Thursday, July 24, 2014

Gaming Memories 03: Nintendo Cereal

Gaming Memories 3: Nintendo Cereal

When I was a kid, my mother would go to where my dad worked and pick up his check so that she could go to the grocery store.  I had relatives that lived right near where my father worked, so we would always stop by there and pay them a visit.  They always had some form of the "mascot" cereals and we'd always be there around breakfast time.  It was there that I found Boo-berry and Count Chocula, Fruit Bruit and Yummy Mummy cereals.  But it was also there that I first saw this:

Some say that rampant and reckless consumerism hit its peak in the 1980's... and I say those are people that grew up in the 70's.  Everyone thinks their childhood era is the "correct" one, and I happen to have fond memories of all the marketing directed at me in the 80's.  Everything from McDonalds to super sugary cereals, it was all magical and fun and since it was MY childhood, I think its better than the garbage they have now(waves his cane stick around).

Stale old boxes of this still show up on Ebay from time to time.  I'm not much of a collector myself, so I'd be happy with a reproduction box full of Styrofoam, just so I can take it out and remember when I wanted it more than anything else in the world lol.  You have to hand it to the people that made this stuff though, they look like they were actual fans of the series.  Even the music in the commercial is some Super Mario Brothers music put to some of the greatest lyrics of all time.

Check out that top right corner.  Its healthy!  They still do that today.  Load up 3x as much sugar as a can of soda, and sprinkle some vitamin dust into the batter, and we got ourselves some health food!  Still, ever since the 1930's, trashy kids cereal has been a part of "American" childhood.  I see no reason to force shredded wheat down a kid's throat.(weird aside, I've always preferred boring grown up creals, to this day my favorite is Product 19).

I guess in 30 years we'll be having people remembering Angry Birds chewy fruit snacks.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Arcade Project 11: Game: Neo Geo MVS

Obligatory Arcade Purchasing Paragraph
Admittedly the choice of what arcades to get is a personal taste.  If you look at refurbished and well taken care of arcades, you will find that they cost well over $1000.  If you go to reputable websites that specialize in selling arcades, you will find them very much expensive.  Ebay and Craigslist are a crap shoot.  Sometimes people will try and give you junk for $2000, and sometimes little old ladies want to clear rooms and sell you pristine Pacmans for $200.  Its the risk you take for the rewards.  My choice in games is my own and will be different from yours.

Neo Geo MVS

I feel like I have to explain a few things before someone new to arcades will understand this.  You see, the Neo Geo arcade was basically a "console" in an arcade cabinet.  In fact, later they would release a home console version that was literally the same insides of a Neo Geo.  If you see the old Neo Geo cabinets, they never added new upgrades or chips throughout the years they existed, all the games ran on the same hardware.  Inside the arcade cabinet was a cartridge slot just like what you would find in a Super Nintendo.

The arcades came with 1, 2, and 4 slot arcades for most of its life time.  While at home you can expect to pay $300-$500 for most games that will work on the home version, the kinds that work in the arcades are actually more numerous and less rare.  You can get top games for under $30.  You simply plug them in and you're ready to go.

So for the $700 it costs to buy the average 2 slot machine, you get a multi-game cabinet.  For $100 you can get several games depending on what's on EBay at the time.  Right now I can get Metal Slug 5, Samurai Shodown 2, and Bust-a-move all together for under $100.  If you are looking for the arcade games, you need to look for "MVS" cartridges.  The home versions are called "AES" and you can typically find them due to the high prices.  If you find MVS cartridges for AES prices, then you're trying to be duped by someone.  MVS's are cheap and much more abundant.

Arcade Project 10: Game: Gauntlet Legends

Obligatory Arcade Purchasing Paragraph
Admittedly the choice of what arcades to get is a personal taste.  If you look at refurbished and well taken care of arcades, you will find that they cost well over $1000.  If you go to reputable websites that specialize in selling arcades, you will find them very much expensive.  Ebay and Craigslist are a crap shoot.  Sometimes people will try and give you junk for $2000, and sometimes little old ladies want to clear rooms and sell you pristine Pacmans for $200.  Its the risk you take for the rewards.  My choice in games is my own and will be different from yours.

