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classic arcade memories?


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#26 7800Lover OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri May 11, 2018 7:37 PM

This was posted elsewhere in this forum section.

 

Sometime in the early 1990s, we drove over to southern Virginia to a shopping mall there.  The town was either Danville or Martinsville; I can't remember which.  My brother and I were delighted to find an Aladdin's Castle video arcade there.  It was inside that I found a Spy Hunter machine. 

 

As I played it, I remembered the trick about breaking the accelerator pedal - I had heard from someone that you could dislodge the pedal to make the car go faster.  Glancing around to make sure nobody was looking, I crouched down and dislodged the metal accelerator on the machine.  Indeed, the car went faster but was much harder to control.  During my playing, I got the feeling I was being watched.  I glanced off to the side and saw two people looking at me.  One was a shorter guy in glasses with an Aladdin's Castle t-shirt on; the other was a bigger guy wearing a muscle shirt and with big arms.  Both were pointing at me and talking to each other.  Suddenly, some sort of commotion broke out in another part of the arcade.  The two men went to see what was going on.  (I didn't know what it was myself.)  I put that pedal back the way I found it and then calmly left the arcade.  We never went back again.

 

That was the only time I ever pulled such a stunt in a video arcade.  I wonder whatever happened to that machine that I broke.   



#27 Keatah OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri May 11, 2018 8:14 PM

I'm going through my old posts I copy-pasted in a word.doc file to keep for historical sake. I found the one where I went to Galaxy World in carol stream and had my CB antenna stolen. It was a nice magnetic mount one from RadioShack. Damn fuckers. It was about then I realized the amount of riff-raff was increasing at arcades. Though it would take me about 2 more years to finally give up on the scene. General mall arcade closures and increase in fighting games helped me lose interest.

 

That is correct. Back in the day I got to interview for a technician's job and was appalled and dismayed at what went on in the back room. It was like a torture chamber for electronic games. The things and techniques that were done to force the games to perform was just sickening. The mess, the half-assed soldering. Boards stacked on the floor.

 

Today it doesn't bother me anymore. And in fact if you come across an arcade cabinet, and want to modify it, I'll encourage any conversion to modern electronics with a proper mame install. That's what mame was made for. To preserve the game and replace older electronics.

 

I also happily recall going to PinPan Alley in Algonquin, quite a trek to get there, and taking lots and lots of photos. The owner got to talking with me and said I was the only kid he'd ever seen bring in a camera and actually "document" the establishment. I even have the rare ones of Earth Friend Mission they were demoing. But I don't think I can get motivated to post them.



#28 Kosmic Stardust ONLINE  

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Posted Fri May 11, 2018 10:17 PM

I was a little kid, possibly preschool age or kindergarden at best, and my mom had to take a greyhound bus for a special trip. My dad had to take my mom to the bus terminal and I with them. It was wee hours of the morning, still pitch black outside. A man had just put a quarter in a Donkey Kong Arcade machine when his bus started boarding. He saw me looking up wide eyed at the monitor and suggested I take over for him. My mom agreed it was a nice gesture, so my dad picked me up and held me so I was tall enough to reach the control panel. There was something magical in that Mario moved in the same direction that I tilted the stick. Truth be told, I never cleared that first barrel, but it was still an amazing experience. Sadly my parents were too frugal to allow me to spend money at the arcades or buy me an nes later when it came out, so growing up I stood and stared at the attract mode or watched people play imagining it was me. But I never forgot the unnamed man who gave me that first free credit... :)

#29 jhd OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed May 16, 2018 12:55 PM

There were just a few small arcades in the city where I grew-up; most were associated with bowling alleys. We did not have Aladdin's Castle or any other recognizable franchises in Canada. 

 

My family used to regularly visit New England (mostly Portland, Maine and the exurbs of Boston, like Worcester and Auburn) in the mid-1980s. A high point of these trips for me was visiting the truly massive Dream Machine arcade located in the Worcester Galleria; that establishment seemed larger than all of the arcades back home, combined. Some of the other area malls had smaller arcades, too. 

