I said in Arcadian that I didn’t even know where the nearest arcade was anymore. Well, I just found out. The nearest arcade to me (or the nearest I know about) is in the Scadia Family Fun Center.
Scandia is located in Fairfield, CA, about a half hour from me. It is indeed a center of fun. They have go-carts, batting cages, bumper boats, lazer tag, miniature golf, and, of course, an arcade. My friends took me there today specifically to enjoy the arcade. Alas, I didn’t get to. Miniature golf took up too much of our time. But I did snap a few pics of some of the retro games they have there.
What was it like to be in an 80s arcade? Dave Dries shows us with this CGI tour. Dig all the different machine styles, the neon, the authentic screenshots, the quarters lined up on marquees as players claimed “next”, and the Journey soundtrack!
Here’s something I didn’t know about Donkey Kong until I listed to the arcade episode of the You Don’t Know Flack podcast today. If you’ve read Arcadian, you know I talk about encountering a blue Donkey Kong arcade cabinet (and being turned off by the color). In the podcast, Flack talks about finding a red one. Did I make a mistake in the book? No. As Flack continues, he explains that Donkey Kong had originally been made to fill unused Radar Scope cabinets. Apparently, that’s where the red ones came from. Also apparently, the Donkey Kong cabinet I encountered in the convenient store was not one of these original red ones but one of the later and more common blue ones.
Check out the arcade episode of You Don’t Know Flack and the other episodes as well. Also check out Flack’s (real name Rob O’Hara) ebooks: Invading Spaces (about collecting arcade games) and Commodork (about Commodore BBSes). If you liked Arcadian, you’ll like these as well.
Arcade games came in two types of cabinets: the upright cabinet and the cocktail cabinet.
The cocktail cabinet was perhaps the first I ever played. The Space Invaders knock-off game my dentist had in his office was a cocktail cabinet, and my experiences with it could very well have been my first arcade experience. These cabinets looked like tables. You sat down at them to play like you sat down at a table. You could even use them as tables if you wanted to. The screen was in the table top and you had to look down at it.
The upright cabinet was the more popular and familiar. The screen was held horizontally, and you played it standing up. For games that only took one hand, like Pac-Man and Ms. Pac-Man, you could put your free hand on the cabinet side, or, if you were really cool, hang in from the cabinet top.
I certainly prefer the upright version. There is just something about playing while standing that I prefer. I wouldn’t completely dismiss the cocktail version, though. Heck, I wouldn’t even completely dismiss the bar top versions that I never saw or played, even though they are much too small for my taste. An arcade game is an arcade game, after all, no matter what kind of cabinet it comes in.