As we’ve added more and more games to our arcade library, we wanted to take advantage of our collection by documenting each game on Vine. It’s not easy to encapsulate all 8 bits into six seconds, but we’re going to go game by game and cherry pick the best moments from each. If you’re interested in following along at home, please visit our Vine page and check it out.
When your product is the size of a refrigerator, you get a lot of big opportunities. More than once we’ve had to leave a warehouse feeling unsatisfied because we couldn’t fit anymore games in our truck. Here’s a bulk lot that you won’t have to take out a Public Storage locker for in order to buy.
Seeing a warehouse full of this many games is impressive, but perhaps it’s even more impressive to see such a large collection of games in one spot that are all miniature replicas. Pinball Arcade has an Etsy store where they sell handcrafted arcade and pool tables that are big enough to sit on your desk. They don’t function like the full sized games, but are a great conversation starter at work. The replicas are built by hand and crafted to look as much like the originals as possible. You can check out more photos and their mini-pins by clicking here
Adam Sandler’s latest big budget flick will be all about arcade games and from the look of the first trailer, it should be heavy on comedy and special effects. After teasing arcade fans with details for the last 9 months, Sony finally shows off the goods. Just like Wreck it Ralph, we’re predicting that this one will be a big hit with audiences.
One of the most common repairs that we have to make during the restoration process is rebuilding the control panels for various games. Time can be cruel to arcade games and between the graffiti, cigarette burns and constant wear and tear, it’s not surprising to see the control panels age faster then the rest of the game. Once you’ve rebuilt a control panel and have installed new artwork, it’s worth investing in a little bit of plexiglass, in order to protect the game.
In order to build a protective layer over the top of the control panel, you’re going to need the following materials.
-A piece of Lexan or Plexiglass that is large enough to cover the control panel
-An electric drill
-A large and small step drill
-A measuring tape
-A utility knife
-A Dremel with the lock cutting attachment
-A piece of scrap wood that you can drill into
First things, first, you need to measure your control panel, so that you can see how large of a piece of plexiglass that you’ll need to cut. We add about an 1/8th of an inch extra room, so that we can trim the plexi with our Dremmel when we’re done.
Once you’ve got your measurements you’ll want to plot them out using the sharpie. As long as you keep the plastic protective layer on the plexiglass, you should be able to peel it off when you’re done and it won’t leave any marks.
Now that you have everything plotted out, you can begin cutting the plexi. We like to place another sheet of plexi on top of the sheet we’re cutting to help guide the utility knife. When scoring the plexiglass the secret is to do it all in one light motion. You don’t want to put too much pressure on the knife or else you’ll crack it. After about 20 – 30 light swipes, you should begin to see it weaken where you’ve cut the plastic.
After you’ve scored the plexi, you want to move it over the edge of table or firm surface. You then want to give it your best karate chop so that you can snap it evenly along the seam that you’ve made. Somethings using a hammer will help if you get parts that need to be chipped off. If you haven’t scored the plexi deep enough this is the point where it can snap uneven and ruin your plexi so be careful to make sure that it’s ready before giving it a good whack.
With a little bit of luck, you’ll end up with a piece of plexi that fits. As you can see in our photos, the edges are still a little bit rough, so we’ll use our Dremmel with the lock cutting attachment to trim it smooth. Once we have the edges trimmed up, we place the plexi on top of our control panel and then use our sharpie to mark where the bolt holes and button holes line up. For the button and joystick holes we use the larger step drill. For the smaller bolt holes we use the smaller step drill. When doing the drilling it’s best to do the small holes first and then the button and joystick holes second or else the pressure of the drill can cause things to crack. You also want to clamp the plexi on top of a piece of scrap wood that you can also drill into. This helps prevent the plexi from breaking into pieces once the drill pierces it. When doing the drilling, the name of the game is patience. You don’t want to push hard or else the plexi will break. Use the drill to almost melt the plastic away.
After the holes are drilled, you can attach the plexi overlay onto your control panel and reassemble all of the buttons and joystick. Now you’re control panel looks brand new and will be protected in case someone decides to carve their name into your game and make you rebuild another plexiglass protector. This is one of those tasks that gets easier over time, so practice will make perfect even if you don’t have a lot of early success.
As commercial arcades have slowly gone out of business, there’s been a void left by their absence. For many of us, spending (or perhaps mis-spending) our youths in rooms filled with games is a memory that we’ll cherish our entire lives. While you may be able to emulate 1,000 games on a single machine it doesn’t really compare to the experience of seeing 40 – 50 games lined up ready to play. What’s interesting is to see how the collector community is stepping in to fill this void.
Case in point, Scott Leftwich. After getting bit by the arcade bug, he managed to amass a collection of over 60 working games. Instead of keeping these games tucked away in his basement just for him to play, he’s started to open up his basement on weekends to the general public, so that they can help support the restorations that he takes on. For $10, anyone can get a personal tour of his games and can play on free play for 3 hours. While it’s always possible that city hall could come down on this sort of endeavor, we tend to find that local politicians like to support these sort of private museums. I know that in our own community, there are a ton of kids who like to stop by to oohhh and awe over our games. More than once, we’ve recruited a few as “beta testers” and allow them to play our games before we deliver them to our customers. On a couple occasions, they’ve actually found some flaws that needed adjusting before our games went out.
