Nostalgia, Gaming, and You!

Woah, I am actually jealous. It is so amazing such a place exists.

Just for a taste…

7PM after driving all day to get to Chicago having checked in to my hotel and picked up the ticket for graduation just before walking inside. Proof I had arrived!

This. Game. Is. Insane! Never even knew it existed. Had an absolute blast.

I had never seen nor played the actual Monkey Ball arcade cabinet. I’ve played so much Super Monkey Ball and its sequel that this was a huge highlight. Banana controller is awesome!

As you all know, I love the Neo Geo. This was heaven.

Two rows!!

My brother was a huge Omega Race guy… I’ve only seen a sit down cabinet once or twice. Amazing.

This entire room is almost all horizontal and vertical shooters! I honestly could have stayed in here the entire time. Brilliant!

One of the few 3D shooters… which is actually a 3D version of 2D shooters in the Gradius line! I feel like I knew this existed but I certainly had never seen nor played it. It’s quite an experience if you enjoy Gradius!

Finally, I got to play Twin Cobra II (Kyukyoku Tiger II) for the first time in my life. Twin Cobra has always been a favorite arcade game of mine. It’s that perfect mix of shooting, powerups, bombing, and dodging that we’d get before bullet hell became a thing. Twin Cobra II did not let me down. It’s amazing! I now need to own this on Sega Saturn.

More observations…

The way they put two games in many cabinets is rather brilliant. They have what I think is a video switcher in there and a button on the coin box that lets you switch between games. Essentially, both boards are always running but when you push the button, the video wipes to the other game. It allows you to cram many more games into the space they have, which is HUGE.

The controls on nearly every cabinet were excellent and working perfectly in almost all cases. I had a little trouble with their Zaxxon and one other game I can’t remember now, but everything else was right on. Some monitors were in need of recapping (you can see it on the Metal Slug machine above) but that’s ongoing maintenance that definitely takes money and time and an electrician. For the most part, everything was just plain great, which is a feat that isn’t easy to pull off with this many cabs.

I honestly will go back specifically to visit this arcade again for an entire day. I paid $20 for the videogames portion but if I had more time, I would have spent the $30 total to add the pinball too. Pinball is two blocks away and I knew if I didn’t leave by 10, I’d be dead the next day for graduation and sightseeing downtown. I left around 10:15. :)

I wish I had taken more photos, but you can find them online. I had to make a conscious effort to go play things I had never seen before and investigate the whole place even though I could have probably pipped some third place scores on some of the machines. They keep scoring on top of every cabinet in the place including the World Record and the top three scores at Galloping Ghost. I loved that! They run a Twitch channel so you can tune in there sometime to see folks going for records. Apparently they add one new game every week too!

If you are within any kind of reasonable driving distance. Go there. It’s truly a treasure for fans of arcade games. This lit my fire even more than Funspot has. It’s definitely a little bit less “historical” in the sense that it doesn’t have a lot of super old stuff Funspot has and acts as an excellent complement to that place. Pinball Gallery in Malvern near me is superb for pinball so I knew I could do that more easily locally too, but I imagine that’s as good at GG as it is there.

Highly recommended.

That’s pretty crazy that such places exist. I wouldn’t have thought the old arcade machines would still work. That must take some serious effort to keep repairing and restoring them.

During the early 2000s I went to place in downtown Seattle that was game focused, but most of their space was focused on gimicky modern games. I looked at the giant balloon game that took up multiple stories, and the side by side racing games and the dance games, and none of it looked appealing. I ended up spending my time in the older games section they had for the full hour I paid for. But they didn’t have anything like this kind of collection, even back in 2000 or so, and this is 19 freakin’ years later! That’s 19 more years of maintenance required on these old machines.

My God that looks wonderful.

Oh man, I remember spending every quarter I got on Omega Race at the corner candy store back in 1982…I was obsessed with it. I was so glad when they replaced it with something else!

There are actually a lot of arcades around with original and rebuilt cabinets these days. That’s probably because a lot of dudes like me show up to play them. There is serious work in maintenance but it’s usually the kind of thing that hits a single machine at a time so you can prepare. They’re more resilient than you think. The other thing is you can often get much better replacement parts these days if it has a modern equivalent piece available in the case of electronics.

Assuming you’re still in Seattle, you should put “Seattle Arcades” into Google because you have some decent spots there. I did just that and there are at least five places I’d definitely check out. None are as expansive as GGA that I can see, but there’s some quality there. Avoid the Dave & Busters/GameWorks type places which is probably where you went, although I do enjoy D&B for a more modern good arcade time. There are still lots of good things being released today. This place in Exton, PA is rather cool. They import stuff from Japan…

They have this at Round1 exclusively and it was one of the last things I played with all my boys before Cal went to the Navy, and Ben went to college… It is a heck of a lot of fun even if it’s rather basic.

@BrianRubin You gotta go. I think you’d love it. They had a sit down Sega Galaxy Force.

As for Omega Race @Relayer71, I put a lot of quarters in it too. It was a great game. Vector graphics still amaze me in person.

Woah, I’m not in Seattle anymore, I moved to the Kansas City area in 2006. And I just typed “Kansas City Arcades” into Google, and there’s actually 5 arcades in the area! I have no idea how good they are, but it should make for interesting excursions to find out. Very cool.