 

One hotel that we stayed at (in Worcester, I think) had a lonely Tapper arcade game in the lobby; I had never seen one before (or since). 



#30 schuwalker OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun May 27, 2018 7:13 AM

I'm going through my old posts I copy-pasted in a word.doc file to keep for historical sake. I found the one where I went to Galaxy World in carol stream and had my CB antenna stolen. It was a nice magnetic mount one from RadioShack. Damn fuckers. It was about then I realized the amount of riff-raff was increasing at arcades. Though it would take me about 2 more years to finally give up on the scene. General mall arcade closures and increase in fighting games helped me lose interest.

 

That is correct. Back in the day I got to interview for a technician's job and was appalled and dismayed at what went on in the back room. It was like a torture chamber for electronic games. The things and techniques that were done to force the games to perform was just sickening. The mess, the half-assed soldering. Boards stacked on the floor.

 

Today it doesn't bother me anymore. And in fact if you come across an arcade cabinet, and want to modify it, I'll encourage any conversion to modern electronics with a proper mame install. That's what mame was made for. To preserve the game and replace older electronics.

 

I also happily recall going to PinPan Alley in Algonquin, quite a trek to get there, and taking lots and lots of photos. The owner got to talking with me and said I was the only kid he'd ever seen bring in a camera and actually "document" the establishment. I even have the rare ones of Earth Friend Mission they were demoing. But I don't think I can get motivated to post them.

 

Many good memories of that particular Galaxy World. I went there probably a year or so before it closed - it was a sad site. It was a ghost town in there (might've been the only one there). Mostly redemption fluff, two pins in a unplayable state and games I didn't care about besides Sega Star Wars Trilogy "theater edition". Still surprised one of the Brunswick franchises just didn't take over that location.

 

Never been to the other arcades you mentioned, I would like to see pics though for sure...

 

Back to topic... My fondest memories come from not arcade but ones in the department stores and what not. The Zayre my parents shopped at had a little cubby hole right by the food court. First time I saw Asteroids, Donkey Kong and Armor Attack. Same town, mom would grocery shop at Dominick's. They had a awesome rotation of games. One time it was a Crazy Climber and Wild Western, replaced later with Stern Frenzy and a Centuri Pleiades. the Ben franklin store in the same strip with Omega Race and Sega Pulsar. One of the popular theaters the family would frequent had a Atari Arabian (god, I love that game) juxtaposed with Bally/Midway Journey.


Edited by schuwalker, Sun May 27, 2018 7:19 AM.


#31 retrorussell OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun May 27, 2018 5:41 PM

I got my mom to take me to Chuck E Cheese back in the day a handful of times.. awful pizza but man, did they have fantastic games-- and tons of them!  Chuck E himself wandered around to shake hands/hug kids and I'd avoid him like the plague.

 

For folks in the Pacific Northwest I have very fond memories of the ORGAN GRINDER and UNCLE MILT'S theater-style houses with great pizza, great arcades and silent movies or 3 Stooges movies.



#32 Zoyous OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon May 28, 2018 8:42 AM

What a great thread! I've enjoyed reading through everyone's recollections. I have a lot of great memories of ye olden dayes, so I might do multiple posts.

 

One of the first arcade games I remember seeing and playing was the original Monaco GP. It was a sit-down cabinet and it was in a small room in a hotel that I went to with my parents. I was probably about 6 years old and it was 1980, so the machine wasn't new at that point, but it was amazing to me. I remember being stymied by that ambulance that comes up from behind. Of course my game was over in no time, but as a car-loving kid I had a blast and I was hooked on video games already. I don't remember any other games being in that room. Maybe it was next to an ice machine or something.

