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"Will you still need me? / Will you still feed me?"
February 27, 2009 6:10 AM   Subscribe


 
They were awful. The owner would thrash you with his buggywhip if you got up to tomfoolery or came in with gimcracks. Also, the machines ran on petroleum distillate.
posted by Bernt Pancreas at 6:16 AM on February 27, 2009 [46 favorites]


"Will you still need me? / Will you still feed me?"

Nintendo 64!
posted by Faint of Butt at 6:18 AM on February 27, 2009 [58 favorites]


ha! now you know how i feel when people ask if it was really true that milkmen delivered dairy products to your house, record stores had records*, and computers had punch cards

*i mean lots of them, not just 10 titles
posted by pyramid termite at 6:20 AM on February 27, 2009 [2 favorites]


What was it like having George W. Bush as president?
posted by intermod at 6:21 AM on February 27, 2009


Arcades were like the Internet if you had to keep pumping quarters into the Internet to continue to have access to the flashing lights, stupid geek jokes and occasional brilliant moments.
posted by DU at 6:22 AM on February 27, 2009 [3 favorites]


Ah yes, arcades ... from the era when computer hardware good enough to make a really compelling game was extremely expensive, so you had to share them with other people.

It's roughly the same question as "what were phone booths like?" -- queuing up for a shared resource. Or "what were jukeboxes like", before everyone had iPods.

With the modern networking in most console games, you even get the experience of getting your ass kicked by a total stranger.

In the arcade, however, you would probably not have been teabagged.
posted by Malor at 6:27 AM on February 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


b4d0m3n freaks me the hell out.
posted by gman at 6:28 AM on February 27, 2009


Some links to round out this post:

The Rise and Fall of Laserdisc Arcade Games

Golden Age of Arcade Games: A New Hope - home-built arcade systems (primarily based on MAME) providing an opportunity for small development teams to get arcade play.
posted by filthy light thief at 6:33 AM on February 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


What was it like having George W. Bush as president?

Hand me that hammer, I'll show you.
posted by EarBucket at 6:42 AM on February 27, 2009 [8 favorites]



In the arcade, however, you would probably not have been teabagged.


I had no idea these games were so exciting.
posted by louche mustachio at 6:43 AM on February 27, 2009


The best birthday party I ever had was the one when my dad let me pick out a small group of friends, and then dropped us off at the Gold Mine arcade in the mall. He handed each of us a roll of quarters and left us there for a few hours. It was awesome. Even when I blew half my cash on Dragon's Lair knowing full well I sucked at it, it was still awesome. The dark cave-like atmosphere, the rattling of the coins in the change dispenser, the digital pings and beeps and squeals, the constant chatter, and yet over all the sound you could still hear the siren call of the arcade - the sound each game made when you died, and you KNOW you can remember the trademark death knell of your favorite game, can't you? That series of 8-bit bleeps sounding your demise, bringing throngs of others over to see if that was your last man, your last quarter, jockeying for position in front of the machine should you back away in defeat...

What were arcades like, children? They were the stuff of legend.
posted by caution live frogs at 6:44 AM on February 27, 2009 [23 favorites]


I read the first page of comments, I read the 2nd page, I skipped to the 14th page... then I realized I was searching for something that wasn't there...

And, I scoff, scoff I tell you, at all of you who are thinking you're "old" because of this... HA!

Get off my lawn or I'll beat you to death with my pong game!
posted by HuronBob at 6:46 AM on February 27, 2009


I fondly remember Friday nights at C-Joy's, my local arcade. It was always packed, with the crowds usually gathered around whatever the newest games were that week. Gauntlet always had a big gathering, with four players on and a line of quarters lined up on the monitor. Contra was amazing to see for the first time, as was Rampage. Eventually the owner, Joy, retired and the place closed up. But I have many fond memories.
posted by Dr-Baa at 6:48 AM on February 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


They were just like fruit machine casinos, except they didn't pay out.
posted by davemee at 6:49 AM on February 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


I just had a "Wow! I'm living in the future!" moment.

If it wasn't for Outrun I'd probably be able to afford a house today.

I remember queuing to try out a Virtuality headset at the Trocadero.

The way it perfectly recreated the sensation of a massive, crashing disappointment stays with me to this day.
posted by WPW at 6:49 AM on February 27, 2009 [7 favorites]


Two words: Skee ball.

I'm by no means ancient...but that thread even got a "Get off my lawn" response from me too.
posted by Chan at 6:50 AM on February 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


and computers had punch cards

My dad worked for IBM. He used to bring stack of these home for my brother and I to play with. I still can't believe a computer ran on those things.
posted by spicynuts at 6:53 AM on February 27, 2009


It's a tricky question, partly because arcades before and after the release of Street Fighter II were two different places.

'Course, my memory's a little shot from playing all that Polybius...
posted by milquetoast at 6:54 AM on February 27, 2009 [2 favorites]


Man is the only creature that consumes without producing. He does not give milk, he does not lay eggs, he is too weak to pull the plough, he cannot run fast enough to catch rabbits. Yet he is lord of Space Invaders. - just paraphrasing Orwell
posted by netbros at 6:54 AM on February 27, 2009 [2 favorites]


Whatever happened to those VR shops that would open up at the mall? This was around the mid-90s and I think the cost was crazy, like $20 for 10 minutes of play. All I remember were the long lines, and the heavy, expensive VR pods people would stand in to play some first person shooter.

People were always lined up for it, or so it seemed, and they must have been making bank. This is the sort of thing that works great in an arcade space, high capital assets that are out of reach of consumers, but differ enough from the experience at home as to make a trip.
posted by geoff. at 6:54 AM on February 27, 2009


I missed the Golden Age of arcades in the early 80s, but regular summer trips to the Wildwood boardwalk in the late 80s and throughout the 90s kept me in touch with them in the Silver Age. My place of choice, Variety Corner (actually more of a Casino Arcade, but the non-redemption games were plenty), was heaven at the end of a night on the boardwalk.

A few years back, it became "Variety Casino" and the proper games took a backseat to more redemption stuff. It's not the same.
posted by SansPoint at 7:00 AM on February 27, 2009


Arcades reeked of geek, fear, popcorn, and Dr. Pepper. And quarters.
posted by Mister_A at 7:04 AM on February 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


Some of my best childhood memories were at Video Invasion, on Bathurst, here in Toronto.
posted by gman at 7:04 AM on February 27, 2009


Paid In Full: "They usually had more content than this post."

Oh sheesh.. some of the best stuff on the Internet are threads, we need more FPP's that bring attention to sudden moments of collective consciousness from the far off corners. The thread is simply interesting on a number of levels and there's nothing else like it. Not every FPP has to be a piece of consumable artwork for personal distraction from work.
posted by stbalbach at 7:04 AM on February 27, 2009 [13 favorites]


"Beware I Live!"
posted by orme at 7:05 AM on February 27, 2009 [2 favorites]


I remember playing the simpson's arcade game. That was awesome back then. Crypt Killers was good too! Same with house of the dead.
posted by Mastercheddaar at 7:06 AM on February 27, 2009


In Montreal, where I grew up, for some reason you had to be 18 years old to get into an arcade. I'm pretty sure this rule pre-dated video games. probably going back to the days of pinball arcades (Yay pinball!) and pool halls, when pool halls were smokey rooms where people gambled, and so, in the eyes of the city, no place for a kid.

A consquence of this was that since they didn't have to cater to kids, the arcades in Montreal had a way more seedy, adult, pool-hall vibe than the more family-oriented ones elsewhere, which was kind of cool when us kids were able to sneak in. (By the mid-80's, most of the arcades downtown also had pay-per-view porn booths in the basements, proudly advertised outside).