Michael Wiseman wrote a great article highlighting Leftwich’s efforts to share his collection and posted an interview with him on YouTube. In the article he delves a little deeper into why Leftwich choose to start a private arcade that he’s affectionately dubbed Wieners and Losers,
“the goal of Leftwich’s greatest missionary endeavor at Wieners and Losers. He knows you can play any arcade game you want on a smartphone, computer, or home gaming system, and many times for free. But those are like Frankenstein’s monster – all the nuts and bolts, and none of the heart. So by opening the doors to his private collection, Leftwich hopes to raise money to restore more machines. He’s offering hot dogs and jukebox full of decade-perfect hits.
Most importantly, Leftwich is giving visitors an experience they can’t find anywhere else. A look back at youthful summers, or endless weekends with quarters and friends. He’s bringing back a cultural experience long since forgotten. And he couldn’t happier to spread the good word.”
What I found most interesting about the article was the fact that Leftwich considers Warp Warp to be be one of his crown jewels. We have a Warp Warp in our collection and while it doesn’t get a lot of play, we feel the same way. There’s something really nice about being able to save a game that is uncommon for future generations to be able to play.
Calling all Pinball wizards. Think you have what it takes to go pro? If so you can win $10,000 this weekend at the 17th annual Pinball World Championships in Pittsburg PA. With a total prize package of over $45,000 available, you can still win big even if you don’t take first place. If the thought of competing is too much for you, simply stop by and you can play any of the 400 machines that will be there. Registration for the competition runs $5, but watching the event is free.
The doors open at 11am on Thursday August 14th, 2014 and the show runs until the award ceremony on Sunday at 5:30. Should be a fun event for all. Rumor has it that they’re going to be hosting a charity tournament to help bring a Wizard of Oz Pinball to the local Children’s Hospital. You can learn more about the event on the Professional Amateur Pinball Association’s website
Man’s best friend has made one then a few appearance in video games. Duck Hunt, Paperboy, NARC, Bad Dudes, Rush ‘n Attack, Samurai Shodown, Mousetrap, Beast Busters, Wind Jammers, Ninjawarriors, CarnEvil, Strider, Mr. F.Lea, Domino Man, Thunder Jaws, Fire Trap, Arch Rivals, Shadow Dancer, Hydrothunder, Kyros and even Robocop just to name a few. Given how often our four legged friends show up in the games, it’s kind of surprising that no one has created an arcade that was dog friendly . . . . until now that is.
Located in Bellevue, Nebraska, B&B Classic Dogs has taken everything wonderful about the classic arcade has has wrapped it in a generous layer of your favorite pooch. They’ve set up a restaurant, an arcade to keep the kids (young and old) entertained and an outside area where your dog can play while you enjoy your time there. No more guilt hanging out playing video games while Bowser sits at home, now there’s a location where your dog will enjoy going as much as you do.
The restaurant is of course dog themed. They serve over 20 different styles of hot dogs ranging from your standard Coney Island dog to the more obscure Slaw Dog. Recently they’ve added a 5lb Hot Dog that if you can eat in less than 20 minutes, you don’t have to pay the $25 for the dog. My first thought when I heard about the challenge was that this had to be pretty easy to do, then I started to do the math and realized that a 5 lbs hot dog would be equivalent to eating 28 regular sized dogs!
Their current list of games includes:
-Big Buck Hunter
-A Football Throwing Game
When I asked B&B Classic Dogs about where they got the idea for the restaurant, Diane said “The inspiration behind the restaurant was and is that we want to bring some Family style fun to Bellevue and the surrounding communities. I was working in the Defense industry and got laid-off 3 years in a row, so we just decided to take our future into our own hands and take a chance.”
We’re glad that they did take a chance and hope that their success allows them to expand. There aren’t a lot of pet friendly places in this world and even less pet friendly restaurants. For many of us, our dogs are an extension of our families so to be able to take them with you, it adds to the enjoyment that you get. We wish B&B Classic Dogs the best of luck and look forward to taking them up on their 5lb hot dog challenge the next time that we’re in Nebraska.
When I was a kid, I loved going to the neighborhood arcade. It was dark, seedy and had all of these fascinating games that I had never seen before. My problem, was that I was never really any good at playing the games. Even today with unlimited free play, I’m still pretty bad at the games. Some people can master certain games for hours and I remember watching kids do just that, but my games were always over quickly, so I would take my time when it came to choosing where I’d spend the money.
As I walked around the arcade, I’d be clutching a fistful of quarters in one hand, shuffling them like I was at some kind of a poker tournament. Feeling the quarters roll across the palm of my hand and the anticipation I would get when I would drop one in the slot is something that I will never forget. It’s part of the classic arcade experience and is a huge reason why these games are so special.
