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Luna City Arcade
January 16, 2009 11:37 AM   Subscribe

Luna City Arcade is Peter Hirschberg's home / barn video arcade, with about 60 vintage machines all set up to eat quarters. WaPo story about Peter's dream. You can come around to Peter's Virginia home for Game Day every couple months.

In addition to maintaining his own dinosaur machines, Peter writes some software -- usually clones of classic toys and games. His Battlezone clone Vector Tanks is coming soon to the iPhone for a couple dollars.
posted by grobstein (35 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite

 
I demand Discs of Tron!
posted by joecacti at 11:41 AM on January 16, 2009


Marble Madness! This guy's got good taste.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:43 AM on January 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


*kissing grobstein full on the lips*
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 11:48 AM on January 16, 2009


I smell a DC meet-up brewing.
posted by Pollomacho at 11:48 AM on January 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


Wow, that is a respectable (!) collection.

I demand Discs of Tron!

He has it.

I'd add the pinball machines Black Knight and Pinbot, though.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 11:52 AM on January 16, 2009


Oh man, Paperboy with the handlebar controller. Sit-down Star Wars. Primal Rage. This guy basically has a barn full of "where all my money went, ages 8-15".
posted by penduluum at 11:57 AM on January 16, 2009


I had a similar dream which I fulfilled by building a MAME cabinet. It's not quite the same as what this guy did but it was cheaper and takes up less space.

Some day I'm gonna have a meet-up in my basement.
posted by bondcliff at 11:57 AM on January 16, 2009


If I ever win a (big) lottery.... this is EXACTLY what I would spend my money on. I might put a miniature golf course next to it or maybe a roller coaster.
posted by punkfloyd at 11:59 AM on January 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


This guy's got good taste.

True, although his collection does seem a little Atari-centric. For example, the only fighting game he has is Atari's Primal Rage, instead of much better (Street Fighter) or more popular (Mortal Kombat) alternatives.

From the FAQ:

How do you keep the machines running?
I repair and maintain the machines myself. Can I keep up? No, not really. But I do try. It's definitely a full-time job.


Seriously, this is hard to do. I only own 4 arcade cabinets (2 MAME, 2 normal) and the various parts break all the time. And those all use standard 90s JAMMA interface equipment, rather than the custom stuff that older arcade machines used. Keeping all of those old machines running must be a challenge.
posted by burnmp3s at 12:00 PM on January 16, 2009


Oh this is so fine. I've been to some arcades recently (Dave'n'Busters and the like), and it's just a crap-tonne of racing games and shooters. Nothing weird and great like we used to have! I've got something like a thousand plus MAME emulations hooked up through the xbox, but it's just not quite the same as desperately digging in the pockets of your Wrangler jeans for a quarter, while the counter on the screen goes *10*... *9*... *8*... oh, the halcyon days of youth.
posted by FatherDagon at 12:02 PM on January 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


Mailing List Status: Full:(

I wish I had known about him two weeks ago when I sold my Punch Out! machine for a pittance on Craigslist, would've been happier to donate it to a good cause.
posted by Challahtronix at 12:02 PM on January 16, 2009


For example, the only fighting game he has is Atari's Primal Rage

I didn't see his age anywhere but given his choice of games I'd expect he grew up during the classic era like I did. I've always considered the rise of fighting games to pretty much mark the end of that error. I'm not surprised he doesn't have more.
posted by bondcliff at 12:07 PM on January 16, 2009


Wow, those pictures represent a good portion of my teenage years.

My personal wish list would include the three-screen Darius, Escape from the Planet of the Robot Monsters, and the High Speed pinball machine. I wonder if they'd really be as good as I remember...
posted by malocchio at 12:12 PM on January 16, 2009


Love the pics on his home page (don't miss the atari-cartridge index on the way) with the carpet and blacklight treatment. Perfect.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 12:12 PM on January 16, 2009


I didn't see his age anywhere but given his choice of games I'd expect he grew up during the classic era like I did. I've always considered the rise of fighting games to pretty much mark the end of that error. I'm not surprised he doesn't have more.

Yes, I agree. It also makes sense that he doesn't have any games from the beat-em-up genre like Double Dragon or Final Fight. My point was that the Primal Rage selection suggests that he may have a slight tendency to pick Atari games over similar superior games by other companies.
posted by burnmp3s at 12:25 PM on January 16, 2009


I played Discs of Tron once at an arcade in Nashville back in the day and thought it was awesome. I was a huge Tron fan. Months later, when I returned to the arcade, it was gone, and I never got to play it again. Years later, in college, I was talking about the game to some friends, none of whom had ever seen it. They said "Oh, it was the Tron game." And I was like, "No, it was different." They had me convinced that I had imagined it.

So, folks who have played it. Was it really as good as I remembered it being?
posted by vibrotronica at 12:26 PM on January 16, 2009


Has anyone else read Pinball, 1973? I just realized that this guy's arcade rather reminds me of the warehouse of old games where the narrator goes in the dusk age of pinball machines.

