Tell Us Dammit: Let's Talk About Arcade Games

When I was young arcade games were still a thing. In video game reviews the words 'arcade perfect' was like mana to the gods. It meant a guaranteed purchase.

Let's reminisce. Let's tell our arcade stories.

I lived in a small village but we had this one convenience store that had arcade machines. One to be precise. We had Golden Axe for a short period of time. That was awesome. Then we had Robocop, the side-scrolling arcade one. I was awesome at that. We also had Two Crude Dudes.

Then the convenience store person — her name was Sheena — totally went out of business. That was tragic.

But probably a good thing, for my health. I had one pound and 50 pence for my lunch. Instead of eating something good I used to buy a buttered roll, a pack of the cheapest crisps I could find, and then spend the rest of the money on the arcade machine, whatever it was. It's a miracle I have functioning organs.


    I've stopped for the minute but I've been building an arcade cabinet MAME machine. Cut out all the plywood, just got to stick it together.
    I loved playing Metal Slug games, Simpsons arcade, Mortal Kombat and X-Men. I was far better at playing pinball machines though. No real stories. Just plenty of time spent at Timezone and hotel lobbies.

    Last edited 30/04/15 11:24 am

    I picked up a busted lowboy cabinet off ebay a couple years back and set it up to run mame. The old arcade beat em ups are still some of the best local co op games ever. I wish I had a full line up of the awesome looking american cabinet games but a mame machine has me covered and keeps more room for my pinball machines and virtua cop cabinet.

    Another big plus side to having an arcade cabinet set up is it helps with Mark's remember this articles :P

    Last edited 30/04/15 11:25 am

    The smell of an arcade is like no other. It's seedy convenience store, heavily sugared drinks (usually slush puppies), and sweaty teenager all rolled into that unmistakable odour. God I miss it.

    Hours of Ghosts n Goblins, Ghouls n Ghosts, TMNT, Golden Axe, Gauntlet, Shinobi, Snow Bros, Rainbow Islands... Damn you Mark, you're making me sad. :(

    I still have an upright at home. Most of my boards are faulty, but the ever faithful Snow Bros and Ghosts n Goblins are still kicking. I even let my son have free credits...because I'm just that generous. :D

      You pretty much described "Grundy's" up at the Gold Coast circa 1986-1993....

      Good times.

      Snow Bros! I must have pumped at least a $100 into that game.

        Adjacent to the train station where I went to go to school there was a small fish & chip shop with two arcade units: Snow Bros. and Tumblepop. If you were a weak little bitch you played Tumblepop (which was a 2D platformer where you would magically vaccum up enemies and shoot them at the other, larger enemies, bigger combos = more points), but if you were a real gamer you played Snow Bros. Snow Bros. was the hotly contested machine, with kids racing to be first off the train and in line to play a round before school started. You'd always have an audience so you were always playing at peak efficiency or learning from those who were. I must have figuratively played that game a thousand times without placing my hands on the controls, learning the patterns and tricks to each level. When I did get my turns occasionally I'd do well, but more observation and more practice would always be key. Eventually the shop closed because no one bought food there (it was terrible and overpriced - the competing shop down the street did a far better trade and they only had Street Fighter II) and the machine disappeared.
        Years later I was in another cafe a couple of suburbs over and they fancied themselves the local hangout for errant teens, so in a back room several machines were set up. including a Snow Bros. machine. Probably not the same one, but who knows? One day I witnessed some kids struggling with the game, only getting through a couple of levels, clearly in over their heads, wasting money on continues at the first boss level. So I stepped in when they took a break and put my old knowledge to work. I blitzed the first twenty levels before coming into less familiar territory, but the growing audience around me knew no better and continued to be impressed as I advanced without needing to use extra credits. At some point one older guy said "man, you ARE the Snow Brother!" which is a statement that still defies meaning to this day, if I'm honest. I don't consider myself a good Snow Bros. palyer but to these initiates I must have seemed like some kind of wizard.
        Around that point my mother returned from the grocery shopping and indicated that it was time for us to go. Truly I was enjoying myself and reluctant to leave but I felt like I had an image to maintain at this point. I turned and locked eyes with the next kid in line as the next level loaded, and said "you take this one".
        Then I left.

        our local corner store had Snow bros when i was a kid, went there every afternoon.
        one day we went and the game had glitched and gave us 52 credits.... ALLL DAY..... BEST DAY EVER!!! we stayed playing Snow bro's until the shop closed

    Man one of my fondest memories, OH 25 years ago now, was playing a game called Black Tiger (I think that's the name?) in the fish n' chip shop with my mates on a Friday night; before we'd head back to the house and play D&D (1st Ed of course) all night.

