldn't go on a weekend because it would be too full to play. As a lady I enjoy the male/female ratio. It must have been really anticipated, because I went the day they opened when they decided to open a few days early and only advertised via Twitter. By the time I left the place was packed just form Twitter. I wonder how packed it will be after a year?

Is Logan Hardware's back room arcade really a secret? I saw Wiebe try to beat Donkey Kong there a while back and it was packed to the gills.
posted by Bunglegirl at 3:06 PM on August 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


I've been taking my kids to Rusty Quarters in Minneapolis once a week or so since they opened--I enjoy going there and proving that I'm still just as awesome at Centipede as I ever was, and it's my kids' big chance to eat terrible candy (they sell stuff like Now & Laters and Sour Patch Kids) but the folks who run it really do seem to have some terrible luck, it's like one mishap after another over there--weird door-battering mishap, illnesses, what-have-you.

And they won't let kids under about 16 stay unattended, which means I can't leave my girls for a few minutes to run next door for a beer (I realize how awesome a parent that makes me sound).

I did have this great idea that if I paid the guy market babysitting rate, maybe he'd keep an eye on them for us while my husband and I had dinner next door. It could be a new revenue stream for them!
posted by padraigin at 3:19 PM on August 7, 2012


All this chatter and just one passing mention of the original, and still reigning champion, Funspot/The Classc Arcade Museum? If you're at all close to New Hampshire, get thee hence.
posted by schoolgirl report at 3:20 PM on August 7, 2012


The place is full of dogs. Really full, I mean like two dozen dogs easy. Everyone thought it would be cool to bring their dog. The dogs chase each other and bark, and the barking echoes and reverberates off the concrete.

Are you sure you weren't a place called Barkade? Easy mistake.
posted by Celsius1414 at 3:30 PM on August 7, 2012 [5 favorites]


For all those mentioning Rusty Quarters, here are a few answers:

Yes, it is run by the same people that ran the previous two shops that failed. They actually got the idea of opening the arcade after they noticed how much attention the Donkey Kong machine in their shop was getting.

Yes, it has had trouble. They nearly closed the place just recently and sent out a call for help. People in the community donated money - a few thousand dollars - to keep the place open. That's how much it is appreciated. They upped the per game charge from a quarter to 50 cents and so far it seems like they are doing better.

No, they can't have kids under a certain age in the shop without adults. It is not their rule, it is a city rule during school days. Don't blame them.

They are also making some money with selling used Nintendo games and equipment. They have so far resisted trying a membership or admittance fee, and they say they are too small to get a liquor license.

We'll see where this all goes. I hope they stay open, but I wouldn't mind them having a different space in town.
posted by Muddler at 3:33 PM on August 7, 2012


When I visited New York this year, I was very impressed with Barcade. I can't imagine something like that existing in London unless it was a 3-month pop-up shop sponsored by Nike or Red Bull or someone. I could imagine something like that popping up in Berlin, though, except for the fact that they had a change of currency over the past few decades.
posted by acb at 3:39 PM on August 7, 2012


No, they can't have kids under a certain age in the shop without adults. It is not their rule, it is a city rule during school days. Don't blame them.

Yeah, I knew it was a city ordinance, I was just being flip. And I was one of the donors and happy to help, it's a cool thing to have.
posted by padraigin at 3:47 PM on August 7, 2012


Kart Kountry outside of Louisville, KY has had a pretty good selection of retro games and pinball machines (plus the "Largest Go-Kart Track in the World" (!)) for decades. They don't list it, but they have Mappy. And Marble Madness!
posted by mrgrimm at 4:24 PM on August 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


I wanted to do this about 20 years ago in BC, when I thought I might be back permanently from my world-wandering (yeah, right). Even put together a business plan and talked to some people about investing.

Then I got itchy feet again, and went to... Mexico, I think it was, that time.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 5:20 PM on August 7, 2012


Roger_Mexico: "so newer games like Mortal Kombat,"

old as baaallllllllsssssssss


released in 1992.
posted by boo_radley at 5:38 PM on August 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


I haven't been there in a couple years, but the last time I was there the Gold Mine Saloon in New Orleans' French Quarter had almost all the old arcade games up and running.
posted by bukvich at 6:16 PM on August 7, 2012


Hey stravrosthewonderchicken - how close did those plans get to being fully funded?

