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Syzygy1

What were the arcades like back in 1982-1983?

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TARG came out in 1980, mind you. (Oh goodness, do I have to not drop a reference to him? HE ALSO DEBUTED IN 1980! GOOOOOOOOOD!)

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... This is late 79 when taco's first came to Ohio.....

 

I remember the "Great Taco Migration" of 1979. Some refer to it as "The Great Taco Invasion" of '79! :)

Edited by Machine
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I meant to say 'late 70s'..... Note to self: Stay sober and proof-read!! :)

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I remember mine was dark and was lit by the game screens. The games were all jam-packed right next to each other, so you couldn't see the side art. Top 40 hits played through a stereo. It was awesome.

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Most of the good ones were dark with a sense of ambiance.   There was a partical smell to them, like everything smelled new- most had only recently been built and the games were new.

 

And the sounds were incredible.   The games of that era sure did make some iconic sounds!  

 

Also remember how the most popular games would be surrounded by kids, and they would all place their quarters on the top of the machine to reserve their turns.

 

That was also the era where arcade games started popping up everywhere.   Supermarkets, laundromats,  pizza shops that started with one game were suddenly building entire game rooms.

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I'd guess a lot of those smells came from new construction or internal remodeling. Paint and carpet. Then the cabinets themselves. That particle board must've been still outgassing the binder vapors. The new decals/artwork. Still wet coming off the truck. And the sterile static & ozone from 50 CRTs on all day.

 

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On 3/11/2019 at 8:52 PM, Syzygy1 said:

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

I definitely remember that, but I had it on my wall in my room BITD.

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I was lucky enough to be a preteen in the 70's and a teen in the 80's, so I was a prime age for the video game storm.   For me, at least, the "arcade" started as a transition from things like pool halls, bowling alleys, and skating rinks.  By that I mean we had several spots here in the KC metro area that were pool halls/skating rink/bowling alley with just a few pinball machines as of my first memory of going to them in 76 or so.   Then you'd see a couple fewer pool tables and a couple more pinball machines and something like Sea Wolf arcade game show up.  Then next time, you'd see a few more arcade games...Space Invaders...Lunar Lander....Asteroids....and each time maybe a couple less pool tables. During the initial wave of arcade games showing up like the ones I mentioned, you'd also see an increase in pinball machines, but that period was only for a year or two, then you saw both pool tables and pinball machines decline and the arcade games took over.  That was how I remember the original independent arcades evolving.

 

Then you started to see the "this place was created as an arcade" types of organizations. We were really lucky here in KC area in that Showbiz Pizza started in KC and had the first location here, as well as very shortly another location out in my area of the suburbs and we had those as early as 1980.   On the tail of these were the ones that, while they technically existed before the big arcade game explosion of the early 80's,  really expanded and showed up in most people's back yards due to expansion during the video game explosion and showed up fully stocked with the now huge library of available games.   I'm talking your Fun Factory, Malibu Grand Prix, etc.   Most of those showed up around here in KC in 82-84 time frame.

 

As I think someone else spoke about...you had your shiny and bright Fun Factory, Showbiz Pizza, Malibu Grand Prix, etc..where you'd see the largest collections of games for my money. Fun Factory often had the newest games pretty quickly and would have 2 or even 3 of the really popular ones.  Showbiz introduced me to Gorf, so it goes down as one of the best in my book :).  But then I would often visit the seedier, independent or formerly pool hall, establishments because they'd often have a less common gem that was a favorite. In the big corporate places...they were well lit....no smoking or drugs inside...regulated by the mall they might be in in many cases. No danger of getting your money taken or getting beat up.   In the small independent/pool hall ones?  Watch your back. I mean you might have to fight for your quarters on the top machine signage...but you could also score cigarettes and get some scumbag to buy you beer if you were so inclined.  


One great thing about the independents is they'd often give much better token exchanges ...many times 5/dollar in a time when 1 game pretty much = 1 quarter or 1 token.  Also, often the independent ones, especially when it was in the same mall as say Fun Factory..would often find a way somehow ..to get their hands on a bunch of Fun Factory tokens(those weird ones with the key shape on one half) and hand you a sack full for free if you bought tokens for their independent arcade(Nickelodeon).  Their idea was spend money here, and we'll make it so they can't make money from you.  Those were GREAT times!