Another consequence was that the few places that did allow kids to play games (Presumably illegally) were real hotspots. These were never arcades, but the occasional restaurant or store would have a game, and turn a blind eye when kids played. At Capitaine Quebec, a comic book store on Decarie, there was *always* a huge lineup around what I think was the only Donkey Kong machine any of us knew of in the city.
posted by ManInSuit at 7:07 AM on February 27, 2009 [2 favorites]


Defender was the best arcade game ever. Tempest was the second best.
posted by Mister_A at 7:08 AM on February 27, 2009 [3 favorites]


Huh? Don't you guys still go to arcades? My kids love them and the games are way better than anything you can get on a home system (I'm thinking of the whole body games where you sit in a chair or skiddo and it moves). The only difference I notice is that the arcades today don't smell of pot and I haven't seen a coke dealer in one for about twenty years.
posted by saucysault at 7:09 AM on February 27, 2009


This is a self-link, but I'm hoping it's incredibly on-topic. About a week ago, my friends and I visited an arcade in the Chicago suburbs. The main target audience were younger kids, and we were by far the oldest folks who weren't parents. As someone who spent a lot of time in arcades, it was interesting to go back and play games that were some 20+ years old (wow, that math was a little depressing just there).

A great book on arcades and the early days of video games is Joystick Nation by J. C. Herz. In particular, there's a section on how arcades have transitioned from dark, dungeon-esque rooms to bright, family-oriented prize redemption centers. Quite well-written, and you can tell she loved the era and the games.
posted by avoision at 7:10 AM on February 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


Crappers. Screwed up the arcade link. My photos/videos from visiting Nickel City Arcade are here.
posted by avoision at 7:12 AM on February 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


"What were arcades like?"

In my experience, they were noisy glittering palaces of wall-to-wall geeky testosterone, punctuated by the occasional girls who were either playing Ms. PacMan -- that's too much of a stereotype, though, because I also liked Hogan's Alley and Track & Field -- or standing around looking pretty while their boyfriends played Galaga for hours and hours and hours on one quarter.

But, why is the question past-tense? Arcades are still alive and well around my neck of the woods.
posted by amyms at 7:13 AM on February 27, 2009


Two things I'll never forget about what it was like to be at an arcade.

1) The Ambient Soundscape - Nothing says arcade to me more than the chirp of 30 or so games circa 1982 in various states of play and attract modes. Chiptunes dirges overlayed with early sythesized voice effects.

Shh! If you listen closely, you can figure out exactly what's happening. Somebody just stuck a quarter in Dig Dug. Barrels are being successfully jumped in Donkey Kong. Another guy is riding the shoulder and crashing in Spy Hunter. Aww, somebody's Space Fury game just ended. "Chicken! Fight like robot!". "Insert Coin, Space Cadet. Ha Ha Ha". The aggregate effect was such sweet music to my ears.

2) The State of the Art - In MY day, arcades were a showcase for the latest and greatest in gaming. The technology was advancing so quickly that there was simply no way to enjoy the same play experience on a home console or computer. Imagine the arcade as a movie theatre that received all the newest releases in full IMAX glory. Sure you could wait for the home video release, but when you watched it on your TV, it was all stick figures and blocks. These days, arcades are simply showcases for cabinets and gimmicky controls while all of the gameplay and technology innovations happen on the home consoles.

One summer, my mom - also an avid gamer - dated the owner of the local arcade. We'd go visit him right after he closed the doors and he'd put every last machine on free play for me and turn me loose. I must've played Elevator Action five thousand times. Greatest. Summer. Ever.
posted by BoatMeme at 7:17 AM on February 27, 2009 [32 favorites]


spicynuts: I too am familiar with those stacks that were meant for play. Punchcards were the scraps of paper I used to draw on!
posted by BoatMeme at 7:20 AM on February 27, 2009


The little 14-year-old shaver in me loves this post. Those were great times. Give me a cocktail table Donkey Kong, a Paperboy standup game, some Loverboy on the jukebox and a dollar in quarters (tokens, mostly) and I'm occupied for hours.
posted by porn in the woods at 7:22 AM on February 27, 2009


When I was eleven, the gifted English teacher assigned my class an 8-page magazine. It had to have a story, a photo, an illustration, an interview with someone from the community, etc. My magazine was called ARK, and it was all about video gaming. I interviewed the 22-year-old kid who ran our local arcade Tilt.

I remember asking him one of our "suggested" questions "How did you get started in your career?" He looked bemused, and said "Well, I wouldn't really call this my career, I mean..." and then he looked sad and got quiet. Then he asked if I wanted to play some Street Fighter 2 for free, "like for research."

I hope he moved on and got a job that an eleven-year-old found really boring.
posted by infinitewindow at 7:22 AM on February 27, 2009 [27 favorites]


TOKENNZZZ!!
posted by gorgor_balabala at 7:24 AM on February 27, 2009


As an erstwhile avid arcade gamer, when I read this post, my heart sunk a little bit. Then I realized it was because I hadn't taken my Lipitor.

God, I feel old.
posted by aftermarketradio at 7:25 AM on February 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


The arcade was where I bought my weed, and where the bully in the lumberjack shirt that stank of stale cigarettes would punch me in the back of the head while I played table-top Phoenix.

Good times, good times.
posted by CynicalKnight at 7:30 AM on February 27, 2009


One of the greatest days of my young life was when we were at an arcade and found that the coin box had not been securely re-locked on "Gauntlet." All the coins there, hundreds of them for the taking.

Did we steal them? No, we took them out and plunked them back into the game and played invincible for hours and hours.
posted by ColdChef at 7:31 AM on February 27, 2009 [12 favorites]


My first "real job" was working as an arcade attendant. I had to hand out money, fix things that were broken, deal with a bunch of whiny assholes, and occasionally break up fights.

So what I'm saying is that it was perfect preparation for having children.
posted by mr_crash_davis mark II: Jazz Odyssey at 7:31 AM on February 27, 2009 [8 favorites]


Playing Track & Field until there was blood on the console. Cigarettes burning on the edge of the machine. Half a can of Copenhagen in your mouth trying to be discreet while spirting juice all over the carpet. Ahhh....the gray, rainy, extremely unhealthy days at Galaxy World in the west Chicago suburbs. Not to mention the twelve pack of Hamm's that my brother would buy us before we would go. All before noon on a Saturday. Good times...
posted by repoman at 7:31 AM on February 27, 2009 [2 favorites]


My faves:

Crystal Castles (near "leon the waffle king" in orlando on vacation)

Star Wars (sit down star fighter grid graphics gunner game)

Tron (fucking awesome)

Asteroids

Arkanoid (beep.........boop..........beep........boop..beep..bo!!!!DRAT!)

Dragon's Lair

ZZaxxon (sp?)

Pole Position

Pac-man (table console in bowling alley)
posted by JBennett at 7:32 AM on February 27, 2009


How could I forget:

Bruce Lee

dun dudu dun dudu dun dudududududu dun dudu dun dudu dun dudududududu X 10000
posted by JBennett at 7:33 AM on February 27, 2009


My nieces can't understand why I would download "Bubble Bobble" on my Wii when there are other, more graphically beautiful games out there. I'm not even sure I can explain it myself.
posted by ColdChef at 7:38 AM on February 27, 2009 [3 favorites]


But, why is the question past-tense?

i don't know if there's any left in shopping malls - and i think that's what people have in mind - amusement businesses that have bumper cars, waterslides and such still have arcade sections

somewhere around 2000, places started going out of business - home video games did them in
posted by pyramid termite at 7:38 AM on February 27, 2009


The Ambient Soundscape - Nothing says arcade to me more than the chirp of 30 or so games circa 1982 in various states of play and attract modes. Chiptunes dirges overlayed with early sythesized voice effects.

Enjoy.
posted by bondcliff at 7:41 AM on February 27, 2009 [20 favorites]


Umm joke post? Seriously this seems like such a ridiculous question. Arcades are still around.
posted by lyam at 7:41 AM on February 27, 2009


Oh, you mean Video arcades.
Some of you 'get-off-my-lawn' guys better stop loitering in my yard.
Arcades are for Skee-Ball (6000 tickets gets you a pocket knife) and pinball.

spicynuts,BoatMeme- I still have a couple dozen boxes of punch cards and still use them for notecards.
posted by MtDewd at 7:41 AM on February 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


Arcades were mechanical. They had flashing lights, bells, and lots of Bally machines. No "8-bit bleeps" or CRT's.
posted by Hovercraft Eel at 7:42 AM on February 27, 2009


In my hometown, the arcade (there was only one, not including the various variety stores, Dairy Queens, etc., that had a few machines) was kind of like the pool halls of yore; i.e. they were filled with smoke, attracted a "bad crowd" and had a way of sucking a lot of money out of your pocket if you were brave/foolish enough to venture in.