I wonder if it'd be even harder to get something like that off the ground in NoFunCity* these days.

*I love Vancouver BC but uptight regulations and busybody NIMBY types makes it difficult to do a lot of things. Recently a theater wanting a liquor license were jerked around for a good long while, not sure where the chips finally ended up falling.
posted by porpoise at 6:23 PM on August 7, 2012


The fact that Barcade is most definitely a bar means that it's a perfectly sensible destination for a "mixed group" of nerds and non-nerds.

The original Brooklyn Barcade is always full of Bridge & Tunnel Jersey Shore wannabes. I'm sure some people in there are playing the arcade games, but I have literally never seen a single nerd in there, on a weekend night at least.

The nerd bar is The Way Station, which does not have arcade games but does have a TARDIS for a bathroom, story-telling night, and steampunk burlesque. Second place is probably Pete's Candy Store, which has a trivia night frequented by Jeopardy! champions as well as a famous weekly spelling bee.
posted by Sara C. at 6:41 PM on August 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


My 10 year-old nephew loves going to Dave and Busters. They only have a few classic games, but everybody loves the Skeeball. But dammit, where are the pinball machines?
posted by Marky at 6:50 PM on August 7, 2012


I have literally never seen a single nerd in there

Nerds abound at the Barcade, but it does require talking to the people there, asking "what kinds of stuff are you interested in?" rather than making baseless assumptions. As a regular there for a couple years, I can attest to the fact that I have had many conversations at the Barcade with strangers about land surveying, comics, and English Modernist Literature.

I live outside the neighborhood now, BUT i will be going to the mefi meetup there tomorrow night, where the bartender will likely be a lady who made a really fascinating documentary. All NYC mefites should feel free to attend, and I will be more than happy to tell you why DS9 is actually the best Star Trek series.
posted by Greg Nog at 6:57 PM on August 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


Dorky's in Tacoma

They have Moon Patrol.

Did I say Moon Patrol? I did.

And I shall never forget the Arkanoid new level music
posted by roboton666 at 7:15 PM on August 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


For those one the way to Rocky Mountain National Park, hit up Lyons Classic Pinball. Looks like Oskar Blues (amazing microbrews) added a classic arcade section too. Gorf and Tron... I'm doomed.
posted by underflow at 7:16 PM on August 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


OK, OK, maybe this time I'll finally come to a meetup, if only to be in Barcade on a (hopefully) slow night.
posted by Sara C. at 7:50 PM on August 7, 2012


YEEEEEAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH

*breath*

...EAAHHHHHHHHH
posted by Greg Nog at 8:06 PM on August 7, 2012


Hasn't this already been tried with GameWorks? The one they had in Minneapolis closed not terribly long after it opened. I went there a few times and even though they had more modern era video games and none of the classics, it was pretty fun. Plus they had Skee-Ball. The Mall of America also had some arcades when they first opened, which were really fun. I also remember the Minnesota State Fair having one or two locations year after year where they had a big arcade......not sure if that's still there?

Also, I'm not sure what the rest of you people are talking about but if it isn't Marble Madness or 720 Degrees we should just all go home. I will also discuss Moon Patrol.
posted by triggerfinger at 8:25 PM on August 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


No love for the pre-food chip mod Gauntlet?

6 hours, 1 quarter and over 250 levels deep. Any of the machines I've played in the 21st century have had the food chip mod. And that's just not the same.
posted by rough ashlar at 8:28 PM on August 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


Marble Madness and 720 are great too. And Crystal Castles and Rampart and Toobin and Gauntlet, and Mek. All made by Atari. Atari really went on a tear in the late 80s and early 90s. (Disclaimer: I wrote an extremely gushing article about them for Gamasutra.)
posted by JHarris at 8:33 PM on August 7, 2012


GAUNTLET!!
posted by triggerfinger at 8:36 PM on August 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


There are four places with at least five pinball machines within an hour of my house in STL. One is the silver ballroom in south city...which happens to be my favorite bar in town. Just put up 92mil on champion pub tonight!
posted by schyler523 at 9:27 PM on August 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


The best arcade game ever made: Targ[1]

[1] minus the bugs that are apparent in this video -- odd
posted by smidgen at 10:08 PM on August 7, 2012


Whatever, Qix was my jam.

