Thursday, November 21, 2019

Favorite Classic Arcade Games

As you may have guessed by now, I used to spend a lot of time in video game arcades when I was young. In fact, during the summer between my sophomore and junior years of high school, a group of friends and I made daily treks to the nearest outlet of a mini-chain of arcades called Fun Factory, a business that still exists today, albeit in different locations.

For whatever reason, life has been sending me a lot of reminders about this lately, from the podcast episode that my band did last month where we discussed this very subject to the classic game arcades I visited in Las Vegas to the anime convention I attended with my kids this past weekend (which included a large gaming room). So, I thought I'd share with you some of my old favorites.

Mat Mania
Back in the day, due to a shortage of funds, I needed to find a way to stretch my quarters so that I could still make those aforementioned regular trips to the arcade and not have to sit around twiddling my thumbs while my friends used up their comparatively larger budgets. The answer, of course, was to find a game that I could get good enough at so that a dollar or so would go a long way. I'm not sure why (maybe my adolescent fondness for watching professional wrestling played a part), but this game ended up being the one. I got so good at it that I was able to last hours on a single token, even getting to the point where I could "flip" the score - i.e., amass so many points that the game's counter would reset to zero. If that sounds like I'm bragging, it's because I am. But then again, what I had in video game talent was directly offset by a lack of girl-attraction ability, so you decide which was more important.

Super Pac-Man
I liked the original Pac-Man, especially when it first came out, and I liked Ms. Pac-Man as well, but this one, for some reason, really struck a chord with me. I think it was probably the power rush that came from crashing through locked gates at a high rate of speed with a gigantic, invulnerable Pac-Man that did it. My skills with this game eventually reached the point where I entered a contest for it and took second place. Later, as an adult, I bought the home hand-held version and proceeded to set a high score that no one in my family has yet been able to beat (mind you, this is the only game that I'm better than my kids at).

Space Ace
Dragon's Lair, the original laserdisc game (for you younger folk, you may have seen it featured on Stranger Things), was HARD. At least it was for me. But maybe it was for other people as well, because this game seemed to be a little bit easier. Or perhaps I just liked the "energize" feature that allowed Dexter, the protagonist, to change into "Ace" in a manner similar to how Pac-Man could change into Super Pac-Man and then go around kicking some serious butt. Either way, I did manage to finish the game, albeit on the easiest setting *humblebrag*

Donkey Kong, Jr.
Okay, here's a game that I was never particularly good at, but for some reason I've always enjoyed it anyway, even 'til this day (it's one of my first choices whenever I visit a so-called classic game arcade). Lord knows I tried to get good at it when I was young, but I could never get past the second go-around of the fourth stage, where Junior finally rescues his dad. Could this all be due to some kind of repressed psychological angst stemming from my relationship with my real-life father, as documented here? Eh, probably not.

So there you have it, a foursome of my old faves (others include Gyruss, Q*bert, Joust, Defender, and many, many more). I'd love to hear what some of yours are, so feel free to let me know in the comments!

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