Although I was strictly forbidden from entering the arcade I would sneak in anyway. Many, many quarters later I got pretty good at Robotron 2064. Good enough that I started hustling older kids and won quite a bit of money. Eventually I attracted the attention of the best Robotron player in the province, a college-age guy nicknamed Ontario Fats. We squared off in an all-night marathon. I gave him a good run, but in the end I didn't know when to quit, ate too many Reese's Peanut Butter Cups and lost my entire allowance to the dude. My confidence was shattered.

A little while later I met a girl named Sarah who kind of looked like Punky Brewster and started hanging out at her place after school, playing Ms. Pac-Man every now and again but otherwise avoiding video games. One day this high school kid shows up at her place and offers to bankroll me if I take on Ontario Fats again. At first I said no, but in the end I couldn't resist the action. Sarah didn't want me to do it, said the arcade was full of dirtbags and bangers, but I didn't listen. The night before the big match I found out that Sarah was so nervous she'd barfed at school that day and didn't want anything more to do with me. In the end I beat Ontario Fats pretty bad, but I've never been sure it was worth the price.

These days I bounce from arcade to arcade, hustling the occasional game here and there, but I'm looking for a Robotron protege I can take under my wing and bankroll.
posted by The Card Cheat at 7:45 AM on February 27, 2009 [27 favorites]


Discs of Tron. Super awesome.

from the youtube link:
"Hey, that's not Discs of Tron! The game I remember had awesome, cutting-edge graphics and...no wait, that's it. Nevermind. "
posted by JBennett at 7:46 AM on February 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


Paperboy -- stopping at nothing in his valiant effort to save this land from TV journalism!
posted by jeremy b at 7:46 AM on February 27, 2009 [2 favorites]


My favorite arcades were the ones that had all the video games up in front, and the pinball machines and air-hockey tables in the back.

Defender, Battlezone, Tempest, Spy-hunter, you were all good, but you didn't hold a candle to Twilight Zone.

And air-hockey. Who knew that it could be turned into a blood-sport so easily? If you didn't learn to recognize the puck-is-going-to-leave-the-table sound, you were probably going to earn a new bruise pretty quickly.

Arcades are where I learned the arts of diplomacy. "Ok, no straight shots on the serve, and loser picks up the next game..." and "It's not my fault you put your glass there, pick up the broken pieces before someone steps on them..."
posted by quin at 7:48 AM on February 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


Defender was the best arcade game ever. Tempest was the second best.
posted by Mister_A at 10:08 AM


Goddamn right.

Someone upthread said the early 80's was the "golden age" of arcades. Nice to know I was in on the golden age of something. My clearest memories are the lining up of the quarters on the machine to play next and setting the cigarette on the side of the Defender game while you played and getting a quick puff in between levels. Yeah, we smoked in there. I can't remember the name of the arcade we went to the most or even where it was, probably around Woodward Ave. and 12 mile. Funny, when I think of it, I can picture the parking lot.

One odd thing I remember, back in these days very few people wore leather jackets of any type. If you did you were a serious hoodlum. Some of these places wouldn't let people in if they had on leather jackets. We had our token "guy from England" with us one night and he couldn't get in because of his leather jacket. He wasn't hoodlum, he was just from England.
posted by marxchivist at 7:55 AM on February 27, 2009


Oh, man, remember how the extra ships in Asteroids would line up across the top of the screen? We all knew that guy who could play all day on one quarter, who'd build up so many extra ships that he'd start selling game time, didn't we?
posted by MrMoonPie at 7:55 AM on February 27, 2009


2) The State of the Art - In MY day, arcades were a showcase for the latest and greatest in gaming.

I remember each wave of increasingly sophisticated tech being heralded like the latest summer blockbuster movie. StarWars was huge... same for BattleZone, what with the Vector based 3D. QBert? Nobody had ever imagined that kind of board layout. Then Tron dropped.... dig that crazy joystick man! Nothing really compared to the epic mob scene that greeted the unveiling of Dragons Lair though. I remember people just watching with their jaws agape. Worked great till they started to play and realized it was Le Suck.

But yeah, the showcase of the latest tech part was really so great... it added mystery to the outing. Sure, you know there is gonna be some Pac Man and Dig Dug involved, but you probably played those all week at the local pizza place. The Arcade was for the Triple A titles of the day.
posted by butterstick at 7:57 AM on February 27, 2009 [2 favorites]


All my favorite birthdays were when my mom would spring for the package deal from Aladdin's Castle which was located in the corner of the mall by the movie theater. Me and 5 friends would all get 200 tokens each, soft drinks and cake. We would play Gauntlet and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and the Star Wars game where you sat down and shot at tie fighters and occasionally air hockey. Someone would go on a skeeball bender and have 500 tickets by the end of the party and trade them for 10 pencil erasers. I haven't had that much fun at one of my birthday parties in years.
posted by ND¢ at 7:59 AM on February 27, 2009 [3 favorites]


I hunger!
posted by Skot at 8:03 AM on February 27, 2009


One of the perks of my student job in the late 80s was having the master key to all the arcade games in UCLA's on-campus arcade, which was pretty good as far as arcades went.

That, and making weekly Friday pm trips to the distributor to check out the latest games & eat their free lunch buffet.

Yes, I did like that job muchly. Put in over 6,000 hrs on the clock over 5 years.

I sacrificed my weekend nights for an easy 6hr shift in the arcade, too.

Glory days.
posted by troy at 8:07 AM on February 27, 2009


Forget Defender and Galaga. Gyruss was where it was at. The music and sound design blew all the others away. Joust was cool, too. (Anybody remember Q-Bert?)
posted by saulgoodman at 8:09 AM on February 27, 2009


If you live in San Francisco, and want a real perspective on Arcades, go to the Musee Mechanique. It has arcade amusements from the 1800's to today. A real treat.
posted by poe at 8:10 AM on February 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


All my favorite birthdays were when my mom would spring for the package deal from Aladdin's Castle which was located in the corner of the mall by the movie theater.

Was that a chain or something, ND¢? We had an Aladdin's Castle too.
posted by saulgoodman at 8:10 AM on February 27, 2009


"What were the arcades like when you were young?"

They went on forever
And they -- when I
We lived in New York City
And the arcades always had many many games
And they were big and cool
And there were lots of kids, at night
And when it rained we would all go in
It -- they were beautiful
The most beautiful games as a matter of fact
The cabinets were purple and red
And yellow and on fire
And the mirrors would catch the colors everywhere
That's -- it's neat
Because I used to play them all the time
When I was little
You don't see that
You might still see them in the city
posted by you just lost the game at 8:10 AM on February 27, 2009 [31 favorites]


I remember waiting in line to play Jungle Hunt.

Jungle Hunt.
posted by Spatch at 8:12 AM on February 27, 2009


Was that a chain or something,

It was. We had one in Milwaukee as well.
posted by quin at 8:14 AM on February 27, 2009


Robotron


The end.
posted by a3matrix at 8:17 AM on February 27, 2009


Did anyone else try to drive all the way to the mountains in Battlezone? Back then, video games were made out of magic so it never occurred to me they might just be there for show.
posted by bondcliff at 8:18 AM on February 27, 2009 [6 favorites]


When I was young the arcades were full of pinball machines. The sound was completely different.