Now, a drive-in movie theater with an attached arcade? That NEEDS TO HAPPEN NEXT.
posted by Unicorn on the cob at 10:20 PM on August 7, 2012


Argh, forgot about Qix... that would be my second favorite :-)
posted by smidgen at 10:25 PM on August 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


From porpoise: I love Vancouver BC but uptight regulations and busybody NIMBY types makes it difficult to do a lot of things. Recently a theater wanting a liquor license were jerked around for a good long while, not sure where the chips finally ended up falling.

The following was true as of June 2012: the liquor board denied a license for a local arcade-style restaurant in Vancouver. That said, it sounds like more of a hybrid than a straight-up arcade. They're on Twitter, and it sounds like they're opening soon, as in like next weekish.
posted by sillygwailo at 12:15 AM on August 8, 2012


I'm pretty sure there's versions of Dig Dug available on consoles and PCs.

when my dad got us our first pc through work (taking the one with two disk drives rather than the hard drive, as 2 is more than 1), a kind cow-orker gave a floppy disk with several games on it, including Dig-Dug. My mom liked it so much that one day, as she was playing while making dinner, she dry boiled the potatoes. That was twentyfive years ago, but we haven't let her forget it yet.

Family.
posted by MartinWisse at 3:00 AM on August 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


An interesting article could be written contrasting the differences between Dig Dug and Mr. Do!, which are two games that are similar in some ways but incredibly different in others. Dig Dig is simpler and more focused, but Mr. Do is much deeper.
posted by JHarris at 5:06 AM on August 8, 2012


For me the most important thing in an arcade game is novel hardware or controls. If I can play it on a generic MAME cabinet, my laptop or my XBox there isn't much draw. But time and time again I will go to the arcade to play Silent Scope and Silent Scope 2.
Silent Scope is sadly showing it's age but the rifle scope screen combined with the wide view screen makes for a unique gaming experience that I can not get at home. I would kill for a less action driven version with upgraded graphics and a scope that you could adjust and takes into account bullet drop.

Shooters like Time Crisis are also a draw. The sit down version of Thunder Blade is pretty neat, even tho the game itself is just meh.
DDR and Guitar Freaks were on the right track, but now you can get those for home as well.

So yeah give me unique hardware, non-standard or multi-screen displays. Controllers with strong force feedback or other complex controls I can't get at home. Immersive cabinets that I have to enter and the game surrounds me. Hands down the best arcade game is Battletech combined with the Tesla II cockpit system. I miss the old Battletech Center they had in Chicago when I was in high school.
posted by MrBobaFett at 5:53 AM on August 8, 2012


This sort of thing makes me initially excited, but the more I read about it, the more I think I'm never going to get the arcade I'M hoping for.

Fighting games were always my jam; new ones were the biggest deal imaginable, sometimes they'd have the new Super Street Fighter II Turbo or UMK3 machine set aside to accommodate the crowds/lines. I've never been a legendary SF player, but I remember being a lame, scrawny kid who wasn't good at much, but there was a private joy that no matter how cool you were outside, inside you must defeat Sheng Long to stand a chance. I remember being a surly 20something in a leather jacket, arrogantly stepping up to an SFIII machine and getting soundly trounced by a kid who couldn't have been much older than 13. I lost, but it warmed my heart to see the spirit still alive.

When Capcom finally released Street Fighter 4, I feel they ushered in a new fighting game renaissance; SF4 is when they finally fixed the lag issues related to online play: that is, if you ever tried playing Capcom vs. SNK via online play on the Dreamcast or PS2, you know what a joy it is to play an online match that is so seamless, your opponent might as well be on the couch next to you. It's only getting better too, Marvel vs. Capcom 3 is one of the best looking, fun, well balanced fighting games I have ever played. The Tekken and SoulCalibre series are still going strong, and I haven't played the new Mortal Kombat, but I've heard good things.

The last time I played MvC2 was almost 10 years ago, in the 'game room' at my community college. The colors were burned and some of the buttons didn't work, rendering it more or less useless. The game was already a few years out of date, so my guess is it was probably on its way out.