    It was a fantasy platformer where you ran around with this weapon on a chain thing. We must have 'clocked it' 50 times.

    SO cool. I think if I found that machine somewhere I’d be hard pressed no buying it at any price…

      yes.... definately called Black Tiger..... awesome game

      probably the most played MAME game i have

      Read Ready Player One by Ernest Cline, Black Tiger (original name Burakku Doragon), is an awesome game in an awesome book.

      Black Tiger is the best arcade game, period!
      That was my arcade game of choice.
      My non porn fantasy is a remake Black Tiger. Completely new, HD graphics, but dont touch the game play. How a remake should be.
      I still play it on MAME from time to time. Still love it!

      Last edited 30/04/15 6:10 pm

    Oh and Gauntlet in the local arcade, even with everything that’s come since, is still the best multiplayer experience I've ever had...

      Yep it's a gem.

      Beating the dragons on Black Tiger was the first time I got 'that feeling you get' when you win a boss fight playing Souls.

      Yeah, it was so much fun with friends, or just whoever was already on the machine, groaning when someone shot the food just as you were about to die....

        heh ... yeah I vividly remember a friend of mine (who loved the wizard) getting crazy every time someone shot a potion!

    I remember when Street Fighter 2 first showed up in our local arcade. I went down after school and waiting in line for over an hour to play. At the time, it was the most amazing game ever.

    When I was even younger, our local bowling alley had a 4 player Sprint arcade. I kicked arse at that game

      It was all about Street Fighter II for us down at the beach shop where we lived. When we weren't playing, we spent the bus trip to school talking about it.

    I was born in 1996, so many arcades had already disappeared. Also, living in rural territory doesn't help.

    Last edited 30/04/15 11:39 am

    I treated myself to a sit down cocktail table with 1942, Pacman, Arkanoid etc. last year. The novelty has worn off a little but it still gets a fair bit of use when mates are around for beers.

    I remember being at a Street Fighter 2 machine. Not Super, not Turbo, pure vanilla 8 character Street Fighter 2. Half of the buttons on the machine didn't work, but regardless I jumped on the machine with my brother. He picked Guile, and I picked Ken. Then Ryu. Then Blanka. Then I worked my way through nearly the entire roster trying to beat him without any luck. Without access to my heavy kicks, his damn defensive technique was just unbeatable. Other people would come up and try to beat him, but he persisted undefeated. In the end I can't remember how long his winning streak went on, but I know it only stopped when I bought him a pint to say "congrats, you earned it you smug prick".

    Ah yeah this was two weeks ago. Good times.

    Battletech pods were beyond god like, they update them still to this day, but i just want one of the really old ones.

    I still remember clearly from the first Melbourne meat, me taking two uzi light guns and playing House of the Dead 4 to completion. That felt awesome just mowing down hordes of enemies and shaking both guns to reload them, I was really feeling the badassery xD

    Edit: Proof:

    Last edited 30/04/15 11:54 am

    I remember walking into the arcade and hearing the words 'The Force will be with you...Always' and looking across the room to see a fully optioned Star Wars cockpit.
    I sat down in it, and grasped the controls, realised that all the money I had brought with me for lunch and the movies was about to disappear into the maw of this machine, and my only thought was that I wished I had brought more.

    The controls were slick and fast and the game almost overwhelming. No time to think as your hands and mind became one, intercepting Tie Fighters and their fireballs, then the Deathstar growing ever larger 'Red 5, I'm going in', the adrenaline pulsing thorugh my veins as I was skimming across the surface, picking off towers and taking hits.
    Only two shields left, the dizzying spin into the trench for the final attack run.
    Hands sweating, picking off laser turrets, stomach dropping, dipping over barriers, taking hits, shield almost gone 'Ive lost Artoo!'.
    Shield Gone! Exhaust port up ahead....