Is really nostalgia gaming that awesome? I’ve found very little from my past that needed revisiting, however I’ve seen some souped up games with older graphics but newer ideas that were quite fun.

I just don’t think I’ll ever think it is charming to play 2 player Settlers on a 14 inch monitor ever again.

Depends what you’re playing, of course. I wouldn’t play Settlers if someone paid me, so there’s that.

Arcade games are timeless IMO. The artistic design and gameplay simplicity of an arcade shooting game will always capture me, even if I have played it hundreds of times before. The Neo Geo continues to astound me many years later because its games are easy to pick up and play but extremely difficult to master. When I go to an arcade, I enjoy finding rarities I never enjoyed in their time as well as the likes of Pac-Man, Space Invaders, Elevator Action, Donkey Kong, etc.

If it’s home games, well, again, the simpler games of the 16-bit era specifically with their top notch hand drawn pixel graphics and animation are just plain exciting to me. It’s all hand crafted, where today’s games often don’t have that same appeal. It’s not that I’m always going back to those times to play games I loved. As noted above, it’s as much about playing what I missed and finding new gems from an era that helps define games for me.

I do think PC gaming has less games that retain this appeal, but a lot of that has to do with PCs being so laser focused on technological innovation often to the detriment of gameplay. It also doesn’t help that a lot of Euro games of the earlier eras are just plain unfairly hard for no good reason. Eurojank is a term used today because it’s true.

@Rock8man I wasn’t sure where you were now, but I’m glad you looked! Pretty much any big city has arcades now and many smaller towns too. There’s a definite resurgence, and usually associated with a bar. That’s something that makes GGA a little more pure IMO… it’s completely 100% about arcade machine entertainment and nothing else.

Well I don’t know if I am nostalgia gaming actually, as I play again very few titles (only the few I am really obsessed with, like Sid Meier’s Pirates, Strider Hiryu or the whole Tecnosoft library).
What I love is discovering “new” games, and also, in a bit of tengent nostalgia trip, play games that I read and dreamed about back in the day. Oftentimes, time hasn’t been kind to them, but there are the exceptions: Railroad Tycoon or Master of Orion for instance, the 90s PC flight simulators, or Super Metroid which I started playing very recently and was taken away by how atmospheric it was for such an old game.
The esthetics sure are important. I grew up in this, I love this stuff. I share a lot of Dave’s points of view about the handicraft nature of those, although I still find that in some authors’ works of what is called Independent gaming nowadays.

Today on the Japanese eShop, Ichidantoaru popped up as the week’s Sega Ages release. It features both the arcade 2P version and the Megadrive 4P version. I have fond memories of the later, but maybe those games didn’t age well in regard to newer party games.

If I’m ever back in PA (which is unlikely but who knows) I’ll have to check it out.

No no… this is in Chicago, IL, man. I had to drive 11.5 hours to get there! I was in town for my son’s Navy graduation or I never would have known.

If you do come back to PA, Timeline Arcade in Hanover or York are good and Pinball Gallery in Malvern is phenomenal for pinball.

Tempest can still get my adrenaline flowing. And a sound-cranked-up Gyruss machine is just absolutely the shit.

Another Castle up here in Lynnwood has a great selection of pinball machines. I love playing them, until I remember just how big of quarter whores real pinball machines are.

One of the really neat things back then is how unique some of these arcade games were back in the 80s. I remember this one arcade place which had a soccer game that was from a top-down perspective, but the thing that made it cool was that this thing was like a table. So you have two players controlling their players from two opposite sides of this table that’s a giant CRT screen, looking down like gods’ eye view into a soccer match. I played that one in 1986, but I’m not sure when it came out.

Most places I go now for arcade gaming charge a flat rate. It’s usually around $20 for the day, which I know is more than I’d ever pay in quarters based on my skill level for some games, but to me is perfect value for time when I know I’ll stay for like four hours minimum in most cases.

Gyruss on real hardware is effing phenomenal @scharmers. I don’t think it’s able to replicated at home. The joystick is part of that too. Whenever I find a Gyruss or Time Pilot with the original steel joystick setup, I always play it a bunch. There’s a feel there you can’t get elsewhere. Tempest still looks and sounds amazing and plays really like nothing else. That’s why Minter keeps revisiting it!

Links again… Galloping Ghost Arcade… Twitch Channel


Tehkan World Cup?

Wow, that’s probably it. The graphics look a lot more rudimentary than in my mind’s eye, but that seems about right. The CRT probably did a little bit of work in making it look better and my imagination did the rest.

Yeah, images online are typically sharper because they’re taken from MAME with no filters. Everything really does look different on a CRT, arguably better if it’s from that era. It’s about the only thing I can think of that was designed in cocktail/table top form like that for soccer. There is a much older football game with X’s and O’s that many people probably played that used a similar setup made by Atari.

Also for home consoles, the TV standard is nowadays often considered like an issue (it is true that in 99% of the case, you’d rather use RGB), but some artists knew how to exploit drawbacks of NTSC composite to create dithering effects in some NES or PC-Engine titles. I don’t think that’s ever been the case for arcade games though, but you could argue the art was probably created with the softened rendering of the monitor in mind.

The game I most want to play is The Discs of Tron. In the full cabinet.


Too bad it is so very rare.