I had one friend with whom I shared my passion for fighting games, unfortunately he ended up also sharing my passion for my girlfriend, and that relationship, that friendship, and that bond (in that order) withered away, and eventually he died my enemy. Somewhere in the middle of that though, we went to a gathering at someone's house where several people brought consoles and flatscreens and there were several different fighting games going on at once. I was hilariously outclassed and I didn't win a single match, but it was some of the most fun I've had in years. All that's gone now, and I don't know where to find it again.

I'm not stupid, but I've never been much of an intellectual; I can't discuss fine art or literature in detail because during my formative years I was either too busy working or studying by forcing my non-medicated brain to keep my eyes glued to the page by all but locking myself in the closet to free myself from distractions. Hell, I never really could follow sports much either, and political debates always feel like two people fighting about whether to not God loves them more, but studying animation frames, combo timing, character stats, trading tactics, reading your opponent's patterns, and understanding how to push yourself to go ever faster, ever further, better, THAT'S what I miss.

I don't mean to piss on anyone's fun, but you might imagine why I got really excited to hear about a new resurgence of arcades across the country, only to hear about some theme bars with Pac-Man and Galaga machines in the back.
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 6:14 AM on August 8, 2012 [4 favorites]


Is Logan Hardware's back room arcade really a secret?

Not at all. It's on their website and everything. I just want to keep people out of there so I never need to wait in line to play the Doctor Who and Pinbot machines.
posted by SpiffyRob at 6:15 AM on August 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


HOLY CRAP, if any of you exist near Lyos Pinball in CO I am officially jealous.

THAT GAME LIST IS INCREDIBLE, ALL OF MY FAVOURITES!
The perennial classics: Addams Family, Medieveal Madness, Black Knight, Funhouse, Monster Bash, Twilight Zone
My faves: Creature From The Black Lagoon, Theatre Of Magic, Lord Of The Rings, Simpsons
Incredibley rare awesome ones: Andromeda, JOUST, Banzai Run
And a host of new Sterns! AC/DC, Family Guy, Pirates Of The Carribean, Rolling Stones, Spiderman
And a bunch of 70s classics!

GAH. I hereby declare Lyons Pinball to be expertly curated by someone totally in love with pinball and I so want to visit there.
Check their past games list to fill in any gaps, and you have 80% of all games that make pinball players get super excited.
posted by Theta States at 6:18 AM on August 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


Also,Skillshots Pinball is opening sometime this month in Vernon Hills, IL, and their game list looks ridiculous.
posted by SpiffyRob at 6:25 AM on August 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


Not that this is a contest but did y'all check out the game list at Pinballz? The top 25 rated pins are all on the floor and playable, and then there are 100 more tables. And that is just the pinball. It's obscene. I live in constant fear that Pinballz will shut down, and what will I do then?
posted by dirtdirt at 7:03 AM on August 8, 2012


I live in Ottawa, Canada, so I will live my pinball fantasies through you all. There are only a few working pins scattered around my city. Get out there and support these places!
posted by Theta States at 8:14 AM on August 8, 2012


Uther Bentrazor, I can understand what you're saying, and sympathize. But I find your words dripping with irony because, to me, it was fighting games that ruined arcades, that severely flattened the variety of play experiences possible there. It's well known that fighting games were the downfall of Atari Games; they are known to have produced many prototypes at the time that failed to perform well against Street Fighter II, and there's even an interview with one of the old Atari designers on the 'net somewhere where he bemoans this.

The craze that created that atmosphere of camaraderie and shared obsession that made the fighting game scene possible did it at the expense of the vibrant classic arcade scene. And in retrospect, fighting games can be seen as the point where the demographics of classic arcades flattened out greatly, where they became primarily the domain of teenage males instead of seeking to cater to a wider array of player, which was ultimately the downfall of arcades in general.

My personal archetypal ur-arcade stands out very clearly in my head. There is a variety of game machine around the arcade, but one in particular has been placed near the entry, and there's a line of players in front of it. But it's not a fighting game, because those aren't out yet, Street Fighter II is still a year or so away. It's Rampart, one of Atari Games' best efforts, and there are both adult players and little kids in that line. I can scarcely believe it happened now but I remember seeing it with my own eyes. I think it was in an issue of Video Games & Computer Entertainment, which occasionally published an arcade review, in which the reviewer marveled at that game's capacity to draw crowds at the time. But it all ended the next year.

