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What were the arcades like back in 1982-1983?

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Alladins Castle was the primary arcade I spent most of my money in while growing up. I can remember being so pumped about going to the mall to play video games. Often on Friday nights when I was in my early teens my Mom would drop my friends and I off at Eastdale Mall at 6:30 and pick us up at around 8:30-9:00. As I approached the entrance to Alladin's the dopamine would really start to flow. The place was loud and all of the sounds emanating from the cabinets blended together into a blur. The racket from a few games did seem to stand out though. The thump, thump, thump from Centipede along with the spider, gunfire and flea dropping was prevalent. The noise from Missle Command also seemed to overshadow most of the machines on the decibel level. It was a fun time to grow up:)

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Alladins Castle was the primary arcade I spent most of my money in while growing up. I can remember being so pumped about going to the mall to play video games. Often on Friday nights when I was in my early teens my Mom would drop my friends and I off at Eastdale Mall at 6:30 and pick us up at around 8:30-9:00. As I approached the entrance to Alladin's the dopamine would really start to flow. The place was loud and all of the sounds emanating from the cabinets blended together into a blur. The racket from a few games did seem to stand out though. The thump, thump, thump from Centipede along with the spider, gunfire and flea dropping was prevalent. The noise from Missle Command also seemed to overshadow most of the machines on the decibel level. It was a fun time to grow up:)

What were your favorite games and what did the atmosphere look like? Dark, smokey, popcorn-scented? 80s music? Neon lights? High score tables? Snack bar? Posters on the walls? (And if so, was one of them the famous "Victor Stone, aka... Cyborg" pin-up?)

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Oh, the days. I was around 13-14 back then, saving up money to go to the Arcade. In Rhode Island, there was DG's Arcade in Warwick, RI, it was fairly dark place but, always had TONS of games. It was normally 40-50% video games, 10-15% pinball and the rest of the place had pool tables. This would be the feel I expect in a arcade as this is what an video game arcade was to me.

 

How it looked and felt..... It was very dark...The only real lighting was the marques off the arcade machines and Neon lights over head in some parts (unless you were in the pool table area), the sound in the distance was just arcade noises mixed in some games playing and others in demo mode. There was always 80's type top 40 music playing, another place always had hard rock playing (not very loud in most cases). Smoking was common in arcades in those days so there was always a slight cloud of smoke on a busy Friday or Saturday night.

 

I personally own 5 arcade coin-op video games that sit in my home office... On a weekend, I put in a little music on my PC, shut off all the lights, turn all my arcade machines and just enjoy them for what they are and it gives me a feel like an Arcade was like back in the 80's... with out the smoking (thank god)

 

Is that what your looking for ?

Edited by TheCoolDave
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Most of the arcades I visited has crystal clear air that was fresh as can be save for a bit of musty wood & carpet scent when the humidity was high. There were some arcades that prohibited smoking, so I patronized those the most.

 

Ambiance was a big thing, something that's missing from today's arcades. As well as the sense of passage of time. Things moved more slowly back then or so it would seem - likely a function of age and seasoning moreso than anything the arcade itself.

 

After the arcade it was always neat to come home to play our consoles, dream of having better graphics and all that, check the results of the wardialer and settle into an evening of setting up game trades for whatever micro we had.

 

I enjoyed the darker arcades most. It was like slipping into another world where any cares and worries dissipated. It was like being part of a sci-fi'ish future in a way. But better than all the 80's corniness. And there was so much exploration to do, both in the arcades and at home on game consoles and personal computers.

Edited by Keatah
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I was able to frequent 4 arcades in those years, 2 in Massapequa, NY & 2 in NYC's Penn Station...tho I should mention there was a department store on in East Meadow, NY that had about 30 or so total cabinets at both entrances. That department store was Modell's (who switched over a few years later into only selling sporting goods and still exists today.

 

Anyways, the 2 arcades in Massapequa in Long Island, NY were in Sunrise Mall. One was a Time Out (I still recall the TO classic setup) and the other was a small arcade named Galaxy (which, funny enough, still exists in name with a giant light up sign still burning but now it's a NAIL SALON! o.0

 

My dad had to make periodic trips into NYC so we'd take the Long Island Rail Road into Penn Station. One was called Station Break which I remember was HUGE and even remember Dragon's Lair right in front with a 13 inch color tv on top so people could see the gameplay. Sadly, years later, the floorspace was cut by perhaps 75% and only a few games in a darkened space remained. I remember playing Punisher on a New Year's Eve one year.

 

The other arcade in Penn was Space Station. Now, I never had a chance to go in (Dad was all 'You just were at that arcade!) but the main memory I have of that arcade, as well as it was immortalized in an issue of Computer Games magazine, is that they had several Space Invaders cabinets running at the big window but they were upside down hanging from the ceiling!