Now get the hell off my lawn.
posted by lordrunningclam at 8:19 AM on February 27, 2009


My friends and I spent loads of time in arcades when we were kids. Pinball was 25 cents for 2 games, 5 balls per game and with a few bucks I could play the Ships Ahoy pinball game for hours on end. When we ran out of money we would walk around pushing all the buttons trying to find games with unnoticed credits on them. I also remember that the guys who walked around making change were the most miserable guys on the planet.
posted by gfrobe at 8:19 AM on February 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


Robotron was pretty hot. Hey remember Wizard of Wor?
posted by Mister_A at 8:19 AM on February 27, 2009


I remember drilling a whole in a quarter and tying a string to it. It didn't really work, except once I got it to jam in the coin slot of a Battle Zone and got to play free for about an hour.
posted by slogger at 8:21 AM on February 27, 2009


And speaking of Ship Ahoy!
posted by gfrobe at 8:22 AM on February 27, 2009


I. Am. The. Wiz-zard. Of. War.
*pew pew pew*

posted by slogger at 8:23 AM on February 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


metafilter: "fuck anything that provokes thought"
posted by clavdivs at 8:24 AM on February 27, 2009


In case you missed it, Chasing Ghosts looks like a pretty good documentary about arcades.
posted by jefeweiss at 8:26 AM on February 27, 2009 [2 favorites]


Did anyone else try to drive all the way to the mountains in Battlezone?

*rolls eyes*

Oh, yeah. Can you believe we actually paid money to try shit like this? For my troubles--yes, I tried more than once--I just got shot in the fucking ass.

Hey remember Wizard of Wor?

Vividly. Jesus, I loved that game. Why was I so goddamn terrible at all of them?
posted by Skot at 8:28 AM on February 27, 2009


I remember my old man came around to me and my friends a ride home from the arcade (1982?) and commented "I don't know if I like you kids hangin' around that place, its got dim lights and purple rug just like a fucking whorehouse". If I'd been a quicker wit (and wanted a punch in the mouth), I'd asked him how he knew...
posted by 445supermag at 8:31 AM on February 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


Once upon a time, at a small arcade located in a casino in Reno, Nevada, my initials were in the top 3 spots of every course on Pole Position. My real initials, below which there trailed a string of ASSes and FCKs. It was an upright version and really I prefer the sit-down game.

I had my second kiss (but my first "real" kiss) at an arcade. To my great shame I think it was a Wunderland. He kissed me while we were playing Street Fighter. I was kicking his ass, by the way, but truthfully I was just mashing buttons.
posted by peep at 8:32 AM on February 27, 2009 [3 favorites]


The Rise and Fall of Laserdisc Arcade Games

God, I remember thinking, though I was just a kid, when Dragon's Lair came to my local (and pitiful) arcade that it meant the end of everything else. Even though I was unwilling to shell out the extra tokens to play it and it broke down a lot, no more would we be satisfied with a few minutes access to flickering 2-d screens with a single stick. There was going to be a real revolution in gaming. Little did I know that the interactive disk revolution would really claim victory after home gaming had killed the social, public, arcade for good.
posted by Pollomacho at 8:32 AM on February 27, 2009


"Prepare to qualify"
posted by HyperBlue at 8:37 AM on February 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


"White: Full Point"
posted by bardic at 8:41 AM on February 27, 2009 [2 favorites]


I ROLLED DEFENDER MUTHAFUCKER
posted by HyperBlue at 8:43 AM on February 27, 2009


metafilter: "fuck anything that provokes thought"

I'm having a thought: What a dick.
posted by ND¢ at 8:45 AM on February 27, 2009


What was that game with the giant white head space ship boss? Something star? I loved and hated that game. I could never get into Defender or Robotron because I never did cocaine as a child. I was a Zaxxon master, though. I loved Dig Dug and a lot of those early karate/kung fu games before Street Fighter.

And thanks, filthy light thief. That laser disc link finally answered a question I've never bothered to research on the net, the name of the laser disc game I loved, Cliff Hanger. I could never get past the ninjas in the car chase but I loved trying. I did get tired of Dragon's Lair pretty quickly but Cliff Hanger somehow was much more compelling for me.
posted by effwerd at 8:46 AM on February 27, 2009


Man did I love Double Dragon.
posted by ND¢ at 8:48 AM on February 27, 2009


What was that game with the giant white head space ship boss?

Sinistar!
posted by bondcliff at 8:54 AM on February 27, 2009


Ah, yes. Thanks bondcliff.
posted by effwerd at 8:59 AM on February 27, 2009


Dig Dug used to hoover quarters tokens from my pocket like nothing before or since. Still stands up really well on the home consoles. It truly is America's favorite underground pumping-up game.

I liked Robotron 2084 - it's a highly-physical he-man's game, much like the previous classic Defender. Where's the love for the similar game Smash TV? I never saw this in the arcades but I love it on the Midway Arcade Classics collection for home consoles.
posted by porn in the woods at 9:03 AM on February 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


For those who don't know what an arcade is like, a trip to Fun Spot is probably in order.
posted by rollbiz at 9:10 AM on February 27, 2009


I know the shit was hella violent and super controversial.
posted by pianomover at 9:11 AM on February 27, 2009


I'm having a thought: What a dick.
...and you were provoked
see
i was right
posted by clavdivs at 9:12 AM on February 27, 2009


Ohhhhhhhh.... arcades. Forget the happy visions of 1950's America. Arcades were the true utopia.

In my area, an arcade rarely had a skee ball machine or an air hockey table. That was fine by me. They were typically in strip malls, in the smaller spaces. They were dark. And they were heaven. I was not allowed to go to the one that was just down the street from my house, since that's where all the bullies in the neighborhood hung out. Didn't matter. I still went there (and got my ass kicked by punks who were bigger than me and were out of quarters to play Tempest) on a regular basis. But there was another arcade that was not too far away from the house. This one was at the end of a ratty tiny little strip center. Maybe 1500 square feet at most, jammed with machines. 8 tokens for a buck. In other words... perfect. This one also had a couple of other advantages: It was right next to the grocery store, and it had Frogger. We could bug mom all day to take us to the arcade, and she'd say "no" and send us outside to play. But Frogger was her true weakness. If she was going to the grocery store, I made sure to tag along, since I knew that once she'd finished getting groceries, she could not resist the siren call of the 8-bit symphony of the Frogger machine. Which meant we'd be getting a bunch of tokens while she played. Eventually Dad got hooked on Ms. Pac Man, and that portended very good things for us kids.

Kids who have grown up without these dark video game palaces - not the bright and happy Chuck E. Cheese type "arcades" - don't understand how much true magic that a quarter can hold.
posted by azpenguin at 9:13 AM on February 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


I know the shit was hella violent and super controversial.

I'll never forget the time I snuck off to play N.A.R.C. even though I was forbidden to...It was better than my first cigarette, for the record.
posted by rollbiz at 9:15 AM on February 27, 2009


My best arcade memory was when I discovered that my mentally trouble half brother was really, really good at Double Dragon so we abducted some chick and drove cross country to enter a video game tournament.

Those were good times. Innocent times.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 9:20 AM on February 27, 2009 [3 favorites]


The Chuckee Cheese video game area is a pretty good approximation of what your average mall arcade looked like -- only the vintage arcades were usually darker, louder and didn't have a salad bar. Acid wash denim and Members Only jackets proliferated. Oh and the lower tech games were often more fun than today's googlephonic monsters (some but not all).
posted by Toecutter at 9:23 AM on February 27, 2009


Nothing was better than getting to put your initials at the top of the list of "all time high scores" unless it was going back a week later and seeing that they were still there. You knew at that moment you were in fact a scion of the immortal gods and the sunlight of their blessedness was shining down upon you.
posted by Any Moose In a Storm at 9:25 AM on February 27, 2009 [2 favorites]


Kids who have grown up without these dark video game palaces - not the bright and happy Chuck E. Cheese type "arcades" - don't understand how much true magic that a quarter can hold.

Total agreement -- I posted before seeing this comment!
posted by Toecutter at 9:26 AM on February 27, 2009


Most of my formative arcade game experience wasn't even in arcades. There was Pac-Man down the street at the 7-11. The Zaxxon machine at Anthony's Pizza a little further down the highway, and the Ground Round at the far end of town that changed machines a lot.
posted by effwerd at 9:34 AM on February 27, 2009


"Get off my lawn" moment within:

The game that sucked the most quarters out of my pockets? Soul Calibur 2. The conquest mode where everyone who played the game participated in a "war" for territory kept that machine occupied most of the day.