I love some of Capcom's other classic games -- Magic Sword and Black Tiger are both terrific, and Mega Man is great. But damn you Street Fighter II. Damn you to hell.
posted by JHarris at 10:15 AM on August 8, 2012 [4 favorites]


Uther, if you ever visit NYC, go here. It's not the retrogames-and-craft-beer sort of place, so it doesn't get a lot of press (hell, I just found out about it recently) but it seems like the kind of place you're looking for.

I, too, really can't get on the old-school nostalgia trip because I went to arcades in the early-90s, so my formative experiences are with the plague of fighting games JHarris describes. If there was an easily accessible -- the arcade I linked to is hella out of the way -- place that I could go and drop some quarters into Samurai Shodown 2 or Soul Edge, that would be awesome.
posted by griphus at 10:26 AM on August 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


MrBobaFett, I am right there with you. I'll take LA Machineguns next to you any day.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 11:46 AM on August 8, 2012


A flashback to Black Tiger was one of the main reasons I setup MAME and bought an X-Arcade Tankstick.
posted by Theta States at 11:47 AM on August 8, 2012


JHarris: "Black Tiger "

I could one quarter this and the original Shinobi.
posted by boo_radley at 11:47 AM on August 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


Oh god I just realized I downloaded MAME the very first time to play Time Killers.

I challenge anyone here to name a moment of video game nostalgia as rose-tinted.
posted by griphus at 11:50 AM on August 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


JHarris: "Black Tiger "

I could one quarter this and the original Shinobi.


Okay, is this a true story? If so, I'm pretty impressed.
posted by SpacemanStix at 11:51 AM on August 8, 2012


Remember that arcade games have adjustable difficulty settings. Even on the easiest settings it's typically not easy to "one-credit" a game, but it's usually much easier than on normal or hard settings.
posted by JHarris at 12:13 PM on August 8, 2012


I could one quarter this and the original Shinobi.

I demand proof. Will supply booze.
posted by Theta States at 1:33 PM on August 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


Can we please turn this in to a thread of games we all recommend to check out on MAME?

I'll start...
Black Tiger
Tutankahman
Super Smash TV (if you have a dual joystick setup)
Marble Madness (if you have a trackball setup)
Dungeons & Dragons
Cameltry (!!!!!)
posted by Theta States at 1:37 PM on August 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


Super Ninja Baseball Batman
posted by griphus at 1:56 PM on August 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


There was one game I was obsessed with, but I never managed to beat it. Can't remember the title, but if I say "You ride around on a tiger, ogre, or dragon, and bash enemies in the face with a flail until their heads explode. Sometimes their skulls are a powerup. The first boss is King Kong." I'm sure someone will know what I'm talking about.
posted by rifflesby at 2:44 PM on August 8, 2012


There are also arcades that cater to fighting game (Street Fighter, etc.) players like Super Arcade in Walnut CA, Southtown Arcade in San Francisco CA, Arcade UFO in Austin TX, and The Break in Dunellen NJ.
posted by Kevin1911 at 2:44 PM on August 8, 2012


Almost forgot about CP Pinball in South Roxanna, Il...tons of games, BYOB $15 free play for 6 hours. It's awesome.
posted by schyler523 at 2:56 PM on August 8, 2012


Correction: the arcade game Smash T.V. does not have the word "Super" in the title, that was added for the SNES version in the way of many Super Nintendo games.

But anyway, all of Theta States suggestions are good; I have played all of them, and vouch for them all. Note that "Dungeons & Dragons" is actually two separate games: the first, Tower of Doom, I think works a bit better, but its sequel Shadow Over Mystara is great too. (Fun fact: the default high score on the Tower Of Doom scoreboard is Gygax!)

