Blog #15: Remember The Almighty Quarter

Posted: August 8, 2012 in Uncategorized

The YMCA. Local restaurants like Pizza Hut. Convenience stores, such as 7-11 and Dairy Mart. Laundromats. The airport.  Hobby shops. The Mall. The entrances to superstores like Hills, Ames, or Wal-Mart. Once, long ago, they were everywhere! I’m talking about what each of these places once had in common: Arcades!

They were everywhere parents needed to be! And the kids told the parents, “We’ll wait for you by the arcade!” mesmerized by games that could never be conquered by a lone quarter. Yet, we tried anyway. Some of us begged for quarters, others mowed lawns in the neighborhood just to crack the High Score that could have been made by your best friend.

(However, I do recall a lot of High Scorer’s initials being A.S.S., which was weird! Must be a big family…!)

Anyway, many of us remember first true popular single consoles like Pac-Man, Donkey Kong, & Centipede.  As the years went on, the machines grew bigger and fancier, like Rootbeer Tapper & Slalom, that themed themselves like the game with large fancy displays instead of the traditional erect rectangle. Then came The Wheel controller that powered your vehicle: Spy Hunter, Super Sprint, & Off Road. All these video game consoles were also high up and standing.

That began to change…

Driving games, such as Hard Driving & S.T.U.N.N.E.R. began to have models to where you actually sat down! These games were amazing, for playing made you really a part of the game experience. But the arcade world would enhance to moving seat games, like Afterburner!

But something happened; an idea was created! Why should arcade games be limited to 2 people?

Games such as Golden Axe, Gauntlet, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles began to evolve, taking a screen the size of Afterburner and putting 4 joysticks and 8 buttons in front of it brought new life to the stand up consoles. Quickly there after, the large screen was replaced by duel screens, expanding the game experience to wide screen, such as X-Men.

But two buttons was still not enough.

Emerged from the arcade geniuses came legends such as Street Fighter, Mortal Kombat, & Killer Instinct: fighting games that used combos from 5 buttons to, but limited to, 7 buttons to execute gory special effects. And with these tournament style games came a barrage of sports games that blew away the competition with multiple buttons, large screens, and growing crowds such as NBA Jam, NFL Blitz, & Golden Tee!

However, back in the dusty realm of the arcades still sat the legends of the arcade creation, and not just Ms. Pac-Man, Galaga, & Sinistar, but Pinball machines! Horizontal rectangular games with amazing special features, unique ball shooters, and orange dot matrix screens to give the game theme new life!

Crowds began to draw near to every make and model of console that erupted into an existence of its own: The Arcade.

Thanks to the Almighty Quarter, the arcade universe as unstoppable! Quarters flew in and out of machines faster than kids were losing pinball games thanks to the creation of the Multi-Ball feature! Inside any arcade, you would hear the latest pop songs, the buzzing of basketball games, the losing of characters as they’d fall of the screen to their deaths, kids laughing, even the sounds of kids dancing on  huge platforms to see who, by points, could dance better to horrible music! The arcade universe was alive!

But not for much longer…

Game creations turned to consoles. Consoles turned to tournaments. Tournaments turned to home units, such as Nintendo & Sega. Arcades began to shrink as home units matured into the Super Nintendo & Playstation. Consoles began to disappear, along with the stores that used to house them. The arcade universe shrunk smaller and faster than the popularities of the Neo-Geo & Dreamcast. X-Box crawled out of the ashes and Playstation 2 battled for supremacy as the GameCube held onto Mario like a fat kid with his last donut.

The realm of the arcade shriveled down even further with the overwhelming popularity of the Playstation 3, X-Box 360, and the Nintendo Wii. The arcade universe turned to a realm of darkness and despair.  The realm is now a wasteland of crane games, cheesy Big Bertha games, and useless ticket contest games to where you actually win paper tickets for pathetic prizes that you wouldn’t spend real money on!

The wasteland has turn to myth. The myth of arcades has turned to legend.

Kids today think an arcade is a place that has 3 video games inside a motel or in the back of a shoe store. No, an arcade used to thrive, live, breathe, and enlighten the greatest of gamers of all ages. There is rumor of a place called Dave & Busters that has what an arcade used to be like, but I’m sure that is just a myth to turn to legend, too, one day.

(Okay, I’ve had my fun! Today I was tweeting about the pros and cons of going to or being at an arcade! I hope you enjoy and got a good laugh. If you laughed hard, I know your age! 🙂 Thanks for reading and I hope you can relate to the tweets below!)

You wanted to go to #PizzaHut for dinner just so you could play & eat at the arcade tables! Yessss! #ArcadeHeaven

You go to the arcade empty-handed but you find a few dropped quarters under the consoles! Yesss! #ArcadeHeaven

You intentionally TILT! the pinball machine someone’s playing on cause they’re gonna beat your High Score! #ArcadeHeaven

You discover that if you turn off the arcade game & turn it back on, sometimes you get a free game! Yesss! #ArcadeHeaven

You have no money. You check all the games & find a pinball machine with credits left! FREE GAME! Yessss! #ArcadeHeaven

You’re watching another kid play a game and he says to you, ”Here, finish my game! I gotta go!” Yesss! #ArcadeHeaven

You only have $0.25 and you discover someone else has already put $0.25 into a $0.50 game! Yesss! #ArcadeHeaven

Your favorite 4-Player arcade game has 2 screens; one is perfect but the other is badly distorted! Noooo! #ArcadeHell

You’re playing Gauntlet with 3 other players & everyone is stuck, thanks to the Red Transports! Noooo! #ArcadeHell

You got the High Score after spending $3.00 on 1 game just to have it erased when they shut it off! Noooo! #ArcadeHell

Your $0.25 doesn’t register and gets stuck! And worse, the red square COIN RETURN button is jammed! Noooo! #ArcadeHell

You only have $0.50 left to use. Your favorite game is $0.50 but one coin is a CANADIAN QUARTER? Nooooo! #ArcadeHell

You find a driving game & sit down in the seat. You insert $0.25 and you discover THE PEDAL’S BROKE! Noooo! #ArcadeHell

You insert $0.25 into the game & begin to play when you discover YOUR ‘SHOOT’ BUTTON DOESN’T WORK! Noooooo! #ArcadeHell

You pick up the gun controller & insert $0.25. The game begins as you discover THE LASER IS WAY OFF! Nooooo! #ArcadeHell

‘INSERT COIN’ flashes on the screen. You insert your last $0.25. Then is flashes: ‘1/2 INSERT COIN’ Noooooo! #ArcadeHell

(Oh, and one more things…)

On #arcade games, why did the WINNERS DON’T DO DRUGS screen picture ‘Only’ show up ‘After’ you lost? #MixedMessages


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