    Last edited 30/04/15 11:55 am

    I remember getting my Timezone Gold Card through the mail and going to Timezone in Manly every single afternoon after school, sitting down at the X-Men vs Street Fighter machine making my one free credit last as long as possible.

    A new challenger restarting the ladder was a godsend.

    There is nothing better than Arcade machines!

    I own an upright with a 108 game board and Super Sprint. So much fun to play when mates are around.

    I hope to one day get NAB JAM and a dedicated SF2 original board / upright .. dreams

    old school games, simple but so much fun

    I worked in an arcade for 9 years (Playtime Highpoint)

    The stories I could tell you... fill a book

      How about sharing at least one then> :)

        Whats your poison? :)

        - The American Tekken brothers?
        - The betting fight club on X-Men V Streetfighter
        - Crime Fighters making more money than Street Fighter EX2
        - DDR being a monster
        - The Initial D gaffer tape to the steering wheel challenge
        - Ozhadou fighting tournaments
        - The mega income of World Combat
        - Watching someone complete Crazy Taxi (yes it can be completed apparently)
        - The day I re-installed Mortal Kombat
        - WWF Royal Rumble on Naomi being a monster hit
        - The morons who used to hit the MoCap Boxing screen
        - The morons who used to kick the Captain Zodiac/Real Puncher machine
        - The rabbid anticipation of Bemani music game upgrades
        - The arrival of the first Capcom V SNK
        - The death of the upright cabinet
        - FInding a long lost Dynablaster PCB in a store room and watching it make monster income
        - The evergreen Point Blank
        - The even more evergreen Daytona
        - Watching 4 very good looking girls play FInal Furlong
        - The day someone shit over some of our machines
        - What happens in an arcade when the power goes out

        I mean... there are more...

          Not surprised about Crime Fighters. Street Fighter and all fighting games are overrated. :D

          What happens in an arcade when the power goes out

          and... maybe some furlong pics.

            Ha, I wish I had pictures.. we are going back to about 1998 - hardly anyone had mobile phones.

            When the power goes out, you VERY quickly do a lap of the store and observe who is standing at what machine. Bare in mind, our store was huge (over 150 machines) so this isnt an easy task. Then you slowly go around and refund/re-credit games where you know there are people standing there waiting.

            You dont refund opportunistic people - they are obvious, usually teenagers who think they can score a free game, and you never refund more than 2 credits into a machine (seriously - the amount of times someone would put more than 2 credits in machine was almost non-existant)

            When the power goes out, its funny how most people freak out. For example, observe a busy street next time the power goes out, people lose their minds. So usually what happens is over 50% of the store immediately vacates - they freak out and get scared and abandon their games behind. Also, luckily most modern games will 'remember' how many credits are still pending in the machine, so its ALWAYS worth knowing which machines store credits, so if someone came up to you and said "we put in $6 and still had 4 credits left" but the machine is saying 'Insert Coin', then you can tell them to get lost politely. Almost all videos made after 1995 remember credits, and so do most ticket redemption games.

            Wanna test it. Throw 2 credits in a Daytona machine. It will automatically start, but you will still have a second credit pending in the machine. Turn off the power and restart, after the boot sequence the game will auto-start the remaining credit - ditto any Naomi boards etc

          The day someone shit over some of our machines


            Yeah that was disgusting, it was a public holiday (ANZAC Day if memory serves me) back in around 1999 or 2000. Bits of shit around several machines like the platform of DDR, a few of the Cinemax (our 50" deluxe conversion cabinets) machines and one of the car racing games. We figured it was a kid of some kind... we hoped it was a kid....

            Sterilized completely.

              Not necessarily a kid. We used to be copied into emails about the... repeated and disturbing 'behaviour' in the toilets at one of our buildings. Someone had been smearing their shit all over the stall walls and sometimes the room's walls.