Edited by H.E.R.O.
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What were your favorite games and what did the atmosphere look like? Dark, smokey, popcorn-scented? 80s music? Neon lights? High score tables? Snack bar? Posters on the walls? (And if so, was one of them the famous "Victor Stone, aka... Cyborg" pin-up?)

It was kind of dark. Wood paneled walls and the cabinets weren't crammed close together. No food or drinks allowed and I don't remember anybody smoking in there. I liked Space Invaders, Donkey Kong, Punch Out and Dragons Lair was a really big deal when it came out. They had an extra monitor mounted on top of the cabinet so more people could see. I can remember 8-10 tokens being stretched across the machines title at the top of the cabinet.

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Missed it by a year, but here's a pretty good re-creation of "Arcade 84":

 

There is one glaring mistake, namely the iron claw machines (which didn't appear until the 90's), but otherwise well done. Of course, the real thing was more filled with various unkempt youth in bad need of showers, most of them emitting cuss words, etc. I also don't remember seeing many well-lit arcades. Most were fairly dark, perhaps to prevent glare or something like that. I remember the little etiquette thing of putting a quarter in the marquee slot, meaning "I got next game."

 

Specific to that time period, you were getting more of the cartoony-type games - Kangaroo, Popeye, Qbert, etc. as well as the out-and-out cartoon games like Dragon's Lair and Cliff Hanger. I am trying to remember if the classics (Asteroids, Space Invaders, Pacman) were still around but my memory fails me.

 

Dang, I can still smell the pizza of the old time Chuck E Cheese joints. The cheese was some kind of smoked mozzarella, I think, that is absent from the current CEC offering, and every other offering as far as I can tell. It wasn't the best pizza, but it had a unique taste that I haven't had in many, many moons. Miss it almost as much as the arcade.

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It was kind of dark. Wood paneled walls and the cabinets weren't crammed close together. No food or drinks allowed and I don't remember anybody smoking in there. I liked Space Invaders, Donkey Kong, Punch Out and Dragons Lair was a really big deal when it came out. They had an extra monitor mounted on top of the cabinet so more people could see. I can remember 8-10 tokens being stretched across the machines title at the top of the cabinet.

 

This is missing from so many so-called classic arcade establishments. It isn't classic if it isn't done right. All the modern-classic arcades I've visited overstuff you into a small space, and I'm past the point of enjoying that when gaming. It's the #4 reason I don't go back to those places.

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The two arcades I remember from the early 1980s were dark and didn't play music. Lights and sounds were all from the machines. Machines were crammed together. I remember how surprised I was the first time I saw space invaders side art at a kmart; with the space invaders on foot.

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I was born in 1975. So in the early 80's I went to Family Game land a few times. Qbert, Froger, Pole Postion, and minture arcade games like the Arcade 1 Up's. Pinball on the right of the arcade. Fun times. I went very few times.

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My first arcade was in the mall. It was called The Dungeon! Dark with blue indirect lighting!

 

It was like going into another world!

 

The one thing I remember the most was the thrill of seeing a new video game when I went in!

 

Defender, Tempest, Robotron, Berzerk, Centipede, Frogger, Super Cobra, and more!

 

It was a time of wow and amazement that will never be duplicated!

 

It was also great to watch good players play a game! Watching a good player on Defender was like watching a great guitar player!

 

And then they started getting kiddie stuff in and it went downhill! Little 5 year olds running around and screaming while you tried to play a game!

 

Every arcade did the same DUMB thing!

Edited by SoundGammon
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Here's that one pin-up I keep mentioning. If you don't remember this image, you weren't a true 80s kid.

 

bb6a1c33e0262b57996156f422c09026--kickas

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The biggest thing I remember about arcades from this time period was that they were EVERYWHERE! There were two fully arcades within walking distance of me, in two different strip malls. Every major mall had one. Not just that, the local pizza shop built a 'game room' with a bunch of arcade cabinets, as did the bowling alley. The Supermarket we shopped at had a few arcade systems, as did the laundromat, the convenience store, etc etc.

 

Because there were so many, it's hard to generalize. They were generally kept dark inside. The sounds of the arcade were very memorable. There was also a scent, that "new game smell", I suppose. Apart from that, it's hard to generalize. Sometimes they played background music, sometimes not. Sometimes they were thoughtfully laid out, sometimes it was just a bunch of games thrown together. Sometimes they were spacious, sometimes they were cramped. Sometimes they had carpeting and wood panelling, sometimes it was just undecorated space in the strip mall with games thrown in. Sometimes they took quarters, sometimes they took tokens. Some every game was a quarter, some charged 50 cents for newer games.