 

 

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1 hour ago, Max_Chatsworth said:

I was lucky enough to be a preteen in the 70's and a teen in the 80's, so I was a prime age for the video game storm.   For me, at least, the "arcade" started as a transition from things like pool halls, bowling alleys, and skating rinks.  By that I mean we had several spots here in the KC metro area that were pool halls/skating rink/bowling alley with just a few pinball machines as of my first memory of going to them in 76 or so.   Then you'd see a couple fewer pool tables and a couple more pinball machines and something like Sea Wolf arcade game show up.  Then next time, you'd see a few more arcade games...Space Invaders...Lunar Lander....Asteroids....and each time maybe a couple less pool tables. During the initial wave of arcade games showing up like the ones I mentioned, you'd also see an increase in pinball machines, but that period was only for a year or two, then you saw both pool tables and pinball machines decline and the arcade games took over.  That was how I remember the original independent arcades evolving.

 

Then you started to see the "this place was created as an arcade" types of organizations. We were really lucky here in KC area in that Showbiz Pizza started in KC and had the first location here, as well as very shortly another location out in my area of the suburbs and we had those as early as 1980.   On the tail of these were the ones that, while they technically existed before the big arcade game explosion of the early 80's,  really expanded and showed up in most people's back yards due to expansion during the video game explosion and showed up fully stocked with the now huge library of available games.   I'm talking your Fun Factory, Malibu Grand Prix, etc.   Most of those showed up around here in KC in 82-84 time frame.

Yeah,  I remember when I was a kid in the 70s, a single B&W arcade machine showed up against a wall in the local mall.   First one I had ever seen.  Then a year or so later they had a whole row of arcade systems.   I distinctly remember Space War because of all the buttons,  and Lunar Lander.    Then they expanded the mall and built a 'room' to hold them all, and that was my first memory of an arcade.

 

 

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7 minutes ago, zzip said:

Yeah,  I remember when I was a kid in the 70s, a single B&W arcade machine showed up against a wall in the local mall.   First one I had ever seen.  Then a year or so later they had a whole row of arcade systems.   I distinctly remember Space War because of all the buttons,  and Lunar Lander.    Then they expanded the mall and built a 'room' to hold them all, and that was my first memory of an arcade.

 

 

Yeah..there was also one of those black and while Stunt Cycle games in the mix early on. I want to say that was THE first video game at the roller rink that I remember. 

 

STUNT CYCLE ATARI CLASSIC ARCADE GAME 

 

 

Wish I could go back and tell myself to really pay attention and really enjoy every minute of it.  

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58 minutes ago, Max_Chatsworth said:

Yeah..there was also one of those black and while Stunt Cycle games in the mix early on. I want to say that was THE first video game at the roller rink that I remember. 

 

STUNT CYCLE ATARI CLASSIC ARCADE GAME 

 

 

Wish I could go back and tell myself to really pay attention and really enjoy every minute of it.  

There was a Stunt Cycle at the 100 Oaks Mall arcade in Nashville in the late 80s. I thought it was interesting that the tunnels on the sides of the screen are decals. I found it quite playable and fun when I tried it out. Easy to learn and tough to master. Decades later, I was at the NW Pinball and Arcade Show and I had a cool moment when a gentleman probably 15-20 years my senior, a kid who was maybe about 10, and myself were all standing around this cabinet and telling each other what our high scores were on it. It's a classic! And that cabinet has some really beautiful graphic design.

Edited by Zoyous
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4 minutes ago, Zoyous said:

There was a Stunt Cycle at the 100 Oaks Mall arcade in Nashville in the late 80s. I thought it was interesting that the tunnels on the sides of the screen are decals. I found it quite playable and fun when I tried it out. Easy to learn and tough to master. Decades later, I was at the NW Pinball and Arcade Show and I had a cool moment when a gentleman probably 15-20 years my senior, a kid who was maybe about 10, and myself were all standing around this cabinet and telling each other what our high scores were on it. It's a classic! And that cabinet has some really beautiful graphic design.

Wow..this thing was still in circulation in the late 80's??  That's pretty cool.  Yeah...in those old days there were lots of color overlays, decals, carboard reflected in glass(Warrior), that were part of the playing screen.  Old school...

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52 minutes ago, Max_Chatsworth said:

Wow..this thing was still in circulation in the late 80's??  That's pretty cool.  Yeah...in those old days there were lots of color overlays, decals, carboard reflected in glass(Warrior), that were part of the playing screen.  Old school...

Well, that one particular arcade had a decent mixture of old and new. It was unusual enough for me to notice it at the time; there weren't really any other arcades that I remember that were like that (bear in mind I was about 13-14 years old so there were only a few I could get rides to). As I think back on it now, the way the arcade was arranged was like it was purposely curated. For example, they had a black and white Atari Football game next to Cyberball. There were also more obscure games next to similar hits... The Pit next to Dig Dug. It was a really cool arcade.