          You. Need to write that book

            Ive posted some stories on a blog site and did a podcast with the guys from Retro Domination about it

            10 blog posts plus some observations about Japanese and HK arcades:

            Retro Domination blog (and listen to the rest of their stuff))

    My first introduction to arcade machines was as a young person living in a remote town. The local Fish and Chip shop had an arcade machine set up and back in those days glass soft drink bottles would fetch a 20c return, which was about the price of a game. So I'd hoard glass bottles near the fridge until we went to get Fish and Chips at which point I'd blow everything on the arcade machine. I'm also not ashamed to admit that as a kid with limited finances, I'd scrounge the coin return slots for coins and take any free games if people had to leave mid-game.

    When I was in Uni, Timezone and the UQ arcade were my homes away from home until they both shut down. After that, arcades just weren't really as good and lost a lot of the feeling of community.

      That fish and chip shop wouldn't happen to have been in Boorowa, would it?

        Probably not given he went to UQ, but I remember that shop on the corner of Pudman and Dry, used to be run by a guy that looked a bit like Gabe Newell!

          Ah, I missed the UQ, but I'm glad its not just me who remembers the fish and chip shop in Boorowa. We always used to stop there when I was as a kid during trips from Canberra to Bathurst to visit the grandparents. I remember playing a bunch of Street Fighter 2 there, and despite not knowing what I was doing, it was definitely what started my love for the series. They also had a Pac-Land cabinet that didn't get nearly as much love, but was still good fun.

            PAC-Land was awesome, also when I visited Canberra once a bowling alley in Belconnen had a Nintendo Playchoice cabinet - Super Mario in the arcade was great for a kid who no hope in hell of owning a NES!

              Oh man, I wish I'd known about that! I'm a southsider, with Belconnen being northside, so I spent more of my time towards Woden and Tuggeranong. We've had some decent arcades in Canberra, with Timezone in Woden, an arcade in Tuggeranong that got replaced with a mob selling rugs, a decent arcade in Civic that generally kept up with the latest stuff (a mate and I would spend large amounts of time there playing the latest Initial D game), and an Intensity in Belconnen that actually had a bar, but then shrunk to half the size and later got taken over by a new mob, who filled it with laser tag (with a much superior dedicated one across the road) and ridiculous amounts of ticket machines.

              There's not a lot left in Canberra sadly, although it really is a sign of the times.

    Two words - Double Dragon.

    Oooh, arcade machines!

    Relic of the past I couldn't give a shit about!
    Pumping coins in was exploitative, the design revolving around that was hostile and not fun. Machines frequently broke, and often the only reason I ever loved them was because they were a surprise bottle of urine after wandering for days in the desert; a shitty oasis of momentary diversion in an otherwise terminally boring location. Dominated by fighting games and platformers, two of the worst video game genres in the world. At least they aren't sports sims or racing games.

    Except for light-gun games.

    Yes, they were also exploitative, the guns poorly-maintained in most places, and overpriced compared to their fellow cabinets... FOR GOOD REASON. They were better games! Timeless games. Light-gun games like Time Crisis, House of the Dead, Virtua Cop, or Point Blank (so much Point Blank) still hold up today.
    ...When they work.

      Wow. My city's airport, just been revamped. Still has Time Crisis, Virtua Cop and Point Blank. Being a kid I will still go and blow 15 bucks playing in an arcade. I prefer arcade games to these modern bloody murderous cocktails. And I was born in the 21st century

      While I dont agree about the poor maintenance comment (especially not in my location) I do agree with you about light gun games, although you forgot a few
      - Crisis Zone
      - Lethal Enforcers (the first two, not the shitty 3rd one)
      - Police 911 (brought a lot to the genre, and was Konami at their finest)
      - Silent Scope (as above)
      - Ghost Squad

      and some of the more modern titles like Rambo, Raizing Storm, Warzaid and Transformers are great!