Thinking of that novel also puts me in mind of the recent story about Alec Baldwin and Galaga:
"Julian would put the key in the lock and open the door, and he would just kind of look at me like, 'Wow, I'm glad I'm not you.'" Baldwin writes. "You got no idea, Julian. Julian, I need you. I need you to get that key and open the f- - -ing door and let me in. I got to play 'Galaga.' "
posted by grobstein at 12:27 PM on January 16, 2009


For example, the only fighting game he has is Atari's Primal Rage

On the "Games" page he says: We do make a point to not have any "fighting games" or "shooting games", and we keep the atmosphere family friendly.

I don't know how you explain Primal Rage though. Oddly, wikipedia says the game has been through revisions to reduce depicted violence ("golden shower/urination fatality"?!)

Anyway, Luna City Arcade looks pretty damn cool, and it's great that the proprietor makes it so accessible.
posted by exogenous at 12:35 PM on January 16, 2009


So, folks who have played it. Was it really as good as I remembered it being?

Yeah, it was. It's been at least 25 years since I've seen it much less played it, but I remember it being pretty immersive. In addition to a joystick with a trigger on it you had a spinner control that you could also push down and pull up on to control the height of your shot.

I remember it as having surround sound, so if the disk was "behind" you you'd hear it behind you. Given the time frame though, that could be a false memory.
posted by bondcliff at 12:41 PM on January 16, 2009


Vector tanks?!?! Holy hell, I had played a lot of that game in college. It was slightly "retro" back then even, but I loved that game. I loved it.
posted by mrmojoflying at 12:49 PM on January 16, 2009


Needs more Pinbot.
posted by infinitewindow at 12:52 PM on January 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


Essential to an arcade: Robotron and Tempest.

High score for Robotron: 3 million.

Chinese PacMan was a good one too.
posted by Flex1970 at 12:54 PM on January 16, 2009


No 720.
posted by The Straightener at 12:54 PM on January 16, 2009


Just looking at that Gauntlet machine makes me feel 12 years old.

"Elf needs food". I blame that game for making me into a spazz. Seriously, was it even winnable?

I hate/love you, Gauntlet.
posted by joelhunt at 12:59 PM on January 16, 2009


When I was 12, the Gauntlet arcade game at the bodega down the street went from offering 600 health per quarter to 4000 health per quarter. Every day after school, three of my friends and I would go over there and each put in our $1.25 in lunch money. Several times, after saving up for a few days, we made it past level 100. Oh the sweet blood feasting while playing the elf on the days when we'd get bored enough to start killing each other.
posted by mrmojoflying at 1:05 PM on January 16, 2009


An impressive collection to be sure, but, lacking Robotron : 2084 his collection is missing its crown jewel.

But whats this? He has Space War. Impressive.
posted by a3matrix at 1:05 PM on January 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


This is the perfect mate to the other part of my day, watching "King of Kong." I'm glad I never got that obsessed over my personal favorite, Joust.
posted by ikahime at 1:17 PM on January 16, 2009


I have never been more jealous of anyone in my entire life.
posted by monkeymike at 1:31 PM on January 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


I sent him an email about the mailing list, if I hear back from him maybe I'll put something up here.

I'm not much for the old arcade games, but man pinball. I used to be halfway decent at pinball.

Drool.
posted by jefeweiss at 1:33 PM on January 16, 2009


I can smell the ancient sweat and lack of sex from here. Awesome.
posted by maxwelton at 1:40 PM on January 16, 2009


I've never really been a video gamer the way some of my friends were growing up, but I loved, loved, loved a good pinball game. He has some pretty good ones. I think all he's missing is the bar stools that Keansburg has so you could line up your quarters on the glass, plunk yourself down, and lose serious time.
posted by FunkyHelix at 2:59 PM on January 16, 2009


the stand up version of discs of tron has been on my short-list of things I'd need if I won the lottery.
I salute this man.
Thank you for letting me know it exists.
posted by Busithoth at 3:39 PM on January 16, 2009


>This guy's got good taste.
True, although his collection does seem a little Atari-centric.


This proves he's got excellent taste. Atari Games was probably the most consistently ingenious video game development company the world has ever known. (But then, I've already written on this issue.)

In response to joelhunt, on whether Gauntlet is winnable:

No. This has been documented. Neither Gauntnet nor Gauntlet II can be beaten, there's simply no end to the game. It keeps getting harder, based upon average player score per coin, until the game ends or the internal score counter (which is 24 bit I think) wraps.

The reason to play Gauntlet is to have fun along the way. This is a more old-school D&D-ish approach to playing to complete a quest.
posted by JHarris at 3:50 PM on January 16, 2009


Oh wow, he's got an I, Robot machine! They only made a few hundred of those even back in the old days.
posted by JHarris at 3:54 PM on January 16, 2009


I contacted him earlier about the full mailing list and it's fixed now...
posted by drmanhattan at 8:22 PM on January 16, 2009


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