Also:
Total Carnage (same caveat as Smash TV, you need dual joysticks to play)
1943 (a solid classic shooter, tough but fair)
Magic Sword (Capcom's follow-up to Black Tiger, a gloriously fun action game with lots of secrets and room for strategy)
Scramble (ancient predecessor to Gradius, also by Konami)
Gradius series (go with the World version of Gradius III though, the original is murderous)
Twinbee and Detana! Twinbee (I'm not as fond of Yahho)
Amidar (Pac-Man with a twist -- the enemies don't actually chase you most of the time, challenging but if you learn to look ahead it gets much easier)
Athena (underrated, much better in the arcade than on the NES, slightly pervy though)
Mr. Do! (much better than Dig-Dug IMO)
Lady Bug (very challenging Pac-Man variant, lots of randomness)
Moon Patrol (catchy music, primarily a game of memorization but still fun)
Q*Bert (a good solid game with a lot of randomness to keep things interesting -- when it was released people marveled that patterns didn't work on it)
Bubble Bobble (everyone who plays this loves it)
Rainbow Islands (sequel to Bubble Bobble, has even more secrets)
Bubbles (underrated Williams classic, best with analog joystick)
Sky Kid (best if you're a good button masher, you have to be able to pull out of dives to get far)
Mappy (another good solid action game the way Namco made 'em)
Zoo Keeper (Taito) (grossly underrated nowadays)
Super Pac-Man (the best of Namco's own Pac sequels)
Jr. Pac-Man (very hard but great, go to operator settings and give yourself maximum lives)
Flicky (there is an excellent Genesis adaptation)
Galaga '88 (better than the original)
Metal Slug I-III (especially I, an incredibly charming combination of cute and hardcore)
Pepper II (a terrific maze game that's much faster than Pac-Man, and takes place on four interconnected mazes, made by the underrated Exidy)
Venture (also by Exidy, the closest thing you could get to video D&D back in the old days, look for a special guest appearance by Cthulhu as the guard monster)

And the previously-mentioned Atari games: Rampart, 720, Toobin, Gauntlet. Add KLAX, Vindicators, Xybots, Major Havoc, Skull & Crossbones and Atari's version of Tetris.

These games are already very well-known, but still hold up so I include them for completeness: Joust, Robotron: 2084, Pac-Man, Ms. Pac-Man, Galaga.
posted by JHarris at 2:58 PM on August 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


There are also arcades that cater to fighting game (Street Fighter, etc.) players like ... Southtown Arcade in San Francisco CA ...

Damn, is that what that "southland" graffitied place is? Excellent. I'm going right now. It's right next to The Green Door/Touch of Ecstasy, lol.

It's also where Miles Archer gets shot and killed in "The Maltese Falcon" ... right there!
posted by mrgrimm at 3:54 PM on August 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


Mappy (another good solid action game the way Namco made 'em)

Mappy fans, regulate! Greg Bond is not Greg Bond. He transcends ...
posted by mrgrimm at 4:08 PM on August 8, 2012


Galaga '88 (better than the original)

I demand a retraction.
posted by ShutterBun at 8:35 PM on August 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


Now that I am home, more MAME favourites:
1944
Altered Beast
Battletoads (the arcade game is super fun, and is an easily accomplished quarter-muncher!)
Cabal
Cyber-Lip
Darius (the ULTIMATE game if you have an extremely wide TV. Ratio is like 7:1)
Dead Connection
Indiana Jones & The Temple Of Doom (the difficulty selection has a soft spot in my heart)
Tenkomori Shooting (an amazing party-game skiller-tester)
WILLOW (probably the best adventure game)

Special award to Pachinko Sexy Reaction 1+2, the CRAZIEST games out there where you gamble for... sexy reactions!


Does anyone know if you can by a set of rotational controllers? I want the kind for playing Warlords, Cameltry, Arkanoid, Ikari III, etc.
posted by Theta States at 10:04 PM on August 8, 2012


ALSO: Does anyone know where I can buy a controller for Sonic Blast Man?? please please please it will make my friend oh so happy.
posted by Theta States at 10:05 PM on August 8, 2012


Re: Galaga '88,
I demand a retraction.

