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What were the arcades like back in 1982-1983?

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On 11/15/2020 at 4:33 AM, GoldLeader said:

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) ...

Yeah..I completely remember that.  Half the games I actually played were from riding my BMX with friends up to the local grocery store or convenience store with quarters mined from couch cushions and kitchen drawers to play. We lived in a neighborhood that at the time was sort of the edge of farmland/known world in Kansas City metro area, so the malls and arcades were a bit further away. The one grocery store that served the more rural suburbs in the area was a big price club type of place called Price Chopper. They had a Dig Dug AND another game(can't remember) in their entry foyer.  75 cents and 2 mile bike ride got us two games and a candy bar.  There was also a 7-11 with rotating games in it that was bike distance. 

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I remember a new game coming in every couple months and I imagine some old neglected one went away. If it was a great new game like Ms Pac Man, Tron, Star Wars, Dragons Lair or Gauntlet ( especially Dragons Lair). There would be a crowd of teens around it with people queuing quarters/tokens for the next play on the panel. If you were new at the game some stranger might be casually trying to guide you to hep you out. 

 

P.S. I’d edit that typo but it’s too endearingly colloquial. 

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On 11/15/2020 at 6:16 PM, 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 Duel was everywhere,  and I think of some games like Side Arms later on,...But forgetting the word "cooperative", all those racing games (The Sprint machines and so on) were 2 (or more) players, and fighting games later of course had 2 players (or more) onscreen at the same time...But lest we forget most arcade games up to that point let you play 2 Player Alternating so you'd still be playing games with your friends even if you were taking turns...

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I was eight when the 2600 came along, but I spent a lot of my evenings and weekends in bowling alleys because my parents were  bowlers. So, I became a pinball and arcade fan at a very young age, cuz what else was there to do in a bowling alley if you weren’t bowling and waaayyy to young for the bar. So, mom would give me three bucks or so to go play pinball and arcade games. They also had them when the carnivals and fairs went through town in the summer. 

 

BTW, I am old enough to remember when half the arcade in the mall was taken up by pinball machines. That was probably 1979-1980. I’m remembering Super Bug, Sprint, Sea Wolf, Night Driver, Space Invaders and Asteroids. I remember some game like Head On, as well. 

 

As an aside: Head On - made by Sega/Gremlin — if that doesn’t bring back a blast of smoke filled hoopla. 

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I remember a restaurant that had a "secret" arcade when you go past the restrooms.  You think it was maybe an office or something but when you look inside, you get to see arcades like Centipede.  

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11 minutes ago, frankodragon said:

I remember a restaurant that had a "secret" arcade when you go past the restrooms.  You think it was maybe an office or something but when you look inside, you get to see arcades like Centipede.  

Seems like no one cared if kids went into bars back in the 70s. The drunk adults would look at you with surprise and laugh. But by 1985 I couldn’t be in them anymore. 

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On 11/15/2020 at 3:24 AM, GoldLeader said:

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.

The best arcade I've seen was at last year's PRGE. Awesome setup in the dark with the tecno/rave DJ, and there was little competition for the vector machines. I'm certainly going to put in some time on Tempest and Asteroids Deluxe if they have it again in 2021, although I'm still kicking myself for not trying out the head-to-head Joust pinball machine.

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32 minutes ago, davidcalgary29 said:

The best arcade I've seen was at last year's PRGE. Awesome setup in the dark with the tecno/rave DJ, and there was little competition for the vector machines. I'm certainly going to put in some time on Tempest and Asteroids Deluxe if they have it again in 2021, although I'm still kicking myself for not trying out the head-to-head Joust pinball machine.

I like that they have some really oddball, obscure games each year.  Games that would have scared me away as a kid but now pique my interest.

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It was pretty easy to look at an arcade and tell right away if an arcade was going to be good. A good one pulled you down into the lull and set a tone instantly. A certain isolating quietude existed inside and anything outside the doors didn't really real. Oftentimes it took moments, even minutes, to decide what to play - so many good games to be experienced.

 

It's still true, but so many alarm bells are set off these days. Maintenance being one item of concern. These are 40 year old machines that have been played hard throughout the decades. Going to take a little more than twist of the pot and grease of the stick to keep them factory new. If that's even possible.

 

Second, the environment inside the establishment isn't always right. A variety of arcade do indeed have the necessary elements. But separately. It's extraordinarily rare to see everything bought together at one time. The elements are color and lighting, music and sound, smell, sense of tempo, appropriate decorations, physical space with attention to overcrowding, properly spaced machines, and so much more. Including correct carpeting and finished ceilings.

 

The number one "violation" I see is crowding. Both of people and machines. That alone makes a lousy experience for me.

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There was nothing quite like the sound of an 80s arcade. That cacophony of sound of all those games - set at just the right volume. That merged with whatever music was playing.

 

The good ones were well spaced and had regular updates to the lineup.

 

The layout would draw you in - I suppose quite like casinos do.

 

The lighting and layout were such that once inside you were isolated from the real world in a large well organised arcade.

