I have seen many articles about video games, top ten lists, different consoles, and so on. But what about that feeling you got as you walked into an arcade as a kid? I remember being 9, walking into an arcade with a ten dollar bill and getting what seemed like an infinite amount of quarters back. The choices were endless as my pocket was weighted down with possibilities. Do I want to play a fighting or racing game first?
Should I spend all my money on skeet ball trying to get enough tickets to get a cool prize? Which I never did by the way, either I really sucked or those prizes are way over-ticketed. I loved having birthday parties there with a few buddies and we'd team up on the 4-player X-Men, or Simpsons, or Turtles and blast at the machine until our palms were sore.
One of my fondest memories of being at an arcade is actually with my Mom. We went to Aladdin's Castle, which was the main arcade were I grew up. We went for no reason. In my house, we did not get treated to things like this for no reason. She played Altered Beast with me until we beat it. This is one of the coolest bonding moments I had with my Mom at a young age. I look back now at the game, which if you really inspect is killing endangered animals to become powerful, (Kicking a two-headed white tiger in the face? Or the balls.) and reminisce of the good times.
I also loved going to the bowling alley as a kid, not that I don't now, but a lot of memories are from there as well. I didn't even need money for the video games there. I would pull up a bar stool and simply pretend to play as games went through their intro's. My father would give me a dollar and I would get to pick 5, count em, 5 songs from the jukebox.
That and paying a quarter for a video game are as long gone as my dinosaur sheets. That's right, I haven't seen either for at least four months. After my parents finished with their league bowling I would get to bowl 1 or 2 games. I sucked and got frustrated, but through the wonderful art of self delusion I was a prodigy and enjoyed every second. I also liked scoring for the teams. Doing mental math instead of letting a computer do it for you? Uh, yeah. It saddens me that people my own age do not even know how to score themselves in bowling. There was a poster at the alley that had all cartoon characters on it describing the different kind of bowlers. Like the guy that's always missing when it's his turn, the guy on 15 different teams, and the guy that rockets his ball down the lane. Thinking of these puts a smile on my face that I can not reason, but don't believe I have to. The bowling alley was certainly on of my favorite places to be as a kid.
The last place I want to talk about is Chuck E. Cheese. I know it's been talked about a lot, but I think the one in my hometown might have been a bit unique. For starters, there was this crazy slide area. You had to run up and down these really steep hills covered with the same green stuff used at mini golf places to get to the slide. The slide itself was practically nothing, but running down an 80 degree slope at mach 10 was a blast. We had the animatronics on stage, but there were also flags about half way up the walls around the entire building that would wave themselves. Clapping hands with no bodies were also all over. There was also a strobe light room. It would be 1 minute on, 1 minute off. As a kid it was crazy how everything looked in that room. Completely dark with kids running around with a light flashing constantly, how did this not stay?
These are just a few of places I enjoyed as a kid, some of my favorite memories from those places, and a lame attempt at humor. I hope you enjoyed this, since it is my first article I am certainly open to constructive criticism to make future ones better.