Silent Scope was a close 2nd too...and the game was much more fun (and impressed people watching) when you knew how to set it to "professional" mode where nothing was displayed on screen other than the enemies on screen...no ammo left, health left, time left, or circle showing where your gun was aiming. Fun, but the gun on our machine was never calibrated right, so you had to aim funny to kill things.

And that's why I never did my homework in high school.
posted by Chan at 9:34 AM on February 27, 2009


Being that I lived in a 300-person town, we didn't ever really have our own real arcade. What we had was a collection of 3 or 4 games that showed up out of the blue in the empty section of the grocery store, which thankfully always included a pinball machine. Not an arcade, per se, but perhaps the only thing that kept that store in business despite frequent changes in ownership. One of my favorite and longest-lasting things was the coin game with the little bulldozer-like-thing, where you dropped in a coin, hoped you overloaded it, and if you were lucky it dumped a shit-ton of quarters over the edge. Real gambling. I got an early start and I won the hell out of that thing. It funded my use of the pinball machine for a year or so until it was removed because gambling, kids, is bad.

But I always loved going to SkateLand where there was a real arcade. It was the sound, as some people have already recalled. Skee-ball was awesome, and playing in skates added a whole new challenge that they banned after a while. there was a money game there, too, where the little dollar bills rolled by and you had to get a quarter in the middle of it to win. Those originally dumped out money, too. I made a boatload until those damn tickets moved in. Not much of an instant reward, those.
posted by six-or-six-thirty at 9:36 AM on February 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


Oh man. I remember standing at a respectful distance in the arcade at Dobwall's Theme Park and watching some guy absolutely kill on Wonderboy. He got through the whole first world on the skateboard from the second egg. Seeing that little caveboy olly over swordfish then pelt a cyclops with stone hammers was just awe-making.
posted by RokkitNite at 9:50 AM on February 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


Heaven. That's what arcades were like. A little piece of heaven, twenty-cents at a time.
posted by Justinian at 9:53 AM on February 27, 2009


our local arcade Tilt

Yes! We had a Tilt too. At a dead mall in my hometown. Some days you could hear the games echo through the empty corridors. It was a fun place but the mall's deadness really detracted from it. Tilt, and Hot Sam, and 75 empty storefronts, oh, and shitty Old Country Buffet that I once worked at, what a hell hole.

But there was another mall across town, a better one, with an arcade, it eventually became a Gold Mine, I think, but before that it was called the Fun Factory. I spent precious little time there until my freshman year in high school, then it became a congregating point of sorts. My group of nerdy, undersexed friends would gather there religiously, the Fun Factory was one of the few stores that had an entrance and exit to the outside. We were such rebels, standing out there in leather jackets, and Nine Inch Nails or Metallica t-shirts, man we thought we were just the shiznite, especially with Marlboro Reds dangling from between our lips. Arcades were just starting to decline then but they had some sweet games, I fondly remember hours of Mortal Kombat, then later Virtual Fighter, Sega's answer to the former I guess.

And tokens, we had to have tokens. Skee ball up front, with whack-a-mole and then Eden beyond. The non-video game stuff was always up front and all it did was pump out tickets redeemable for 5 cent designer erasers that never fit on the end of a pencil anyway. I guess if you pumped five grand into them you might be able to get enough tickets for the 10 inch black and white TV on the top shelf, beyond the counter.

I wasted a lot of time at that arcade. But I don't regret it. End crazy nostalgia derail.
posted by IvoShandor at 9:55 AM on February 27, 2009


A little piece of heaven, twenty-cents at a time.

Damn, I wish I lived in your town!
posted by Pollomacho at 9:59 AM on February 27, 2009


They were just like fruit machine casinos, except they didn't pay out.

Ohhhhhh, fruit machines are slots! I understand that Ting Tings song now. Funny how these little revelations pop up unexpectedly.

I like skee ball and air hockey. I am 27 and therefore enjoyed playing Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2 at the roller rink. I also enjoyed eating nachos there, but I did NOT enjoy not being asked to skate during couples skate.
posted by lampoil at 10:00 AM on February 27, 2009


When I was very young, my dad would occasionally take me to a pool hall on the other side of town; there was a long, long row of pinball machines. Some were older electromechanical machines, they took dimes; some were newer machines. This was awesome.

Later, an arcade opened up in a strip mall around a mile from our home. I could ride my bike to it. There were two things about it that were perfect: it was dark with mirrored ceilings, and it was not just packed with games -- it was packed with good games, both pinball and arcade, not the old Asteroids or Space Invader machines that seemed old-fashioned even in the early 80s. On holidays, they'd have a "10 tokens for a dollar" special; my dad would give me a $20 as a gift for Christmas, and we'd go down to the arcade and get *200* tokens, a weirdly magical stash that would last me months.

This arcade stuck through thick and thin; it was still running in the same place, same dark decor, when I'd come home from college. There was still that same feeling of excitement walking through the door. Would there be a new pin? Some weird Japanese game which would challenge all of the assumptions I've ever had about gaming? Would some of my old, idiosyncratic favorites still be there (to this day, I've never heard Empire City 1931 come up in casual conversation, but man, that game was a part of my youth.)

But what I think the real magic of arcades was that they were a place where a kid could really lose themselves. Arcades were generally safe and fun, but because they were dark, bar like places with lots of scruffy looking people, a lot of adults thought they were trouble -- but even for a nerdy kid like me, there was never any issue. You could go and just get lost into games for hours for a few bucks -- no trouble, few adults, no stress. I wish there were still places like them.
posted by eschatfische at 10:03 AM on February 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


This is a dumb, trollish question, designed solely to provoke an "I'm so old" response.

That said, I like the memories MeFites provide. Thanks, guys.

Street Fighter 2: Championship Edition was a big moment for me in arcades. They opened up a small kid's hangout area, attached to the local diner where I lived. SF2 was the main attraction.

Man, I sucked at that game.
posted by graventy at 10:08 AM on February 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


Nothing was better than getting to put your initials at the top of the list of "all time high scores" unless it was going back a week later and seeing that they were still there.

So true. It was Territorial Pissing of the highest order.
posted by butterstick at 10:13 AM on February 27, 2009


"Get off my lawn" moment within:

The game that sucked the most quarters out of my pockets? Soul Calibur 2. The conquest mode where everyone who played the game participated in a "war" for territory kept that machine occupied most of the day.

Silent Scope was a close 2nd too...


Warlords. Preferably the tabletop version. Get off my lawn.
posted by azpenguin at 10:14 AM on February 27, 2009


the humble and resurgent downtown of my small city/big town here in the hinterlands has a 'retro' arcade called 1984. many of the faves name-checked here can be found there. five dollars at the door and all the play you can handled. (quarter nostalgists will be sorely disappointed.) it does brisk business on the weekends. impressive, considering that they do not sell alcohol. it is quite popular for birthday parties, even for children who would have never seen most of these games before. pinball, however, still requires quarters-per-game (which is why i don't go). it is suitably dark to satisfy my memories of the arcades of my youth. i don't know why i'm writing any of this . . .
posted by barrett caulk at 10:19 AM on February 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


Whatever happened to those VR shops that would open up at the mall?

Virtual World Entertainment is still around. I think they license or franchise pods to Dave & Busters, but I haven't been there in a few years. I think once latency dropped enough on DSL/Cable to allow people to play games against one another on the Internet it killed their business model.
posted by BrotherCaine at 10:23 AM on February 27, 2009


Nickel city deserves a shout out, something like a $2 cover charge, classic games like dig-dug are free, more modern games take 3 to 5 nickels.
posted by BrotherCaine at 10:25 AM on February 27, 2009


Arcades were intimidating places to me. Unlike the geeky personae some are attributing to game champions, they guys I knew of were the local tough guys - in groups of five or six, huddled around Centipede or Tron, cheering on one guy who was getting continuous high scores. You didn't go near those machines - you watched from a safe distance, lest you make eye contact and then be asked if you have a Problem. The games you were allowed to play were things like Q-Bert, Frogger or DigDug - the low-key games.

