The Days of the Arcades


Recently I’d read a blog post by Wil Wheaton on In it he talks about how important arcades were for those of us that grew up during the 1980s. Being one of those people, I found a lot of what he said to hit home with me. The following post will be quotes from the article with a commentary of sorts talking about how it relates to me.

Donkey Kong will forever be associated with Verdugo Bowling Alley in La Crescenta…

Park Lanes is the name of the bowling alley where I live. I remember such arcade games as Mortal Kombat II, Fighter’s History, and the terrible Time Killers being there. They even had Capcom Bowling. I guess that made sense. It was the only place that I’d ever seen it.

Another Nintendo staple, Punch Out!!, takes me back to Malibu Grand Prix, a Southern California staple in the pre-lawsuit-as-lottery ’80s where adults could race cars around a twisty track while their kids played mini golf outside or tons of video games inside.

I remember going a few times to a location of Malibu Grand Prix. I couldn’t tell you where it was. Maybe somewhere outside of Columbus, OH. That’s my best guess. The game that comes to mind was a hacked version of Street Fighter II: The World Warrior. During the demo the word “ACCELERATOR” would appear on screen. When I played it as Ryu I soon was against a CPU controlled Ryu. With both fighters having the same color outfits, it was certainly difficult to tell who was who. The tokens that they had were of the oddly shaped variety. One side was what you’d expect, but the opposite side of the token had about three slots cut into it. It was the same with where you’d insert the token. I haven’t seen anything like it since.

Crystal Castles, Demolition Derby (did anyone ever get to see more of that girl between levels?), and Journey conjure up images of a Bally’s Aladdin’s Castle…

Aladdin’s Castle. Now that’s where a majority of my time in arcades took place. At the local Richland Mall in Ontario, OH. I remember bugging my mother to take me out to the mall so that I could go to that arcade. The early 1990s was the best time I had there because that’s when the fighting games genre was huge. It’s why I like fighting games and what started the whole craze for me. They had all of the major fighting games. Street Fighter, King of Fighters, Fatal Fury, Mortal Kombat, Samurai Shodown, Virtua Fighter, Tekken, etc. My biggest memories of that place was watching others play MKII and SFII: Hyper Fighting. I did partake in other types of games, but the fighters were definitely what drew me in at that time. Sadly, Aladdin’s Castle was closed up a number of years ago. It was replaced by the emo-shop, Hot Topic.

I really miss those days when Chuck E. Cheese’s had more than an assortment of ticket-dispensing coin suckers…

I do remember going to a Chuck E. Cheese only about two times when I was growing up. I also remember how it was. Just as Wil Wheaton said, lots of arcade games to play. At the time there wasn’t a local location, which explains the few times we went. Now the Richland Mall has one and I can atest to the fact that all they have now are ticket-dispensing machines. I guess fun is only a passing thing at Chuck E. Cheese now.

Another place I remember a number of fun arcade games being at was the rollerskating rink in my hometown of Mansfield, OH. I was introduced to that place as part of a grade school outing. After that I went many more times. The games that I remember being there were: Shinobi, Robocop, P.O.W., Gun Smoke, and Black Tiger. Eventually SFII: The World Warrior was added to make a total of about 15 games in all. That was also the place where I watched Usagi704 beat an arcade version of SFII. It was pretty cool!

Extra reading: A farewell to arcades at The HUB.

Comments are closed.