 

Soon after that, my big brother came home one day raving about playing Asteroids on the 2600 at his friend's house. And I think in relatively short order following that, I went to my first real arcade and he showed me the coin-op Asteroids. This was in Nashville. There were several arcades we went to regularly, but the one we went to most often was in the Hillwood shopping plaza a few storefronts down from the Winn-Dixie grocery store. So while our Mom was shopping for groceries, sometimes she'd give us a couple of quarters or maybe even a whole dollar and we'd run over to the arcade. This arcade didn't have much in the way of interior design. They just rolled out some thin carpet that was dotted with cigarette burns, kept the lights dim and the music loud. There were huge plate glass windows in the front like every other store in this strip mall, but they were heavily tinted. It was two big rooms, and I'd guess there were about 30-40 games in there. They had cushioned metal stools to sit on and there were a few narrow tables with ash trays in between some of the cabinets. In my early days I really enjoyed Pac-Man and Ms. Pac-Man, Joust, Frogger, Asteroids, Donkey Kong, Jungle Hunt, Space Invaders, Galaxian and Galaga. The tech advanced so fast back then and it was always a thrill to see what new machines showed up. I remember being blown away by Turbo one day, and then soon after that my brother came running to get me at the grocery store, saying there was an amazing new racing game called Pole Position that I had to come see immediately. One particular memory I have of this arcade has to do with that carpet that I mentioned before. Around this time, my brother and I frequently zapped each other with static electricity... first accidentally, as it just seemed to build up particularly in the Winter time; later on purpose as we discovered we could build up a charge by vigorously rubbing our shoes on carpet. Well, one day I noticed that the Berzerk machine had metal coin slots and I wondered if I could possibly get a free game by zapping it with a static charge. So I scuffed my shoes back and forth on the carpet for a minute, zapped the coin slot, and was amazed to find that it actually worked! It didn't work every time, but it did work occasionally. I reckon I wasn't the only kid who figured out this trick, because it wasn't long after that that Berzerk had new plastic coin slots like every other game in the arcade. Most of the time we went there in the middle of the day, so it was usually not very crowded and we almost never had to wait to play any games. But with little or no money, and not being particularly good at any games, I really spent most of my time just watching the attract modes. This arcade lasted a long time and I remember seeing wave after wave of new games coming in. Some of the ones I remember in particular... Satan's Hollow; Sub-Roc 3D set up next to Punch-Out!!; the deluxe sit down Star Wars cabinet; Dragon's Lair and later Space Ace, and some other laser disc airplane game with sprites displayed over live action backgrounds; Zaxxon; Popeye. I also remember that after a while they changed the coin machines so instead of four quarters for a dollar, they dispensed four tokens, then five, then six. One time my Mom got mad at me because she sent me down there with a dollar and expected me to change it and bring 50 cents back; but the machine dispensed tokens and the attendant refused to change the tokens back to quarters. They must have been hurting for cash by then.

 

Another arcade we went to regularly was on the ground level of 100 Oaks Mall, tucked in the back behind the escalators. Another dark, atmospheric place, cleaner than the Hillwood plaza arcade, not quite as big but still probably had about 20-30 games. This one was cool because they kept some older games for quite a while even as they brought in newer ones. It was here that I first played Stunt Cycle. I remember being interested in the technical evolution of these games and thought it was interesting that this older game had decals applied to the screen to represent the tunnels that the motorcycle went through.* There was also one of the black-and-white Atari football games; later on it was positioned next to Cyberball. Other games I saw for the first time and/or played there - DigDug; Shinobi; Rolling Thunder; and Double Dragon, which I beat with the help of my friend and a ton of quarters to continue (by this time I was about 13 and had a little bit more spending money). I was also getting really tall and I remember starting to get wrist pain while I was playing Shinobi - my first lesson in ergonomics!

 

Those were the two main arcades I frequented. My brother told me about another arcade that was somewhere along West End Ave., but it was 18 & over or maybe 21 & over as it had a bar in it. I thought it was unfair that I couldn't get in there to play the games, and of course by the time I was old enough, it was long gone. There were other arcades I knew about in Hickory Hollow Mall and Rivergate Mall, but it was almost impossible to convince my parents to drive me that far (about 20-30 min. drives) other than a couple of times a year. Those were by far the most crowded arcades I ever got to visit. So the other places I found games were in pizza parlors and in the lobbies of grocery stores and department stores. I found a Quartet cabinet in the lobby of a K-Mart. I was blown away seeing Out Run for the first time in the back of a pizza parlor - I distinctly remember taking the first left turn and then approaching the stone column tunnels and having a total startle/adrenaline rush reaction. It seemed like some of the bigger Sega cabinets would often show up in these random places.