The arcade had a definite dog-pen vibe to it and a clear hierarchy. And don't even get me started on Rock 'n' Roll Roller Skating.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 10:25 AM on February 27, 2009


In Montreal, where I grew up, for some reason you had to be 18 years old to get into an arcade.

Not true! At least not universally. There was at least one arcade in Dollard-Des-Ormeaux we used to frequent as kids. Nothing seedy or illegal about going in as a kid.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:33 AM on February 27, 2009


Kart Kountry outside of Louisville KY has a good retro arcade. The last time I was there I got to play Shaq pinball. And there's rarely a line for Mappy.

Zaxxon and Donkey Kong were my two addictions. I also dug Phoenix more than Galaxian. Mini-bosses.
posted by mrgrimm at 10:34 AM on February 27, 2009


Ohhhhhh, fruit machines are slots! I understand that Ting Tings Jam song now.
posted by lampoil at 1:00 PM

FTFM(me)
posted by marxchivist at 10:40 AM on February 27, 2009


What were arcades like?
They sounded alot like this.
posted by isopraxis at 10:41 AM on February 27, 2009 [2 favorites]


I wasn't allowed in arcades. My mom seemed to think that arcades and 7-11s were where the child-snatchers hung out. There were many dire warnings.

So, of course, I loooooooved them. Joust and Galaga, baby. Those were my games.
posted by desuetude at 10:45 AM on February 27, 2009


Come on guys, I don't have time to download MAME and waste my whole weekend playing this week. Can't you post this next Friday? ::sigh:: I miss those crappy old arcade games.
posted by MrBobaFett at 10:48 AM on February 27, 2009


I kind of feel like this thread should mention (if it hasn't already; I didn't go back to check) Tempest. That was a game and a half, even if it was pretty weird.

"Watch out . . . bent thingy! The somersaulting bow ties are on the move!"
posted by Skot at 10:50 AM on February 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


I have a Mat Mania machine sitting in the corner of my front room and I haven't played it in months. I think I'll fire it up tonight.
posted by MegoSteve at 10:51 AM on February 27, 2009


dark and nasty...a crime ridden hell hole
god i miss pak mann.
posted by generalist at 10:54 AM on February 27, 2009


In case you missed it, Chasing Ghosts looks like a pretty good documentary about arcades.

Three independent movies about competitive video gaming came out within a few months of each other: Chasing Ghosts, The King of Kong, and High Score. It's sad that The King of Kong got all the attention because, as much as I like it, it's actually the weakest of the three.
posted by roll truck roll at 11:04 AM on February 27, 2009


Arcade

by Felix Jung

The room is dark and hot with sweat. A girl
is standing near a boy who's cursing fire,
his fingers groping as they slap and whirl
about the buttons. Although his eyes are tired,

he's scared to blink. His hips sway heavily,
hypnotically, in time with flashing blue and red,
bursts of static white. The game is simple: kill every-
thing. The girl beside him turns away and says

Let's go, scratching his neck slowly. He yells
God dammit, kicks the machine, and grabs his last
remaining coin. She leaves, the sound of mortar shells
exploding in her wake. Toward the door, she'll go past

other boys like him: their bodies tilted, a gangly row
of jeans and clumsy hands, crying out Oh please, Oh no.

(Well done, avoision.)
posted by melissa may at 11:05 AM on February 27, 2009 [9 favorites]


I was usually the only girl in the arcade, but I barely noticed. Instead I ignored everyone and noticed Joust, Frogger, Q*bert, Zaxxon, Tron, and Black Knight pinball (the best), and I would wear my three-quarter sleeve Frogger jersey. I probably only had a dollar each time, but it seemed to last forever.

I was also FASCINATED by the vector games like Tempest ("Watch for spikes!"), but was simply horrible at them. Those ate my quarters right away ...was there one called Kix?
posted by limeswirltart at 11:24 AM on February 27, 2009


I didn't have access to real arcades while growing up, just the occasional lone pinball machine or stand-up video game in a drug store or movie lobby, which stood like the border outposts of distant empires. My awareness of missing out on these vast territories of childhood fun was almost unbearable until home computers came into my life. Before that, the occasional holiday detours to carny rows and amusement piers, with their retrograde concepts of entertainment, were the best I could do, but they seemed like Ren Faires and Civil War re-enactments by comparison to the hi-tech wonderlands that I imagined real arcades were like. These days I have to satisfy my phantom nostalgia vicariously, such as through Wil Wheaton's extended reminiscences at an independent gaming convention a couple of years ago:
Arcades were to my generation what Xbox Live and World of Warcraft are to this generation. They were social gathering places as much as anything else, and I really miss them. I miss the flickering neon on the walls, the weird-smelling smoke, the stained casino carpet, the Van Halen and Joan Jett on the jukebox. [...]

They were a vital part of my generation's social development. If I beat another kid in a two-player game and taunted him mercilessly with explicit references to his mother's sex life and my role in it, the way some online gamers do, he would have justifiably kicked the ever-living shit out of me.

So I learned, in arcades, the importance of good sportsmanship, because arcades were physical places, staffed by real people. We had to worry about a lot more than getting kicked off a server if we were complete idiots in a game. And I feel like a cranky old man by bringing this up at all, but there's a lot of you here, so would you do me a favor? When you're playing online, have fun, but don't be a dick, OK?
(I see Wheaton is mentioned in passing in the rpg.net forum thread, but I think his words are worth highlighting here.)
posted by Doktor Zed at 11:29 AM on February 27, 2009 [2 favorites]


More airports need arcades. In ALL terminals.

(and maybe some free hand sanitizer. now get off my lawn.)
posted by NikitaNikita at 11:29 AM on February 27, 2009


1008 pages later, and damned if I know.
posted by StickyCarpet at 11:30 AM on February 27, 2009


Sooner or later, a Tron incident will occur in a real life server/storage room... BEWARE LARGE STORAGE DEVICES!
posted by buzzman at 11:32 AM on February 27, 2009


If you're ever in Portland, stop by the awesome Ground Kontrol, which has pristine condition arcade games. And you can drink beer while you play. I regularly return for my Discs of Tron fix.
posted by asfuller at 11:38 AM on February 27, 2009


Oh, I remember when I was a kid, there were several arcades in town (Saskatoon). Some would come and go, but there were a few that were decade spanning fixtures. We used to walk to one of them in the winter and it was a 45 minute trek from our houses. Didn't matter if it was -20 out, if there was $5 in our pockets, we were going.

And when the family used to go down to Minot, ND for our semi-annual US shopping trip, the mall there had an incredible arcade, at least 100 machines or more, plus another 25 pinball machines. And a good number of the games in there were new enough we didn't have them anywhere in Canada, so it was all fresh and shiny. I'd get $10 (!!!) in quarters from the family, and could spend the whole day in there playing and watching others play. It was almost heaven on earth.

Today's arcades are pale, pale shadows in comparison.
posted by barc0001 at 11:43 AM on February 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


so I was looking to see if any arcades were left in Toronto recently because my boyfriend wanted to play pinball for valentines day - couldn't find any downtown, which made us kinda sad. We did find a pinball machine at a local movie theatre, and after 7 years of dating, I finally found out why he spells his first name with only 3 letters instead of the usual 4.
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 11:46 AM on February 27, 2009


I almost forgot I did my senior art thesis on arcades. This is less than half of the shots... you can probably imagine the funny looks you get taking pictures of children in arcades.
posted by butterstick at 11:53 AM on February 27, 2009


Wow, um. Wow.

I spent a good portion of my childhood/adolescence in arcades. I used to play in a nickel arcade. You gave them five bucks, and they gave you back five bucks worth of nickels, about two kid handfuls, which went surprisingly fast.

I used to accidentally kick people standing too close behind me in line, because I was a very spastic videogame player. When all my money ran out, I'd walk very slowly around the perimeter of the arcade room, looking for stray nickels on the floor. It was like that old SNL sketch, "Video Game Junkies."