 

The other thing I remember was kids would reserve their turn by placing a quarter on the machine, so the more popular machines would have a line of quarters on them with a bunch of kids standing around watching. I don't know why this system worked without dispute (nobody was tracking whose quarter belonged to who), but it just worked.

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Does anyone remember the string trick?

 

Yeah, I remember trying it and it not working. Most coin mechs have a shoot/lever that will not let the coin come back out(or what we were told).

 

I did see someone use slugs. It seemed to work most times until the end of the week and the arcade owner figues out his machine is full of slugs.

Pretty easy to figure out who is putting the slugs in.....maybe the kid who has been spending hours every day at the same machine. :)

 

Also had a friend with some wornout keys that could open some of the machines with a little practice. Saw him open a pinball and empty out a small fortune.

Edited by Machine
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Yeah, I remember trying it and it not working. Most coin mechs have a shoot/lever that will not let the coin come back out(or what we were told).

 

I did see someone use slugs. It seemed to work most times until the end of the week and the arcade owner figues out his machine is full of slugs.

Pretty easy to figure out who is putting the slugs in.....maybe the kid who has been spending hours every day at the same machine. :)

 

Also had a friend with some wornout keys that could open some of the machines with a little practice. Saw him open a pinball and empty out a small fortune.

Poor slugs! They'd probably die by the end of that week! I'd adopt them. You'd call me the Slug Lady. I'd name one Korian'dr.

Edited by Syzygy1

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In case anyone is just starting to have their morning coffee like me and is struggling to make sense of the idea of a slug being encouraged to crawl into a coin slot... :? just remember that this term 'slug' can also refer to a plain metal disc the size and weight of a quarter.

A few early games had metal coin slots, and one arcade I frequented had carpets... so naturally I wondered if I could vigorously rub my shoes on the carpet to build up a static charge (a technique that my brother and I developed to zap each other), and then zap the metal coin slot on Berzerk to get a free game. To my astonishment, this did actually work sometimes! I must not have been the only one to discover this little trick, though, because not long after this the metal coin slots were all replaced with plastic ones.

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I was 13 in '83 and remember riding my bike around town picking up empty bottles and aluminum cans to pay for my arcade habit.

I grew up in a small town on Montreal's south shore where there was a mall with an arcade.

It was carpeted but clean and always had the latest games.

I had to ride my bike around 5 miles from my house, across a very busy highway, and cut across farmer's fields to get to the arcade.

One time I came out of the arcade only to find that my bike was stolen.

A few weeks later I found it tied to the same post it was originally stolen from!

The arcade was such an awesome experience and a deeply embedded part of my childhood memories.

I remember having to move the ashtrays that were sometimes sitting near the buttons.

Those were different times indeed.

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There were times I never showered and went to the arcade, on purpose. The stink just made it unpleasant and spmetimes people would move away from the games I was waiting on. Farting helped even more. I didn't care then, I don't care now.

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I have described and reviewed most of the arcades I went to in 1982-1983, but I will encapsulate here.

 

Trumbull Mall Arcade, Trumbull CT: My "home base" arcade. always had between 25-45 machines depending on the year. Bare bones, not much to look at in there aside from the games, no music.

 

Spanky's Arcade, Bridgeport, CT: A converted car dealership, this place had between 50-70 machines, between 82-83. Not much to look at here either aside from the machines, no music.

 

Wizard's Arcade, Bridgeport, CT: About a quarter of a mile down the street from Spanky's, what I remember of this place before it burned down under suspicious circumstances, they had 25-35 machines, and there was art adorning the walls, but no music.

 

Lafayette Plaza Arcade, Bridgeport, CT: located in a store space, this short-lived arcade was all business. About 20-30 games. no art, no music.

 

Arnie's Place, Westport, CT: A great arcade, if a bit tough for me to get to. The place had a 70s casino feel to it, with the machines in wooden enclosures (which made it hard to play pinball) and a lot of incandescent lighting, and a rock station playing over the PA.

 

Connecticut Post Mall Arcade, Milford, CT: A dark place where most of the lighting came from the games themselves.... I *think* there was some music but I could be misremembering. About 30-40 games.

 

Milford Recreation, Milford CT: The Mecca, as I call it in my podcast. At least 70 games by 1983, prolly closer to 100, art and lighting everywhere, and a rock station in New Haven always playing over the PA.

 

Gompers, Orange, CT: A place I went to maybe two or three times, this place had at least 35 games, including some machines that Milford Rec down the street did not have.

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My arcade isn't super dark, but isn't super bright either. Most light comes from the games at this point, but with more and more of them using LED's, I could shut off my track lights and it wouldn't make a huge difference. Here's one angle from the classic games area.