*One other cool Stunt Cycle memory. Some 25 years later I was in my mid-30s and went to the Northwest Pinball and Arcade show. (This is like being in an arcade in heaven.) I was waiting for a turn to play Stunt Cycle while an older guy in his 50s or 60s was playing it, and we were chatting about what a cool game it is. Then it was my turn to play, and as I was playing, a kid who was probably about 10 years old came up and asked me what my high score was in the game and told me what his high score was. It was just a simple little moment but it was so cool that we were these three people of a wide spectrum of ages, all digging this classic game.



#33 davyK OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu May 31, 2018 11:37 AM

Used to frequent an arcade in Belfast called the 147 club (so-named because it had pool & snooker tables out the back. The max score in a game of snooker is 147). Had lots of classic arcade cabinets in there. Defender, G&G, Scramble, Track & Field, Moon Patrol etc.  I played a lot of Tempest in there and one day the 40 free credits bug had occurred - played until my eyes hurt!   :)


Edited by davyK, Thu May 31, 2018 11:38 AM.


#34 Keatah OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu May 31, 2018 4:13 PM

 

Many good memories of that particular Galaxy World. I went there probably a year or so before it closed - it was a sad site. It was a ghost town in there (might've been the only one there). Mostly redemption fluff, two pins in a unplayable state and games I didn't care about besides Sega Star Wars Trilogy "theater edition". Still surprised one of the Brunswick franchises just didn't take over that location.

 

Never been to the other arcades you mentioned, I would like to see pics though for sure...

 

 

Someday I may post pictures. But not here on AA. It's a long story.

 

Anyhow, I don't think I saw the inside of Galaxy World in a state of advanced decline and decay. Last game I played there was Super Space Invaders '91. It was about the time I was getting into PC gaming. And if there was any one single factor, it WAS PC gaming that helped convince me I didn't need to keep going to arcades.

 

The 80's music had passed, big hair was getting smaller, and decline was becoming commonplace. So I wasn't sorry to see it eventually turned into an outdoor strip mall and parking lot.

 

Fast-forward to today. Everything is on video screens, and mechanical redemption machines are a fresh change of pace. So there's that.



#35 UltimaGabe OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Jun 9, 2018 4:28 AM

Hey, guys! I just want to say I love the stories here. I'm actually planning on putting together a quarterly podcast pretty soon, where I'll compile people's stories of going to the arcade to make them into a big time capsule of nostalgia. I'm really excited about it. I never got to go to the arcade much as a kid, so nowadays I'm trying to make up for lost time!

 

So, I wanted to ask, would anyone here (either people who have posted stories earlier in the thread, or anyone who hasn't yet but still has stories to share) be interested in submitting your stories to be included in this podcast? I'll take text stories if that's easiest (and either I or one of my friends/family will read them into the mic), but preferably, if anyone wanted to record the stories yourself (giving just that extra little bit of personality) then that would be awesome. And I'll plug your website or business or whatever you want in the process.

 

And if not, well, I still had a great time reading these stories, and I'm looking forward to reading more!

 

But if you are interested, either send me a PM or e-mail me at ArcadeMemoriesPodcast@gmail.com and we'll work out the details. (I thought about making my own thread about this but since this thread already existed I figured I'd try here.)

 

Thanks, everyone!



#36 Rhymes OG OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Jun 19, 2018 1:52 PM

My first memory is of my father playing a game of Joust at the Santa Monica Pier. Must have been around 1987. It is because of this memory that I have always been into what people call "classic" arcade games. I just call them Arcade games. There is nothing classic about it to me since it is an everyday part of life. I remember back in the day arcades being the place to go. Skateland in Whittier California was one of my first spots I used to go to. It was def a punk rock type of vibe back then and I remember all of the arcades being grimey and a place for trouble in the 90's.