I'm not proud.
posted by peggynature at 11:54 AM on February 27, 2009


Claude's Casino, Salthill, Galway - A bunch of us 14 year olds were playing space invaders when a guy from England - Leeds I think it was - came in and told us about the 14 shot hack. Fire 14 times in between when the little UFO goes scooting across the top - hit him with the 14th shot (I think - memory is sketchy) and you're guaranteed to get the maximum 300 points. No one in Galway had heard of it before, so me and my mate Gerry were kings of the game for a couple of weeks.

The "Big Arc" Casino, Salthill, Galway - Young Nick Verstayne stays on one game of Asteroids for over 7 hours while bunking off school or football practice or something. Broke the damn thing after it had no idea how many thousand extra lives I had accumulated. All I did was fly by with one little rock remaining, shooting through the screen at high speed, praying bullets in a particular pattern guaranteed to get the little UFO as it emerged every time. Then I'd go out to smoke a major, while I lost a life or two, and go back in and keep going.

The Silver Dollar Casino, Salthill, Galway, on a wet wednesday in February when the rain was coming down sideways. Bunking off school or football or something, and playing Breakout right near a big bay window that looked out onto the next-door petrol station. Being busted by my mom as she looked up from filling up her car.
posted by Nick Verstayne at 11:58 AM on February 27, 2009


When Space Invaders & Missile Command were popular I was too short to play them, they all had sunken monitors.

So Galaga became my favorite game based on the simple fact that I could see what the hell I was doing.
posted by Mick at 12:17 PM on February 27, 2009


Arcades still exist in theme parks, in Europe. Last time I was in the parks around LA, there were arcade/s in at least one of them. Not the same as arcades in the 70's and 80's, more like east coast boardwalk kind of atmosphere (skiball and such, plus more traditional style arcade games, and deluxe things that move.
posted by Goofyy at 12:41 PM on February 27, 2009


My arcade memories were all made between 2001 and 2003. My life looked like this:

Sleep
Quick couple of DDR games at home
School
Quick couple of DDR games at the arcade
Work
Few hours of DDR games at the arcade
Repeat until some magical weekend day when I don't have to work, then drive down to the nickel arcade and play DDR all day (10 nickels a play).

I do not regret my misspent youth.
posted by yomimono at 1:08 PM on February 27, 2009 [2 favorites]


They really were the equivalent of bars for kids (and young adults who either didn't drink or didn't have the hookup for a fake ID: you could be with other people without necessarily having to interact directly with them, it was cheap, it was fun.

They also helped me over some rough spots during and directly after college. When I was having some serious problems adjusting during my freshman year of college, I'd spend some quality time plugging quarters into the Star Trek arcade game of the early 80s (a wire-frame shooter based on some of the graphics from Wrath of Khan), and even won a T-shirt from the student union based on my high score. Right after graduation, when I was underemployed and desperately poor, I'd scrape together a quarter and play Gauntlet for hours, using the knowledge that if I hung chilly for about three minutes, all the walls would turn into exits and I could either shoot across them at the monsters or just skip the level entirely.

Finally, it should be noted that, if John Connor had been home playing an X-Box when the T-1000 stopped by, Terminator 2 would have been much, much shorter.
posted by Halloween Jack at 1:15 PM on February 27, 2009


Gorf.
posted by Sailormom at 1:45 PM on February 27, 2009


When I was a lad, I had a vision of paradise. Little did I know it would be made real:

California Extreme

Omega Race. Tempest. Black Knight. Wizard of Wor. Asteroids. Rally-X. Everything.

And all set on free play.

Spend a day living the dream. Or stay in the hotel and play from 11am to midnight, if your body can stll take it, you old fogey...

I've been twice.
posted by bitmage at 1:48 PM on February 27, 2009 [3 favorites]


My local arcade has a ton of redemption games and DDR shit up front (including a shitty skee ball set), 5 busted 'old' pinball tables and 6 awful, and busted traditional arcade games. And like 2 dozen car/horse/water ski games.

Oh, and one of those retarded Deal Or No Deal games.

It sucks.
posted by cerulgalactus at 2:44 PM on February 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


Mmm, skee ball. Still, I think I might have kept the makers of Gaunlet and Gauntlet II in business, single-handedly. It's affected me to the point that, when I'm especially tired or hungry, I say things to myself, things like

Red Warrior needs food, badly!

or

Red Warrior is about to die!

The only problem with this is that no one I know here in Japan has ever played Gauntlet. My foreign friends don't know what the hell I'm talking about, and my wife just assumes I'm being stupid again.

I've learned to mutter it to myself, quietly. All these people need to get off my lawn.
posted by Ghidorah at 3:11 PM on February 27, 2009


A bunch of us 14 year olds were playing space invaders when a guy from England - Leeds I think it was - came in and told us about the 14 shot hack. Fire 14 times in between when the little UFO goes scooting across the top - hit him with the 14th shot (I think - memory is sketchy) and you're guaranteed to get the maximum 300 points.

Nick Verstayne is talking about Space Invaders, in case you didn't know. The use of pseudo-random generators wasn't yet in vogue in the really early days, so arcade programmers made use of obfuscating techniques to mix up so-called "random" awards. Often these techniques would work by applying a formula to the most unpredictable behavior in the game, that of the player.

Interestingly, the Pac-Man Dossier site I linked to a couple weeks ago mentions that Pac-Man -does- use a pseudo-random generator, but resets its seed at the start of every board and every life. If only it didn't do that, it'd be much more difficult to make a workable pattern for it.

Back in the day, I remember reading (probably in Joystik, one of the coolest magazines ever published) that people were shocked that patterns didn't work in Q*Bert. Apparently, it simply refused to reset its pseduo-random generator.

The behavior of random number generators is important to understand when emulating. Online co-op emulation projects, such as Kalliera, At least one of the console emulations of Robotron 2084 available (might be the one in Midway Arcade Treasures, might be the Dreamcast Williams Arcade Hits) appears to load in a hard-coded save state when it starts the game, with the result that the enemies on the first board are always in the same places.
posted by JHarris at 3:14 PM on February 27, 2009 [2 favorites]


Gah, didn't finish that sentence....

Kalliera is a way to play multiplayer arcade games online. It works by emulating the game separately on each player's end. It relies on the fact that computers are deterministic machines, proceeding the same way each time from a given state. By feeding each player's inputs into each emulated machine, it ensures that each player sees the same thing on their screen. This works great for both pseudo-random generators and player-augmented systems, but could fall apart if the game uses other obfuscating mechanisms, such as time and date.
posted by JHarris at 3:20 PM on February 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


Gorf.

Ha ha ha ha, you will never get a comment favorited that way, space cadet.

Red Warrior needs food, badly!

When I first got diabetes, my friends thought it was hilarious to say "Pasty Nerd needs food, badly; Pasty Nerd is about to die!" whenever I had hypoglycemia.
posted by BrotherCaine at 3:42 PM on February 27, 2009


Yeah, I've got to agree that this question is probably a troll. I thought at first "wow, how sad, are arcades really a thing of the past?", which is how I'm supposed to react, until I thought "wait a minute, this 'kid' has never been to a Chuck E Cheese or a Dave and Busters or a local amusement center type place or anywhere like that, or never talked to anyone who has?" Not likely. Maybe in 10 years a kid will ask this question legitimately, but not now.
posted by DecemberBoy at 4:50 PM on February 27, 2009


Our arcade was a 7-Eleven across the street from my high school. Double Dragon and Out Run. (Gawd, that music never left my brain. Ditto the "Airwolf" theme from the C64 game.)

We all clustered around those two games watching the champions make their magic. Eventually the store managers put up signs limiting us to three spectators to a game.
posted by evilcolonel at 5:35 PM on February 27, 2009


(For your edification.)
posted by evilcolonel at 5:36 PM on February 27, 2009


In Montreal, where I grew up, for some reason you had to be 18 years old to get into an arcade.

Not true! At least not universally. There was at least one arcade in Dollard-Des-Ormeaux we used to frequent as kids. Nothing seedy or illegal about going in as a kid.