Some of my favorite cabinets had pretty elaborate mirror/glass setups going on, like Asteroids Deluxe and Omega Race. That's something that's pretty much impossible to simulate in emulators currently. I mean you can put the background illustration there but it doesn't have the depth.

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On 2/23/2019 at 11:54 AM, SoundGammon said:

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!

Oh for the love of God!  I Can't be the only one to LIKE this comment?  

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The best arcades were DARK, had indirect or ambient lighting, and did Not jam the machines so close together that you couldn't see the artwork.

 

 

Whenever arcades brought in a bunch of kiddie games, or put in bright lights and bright carpet (like Time Out in our mall eventually did), they went downhill fast.

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We had a few really good ones.   Time Out was in the Mall and it ruled especially in the days of Vector Games!   They replaced too many classic machines with newer ones, but this was  a complaint from me for all local arcades.  Le Mans came  a little bit later, was on the other side of town (East),  and (for me) had a lot to do with being a place I could drive to with my friends, kind of a place to hang out and get away from it all.  They played music in the background, and it was loud but not overwhelming, and you could still hear the machines with ease.  I remember when I asked Sam, the manager,  to play a couple of Savatage songs off a cassette I handed him.  I had friends in the arcade that day and we just wanted to hear 2 songs back to back.  Like most idiot DJs he played ONE song which missed the point as the first song was very good and the next one was even better, not to mention they never played enough metal,  but what can ya do?...

 

It should be mentioned (again) that every store, convenience store, and most restaurants had at least a game or two as well.  One Mini Mart had a Zaxxon;  Village Inn had Space Firebird.  K-Mart had a full blown arcade, with its own carpeting, and lower ceiling in a dark room, and Grand Central had a ton of games when you first enter the store.  It went from a few black and white machines like Biplane and Ultra Tank (What we now call Combat I guess) and a Stunt Cycle, to a full mini arcade with around 10-12 machines, and kids got yelled at and kicked out if they were caught "stringing" machines which mostly worked on older games like Asteroids, Warhawk, and Super Bug (I am told) ...

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Then on the North side of town, still far from my house we had a couple of "interesting" places...

 

Stargate and Video Village were off the beaten path, on the same block with one building in between them.  They were surrounded by apartment buildings, but also a bank, a grocery store and a McDonald's were on that block.

 

Stargate had many Awesome and obscure games like Moon War and Cosmic Avenger...But they also set every game to its highest difficulty level so people quit going there pretty quickly.  They were in a big building and also served hot dogs and nachos, soft drinks etc.

 

Video Village was like something from out of a movie...It was on a corner and had many weird and obscure games, plus the classics (Asteroids Deluxe and Reactor spring to mind).  The place was dark as night and they blasted old school heavy metal at apocalyptic volumes...I was younger (13 or 14) and sometimes wondered whether I'd get beat up in this place (Nope, as it turns out)...They had microwave burritos for sale in a kitchen back room, and unbeknownst to me,  the older kids would kick back, smoking pot back there...Eventually the place had a couple of "lookouts";  Older kids who would stand guard and whenever a parent pulled up they'd run out (yet make it look casual) and ask which kid they were there to pick up, then offer (nicely, like a boy scout) to run in and get them so they wouldn't have to park the car.  This kept prying eyes from what went on...

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I remember at Dispensa's Aladdin's Castle Arcade in California, not far from Chatsworth or Canoga park. Or maybe it was Topanga Canyon. It was the day of mechanical Baseball and wire-cable Lunar Lander. And b/w games were the hot new thing. I was the little runt there. And the bigger kids would hoist me up so I could see what was happening in the games. I would sit there swearing and cussing as best as a 6-year old could. Swinging my head and making spittle. And they laughed their asses off. And they'd blow this weird smelling smoke at me and I would do it more and more and get all crazy and stuff. You know.

 

The best of times were of course later in the early 80's with color vector games. They so fit the aura of a darkened room with recessed violet lighting and all kinds of music - but not too loud. Each new game was an adventure into a different world. And we hemmed and hawed over high scores and what ships to blow up to advance to the next level.

 

Best of all we could come home and dream about our home computers one day being powerful enough to do exact arcade graphics.

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6 hours ago, Keatah said:

I remember at Dispensa's Aladdin's Castle Arcade in California, not far from Chatsworth or Canoga park. Or maybe it was Topanga Canyon.

 

If it's the same one I'm thinking of, I'm pretty sure it was more in the Valley than out by Topanga, so Chatsworth would make sense.  I remember going to it a few times and being the only place I ever saw a Mappy cabinet in the wild when it was still a current game.  There was also a go-kart track near Burbank Airport that had a bunch of games (B&W era to around Ms. Pac-Man) inside.

