Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Arcades, Part I: Local places

I am part of an era of video games where the arcade scene was experiencing a small boost in the early 90s due to the fighting game craze. By the time I was five in 1997, it was well into decline and today, the closest arcade to me is 50-60 miles from where I live. I've seen a good handful of arcades at points in my life, it all has to start from the beginning, starting with my local mall's arcade.



King's Castle Arcade was a mainstay for a while in the 90s where I lived. To be honest, I don't really remember going there too often, but around 1996 or 97, I can think of a few games that were there. OutRun was there with the movable car. The latest Midway NBA game (Hang Time) was there. One of the Mortal Kombat games and maybe a pinball game are the last things I can think of since my memory is a little fuzzy since it shut down around the late 90s. The mall did bring it back for a short while in a different location, but really had nothing.  It had an NFL Blitz game (either the original of 99), a fighting game, and a couple pinball machines. A few places also had some arcade machines. The used game store had a Cruis'n USA for a while and most of the time one of those deer hunting games. The movie theater had racing games from time to time in the 2000s (Cruis'n, one of the Rush games). Overall, it was pretty sad to see not much of an arcade that still goes on to this day.

Not too far from the mall were a local roller skating rink and bowling alley. Most kids would have their birthday parties there or the school would have a day where the kids go to the rink. For most of the time I went there, it had essentially the same arcade games about every time. One of most interesting was the Battletoads game. Until Rare Replay came out a few years ago, the arcades were your only way to play it unless you used MAME. I think I got as far as the second stage before losing the last of my lives. There wasn't else much. It had Pac-Mania but that never worked. Cruis'n USA was pretty common for people to use. So was Off-Road Challenge. At one time, Sega's Lost World: Jurassic Park was something people played from time to time. There was an FMV type light gun game for a short period in the late 90s and early 2000s. Another rink from another town also had some arcade games, one of them being Donkey Kong and I failed at that game considering it was in the late 90s and was very young to handle 80s difficulty.

I really can't say much with the bowling alley. When I was very young, it had a cocktail version of Ms. Pac-Man. What that meant was it was like a table but with a monitor and buttons. A number of late 70s and early 80s games had that as a design before most went with standard arcade cabinets.  It was something where you could put your drink on top of the arcade without fearing it would spill. My younger brother was there one time in the late 2000s or early 2010s and they had The Simpsons for arcade machines. At some point in the late 90s, a laundromat had a stand up version of OutRun.

In a different town not too far, either, there was a local bar. Just about everybody one year was either at the local pizzeria or getting their drink on. The high school football team won a sectional title and a few towns were celebrating that. For my parents, they went to the bar just to hang out for a little while as the celebrations were underway. Not too long, I leave the pizzeria and head into the bar. One of the things I noticed was an Atari Tetris machine, with the thought of maybe playing it sometime in the future. I never did and the place went under renovation, so the odds of it ever happening are gone compared to ten years ago.

Back in the summer this past year, I got to work at a baseball park. Since a lot of kids had plenty of cash on them, they would spend on all sorts of stuff. One of these was a small arcade area. You would think there would be a bit of baseball related stuff, but nope. Most of it was a bunch of those generic Raw Thrills arcade games. Games like Fast and Furious for example. It had a few baseball games like World Series Baseball and a pinball game called Slugfest, but that was it. There was basketball shooting, a WWE pinball game and a few machines where you can win toys or candy that you can easily get at a Walmart or grocery store.

Keep your eyes peeled for Part II when I talk about places beyond home and local places. Here's a couple of other game related blogs to check out.

http://sullivanentertainment.blogspot.com/2017/03/experiencing-sega-saturn.html
http://sullivanentertainment.blogspot.com/2017/02/retroblox-potential-future.html
http://sullivanentertainment.blogspot.com/2017/02/nintendo-switch-last-hurrah-or-comeback.html

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