 

It miss the experience deeply.

Edited by davyK
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On 11/18/2020 at 4:35 AM, Keatah said:

It was pretty easy to look at an arcade and tell right away if an arcade was going to be good. A good one pulled you down into the lull and set a tone instantly. A certain isolating quietude existed inside and anything outside the doors didn't really real. Oftentimes it took moments, even minutes, to decide what to play - so many good games to be experienced.

 

It's still true, but so many alarm bells are set off these days. Maintenance being one item of concern. These are 40 year old machines that have been played hard throughout the decades. Going to take a little more than twist of the pot and grease of the stick to keep them factory new. If that's even possible.

 

Second, the environment inside the establishment isn't always right. A variety of arcade do indeed have the necessary elements. But separately. It's extraordinarily rare to see everything bought together at one time. The elements are color and lighting, music and sound, smell, sense of tempo, appropriate decorations, physical space with attention to overcrowding, properly spaced machines, and so much more. Including correct carpeting and finished ceilings.

 

The number one "violation" I see is crowding. Both of people and machines. That alone makes a lousy experience for me.

I would say nowadays some of these tech guys are a pro at diagnosing and fixing this stuff. 

 

I think the majority of us that experienced this first hand would agree... we can try out are best to replicate it but it will never be the same again.

 

I never had a issue with the crowding part, I even don't recall too many arcades back then that were a violation of this except for maybe roller rinks were they had the real estate for spacing games.

 

It's probably been stated here... but in that time frame, it was the magic of seeing a new game wheeled out on the floor. The first time seeing the anticipated sequel - DKJR.; the first time seeing that blue day-glow coming off a Tron machine. The newest offering from Atari, or my favorite manufacturer Taito. See, this is the stuff that we can never experience again...

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On 11/18/2020 at 4:35 AM, Keatah said:

It's still true, but so many alarm bells are set off these days. Maintenance being one item of concern. These are 40 year old machines that have been played hard throughout the decades. Going to take a little more than twist of the pot and grease of the stick to keep them factory new. If that's even possible.

 

You've just hit on one of my major gripes with modern arcades / barcades: maintenance of the games, or the lack thereof.

 

Our local barcade (which shall remain nameless) is pretty much the only one of its kind for about three hours in any cardinal direction.  Game maintenance is lacking, with many games' controls unusable and in that condition for over a year in some cases.  Everything's on free play, but some games don't have credit switches wired in; customers are expected to trip the coin mechs to rack up credits.  Monitors have been getting noticeably flakier over time.  Oh, and it's strictly 21-plus, which means you can't show your kids the games you grew up with.

 

Their pricing is also completely perplexing.  The drinks are basically your ticket to play the games - but there's no option to buy just soft drinks, or to give them, say, $10 and play for as long as you feel like it.  You have to buy alcohol.  While I have nothing against booze per se, if I'm coming in to kill a couple of hours between the end of the day and having to return to work later to oversee a maintenance window, going back with any alcohol on me isn't an option.  Congratulations, you've now sent someone back out the door who was willing to pay you money just to play some R-Type for a while.  Guess I'll go have noodles instead.

 

Quote

Second, the environment inside the establishment isn't always right. A variety of arcade do indeed have the necessary elements. But separately. It's extraordinarily rare to see everything bought together at one time. The elements are color and lighting, music and sound, smell, sense of tempo, appropriate decorations, physical space with attention to overcrowding, properly spaced machines, and so much more. Including correct carpeting and finished ceilings.

 

Yes.  This.  Using the barcade above as an example, I can live with them feeling different to that simply because they're not an arcade by definition.  But if you're going for arcade ambience, knowing what all of the pieces need to look like before putting the puzzle together is key.

 

Quote

The number one "violation" I see is crowding. Both of people and machines. That alone makes a lousy experience for me.

 

Agreed.  I can't think of an arcade where machines were sitting cheek-to-jowl to the extent that they are in some of the modern places.  Even the local supermarkets and 7-Elevens kept some space between them when they were on location.

Edited by x=usr(1536)
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7 hours ago, schuwalker said:

I would say nowadays some of these tech guys are a pro at diagnosing and fixing this stuff.

Absolutely. It isn't a matter of smarts so much as it's time/money allotment for actually doing the work. Or recognition of problem and will to fix it. "Smart parts" like Pokey One or other new versions of old parts make the job easier too as does better test equipment. Just gotta do it and not let stuff go downhill.

  

3 hours ago, x=usr(1536) said:

Monitors have been getting noticeably flakier over time.  Oh, and it's strictly 21-plus, which means you can't show your kids the games you grew up with.

I've seen too many monitors in recent years that have been pushed till they have no leeway. You can tell that simple adjustments have been maxed out in one direction or another. Brightness, contrast, geometrical distortion, convergence, and color purity are all common issues. Not so much with new games as the older classic CRT breed.

 

Not all's rosy with new machines either. Some of the newer LCD games got too much color saturation going on, not quite natural, sometimes annoying to play for any length of time.