 

dsc00349-1.jpg

Edited by Shaggy the Atarian
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In case anyone is just starting to have their morning coffee like me and is struggling to make sense of the idea of a slug being encouraged to crawl into a coin slot... :? just remember that this term 'slug' can also refer to a plain metal disc the size and weight of a quarter.

 

A few early games had metal coin slots, and one arcade I frequented had carpets... so naturally I wondered if I could vigorously rub my shoes on the carpet to build up a static charge (a technique that my brother and I developed to zap each other), and then zap the metal coin slot on Berzerk to get a free game. To my astonishment, this did actually work sometimes! I must not have been the only one to discover this little trick, though, because not long after this the metal coin slots were all replaced with plastic ones.

That's kinda dangerous. You could've gotten yourself hurt.

 

There were times I never showered and went to the arcade, on purpose. The stink just made it unpleasant and spmetimes people would move away from the games I was waiting on. Farting helped even more. I didn't care then, I don't care now.

But... this was the 80s, not the 90s, when Ren & Stimpy started grossout humor. Garbage Pail Kids were thought of as violent back in the mid 80s

 

I have described and reviewed most of the arcades I went to in 1982-1983, but I will encapsulate here.

 

Trumbull Mall Arcade, Trumbull CT: My "home base" arcade. always had between 25-45 machines depending on the year. Bare bones, not much to look at in there aside from the games, no music.

 

Spanky's Arcade, Bridgeport, CT: A converted car dealership, this place had between 50-70 machines, between 82-83. Not much to look at here either aside from the machines, no music.

 

Wizard's Arcade, Bridgeport, CT: About a quarter of a mile down the street from Spanky's, what I remember of this place before it burned down under suspicious circumstances, they had 25-35 machines, and there was art adorning the walls, but no music.

 

Lafayette Plaza Arcade, Bridgeport, CT: located in a store space, this short-lived arcade was all business. About 20-30 games. no art, no music.

 

Arnie's Place, Westport, CT: A great arcade, if a bit tough for me to get to. The place had a 70s casino feel to it, with the machines in wooden enclosures (which made it hard to play pinball) and a lot of incandescent lighting, and a rock station playing over the PA.

 

Connecticut Post Mall Arcade, Milford, CT: A dark place where most of the lighting came from the games themselves.... I *think* there was some music but I could be misremembering. About 30-40 games.

 

Milford Recreation, Milford CT: The Mecca, as I call it in my podcast. At least 70 games by 1983, prolly closer to 100, art and lighting everywhere, and a rock station in New Haven always playing over the PA.

 

Gompers, Orange, CT: A place I went to maybe two or three times, this place had at least 35 games, including some machines that Milford Rec down the street did not have.

In Milford Rec, or the places with art, did they have the infamous Cyborg pin-up from 1981? Vic Stone dominates arcades! He's such a PYT, pretty young thing; he needs some TLC, tender loving care! I'm gonna take him there!

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My arcade isn't super dark, but isn't super bright either. Most light comes from the games at this point, but with more and more of them using LED's, I could shut off my track lights and it wouldn't make a huge difference. Here's one angle from the classic games area.

 

dsc00349-1.jpg

sees X-Men (welcome to die) in the background

:mad:

 

(common DC fan rage)

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Does anyone remember the string trick?

 

First of all, I was an arcade whore back in those days. If there was an arcade, I had to see it. I grew up on Cleveland's west side in the West Park neighborhood. My grandmother lived in the suburbs about 10-15 minutes away and I spent a lot of time at both places. There were NO SHORTAGE at either place of arcade games. By my house, there was a place called Froggy's Donuts that always had a bunch of cocktail games. There was a kid who strung a quarter on Galaxian and would sell game plays. That was the only machine he did it on, So I am assuming the only one it worked on.

 

Over by my Grandmothers place, there was a taco place that opened. This is late 79 when taco's first came to Ohio. Anyhow, they always had 3 cocktail games. Asteroids, Taito (NOT Midway) Space Invaders Part II (Deluxe), and the third kept getting switched out, because they were trying to find something that earned as much as the previous mentioned games and could not do it. I remember TARG, but do not remember what the others were. The Space Invaders machine would give you a credit for a penny. You had to put it in, it would get stuck, and then a very simple push with a straw would continue it on the path it needed to go on for a credit. This worked for a month or so before it was fixed.

 

NOTICE: I have been looking to do a podcast on retro arcades. Looking for 1 or 2 other people to do it with. Looking for someone who has very vivid memories, lots of stories to tell, and has a really good memory about those days. Message me if you are interested.

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