I’m sure that there is somekind of saying out there about it worse having to live in hope.
I still live in hope when it comes to arcades. I know that I shouldn’t but I can’t help it.
I was born in 1980 so I pretty much grew up as the video game arcade did. Legend has it my first gaming experience was when my Dad held me up to a Spy Hunter cabinet.
And then it went away. Consoles and PCs grew more powerful. Suddenly the words “arcade perfect” lost their glamour. The arcade makers started to rely on the gimmicks, the joystick vanished and was replaced by steering wheels and the lightgun.
That was that. No more CPS boards, no more scrolling beat em ups and certainly no more pinball machines.
So why can’t I let go? The arcade has been dead for nearly 10 years. I recently went to Blackpool, a large seaside resort in England. Last time I went there was in 1992, arguably at the peak of the arcade’s powers. Now? Rows of gambling machines, redemeption machines, lightgun games. Depressing.
More so because of my son. He’ll never have the excitement of walking into an arcade and not knowing what you’ll find. Of putting a pound coin into a change machine, picking up those 20p coins and going on the hunt. There was a vibe to those arcades that will never be found again.
The arcade had died and I had finally accepted it.
Then I went to Barry Island, a smaller seaside resort in Wales. I went with my wife and son and we walked along the sea front and went into an arcade. And there I saw it.
An original Konami Simpsons Arcade cabinet. Four player. I could not believe it. The last time I saw that machine was probably around the time of it’s initial release. I remember I played it with my Dad who bashed at the buttons.
Alright, the horizontal hold in the top half of the screen had gone but it didn’t matter. I dropped in the coin and I stood next to my son, joysticks in hand and we played.
Just for a moment the arcade was back, for as long as our credits lasted. And it was good.
The spark was rekindled. That dream of one day, somewhere finding that arcade of my youth.
It’ll never happen but I hope. I get the feeling I’ll be hoping for a long time.
(Originally posted on Bitmob.com)