Maybe you did not grow up when I grew up.

I believe the law changed in 1985, when the supreme court ruled it unconstitutional.
posted by ManInSuit at 7:30 PM on February 27, 2009


"I was also FASCINATED by the vector games like Tempest ("Watch for spikes!"), but was simply horrible at them. Those ate my quarters right away ...was there one called Kix?"

Qix, actually. There was one in the arcade where I worked. Not a lot of people played it, but the ones that did were fanatical about it.
posted by mr_crash_davis mark II: Jazz Odyssey at 8:24 PM on February 27, 2009


limeswirltart: It was Qix. I hated that game, but often at the convenience store it was either play that or hope to get a turn at Crazy Kong before I had to get my butt back on the banana seat and pedal home. Because the quarters just had to be spent, they went into the Qix machine. Tempest, on the other hand, was a vector game I really did enjoy and would choose to play on weekends when there was time to ride to the real arcade.

Also, Intruder alert! Intruder alert! is etched permanently into my memory from visits to the arcade.
posted by Balonious Assault at 8:26 PM on February 27, 2009


D'oh!
posted by Balonious Assault at 8:26 PM on February 27, 2009


This is a serious memory lane thread for me. I played Pong when quite young, heard stories about Space Invaders from an adult relative who had witnessed it somewhere, then finally found and tried the games of this era, the early games: Lunar Lander, Asteroids, and Galaxian. Centipede, Missile Command, Berzerk, and Frogger. The classics. Phoenix, Scramble, Sea Wolf, Venture, and Vanguard. Wizard of Wor has been mentioned; remember Gorf? Crazy Climber? I particularly loved Q*bert in its time, and how I remember the early days of Dragon's Lair, another favorite.

As for the arcades themselves I do remember the rows of quarters (I always felt let down by tokens, even when they were five for a dollar) and the cigarette burns on the machines. The bigger kids crowded around together, the staff at the desk or wandering around with a change belt (I longed for one of these quarter dispensers). I went to Dream Machine, in Amherst, Massachusetts, and later Thee Arcade, in Pittsfield. And oh, the individual cocktail games in pizza places while you waited for your food. I had at least one birthday party at an arcade, and remember a Christmas bejeweled by quarters.
posted by Songdog at 9:22 PM on February 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


Qix was a raster game, not a vector game, by the way, though it was certainly all about lines.
posted by Songdog at 9:23 PM on February 27, 2009


Late to this thread but some additional data points (aka indelible memories; aka formative experiences):

1) Atari Football @ Sports World Roller Disco
2) SubRoc-3D @ the local Q-Mart
3) Journey, Star Wars, Tron, or Star Trek @ Wizard's Castle (@ 'the mall')
4) Pinbot @ HUB mall

Good times, good times...

If I had a quarter for every game I played there...

Wait a minute, I did.
posted by mazola at 10:56 PM on February 27, 2009


I certainly played my fair share of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, The Simpsons, and X-Men.

But, when my father wasn't looking, or after he stopped prohibiting me, my favorites were always the light-gun games. They're still the thing the arcades have that my PS3 doesn't.

I played one a couple years ago, with the Time Crisis-style take cover pedal. It had an authentically weighted HK UMP, with an "action" that cycled, and a little linear actuator that made it feel like it had real recoil--even a somewhat believable level of recoil for a 9mm. It was so well calibrated that the sights worked. Even at $0.75 a credit, I dropped probably $20 into it over the course of a couple hours. It was fucking AWESOME.
posted by Netzapper at 12:25 AM on February 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


There wasn't an arcade in my neighborhood - one of the roller rinks for birthdays had a semi-arcade in the corner, but that wasn't walking distance for weekends and probably cost money to get into. But my sister and I would spend all our money on Pac-Man at the local pizza place, and then scrounge around the area finding recyclable cans to trade in for just one more game... I feel like we must have cleaned up the entire downtown manhattan searching for enough cans for one more quarter once we'd spent the money we came in with.

Man is the only creature that consumes without producing. He does not give milk, he does not lay eggs, he is too weak to pull the plough, he cannot run fast enough to catch rabbits. Yet he is lord of Space Invaders

"man" certainly does give milk, as much as any other mammal, or any other mammal does as much as "he" does, ie, the female of the species is always the primary milk producer (though males sometimes can). But more than that, humans produce more than just about any animal - what a weird quote.
posted by mdn at 6:09 AM on February 28, 2009


In the arcade, however, you would probably not have been teabagged.

You never spent any time at the Playland arcade at Piccadilly Circus, obviously. There, the boys were often teabagged, but they were always paid handsomely for the privilige.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 10:39 AM on February 28, 2009


I had many enjoyably misspent hours in arcades in junior high and high school (usually my best friend and I were the only two girls who were there to play and weren't hangers-on). Can't say anything about those times that hasn't been said already. But tangentially, after the heyday of arcades, my university's student union had a tiny little arcade in the basement of the student union, right across from the pizza joint, and sometimes during finals week they would disconnect the pay mechanism. FREE all-you-could-play Tekken (whichever version) and Samurai Shodown (and I forget, was it Soul Calibur? maybe...). Ah, foolish boys who expected to step up and smack down the nerdy history major girl. Ha ha. Welcome to the stage of history!

I have to say, though, even the arcades I hung out in from around '89 to the mid '90s were not as vibrant as the ones I checked out a few years ago in Ximending in Taipei, though. Good stuff.
posted by wintersweet at 11:45 AM on February 28, 2009


Hahaha. "FFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFF... GHHHHHHFFFFF..."


Personally, I never went to the arcade to play anything but bemani rythm games requiring elaborate apparatus. I played WAY TOO MUCH DDR in my day, to the point of having to bring 2L of water and 2 towels so as not to sweat all over everything or die of thirst on the way to the machine. Here is a horrible video of me playing doubles from when the local downtown arcade (Funland, which has since closed) only had 5th mix and 4th mix+, so I think probably September 2001. It is the only visual record of my sordid DDR habits that still exists on my hard drive to this day, although a few people on local DDR forums probably have a video of me being the first person in Toronto to beat "Legend of MaXx" on maximum difficulty on doubles.

I really miss the old days of the arcade. Nowadays, you can play drummania or guitar freaks in your house (rock band, guitar hero world tour), and the only DDR-like machine within a reasonable distance of me is way at the back of some movie theater arcade. I built my own DDR pad a long time ago, but I lent it to a friend so he could replicate the design, and never got it back.
posted by tehloki at 2:14 PM on February 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


Fuck. The horrible video I mentioned but forgot to link to. (Starts to get hilarious around 1:05)
posted by tehloki at 2:15 PM on February 28, 2009


In the early 80's my small town's arcade was sublime. I was 12 when gaming was in or around it's peak. The name of our towns arcade was "The Pinball Wizard", the kids just called it "The Wizard".

I (like many other 12 year olds) was not allowed to go without my dad or other responsible adult. The arcade's location perfectly matched the lure of the forbidden. It was on a moderately busy street, but the arcade itself was two stories below street level. So you descended two flights of stairs and walked into the maelstrom. (The danger of getting caught was always present, there was only one way in and out, and there was no chance of pretending you were doing anything but

Yes, the Wizard was "dangerous". Amidst the pinball and games there were rumors that strangers might sneak up while you were playing and inject you with heroin. I first heard about LSD when someone said that once some guy put some on the Missile Command track ball. This arcade was not solely a male domain either, the girls at the Wizard were dangerous too. All blue-jeaned, bangled and sneaking smokes in the alley.

One day, the arcade just shut down suddenly. It was rumored that the Mafia were involved somehow (Which makes no sense but added to the legend.)

This world really needs more of those arcades.
posted by jeremias at 3:09 PM on February 28, 2009 [3 favorites]


"What were arcades like?"
A little like this.
posted by blueberry at 1:00 AM on March 6, 2009


holy hell! there is still an arcade in Toronto union station! they have about 7 pinball machines! If anyone wanted to organize a Toronto meetup, that's where it should be.
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 9:48 PM on March 7, 2009


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