You won't get it from me. Galaga '88 has so much more variety, many more enemy types, triple ships, player adjustable difficulty, scrolling areas that don't detract from the traditional Galaga play, and challenging stages where the enemies dance to background music. And yet it's still recognizably Galaga, it knows what Galaga did well and doesn't throw it away for the sake of novelty. I like Galaga, but I love Galaga '88. It remains the best sequel Galaga ever got, certainly better than Gaplus (which itself is kind of underrated) or Galaga Arrangement.

Unfortunately, Theta States' second list doesn't rate so highly with me. Willow isn't so bad though, and Tenkomori Shooting is interesting as a kind of (scrolling) shooter version of Point Blank/Gun Bullet (which really should have been in my list).

Oh another addition to my list: Legend of Valkyrie! It really sucks that it never got a US release.
posted by JHarris at 10:21 PM on August 8, 2012


If you do find a rotating controller, then you might want to check out the vector game Aztarac, which had a weird control set up that's difficult to play without a rotary aimer. I've never been able to play it the way it's meant to be played, but it seems extraordinarily innovative.

Oh, and another surprisingly good game? Robby Roto, which has the advantage of having been released to the public domain! If you put the effort into learning it it's surprisingly fun.
posted by JHarris at 10:26 PM on August 8, 2012


On the MAME frontier, I definitely have to second the nomination for Ninja Baseball Batman. (which really should be interpretted as "Ninja Baseball-Bat Man") It's hilarious and frenetic as all hell.
posted by ShutterBun at 11:15 PM on August 8, 2012


Unfortunately, Theta States' second list doesn't rate so highly with me. Willow isn't so bad though, and Tenkomori Shooting is interesting as a kind of (scrolling) shooter version of Point Blank/Gun Bullet (which really should have been in my list).

Hey, to each their own, but tragically you are so so wrong. ;)

Do you play Point Blank on MAME? I've never even search for light gun solutions...
posted by Theta States at 7:51 AM on August 9, 2012


Special award to Pachinko Sexy Reaction 1+2, the CRAZIEST games out there where you gamble for... sexy reactions!

This thread is gold. Thank you all (and don't stop).

Let's Play Pachinko Sexy Reaction Episode 14

"Gotta shoot more ... balls ... in your hole ... ... ... ... ... tits."
posted by mrgrimm at 8:18 AM on August 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


Do you play Point Blank on MAME? I've never even search for light gun solutions...

You can use the mouse, although you'd think that's against the style of the game it's frequently difficult anyway. But yeah, I retract Point Blank, hmm.
posted by JHarris at 1:16 PM on August 9, 2012


ooo yay light guns!
I like that the first one specifically says it supports multiple guns. I might have to get that eventually.

now to find those rotating knobs for Arkanoid...
posted by Theta States at 1:34 PM on August 9, 2012


Wait, I should show some restraint. It is a slippery slope to suddenly owning a driving controller and then a flight stick and next thing you know I am fabricating a model of the original STUN Runner setup for more authentic controls.
posted by Theta States at 1:48 PM on August 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


Uh, I spoke too soon. Not only do we have Tekken 6, we apparently have a secret version of Tekken Tag Tournament 2. Um.

Oh, I never made that comment. Nevermind any of this.

I saw a 16 year old with a dig-dug shirt on a few weeks ago and I just didn't even know how to process it mentally.

Is it OK if he just liked the design? I am guilty of wearing T-shirts for things I have no association with or even like but I like the aesthetic. Is that so wrong? Even if I were doing it ironically (which I don't think I am) ... is it still so wrong?

I have a T-shirt that says "You're Not Getting Enough" on white with a loaf of sliced bread below. It is one of my most favorite shirts. I believe it comes from the Oklahoma Wheat Council's publication but there's nothing else on the shirt. Just the line and the drawing of bread. I love it.

it was fighting games that ruined arcades

Nah, it was the guns.
posted by mrgrimm at 4:11 PM on August 9, 2012


lol, trademark CANCELLED 2/16/2002. even better.
posted by mrgrimm at 8:47 AM on August 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


padraigin writes "I did have this great idea that if I paid the guy market babysitting rate, maybe he'd keep an eye on them for us while my husband and I had dinner next door. It could be a new revenue stream for them!"

Like those play spaces in the mall where they'd arm band you and your kid and you could shop while your kid was kept in a padded lock up.
posted by Mitheral at 12:09 AM on August 13, 2012


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