Gauntlet Legends

It was very hard for me to choose what beat'em up that I wanted to buy.  Growing up, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles was THE beat'em up for me.  The 4 player arcade cabinets meant you never had to wait for someone to finish a game, and in fact you were welcome to join since you could help the person get to places they'd never been before.  They are, without a doubt, some of the most sought after and expensive arcades out there.  But that is not why I'm shying away from having one.  The main problem with them is that once you are "done" with them, you are "done".

Enter Gauntlet Legends.  Look at that cabinet, that is one of the most well done and beautiful arcade cabinets in existence.  The main reason I am going with Gauntlet Legends is that it is sort of a Diablo in Arcade form.  You get codes to "save" your character, so that the next time you play, your keep your levels and equipment.  Multiple play throughs are expected and the game adjusts.  You have more to advance than just going through the levels, its almost a Dungeons and Dragons like experience.

There are other reasons though.  First, this game is new enough that MAME has problems with it, and the home versions of the game just aren't accurate to the experience of playing in the arcades.  We work on recreating experiences here after all.  The graphics in this game are gorgeous and "silicon" like many of the top arcades of its period(Killer Instinct, Cruisin' USA, etc).  Another is that for about $55 you can buy an "upgrade" kit for the game that turns it into Gauntlet Dark Legacy!  Yes, you get 2 Gauntlets in one.  Admittedly its not easy to just switch between them, but when you're sick and tired and have just beaten one into the ground, you can switch.  $1300 is about par for the course when it comes to non-rare and non-collectible arcades, and in this instance you practically get 2 games and lots of replay.

Arcade Project 09: Game: Pole Position

Obligatory Arcade Purchasing Paragraph
Admittedly the choice of what arcades to get is a personal taste.  If you look at refurbished and well taken care of arcades, you will find that they cost well over $1000.  If you go to reputable websites that specialize in selling arcades, you will find them very much expensive.  Ebay and Craigslist are a crap shoot.  Sometimes people will try and give you junk for $2000, and sometimes little old ladies want to clear rooms and sell you pristine Pacmans for $200.  Its the risk you take for the rewards.  My choice in games is my own and will be different from yours.

Pole Position

There is ONE reason why I played a lot of Pole Position in my youth.  Was it because I was a racing fan?  Not really.  Was it because I'm a car enthusiast?  Nope.  No, the reason I played a lot of Pole Position was because it was the longest gaming you could be guaranteed per quarter.

Pole Position also has a very iconic shifting gear that is not replicated in home arcade emulation set ups.  It is an experience from my youth that I want to replicate.  I am very lucky in that I never really got to play much of the sit down version, so that will help me save at least half the cost and space of putting this in my home arcade plans.  The south was FULL of Pole Position and Pole Position 2 arcade cabinets.  Down here, racing is big business and has been even before NASCAR went national.  You'd see Pole Position in gas stations, dive bars, flea markets and restaurants, EVERYWHERE.  Because of this, it is really easy to find an almost pristine cabinet for $300 to $600.  I will put the cost down to $600 as that's what they are showing up on Ebay frequently as.

Actually, now that I think about it, the only reason I never really got to play the sit down "cockpit" version of the game was because it was at the local movie theater.  The local movie theater being the place all the teenagers hung out at on a Friday night.  The sit down Pole Position cabinet was basically a private "booth" for activities that decidedly did not include playing video games.

Arcade Project 08: Sit Down and Fight

Arcade Project 08: Sit Down and Fight

Remember when I talked about these?  In THIS post?  I also talked about not minding the "non-Japanese" construction of the X-Arcade sticks in my Upright MAME Cabinet post, or that the computer in it need not be powerful.  Well that's because I was planning on having another DIY arcade in the room the whole time.  This one is to be modern and versatile compared to the upright, and it is not meant to invoke a nostalgia memory, its made to game with.  So the lench pin of this design is again with our friends at Recroommasters
and it is their sit down pedestal Xtension cabinet for $325

The flat table front to this thing is great, and I will not be using the TV mount, even though you might like it.  I want to be able to push this against the wall when not used, and the TV used for it will be mounted and double as the entertainment room's normal television for watching whatever.  The flat top table will actually accommodate the X-arcade stick from the MAME Upright I already have out, but it will also let people bring their own arcade sticks if they wish to play.

