Don's Basement Arcade: A Blast From the Past

donstarwars.jpg During my foray to my home town of Baltimore, MD for Thanksgiving, I was able to hang out with Nick Chester and Topher Cantler of Destructoid. They are a great couple of guys and we had an awesome day of playing Rock Band and Mass Effect which was a nice break from what can often be an uneventful holiday. One evening we headed out for a couple of drinks and I was fortunate enough to be introduced to their friend Don Koenig, a local radio DJ for 98Rocks, a gamer and all around nice guy. We got to talking about games and arcades and he invited all of us over to his place to check out his basement arcade where he had collected seven different old arcade machines. Of course we jumped at the opportunity and a few days later we showed up at his doorstep, eager to get a taste of that old arcade magic. As we headed downstairs you could immediately feel the heat of all the machines in the smallish room. And then there they were, six stand up machines including Dig-Dug, Lethal Enforcers II: Gun Fighters, RoadBlasters, Star Wars, G-Loc and a PlayChoice-10 which was something like an early MAME cabinet that Nintendo would use to promote their home console games in the arcades. Also along for the ride was a sweet cocktail table Mr. Do machine that Topher and Don played while I proceeded to use the Force on the Star Wars machine. I used to play that game over and over as a kid, reveling in the "advanced" vector graphics and my ability to blow up the Death Star over and over again on the short levels.

I also checked out Lethal Enforcers II with its light guns and Road Blasters, Don's personal favorite. It was a complete blast and really took me back to those heady days of standing around at the arcade in Towson, plugging my hard earned allowance into the likes of Q-bert, Crystal Castles and Dragon's Lair. But the best part of Don's arcade was that with a flip of a awitch, no quarters were required. There's nothing quite like a big shot of free nostalgia with friends. Thanks Don, your trip down memory lane was the highlight of my holiday.


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