Arcade Memories: The Bygone Era
One of my less comedic blogs, so I'll so sound more sentimental this time. It's just my memory bringing things you'd be confused about...
Last Saturday I visited a local Pizzeria-slash-arcade known as Giovanni's with family and a friend. I've been to the place before and it really didn't have any games that appealed much to me besides Timesplitters 3, Let's Go Jungle, some Namco collection machine, The Simpsons Pinball, and some Sonic ticket grabbing game (the rest was just pure, pure ticket grabbing games. A cancer on the arcades of today). But some games were better than no games, and I really enjoyed playing Pac-Man on a REAL arcade machine (Almost got the damned high score, but mom told me to quit and eat pizza). Overall, it was a fun time, but besides getting getting this close to getting the high score on the Pac-Man machine, there was moment that struck a cord with me.
Me and my buddy were playing Let's Go Jungle together and we still had plenty of tokens to keep ourselves locked in the realm of electronic gaming bliss, but then a little kid came. A little Asian kid (about age 5 or 6) just peered over at the side of the machine. He stayed there for like 10 minutes. I found it weird and a little unsettling, but I got used to it and ignored him. Then the little kid just sat there next to me and watched before he started chit-chatting with me due to that steadily building interest. It was like having my own little fan. My friend didn't really care or bother to notice and he left near the end of the game.
After the game was done, the kid dug how good I was at the game (another big addition to my ego) and complimented my above average skills. I felt flattered, gave him some pointers, and gave him 6 tokens to which he used to play Let's Go Jungle. The boy was extremely young, he had a lot to learn and I had a feeling he was on a way to becoming a great gamer. Giving him some of the few tokens I had left was good enough for me.
After I went home, I remembered the first time I went to an arcade. I was like his age and it was a different arcade in my town. It was known as Funzone. Generic sounding name for an arcade, sure, but it was a damn fine place to waste your damn money. It was full fighters of like Tekken, Marvel Vs. Capcom, and Virtua fighter. It was full of shooters ranging from the classic topdowns like Galaga, to the sidescrollers like Metal Slug, to the light gun like House of the Dead. It was filled to the brim with games I couldn't comprehend.
I really didn't have the motorskills at the time to handle all the quick-paced action, but my father, who introduced me to the arcade and took me quite regularly for a time was who I looked upon when I couldn't play anything real difficult. Until I knew who fucking Shigeru Miyamoto was, and because my dad was the only real male adult I saw regularly, he was the only one to emulate (until Miyamoto came along), so I set my course for being a gamer...And in the coming years, I grew to be better than him.
Funzone was what a real arcade should've been like. It had a wide variety of games, a neat little community, the ticket grabbing games were minimal in comparison to games were you shoot/beat the crap out of everything, and it even offered rentals on movies and console games...Unfortunately, Funzone closed in about 2006 or 7 due to dwindling business, lack of new games and the shrinking arcade industry. The building has since been replaced by a shop where wedding dresses are purchased...And that broke my heart. There was no arcade like it because it was one of the few arcades that didn't have pizza as a side a business. In fact, it was the only arcade that I ever went to besides the arcade in the mall (which also fucking closed down) that wasn't part pizzeria or part of a movie theater.
Oh the sorrow. I was old enough to grasp what arcades used to be and I'm old enough to understand exactly what the arcades have become: Shit. Back then, there were really challenging games full of top notch graphics and sound. You were there to have fun and attempt to kick ass of a machine that was practically unbeatable unless you had the cash to blow over. The game was every reason to be there, most arcades of the modern era only entice kids with prizes, boring prizes, which surprises me. It's not about the actual games themselves anymore. If your average Chuck E. Cheese is the best way to measure arcades now, most of your 40 bucks towards tokens will be all used up for tickets which can barely buy you a rubber ball.
The days of the arcade are gone. Obviously, they'll never make a comeback, when even phones today are starting to prove a threat to game consoles, that's the big indication that arcades will never go beyond the prize nabbing tripe we now have today.
I looked upon that little Asian kid and wondered if he'll ever grow to a higher status as a gamer or even begin to wonder if arcades of yesteryear were different. Maybe the former, but I know he'd never consider the latter. You usually don't think of times you never experienced, so the children of his generation and the ones to come will never really know the joy of a real arcade with balls.
Yet, I guess they're having it better than I am. They don't have bittersweet memories like I do. They won't miss the "true" arcade days because they never experienced them. If you lose something you love, it's painful. If you never had something you loved, you wouldn't have mourned for it. I'm sad because I'm cursed to have these memories and I'm sad because the current generation kids never got to have the memories I have.
Then again, perhaps it was a good thing arcades died anyway. I'm not happy with what they've become (a means for cheap trinkets), and I guess traveling over to a building isn't as convient and cost effective as sitting down and firing up a Steam game right on your PC. There was that spark you felt when you put in a coin right into the arcade cabinet, but I guess nobody needs to feel the spark now. Somethings are part of bygone eras, arcades are in fact one of them. Humanity is increasingly dependant on convienance now, those bulky machines don't fit in.
I'm feeling blue, but if there's one thing I learned, it's that I shouldn't live in the past, I shouldn't think about the future too much, I should live and think about TODAY. I know I shouldn't be moping over those memories, they're just memories. I'll just use them either as a reminder of what I can do now and how much the world has progressed.
Arcades were a fun novelty while they still lasted, but like I said, it's all over now. Deep memory now. Time to move on. All I can do now is wait to see further developments in the video game industry. Often times, these developments are beneficial, and quite exciting. (Obvious, right?) It's what our lord and savior, Shigeru Miyamoto, would've wanted.
Oh, and here's some arcade games I have found quite memorable. I'm not really an arcade afficionado, though.
- Classic Namco arcade games. Cheap and lenghty...Yeah.
- The Timesplitters series
- Metal Slug
- AeroWings 2
- Street Fighter II: Any Edition
- Marvel Vs. Capcom 2
- Dance Dance Revolution
- Mario Kart Arcade GP
- House of the Dead series
- The Simpsons
- Cruis'n USA and Cruis'n Exotica
- Daytona USA
- Let's Go Jungle: Lost in the Island of Spice
Guitar Hero Arcade
Tekken 1, Tekken 3, and Tekken Tag
- Wild West C.O.W.-Boys of Moo Mesa
- Terminator 2
I've played more, but my memory is struggling. This is just what sticks out in my mind. Some arcade games I've played tend to be quite generic. Well, whatever, man.
It was nice talkin' to ya.