Those are single player X-arcade sticks and they're $78 each.  I know I said the upright arcade's set up can be used on the flat table, but there are several reasons why I will be getting 2 of these.  First, if people are playing the MAME upright, then I don't expect it to be available for use on the Sit Down.  Second, I like to rock 4 player beat'em ups like Turtles in Time or Castle Crashers.  This will allow us to take the Dual-stick and have it on the Sit Down, and then 2 additional players can be using the single sticks off to the side somewhere. ($160 for 2)

When it comes to the television, there is no telling at what point you are looking at this.  Prices change weekly, and you can get some good deals just looking for warranty refurbished televisions.  I think that in the very least you should be able to get a great and wonderfully usable television for $500.  At the time of this writing, I can get a 3 HDMI port, 120hz, 47 inch big brand TV with a full return warranty for just under $500.

My choice to run the inside of this thing is going to be based on using a console.  For me, the console with the best selection of fighting games, new and old, and also a lot of indie beat'em up support is the Playstation 3.  This gives us Street Fighter 4, Blaz Blu, Tekken of all types, and also access to older versions of these games as well.  Why not a PS4?  The game offerings on PSN for the PS4 is not yet as extensive as the PS3 at the point of when this was written.  Our PS3 is clocking in at $270.  My other option was to create a $550 gaming PC, but going over the parts for that is ridiculous because 6 months from now, all my advice would be obsolete.  Our arcade sticks are totally compatible with all console options.

Add in some speakers like in the Upright, and we're approaching $1300 for the Sit Down unit.  You can easily reduce that by skimping on the TV and the extra fight sticks, but we're not doing that.

EDIT:  We need to add something to this.  It is not worth an entire post, but essentially it will be used with this arcade stand, so I'm going to add the Logitech G27 Racing wheel here.  It is the highest rated in a lot of computer magazines and is about $200, which is not that bad compared to what racing wheels in the past used to cost.

Arcade Project 07: MAME 01 Upright

Today we're going to look at parts for a MAME Cabinet.

Now, there are people that will sell you fully functioning, built and ready to go MAME machines with games installed, controllers wired, authentic CRT monitors and custom graphics.  These machines are also going to cost you $2500+ depending on the options you tack on.  I've looked at a lot of the top names in the MAME machine business and if you want a "no hassle, just work" solution, then this is your best bet.  X-Arcade makes some nice looking, fairly blingy cabinets, but if you're planning on playing fighting games vigorously on them, then you might want to read up on their controls.  Dream Arcades get a lot of press.  They aren't the best looking, but they are built solid, and you'll be able to get pro-level controls installed in them easily.  There are better options for DIY people.  I'm fairly adept at doing electronic.  I can even computer.

Recroommasters is a website I've had bookmarked for years.  They are not a MAME machine builder, they are a cabinet supplier.  They will create and ship you an empty shell of a cabinet that is set up and ready for installing a MAME set up inside it.  There is no computer, there is no speakers, or even controls, it is a shell.  It is also only $199 to $599 depending on what you want to get.  They have these shelf top cabinets made to sit on a bar table.  They have these flat topped arcade cabinets designed for you to just sit a monitor on top of it.  The best thing about them, they have an entire series set up for dropping in X-Arcade controls.  For $299 you get a stand up cabinet with the classic enclosed monitor look, routed to accept a Dual-tank Stick from X-Arcade, and ready to accept a 22 inch LCD monitor.

Now let's look at controls.  There are a lot of people out there making controllers.  X-Arcade is someone that is doing them completely affordable, and completely versatile.  These things plug into PS2's, PS3, Windows PC's, Macs, whatever you have, they'll be usable.  Also they are completely contained inside themselves, so you can move them around, they are not stuck inside your arcade cabinet.  For $100 you get controls for 2 people.  People poop on X-Arcade for them not using Japanese arcade parts meant to take abuse from Street Fighter players 24/7.  I think they are built great for all around gaming.  Besides, I have other plans for fighting games...

