Tech #24: Arcade Games
The early eighties were all about video games for me. I lived in Ohio during this time, and I literally can go down the list of all the arcade games I played and their exact location. Examples...
Every few weeks my family would eat out at Godfather's Pizza. There I would play Tempest and Star Wars like a freaking maniac. It seems like only yesterday I was blowing up the Death Star to the sound of Neil Diamond's "Heart Light" emanating from the restaurant's speakers.
Every day after school, my friends and I would walk to the 7-11, get a bag of Skittles and play Q-Bert and Time Pilot.
Every time I had to tag along to the grocery store (a Bruno's in Dayton), I spent the entire time playing Pole Position and Galaga.
Shall I go on? Well, Retrospace isn't a diary, so I'll spare you the entire laundry list of arcade memories; however, there are some games in particular that I'd like to take a look at...
That's Don Bluth in the picture. He did The Secret of Nimh after leaving Disney, and later some other titles like All Dogs Go To Heaven. I remember first playing Dragon's Lair at a miniature golf arcade. As I recall, the laser disc game was impressive to look at, but it cost 2 quarters and the play time was often less than a minute. Your fifty cents were gone in the blink of an eye. No thanks - I'll play Donkey Kong Jr. for twenty minutes and get my money's worth instead.
There was a tiny whole in the wall arcade in Celina, Ohio (where my relatives lived). And it was in that dimly lit backroom that I played the hell out of Krull. What a godawful film; it's so odd that it had such a widespread arcade game. It wasn't that fun, but you couldn't be too choosy back then.
Sinistar was a badass game I played at an arcade next to the movie theater in Fairborn, Ohio. It had a cool evil sounding bad guy. Gyruss was cool because it was like Galaga, except you traveled the circumference of the screen.
When I used to stay with my cousins we'd go to my uncle's favorite hangout, a dimly lit bar in Dayton. We'd play Pac-Man the whole time. It was extra special because it was the table-top variety; the flat surface arcade game that was a novelty at the time.
Centipede was cool because it had that rollerball controller; however, the graphics were quickly outpaced by other coin-ops, and it had that Space Invaders stress factor - where things escalate quickly, leaving the player exhausted afterwards.
Never got into the Crystal Castles game. Other games I haven't mentioned but did enjoy: Xevious, Bump 'n' Jump, Joust, and who could forget Berzerk.
But I've saved the best for last....
Defender holds a special place in my heart. It's the one game I could routinely get my 3 letters on the high score list. In terms of sheer all around enjoyment, this was hands down the best. Perhaps the graphics were a tad weak and the gameplay was a bit repetitive, yet my favorite arcade game of all time has to be Defender.