      The ones that dont hold up...? Well no one remembers them (except me sadly, especially the horrible Point Blank clones)

    I used to be super addicted. It's the main reason my parents wouldn't buy me a computer growing up. I would trade in softrdrink bottles for 20c at the milk bar. This was mid 80s. One day, when I was around seven years old, I didn't arrive home for dinner. When I was tracked down I was mid-way through a long bomb jack session. I'd walked in with one 20c piece and the guy who owned the store had a handful of coins. Apparently he hadn't seen anyone get so far through and he kept feeding me coins to see how far I could get. At that particular store we'd play Track 'n Field, Bump n Jump, Popeye and Bomb Jack. At the previous milk bar we'd mainly play Willow and a few space SHMUPs. We then moved to another state, onto a farm. No video games in site. It was a really dry spell until Street Fighter 2 came out.

    As an adult I've got a nice MAME cabinet in my office. I do miss going to the arcades though, getting into trouble with the local gangs was one of the main attractions. I was very dangerous with my flick-comb.

    Good times spending them in the arcades in Holland. We had 2 in our town, both by a franchise called the Spielothek. They later became pokey machines only which was really a drag. I remember spending a lot of time on Final Fight when the 12 man cue for Final Fight shifted to StreetFighter 2 when it came out (they only had 1 cabinet). Other games were Double Dragon, Golden Axe, tmnt, simpsons, NARC OH god I loved Narc haha.

    They both closed to under 18s shortly after so the only place you could go to arcades in Holland was in Amsterdam. That opened up a whole new world for me as they had more awesome games newly released like Soul Edge (thats what Soul Calibur was called in the arcade), MK1 to 3, War Gods, Xmen, and a person favourite of mine called Crypt Killer, which was a 4 gun coop game and each had a different ability. Fun times!

    12. Just started high school. Bus to school early so I could teach myself how to play Street Fighter 2 at the dairy (corner store, milk bar lol). Getting $2 of 20c pieces and chugging it in and waiting for the boys to turn up. It was sass or be sassed back in the day. Every now and then if I see one of my childhood games (Raiden, Lightening Fighters, any SF up to Alpha Zero, Captain Commando you get the idea) always put my money in for the lulz and memories!

    If you see a 6'2" fob invisible throwing people in Street Fighter 2, come feed me your tears!

    Double Dragon... So many 20 cent pieces were eaten by it at the local convenience store, which is sadly no longer there..

    Last edited 30/04/15 1:02 pm

    I forgot to mention. It was a lot of fun outsmarting the guy at the video store when we played King of Fighters. You could turn the power off and on to get a free credit. He was onto us and connected it to a long extension cord across the store. We would sneak around to the romantic comedies and toggle the power real quick. He'd shoot around the corner if he heard the boot up sound. "Did you just turn the power off and on???". We would reply: "No, why? What happens if we do that?". Then he'd walk away muttering and we'd have a quick round.

    bonus memories:

    There was also the kid who could get free credits with a piece of bent whipper snipper cord.

    Lock-ins at Timezone (or that place in Darwin, Einsteins?)

    Those Prima boys who would whip us at SF2 but beg for a mercy round if we actually won the first round.

    Finding Super Street Fighter 2 at Spencer Street station, making Vline wait times easier.

    Getting my Dad to get me a Mega Drive so I could play SF2 Turbo and MK. "Dad, it's almost arcade perfect. They can't get much better than this!". He still asks me if consoles ever got better than arcades.

    it started like something out of a child services manual: my dad taking me to the pub cause my mum needed a break, handing me $5 in 20 cent pieces so i could play ghouls and ghosts or midnight resistance. Then it went to a local fish and chip shop wonderboy cabinet, where the owners didnt mind that the machine was making them more money than actually selling fish and chips.
    in 92 at a local shopping centre me and a couple of mates where in the top floor arcade as a riot broke out and we got locked in. owners threw the machines into freemode for the next 4 hours we were stuck in there. great time.
    for the next few years, it was mainly consoles, MK cabs, or gun games like time crisis or point black. then i learnt to play Daytona and spent way too many $2 coins on that. its kind of how i learnt to drive.
    culminates a few years ago when i found MAME and NEO GEO bios. i fired up Nam '75 for the first time and something weird happened. i was in my room, i heard the NEO GEO startup (which is now the theme to my windows 7 starting up) and all of a sudden i could literally smell that arcade smell of ozone coming from the electricity. really brought me back to when i would spend that kind of money to play some great games.
    so, why are arcades non existant now and so expensive?

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