Now let's look at the computer to go inside it.  You do not need a powerful computer to play MAME enabled games.  Games that MAME is able to accurately emulate were generally in the arcades before 2002.  For the most part we're looking at 4-15 mghz computers being emulated by MAME.  There is no reason to get a top of the line computer for use in a MAME machine, and many "custom" MAME builders know this... they have a stockpile of cheap Pentium 3 computers bought for $20-30 that they can stick inside their machines and still charge you 2-3,000 bucks.  We do not quite want to go that ancient.  Do yourself a favor, go to and buy a refurbished computer with Windows 7 and an Intel processor.  So let's allocate $250 for the inside computer.  If you do as I say, you'll get a keyboard and mouse along with it.

When it comes to monitors, you have a lot of cheaper options.  The 22 inch screen size is falling out of vogue for PC gamers, so there is a glut of sub-$100, brand new monitors.  I am a stickler for great color.  The panel known as IPS has only become less than high end in the past couple of years.  This means that if you get an IPS panel monitor you can be safely assured you will be getting lower latency, great color, and good features for your buck.  TN panels are faster for things like FPS's, but for our arcades, I think IPS is fine.  For $150 you can get a great monitor with 2-3 HDMI ports so you can hook up more than just the MAME machine if you want(like hooking up your PS3).  Rounding out the arcade computer, get yourself a 2.1 speaker set up with subwoofer for about $50.  I like Logitech for quality IN THAT PRICE range.

Now we go to graphics.  You have a few options here.  There are permanent stickers, which tend to look better in the long term... as long as you get them applied correctly the first time.  I for one, get all finicky about wanting to change things when I get tired of them.  The option for that is reusable vinyl stickers.  They have a less "custom paint" looking style to them, but you can re-apply them if you don't get it right the first time.  You can save old designs to bring back later.  There are several services for this kind of thing, but Recroommasters provides this service and a few more graphic options as well.  I'll allocate $150 for graphics.

So, there's our Upright MAME arcade.  I will not list all the games you can do with it for obvious reasons, but you can find legit and legal MAME collections to use for very cheap.  Not counting the games, we have about $1000 for the whole arcade.  Compared to spending $700-$3000 for each individual game, this MAME machine is a steal.  It is also a space saver for a small arcade like the one we're planning.

Arcade Project 06: Accessorize

Accessory Decisions

Popcorn gives us a few options.  Chances are I am going to own an air-popper for my personal use, but having popcorn is not "enough".  We're talking about experiences here.  Also, have you ever smelled popcorn from an air popper?  Not much smell(or taste) to the stuff when you prepare it that way.  At a movie theater they have the large heated bowl with a stirring mechanism so you can add butter or oil of your choice.  I know how to operate them because of past-work experiences, so I want something that works like that.  BUT.  AGAIN.  Experiences, not full on replication.  I do not want to have to deal with giant garbage bags of popcorn that is uneaten.  So a 2-4 oz bowl is good enough for me.  I also do not want one of those wheel and crate looking things.  Those are nice if you want the movie lobby experience from the 50's, that's not our goal.  A nice desktop popcorn machine, hand made in the USA for about $130 will do it.

Wow, Sticker Machines are freakin' expensive.  I guess they are some real money makers?  Anyway, it looks like getting one from the same vendor as my gumball machines is going to be the least expensive.  Fun Fact: a 2 column sticker machine costs almost the same as 4 gumball machines with a stand.  My nephews all love temporary tattoos and I like prism/metallic stickers, so there we go... $280 bucks.  I'm not getting this one made for free use though, I plan on having good stickers, and I knew my nephews would run the machine dry of tattoos on the first day if they weren't limited.  

The Jukeboxes of my past were either the Waffle House standards or the super flashy, mirror finish, spinning CD jukeboxes of the 1990's.  They were huge, and frankly they could now all fit on my phone with very little effort or expense.  But we're not about practicality here, we're about experiences.  Thing is, I don't have many strong jukebox experiences, just like I don't care for pool.  So while fans of arcades from the 80's will hate my kind of arcade room, I'm ok with it.  Most "desktop" jukeboxes want to emulate the Happy Days lookin' jukeboxes of the 50's and 60's.  These things are expensive, and they are expenses I'm not going to incur.  Sorry Jukebox fans, no Jukebox in my arcade.

