Classic Arcade: The Tour

Lets Go Look Around A Classic Arcade
September 11, 2017
As you walk up to a video game counter at your local GameStop, you stare at a wall of video games lined up on the shelf. You look around at the kids between ages seven and thirteen looking at their cell phones, listening to headpones, not talking to each other, and grabbing a video game off the shelf. When did the childhood video game experience become so boring? Your kid and six of his friends walk past you, glued to their video game apps as they walk out of the store. You grab your child's newest game and begin to walk out of the store.

Just as you hear the door close behind you, a Phone Booth covered with electricity appears next to your car. “Woah dude, that store is most tranquil." Two teenagers from 1980s California walk out of the rectangular box with a fistful of quarters. "Who are you?" You ask them. They say "Bill and Ted!" at the same time. Your kid and their friends look up from their cell phones. "We saw how lame it is to be a kid in this decade, so we decided to show your kids how triumphant it was to play video games when you were a kid." Before you can call the cops Bill dials a number on the keypad and electricity pulls you and your kids friends into the circuits of time. When the booth crashes to a stop, you open your eyes and through the dust clouds see "Arcade" in bright lights as a Nirvana guitar solo plays in the background. The familiar sounds of classic video games are loud, kids are parking their bikes and walking in the door. Ted turns to the kids and says "This is a Video Game Arcade dudes."

Classic Video Game Arcade:

It's some time in the 1990s, you hear the familiar sound of kids actually laughing and talking. There are no cell phones in sight, the entertainment is found in arcade classics blaring at full blast. The kids try and use their cell phones, but there is no data in the 90s, so they put them away. The chain stores were usually "Aladdin's Castle" or "Time-Out" arcades, but some smaller towns had generic arcades.

Bill and Ted say "We will be back to pick you up after we take care of some other business, Ted will wind his watch. Remember, you have five hours. We will be back to pick you up. Oh, and here are some quarters, you can't use your debit cards here."

You decide to take advantage of this weird turn of events. You say to the kids, "Hey let me start with some fighting games."

Fighting Games

Capcom vs Marvel


Mortal Kombat

Primal Rage

Street Fighter II

This section was great. In Capcom vs Marvel you had the best characters from Capcom such as Street Fighter going up against Marvel characters such as Hulk, Spider-Man, and all the Avengers. Tekken was the first game you ever bought on the Genesis because of all the fun you had in the arcade. Mortal Kombat was all about the fatalities. Then you had Street Fighter II and Primal Rage. Primal Rage was different, taking dinosaurs and fusing it with a fighting game was just so cool. The kids take turns fighting one another as they laugh, tell jokes, and begin a round robin tournament. The final two kids battle it out, the winner plays you and it instantly takes you back to your childhood. There is always that one kid everyone knows, like a Myth or Legend. He has his 3 initials at the TOP of the LEADER BOARD.

Racing Games

Crusin' USA


Datona USA

Off Road

This is where you had the need for speed. Remember "Crusin' USA" or "Nascar" They were usually the two seats next to one another as people raced. One of my favorites was a classic "Off Road" that was later released on the SNES called "Super Off Road". Some of the classic games such as "Pole Position" would still be in a 90s Arcade. Going to an arcade is an experience. You aren't simply playing games, you and your friends are having an experience, together, memories you'll share. Remember the clutch, usually a standard "H" and choosing the music as you raced, the 32 bit glitchy bikini models holding the racing flags and trophies? It was so cool. Your kids friends laugh as they put their 3 letter initials on a licences plate.

Shooting Games

House of the Dead 2

Lethal Enforcers

Virtua Cop 2
Area 51

These games usually varied from cops shooting bad guys, to agents on a mission, to aliens and zombies. The kids realize there are no joysticks or controllers, you pick up a gun and start shooting. Usually to continue a mission after you die, you have to insert more coins. I remember going to the coin machine, putting in a ten dollar bill, and filling a fanny pack or backpack with quarters before my day began at an arcade. You take out a handful of quarters Bill and Ted gave you and the kids start shooting away. Laughing when a zombie's head blows off, thinking it's so cool that you just vaporized an alien. Some games had patterns, and if you played them enough, you could memorize where to shoot.

Sports Games

NFL Blitz


These games were really cool. I remember NFL blitz having less rules. Madden is okay, but this game was brutal. You could run over people, hit people hard and just have lots of fun with friends. NBA jam was all about boom-shaka-laka. You wanted to be like Michael Jordan, it was all about dunks and the ball literally catching fire. You had WWF wrestling, baseball, everything you could think of.

Pop Culture Theme Games

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II

Revolution X

T2: Judgement Day

The Simpsons Arcade Game

Jurassic Park

These games were usually pretty cool. Revolution X was Aerosmith shooting CD dics at their enemies. TMNT II is still one of my all time favorite games ever made. I probably spent over a hundred dollars worth of quarters playing that. T2 was the coolest movie ever made in the early 1990s, so the game was instantly fun. The Simpsons were the "Family Guy" of the 1990s. Bart was the coolest cartoon character to come to mainstream. Then you had other movie themed ride/games such as Jurassic Park where you were in a jeep riding around fighting dinosaurs. As you look around you realize this is the most your kid have talked and played together with friends since you can remember. Now you are feeling nostalgia as you try and beat a high score.

Classic Arcade Games

In the 1990s, they still had the 1980s classics in the bigger arcades to go along with the newer, more modern style graphics.

Classic Arcade Games

These games were all about HIGH SCORES. You hear the familiar "beeps" and "boops" and flashing lights. Pac-Man, Galaga, Donkey Kong, Mario Bros, Centipede, Contra, and more. These retro games had cool banners or logos with amazing art work on the sides of the machine. I remember when I was really young my dad going to an arcade around 1990 and they had a HIGH SCORE board with people who could put their Polaroid picture and write their name on the white strip with a marker. In the mid-90s, I would often go back and try to beat scores and figure out the Pac-Man patterns.



Air Hockey

These games were usually more geared for adults, but not always. They really tried to make the Arcade an experience with something for everyone. Some arcades even had basketball games, and I remember kids sitting in the back having card tournaments such as "Magic: The Gathering".

You see kids with LA gear shoes, chewing fruit stripe gum playing pinball and whizzing their air hockey paddles across the plastic ice. "Ice Ice Baby" is playing over the speakers and some kid with ripped acid washed jeans bumps into you because he's kissing his girlfriend and not paying attention. As you take it all you your eyes come across kids skateboarding by the glass doors with their JanSport backpacks, they pop the board into their arms and walk in the doors. You look over your shoulder at your kid and friends joking, chasing each other around a bank of arcades, laughing at the top of their lungs. One kid accidentally bumps a table with kids playing with their Pogs. The slammer hits the ground and he doesn't flip one. Light flashes very bright at a Circle K convenience store next door across the street. It's the time traveling phone booth with none other than Bill and Ted walking across the street towards the doors.

You beg them, "Please don't make us leave yet." The kids say "Has it really been five hours? It feels like we just got here." Ted says "Listen, the clock is still running in your own time dude, it's five hours later there. Like, you have to be home in time for dinner, plus Bill and I have Wyld Stallyns Band practice with Eddie Van Halen back in 1988 San Dimas." As you cram into the phone booth you think about how much fun it was to go to an arcade after school. Not "Chuck-E-Cheese, or "Dave and Busters", not those ticket arcades with cheap prizes, real Arcades where kids hung out every day, not a restaurant with a cover price. You are dropped off at your car, you hear "Catch you later dudes" as Bill and Ted disappear.
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