Edited by Keatah
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20 hours ago, x=usr(1536) said:

Their pricing is also completely perplexing.  The drinks are basically your ticket to play the games - but there's no option to buy just soft drinks, or to give them, say, $10 and play for as long as you feel like it.  You have to buy alcohol.  While I have nothing against booze per se, if I'm coming in to kill a couple of hours between the end of the day and having to return to work later to oversee a maintenance window, going back with any alcohol on me isn't an option.  Congratulations, you've now sent someone back out the door who was willing to pay you money just to play some R-Type for a while.  Guess I'll go have noodles instead.

You can't order say a 'rum and coke, hold the rum' and pay full price?  That's bizarre.   

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3 minutes ago, zzip said:

You can't order say a 'rum and coke, hold the rum' and pay full price?  That's bizarre.   

 

Yep, and I don't get it either.  The first time it happened, I chalked it up to a clueless employee.  The second time, it involved a different employee and I started to wonder if it wasn't actual policy.

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23 minutes ago, x=usr(1536) said:

 

Yep, and I don't get it either.  The first time it happened, I chalked it up to a clueless employee.  The second time, it involved a different employee and I started to wonder if it wasn't actual policy.

My first thought was they want to push alcohol on you to impair your judgment like casinos do..  but casinos do that so you spend more money gambling and their drinks are free.   Here they are making money on the drinks, so why wouldn't they just take your money instead?    Yeah it's weird.

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1 minute ago, zzip said:

My first thought was they want to push alcohol on you to impair your judgment like casinos do..  but casinos do that so you spend more money gambling and their drinks are free.   Here they are making money on the drinks, so why wouldn't they just take your money instead?    Yeah it's weird.

Exactly.  It's also not like I have any realistic options for getting to / from there other than driving, so drinking's not the best idea anyway unless someone's acting as DD.  The problem is, you can't really have a DD unless they're off-site because everyone is supposed to be buying drinks.

 

And yet they've somehow managed to stay open for a few years.

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The arcades I went to were respectable as most were in shopping malls during the 1980s and 1990s.  That did make sense as malls had plenty of foot traffic plus plenty of security guards.

 

This reminds me of an email someone once sent to the now defunct Classicgaming.com website (part of Gamespy, which was acquired by IGN).  This writer decried "family friendly" arcades like Chuck E. Cheese and game rooms with Skee ball, whack-a-mole and ticket redemption.  He idolized and glorified 1980s videos arcades as being dark, seedy places; he went onto describe the places he went to as having shifty-eyed teenagers, ashtrays with the stink of cigarettes in the air and angry adults (teachers, parents, church ladies, etc) picketing outside with signs.

 

Maybe that writer was looking through rose-colored glasses, but those kind of places don't sound like friendly places to me!

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On 11/15/2020 at 8:16 PM, 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.

RIP OFF the old vector graphics game had 2-player team up action

game-masters-arcade-rip-off.jpg

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Sort of a tangent... a new arcade with about 30 or 40 classic arcade and pinball machines opened up here a couple of years ago.  It's still open now, but you have to book it for a party and practice social distancing, etc.  I hope it can last through COVID.

 

Check out the pics:

https://quazarsarcade.com/photo-gallery/

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The place looks great! Clean but with a nice vintage arcade look about it. I wish there was something like this in my home town. Is the food any good? 

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This post reminded me of this:

 

 

 

I was really young in 1982-1983... I was 5, at most... and didn't really go to arcades at that age. But Pizza Hut was what I remembered during that time.

 

I didn't start going to arcades until the late 80s and early 90s, when we had games like Burn Out, and all the big Street Fighter craze. Of course, all the arcades I did go to, always had the older games like Pac Man, Missile Command, and games like that. They were all about 10 years old at that point, and usually kind of beat up, but I remember then all the same.

 

The last "real" arcades I remember was one at a place called "Grand Prix Race-O-Rama" in Dania Beach Florida. They sold to a company called Boomers back in the early 2000s. At the time, they had a HUGE arcade room, and then a second building which was nothing but just arcade machines. I vividly remember the second building because all it was was JUST arcade machines. Totally dark / black room... probably had rats running around. Really, really cold in there, which was nice when it was otherwise 90 degrees with 100% humidity outside in South Florida. But they had every kind of arcade machine you'd imagine. The one that stands out the most to me was Dungeons & Dragons.

 

Anyway, after 5 years or so, they tore down the second building, and just had the main building... which mind you, was huge. By 2009, the number of arcade machines diminished... many of them stopped working, and the closed down half the building with a chain link fence inside, and in there they dumped dozens and dozens of games that didn't work. Most of the games they had left were grabber or ticket games. By 2011, they had completely closed down, and it was subsequently leveled a few years later. They had one of the largest go kart tracks in the world, along with bumper boats, a wooden roller coaster, mini golf, and dozens of other things. Now it's some kind of shopping plaza... but I left South Florida a few years ago and haven't been there since...

 

 

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