My family is out of town all week.
For approximately 144 hours I've been left to my own devices.
This is more continuous "free" time than I've ever had since my son was born in 1997.
The only "grown-up" responsibilities I have are:
File our income 2006 income taxes.
Fix my resume.
Get a job.
Okay, that last one is pretty important, however, I just graduated from College (BS in Technical Management from Devry University. GPA 4.0 thankyouverymuch.) and after having spent the last 14 months as a full-time student, I'm feeling pretty okay about taking a little break while the rest of my family is having a funfest in central Florida.
To that end, I went to an "Arcade" last night.
They were having a special, unlimited Game Card for $10 from 5pm to 2am. They were sold out when I got there around 8:30pm, but I called again around 11:00pm and their crowd has thinned out enough that they could sell more unlimited cards.
So, drove the half-mile to the place, plunked down my $10 for a card and proceeded to the Game Room.
First thing I noticed: arcade machines have gotten bigger. Their footprints are nearly four times the area of a typical classic cab like Centipede, for instance. Second thing: they're more expensive. Now, given inflation, one should expect this, and I wasn't too shocked. What shocked me most was the apparently stunning lack of variety available in this pretty large arcade. (about 30 titles)
There were Light Gun games (Star Trek Voyager, Jurassic Park, House of the Dead 4 among others).
There were Racing games (Sega Rally, Re-Volt, Harley Davidson, StarWars Racer among others0.
There were a few Rhythm games (DDR Extreme, Pump-it-up, Guitar Freaks V)
One or two flight sim games, a Tsu Mo unit, StarWars Trilogy Arcade, a cool Boxing game, two Snow Board games, a paddle-boat game and a Tekken 5. I never saw anyone playing the Tekken 5 the whole 3.5 hours I was there.
Overall, though, it seemed like mostly Racing and Light Gun games.
There were a bunch of redemption games, which I despise for always seeming to reduce my kids into trinket coveting little animals, and about half a dozen air-hockey tables.
There wasn't a single "old school" game. I guess I understand from a business stand point, but as a retrogamer I was understandably bummed.
The Tsu Mo unit was what I hit first and I played a MechWarrior game for the first time. $2.00 a pop. One sits in a chair surrounded by blue plexiglass which effectively isolates the player from the distractions of the rest of the arcade. The Mech Battle becomes your world. Very fun. I wish I had played it a whole lot more.
From that I went to a sit-down light gun game based on the Voyager incarnation of the Star Trek franchise. It was pretty fun at first, but it went on and on. Since I had an unlimited Game Card, I just kept swiping my way past the continues. I think that with another person it might have been more fun, but with unlimited lives it just got old. Without unlimited lives it would've gotten expensive at $1.50 a credit.
I avoided the Snow-board games as they looked like they required some degree of balance and physical effort beyond what I had in reserve for a DDR set later.
I tried a Harley Davidson racing-type games. It's a solo game that has you racing to checkpoints. There weren't any continues on it, and I sucked at it, but it was pretty cool to ride a pretend motorcycle in a Hang On sort of way. ($1.50 a pop if I recall correctly.)
Guitar Freaks V always seemed busy. I'll get back to that later.
This place has a Final Furlong! If you're not familiar, it's a horse racing game where you have to physically ride mock-horses in almost the same way some racing games have you sit in a car. Unfortunately, this FF machine wasn't hooked up to the lan right and nobody's cards seemed to work on it.
There was a Sega Air Strike game which was interesting. Cockpit with three screens to give a very sensearound effect. The missions started off fairly easy, but it seemed that as long as one had quarters to feed it, one could continue. The flight sim aspect of it was interesting. There is a thruster control, a joystick to control pitch and roll, foot pedals for controlling yaw. It was a bit like being on a rail shooter, though, I didn't feel like I had a lot of control over where I could go, unlike the MechWarrior game which felt a little like a First Person Robotron.
I tried a few racers. The racers all seemed to come with two seats and cost from $1.50 to $2.00 a pop. It isn't that they suck, I just don't get why there were so many of them. I guess they make money.
There was an OutRun2 there that I really wanted to play, but I couldn't move the seat back and my legs were too long.
I played through the entire StarWars Trilogy Arcade. What a cheap ass coin sucker that is. There's no way to avoid losing shield power in many cases and there's no way to power it back up without completling the scenario. The gameplay isn't very good either, though some of it is strangely remaniscent of the original Star Wars Arcade title.
I played another gun game that had great graphics, but I forget the name, "Ghost . . . somethign"? Nice big hefty guns that had a good kick to them when fired. Not bad. If I could only remember to reload by shooting off screen. LOL
Pump-It-Up, a DDR clone, kicked my ass. DDR wasn't bad as it had some titles I distinctly recognized and already knew. What was fun about DDR was seeing the level of proficiency other people had developed at it. Either they are very talented or they spend waaay to much time playing DDR.
I finaly got the nerve to pick-up Guitar Freak's Player 2 while someone else was playing (I'm pretty shy when I'm by myself somewhere and know absolutely no one). This game's mechanics are similar to Guitar Hero but there seems to be a greater focus on rhythm than melody if you know what I mean. I vastly preferred the arcade controller of Guitar Freaks to my Playstation Guitar Freaks controller. Just sturdier, as one would imagine.
Anyway, that's how I get wild when my family is out of town. I also had half a Red Bull so I was up until 4:00am watching 24 and The Host.
If The Host is playing in your town and you like monster movies, you should see it. If it isn't coming to your town you should, um, "find" it and see it.
That's it. I'll talk about the Atari Video Chess program vs. the Fairchild Schach program next entry. No, it really wasn't as exciting as I hoped it would be.