 

In the 2000's the Nickel Nickel arcades started popping up which I eventually worked at in 2003 at the Whittier location. We used to close the store and put on our own secret "AFTER HOURS" that management def did not know about. We would turn the lights off and put every game we wanted to play on free play and invite all of our friends over. YES, the security cameras were turned off.  This time in particular was one of the best times of my life and a very underappreciated time as we did not know how good we had it back then being able to basically have our own arcade at night that we didn't have to pay for. 

 

After the Nickel Nickel days arcades started to close down, the scene started dying, and now I only see mostly super arcades like Round 1, or Dave N Busters. I hate these places.... Even Arcade Infinity in Rowland Heights closed down, which was the definitive spot for Japanese fighting game players in that area. The only spot that I know of that is still open is James Games in Upland California. The owner Rick is an extremely nice guy and has been there since the original owner James sold it to him decades ago.

 

The new arcades are not like what it used to be.  Give me a grimey old dark hallway with some old cabs and I'm good. 

 

Yes I am from California. I currently live in Las Vegas. The arcade scene was huge in California during the late 80's and 90's. Once the 2000's rolled around, they started to fall off the grid. I was def born in the wrong time (1985), but I finally have my own Centipede machine of my own after 33 years of waiting.  If any of you are coming out to Vegas, hit me up, lets play some Centipede!



#37 Skullazzi OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Jun 19, 2018 10:50 PM

My most classic arcade memory comes from about  1980. Before Chuck E Cheese's, we knew

a place called PJ Pizzazz. A pizza kitchen with a dining room on one side and a ton of games

on the other side. My dad would take me and a buddy there, give us each 40 bucks and

let us play all the  games we could. While he watched sports or something on the big

screen tv they had. Can't remember all the obscure games we tried out. Great times.



#38 retrorussell OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Jun 19, 2018 11:54 PM

My most classic arcade memory comes from about  1980. Before Chuck E Cheese's, we knew

a place called PJ Pizzazz. A pizza kitchen with a dining room on one side and a ton of games

on the other side. My dad would take me and a buddy there, give us each 40 bucks and

let us play all the  games we could. While he watched sports or something on the big

screen tv they had. Can't remember all the obscure games we tried out. Great times.

Was this the place?

https://segaretro.org/P.J._Pizzazz



#39 retrorussell OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Jun 20, 2018 12:18 AM

Here's places I used to go:

I went to this one off of NE 103rd and Halsey in Portland: ELECTRIC CASTLE'S WUNDERLAND.  Nickel arcade, and this one was one of the biggest, if not THE biggest.  HUNDREDS of games.  Might still be there; there are still several locations.  First saw several games when they were brand new there.

0143683631_adv.jpg

Commercial for the ORGAN GRINDER, located in one of the scummier parts of Portland-- but boy was the pizza good IIRC and the arcade machines were great (that may have been where I first saw ARABIAN) and silent films and maybe 3 stooges were shown on a theater screen.

Of course, MALIBU GRAN PRIX was great and had the best games (though only 4 tokens for a dollar).

FARRELL'S ICE CREAM PARLOUR was everywhere way back in the day-- I saw so many games for the first time there in their mini-arcades.  Space Invaders, Carnival and probably Fantasy I saw at the Beaverton and Washington Square Mall locations.



#40 Skullazzi OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Jun 20, 2018 3:25 AM

Yes, that was the place. I had no idea it was run by Sega, though.



#41 digdugnate OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Jun 20, 2018 9:18 AM

oh i love this thread! brings back so many good memories :)

 

We had a Gold Mine in our town in the 80s at one mall, then a new mall was built and they put a Pocket Change (I think it was called?) in the other. 

 

The one thing I distinctly remember are the sounds and smells (both good and bad, lol)- I have the 'Arcade Ambience' mp3s on my computer that i use during my workday to remind me of being in the arcade.  Both arcades curiously enough were close proximity to a pretzel place, a pizza place, and an Orange Julius ;)



#42 retrorussell OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Jun 20, 2018 6:20 PM

The SEA TAC MALL in Federal Way, WA close to where I used to live had a GOLD MINE arcade.