 

Having grown up on both sides of the Atlantic, my arcade experience was a weird mix of late-'70s to mid-'80s SoCal arcades, plus whatever was around in Dublin and (occasionally) London at the time.

 

The two arcades I frequented the most in L.A. (Pinball Plus I & II in Burbank; usually II on Magnolia Blvd.) were slightly dingy but not dirty.  Wood panelling, darker paint colours, brown indoor/outdoor carpeting.  They were usually moderately-lit during the day, but considerably darker (and smokier) at night, when the crowd shifted from pre-teens and early teens to older teens and adults.  Almost every laserdisc game released went through there at one time or another, and I can absolutely trace my Cliff Hanger addiction back to them.  They did have a sound system in there, but the ambient noise of the games was typically what you'd hear.  Zoo Keeper is very much ingrained in my memories of that place: they had it near the front door and the volume was cranked - that sucker was audible from across the street :)

 

Trivia: the owner of the Pinball Plus arcades, Gene Lewin, is now the owner of Vintage Arcade Superstore, which may be familiar from various classic arcade and gaming documentaries.

 

We did occasionally go to the Aladdin's Castle / Malibu Grand Prix / Golf & Stuff places that were generally advertised as 'family fun centres' or similar, but that was usually for something like another kid's birthday party or a school reward trip.  None of them were particularly close to where we lived, so I wasn't exactly frequenting them.  Their arcades, though, were impressive - they always had the latest machines, and lots of them.  These places were generally kept really clean and no fooling around was tolerated; they were serious about their family-friendly image.

 

However, there are two places that stick in my head as the epitome of '80s arcade fashion:

 

The Sega Centre at the Sherman Oaks Galleria.  This is where the mall interiors in Fast Times at Ridgemont High were filmed, and the Sega Centre was (IIRC) on the same level as the cinema one of the characters in the film worked at.  This place did have the crazy carpeting, neon, and tons of games.  It was always well-lit when I went there (usually for a couple of hours while my folks were off shopping), and I don't recall any blacklighting.  That said, I do very much remember that they were big on cockpit cabinets - this was where you'd find things like Pole Position, Star Wars, Sinistar, etc. in full-on sit-down format.  It was also the only place I can remember ever seeing a Krull cabinet on location.

 

Going South out of L.A. and into Orange County, Starcade in Tomorrowland at Disneyland was...  An experience.  It was on two levels, with an escalator-style moving walkway connecting the levels internally.  This one had the neon on the walls, painted concrete floors, and was usually fairly low-lit; the now-departed Peoplemover ride also ran through a clear tube near the top of the arcade, so people on the ride got a pretty good view of what was going on below.  Lots of stuff from the B&W era (Sky Diver, Fire Truck, Super Bug,etc.) as well as plenty of current games.  After the movie Tron came out, there was an entire row of cabinets dedicated to just that game - and they had a couple of the environmental Discs of Tron cabinets when that game was later released.  Also one of only two places (the other being the Trocadero in London) where I ever saw Sega's "holographic" games, Time Traveller and Holosseum.  The last time we were at Disneyland (about 6 years ago), the ground floor was closed up as was the upper level, which appeared to be being used for game storage.

 

@Syzygy1: how's the film going, btw?  Been a while since this thread was started 😉

Edited by x=usr(1536)
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15 minutes ago, lymontyme said:

Question: were there any cooperative multiplayer games back in this time period? I'm struggling to think of any. Gauntlet didn't arrive until 1985.

 

Joust could be played competitively or cooperatively by two players, and was released in 1982.  Ditto Space Duel (also released in 1982), which, IIRC, was fully-cooperative depending on which game was selected.

 

There are a couple of others, but my memory's failing me right now.

Edited by x=usr(1536)
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On 3/11/2019 at 5:52 PM, Syzygy1 said:

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

I grew up in the 70's so I had this on my wall..

1344012544_FarrahFawcett.thumb.jpg.20371afe3b653b230ceaf346fd0b9e5d.jpg

 

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2 hours ago, Omega-TI said:

I grew up in the 70's so I had this on my wall..

1344012544_FarrahFawcett.thumb.jpg.20371afe3b653b230ceaf346fd0b9e5d.jpg

 

As soon as I read the words, without seeing the picture yet, I knew which poster it was gonna be! 😄

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14 hours ago, lymontyme said:

Question: were there any cooperative multiplayer games back in this time period? I'm struggling to think of any. Gauntlet didn't arrive until 1985.

Space War,  Joust, Wizard of Wor,  Warlords

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