Even 30 years later, there are still operators who only charge a single quarter to play an arcade game and while there may be less and less games in public locations, a simple change proposed by the Federal Reserve could mean the extinction of the 25 cent arcade game.
Now I know what you’re asking yourself, what the heck does the Fed have to do with video games? Aren’t they the ones who control interest rates? The answer has to do with how money is made. The Federal Reserve is responsible for the actual printing of currency. Due in part to increases in the cost of metals, we’ve quickly reached a point where creating currency outweighs the value of it.
In 1983, they changed the composition of the penny, so that it would use less copper. According to the website Coinflation, the value of a pre-1984 penny is currently worth .021 cents in copper. The cost to make a quarter runs .045 cents just for the metal. Immediately, losing 20% of the value from a quarter isn’t very good monetary policy, so the Fed has proposed changing the composition of a quarter to something that is less expensive to produce.
While the intentions are noble, the result for the arcade games could be disastrous. Without the right weight and shape, a newly minted quarter won’t be able to trip the coin mechs that are used to operate an arcade game. As is, arcade operators hear a lot of complaints about a game eating their quarters, but after a few years of circulation, the games won’t be able to play on quarters. This isn’t just a problem for arcade operators. Parking meters, vending machines, and old timey newspaper racks all are sensitive to the weight and size of a quarter. Because the arcade games earn so little on location, it won’t justify upgrading them to accept dollar bills or the new coins. This puts an entire industry at risk, if the proposed changes by the Fed actually go through. Right now, it’s too early to tell what the final decision will be, but the Arcade Amusement lobby has already issued a call to arms and is clearly worried about the impact that this will have on the games. Fortunately, all of our games are set to free play, so that you can play as much as you want, but it would certainly make me sad to see the thrill of dropping in a quarter completely replaced with a free play button.
Over the weekend there were a pair of articles that caught my eye. Both had similar themes in that they were asking the question of whether classic arcade games can stand the test of time. Our answer is of course a resounding yes, but it was interesting to see the thought process that each journalist used to come to the same conclusion.
The first article was a retrospective trip down memory lane and took a look at Ms. Pacman. With it being one of the biggest commercial successes in the history of arcade games, it’s not surprising that the game is loved by many. It’s one of the games that we simply can’t keep in stock and we have at least a half a dozen Ms Pacman cabinets that we own at this point. It was originally created without the permission of Namco, but after discussing things over with it’s creators, they decided to release the bootleg version as an official game. I think part of the appeal has to do with the protagonist being a female. There aren’t a lot of video games that were designed for women, let alone that have their main character as a female. This helped to expand the audience for Pacman to both sexes. In his article for Gamezone, David Sanchez writes “Even after playing the superb Pac-Man Championship Edition DX (which I consider to be the absolute best incarnation of the series), I couldn’t help but become enamored with the fruit-gobbling, maze-running antics of Ms. Pac-Man.”
He later goes on to write “Ms. Pac-Man includes a total of four mazes. Not a whole lot, sure, but still more than the original game’s singe level. Additionally, the ghosts that give chase don’t follow a specific pattern. Instead, their movements are slightly randomized, forcing you to rely on quick decisions rather than memorization. Not only is that a big game changer when compared to original Pac-Man, but it keeps the game interesting longer.”
Modern video games are often judged by the complexity of the game, but there’s something about a game being simple that adds to it’s replayability. I think Ms. Pacman hit this formula on it’s head. The ghosts giving chase fuel an adrenaline rush, but limiting it to 4 mazes allows a player to become familiar with the game. No buttons to mash or complex combos to pull off, just one 4 way joystick and a maze to overcome.
The second article that hit our radar this weekend was on VentureBeat. In it they compare the original Frogger game with the recently released Sharknado game. If you’re not familiar with Sharknado, then you’ve probably been living in a bus. It’s a campy thriller that combines sharks with tornado. Hard to go wrong with that formula no matter what you end up producing. To help raise awareness of the sequel coming out they created a iOS video game that plays suspiciously like Frogger. In it you must dodge other sharks, cut things up with a chainsaw and jump from shark to shark.
In her article, Heather Newman compares six features from both games and ultimately crowns Frogger the winner. The categories that Frogger won were Main Character Likeability, Biggest teeth and Death scene drama. They tied on replayability and Sharknado scored the advantage on Road Realism and Transportation,
Despite the obviously lead in from the article, she never told one of my favorite jokes growing up . . . What’s red and green and goes 175MPH?
Answer: A frog in a blender
All joking aside, I think it’s neat to see the classic games inspire a new generation of video games and to see journalists still writing about them nearly 40 years later. We’ve got a lot of cool games in our collection from the 90’s and 2000’s, but its the games from the 80s that seem to be the best. Whether it’s zapping aliens in Galaga or taking on Donkey Kong, 40 more years from now, these games will still be worth dropping a quarter in to play.