 

And the Vancouver (Washington) Mall was HUGE and had an Aladdin's Castle on the upper floor.  6 tokens for a buck IIRC!

alad.jpg



#43 retrorussell OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Jun 20, 2018 6:46 PM

For those who haven't seen it before, this is a great virtual flashback:



#44 zzip OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Jun 22, 2018 8:51 AM

I remember "peak arcade". Not only were there two full arcades in strip malls within walking distance from me, but almost every business had an arcade machine or 3. The local laundromat had Frogger and Vanguard, the convenience store had Defender, the Pizza shop had a game room with about a dozen games, the supermarket had Wizard of Wor and Ms Pacman, etc.

#45 Atari8bitCarts OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Jun 22, 2018 11:36 AM

Aladdin's Castle in the Lafayette, IN Tippecanoe mall was great. And West Lafayette had Pin Pan Alley and Pizza Keg.

There was a little arcade, pizza place, in Lafayette that I was able to take the garbage out to earn tokens...

 

And there was always the staple of Show Biz Pizza. They had a very nice arcade. 



#46 retrorussell OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Jun 22, 2018 1:20 PM

We had an ENGINE HOUSE PIZZA in the Washington Square Mall parking lot in Tigard, OR that was around till the mid 80s.  Good pizza and some good games I had not seen anywhere else before-- SPECTAR, RALLY X, maybe SPACE FIREBIRD.  I can hear "Take Me To The Top" and "Waiting For A Girl Like You" playing in my head when I think of that place, which had cool fireman props along the walls like fire axes, hoses, fire truck models, etc.  The franchise still exists but not in Oregon.

engine-house-restaurant.jpg

OAKS PARK amusement park along the Willamette River in SE Portland near Milwaukie has an arcade, roller rink, and amusement park with some great rides.  I remember going as a REAL little kid and seeing SEA WOLF for the first time there.  Later on I'd see YIE AR KUNG FU for the first time.

oaksparkptld2015-5.jpg



#47 almightytodd OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Jun 22, 2018 2:30 PM

I experienced my first coin-op games at a Shakey's Pizza place in San Luis Obispo, California. They had "Pong" and "Space Race". I also remembered playing games on the Odyssey system that my friend had, but there was no sound and no on-screen scoring. I can't remember which I experienced first. It seems like it was some time in 1975 that an arcade opened up at the north end of town, filled with only Black & White games. I recall that they also had a few pinball machines and an Air Hockey table. I think the pinball machines disappeared as more space was needed for the new video games that came out almost monthly. The growth of video games between 1975 and 1980 was just crazy, along with the introduction of microcomputers and the first home-systems.

 

Within a few years, southern California theme parks such as Magic Mountain, Knott's Berry Farm, and even Disneyland had arcades inside their parks; or in the case of Disneyland, the "Starcade". By the mid-80's I was married and already had two kids, so my video game playing was limited to the occasional machine I might find at a pizza joint or maybe a laundromat. If we were at a mall that had an arcade, I might walk through just to see what the latest games were like.



#48 retrorussell OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Jun 23, 2018 4:14 PM

I experienced my first coin-op games at a Shakey's Pizza place in San Luis Obispo, California. They had "Pong" and "Space Race". I also remembered playing games on the Odyssey system that my friend had, but there was no sound and no on-screen scoring. I can't remember which I experienced first. It seems like it was some time in 1975 that an arcade opened up at the north end of town, filled with only Black & White games. I recall that they also had a few pinball machines and an Air Hockey table. I think the pinball machines disappeared as more space was needed for the new video games that came out almost monthly. The growth of video games between 1975 and 1980 was just crazy, along with the introduction of microcomputers and the first home-systems.

 

 

Wow.. Gordon Jump from WKRP in a Shakey's commercial!

Yeah, we had one on the hill in Tigard going towards Portland.  I remember playing CRASH and MISSILE COMMAND there.  We'd always stop there on our way back from Christmas tree shopping.  The rusty old Suburban my dad drove with the stinky diesel exhaust.. ah, memories.






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