Upholstered booth seating is actually pretty affordable compared to trying to get nice non-restaurant style seating for a room.  For under $300 you can typically get 2 tone, foam and SPRING cushioned custom covered booth seats.  The room is so small, I see no reason to get 2 of them, one booth and a table will work fine.  I put springs in all caps because those are the higher quality ones.  There are some people out there that sell non-spring ones for a mark up because they use "space foam" and stuff like that, but don't let that fool you, that is the lower end stuff at a reputable maker.  If you can get a good deal on the color and covering you want, and get spring seating for under $300, then you should.  I'm looking to get a wood grain top laminate with red trim and chrome accents, done long enough for booth use, custom created to my order for $132 with free shipping.  You can save money buying used, but why not try and get exactly what you want made when its not a huge mark up?

 $140 extra bucks for a double set of  matching ottoman style stools rounds out the seating.  These are also storage, and easily moved around.  You can put them on the other side of the booth table for additional seating, but they also serve dual purpose as usage in a sit down arcade set up.  When not in use, they can tuck under the booth table so they are out of the way.  They will be useful for holding extra gaming controllers and for hiding some wires that are only occasionally used.

Last but not least, any Arcade needs a score board.  They can be used for high scores, yes, but they can also be used for setting up tournaments, or schedules or a number of things(maybe what needs to be restocked in the food area).  So I looked at GOOD dry erase boards and came across a porcelain based, magnetic dry erase board that was 3 foot by 6 foot.  I can live with that, and the porcelain means that it will less likely look like shit after years of use.  It is $130.

Arcade Project 05: Ball Design

Let's look at making some decisions on our accessories.

Starting with the Gumball machine.  What you see there is the new "standard" of these kinds of things.  Its easy to stash a lot of those in a truck, there's not a lot of maintenance, and they're cheaper all around.  They also did not exist much in my childhood, and on top of that they are not very versatile.  If one of those were to break(which happens), then the other two are sitting by an ugly unused one with an "out of order" sign on it.  I much prefer the classic, and to be honest you only spend another hundred or so, and then you can do things like mix and match colors and designs.

Looking at manufacturers, I think I want to get a mix of 2 styles, but in the same decor.  I want two of the "1 inch" dispenser types that let you use gumballs and bulk candy like runts.  In fact, that's probably the two I will have.  Everywhere I went had the "Runts" candies inside, and for good reason; they last forever.  They are also very hard and will not tend to break into pieces as much as sweet tarts and the like.  Some people like super sour gumballs, but not me, I want the regular looking ones, though I may get tropical flavors.

That leaves me 2 machines that I will order to use the 2 inch "shells" for toys.  I loved collecting a couple of things in my childhood.  I remember the little plastic men you could get in the machines that you would put in water and they'd expand and get bigger.  I remember the sticky hands that you could slap and sling against walls, and the ones filled with goop and slime.  For some reason, despite me not ever liking Football all that much, I collected the football helmets.  I am not sure what I'd have(I know some of you are screamin' HOMIES!), but for sure two of the machines would be for the shell toys.

Now we talk cost.

There are arguments for going "used" with this sort of thing.  If I was going to be saving 1/2 price or more, then I would consider it.  One look at Ebay and people are looking more to unload something they've found in a very very dirty place.  Getting them new means its about $340 for 4 machines, but you get them made custom.  I can get the 2 configured for gumball/bulk, 2 configured for acorn shells, and all set up for "free spin" meaning I will not need to have a handful of quarters around for everyone.  If you want that "token" experience, you can even have them made to use game tokens.  For such a small game room, I do not think I'll be doing the token thing for any of the games, so it doesn't make sense for the snack machines either.  Also with new, you can have them painted in several different colors to match your room decor.  I'm going with Red.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Gaming Memories 02: Adventures of Link

Gaming Memories 02: Adventures of Link

VIP Video was the kind of small business rental place that I hear so many people talk about when giving game memories.  It was the local "we're cheaper than Blockbuster" store and was the first place I was ever able to rent a game from.  When we were handed the membership card, the first thing I did was make a line to the video game section and look at what they had.  In the early days, I was restricted to what I got on Christmas, and what my cousins owned.  So getting to see the "new" games on the wall was really exciting.  The first to catch my eye was:

I was almost as happy as I had ever been when I saw that.  Legend of Zelda was a game I did not yet own, but I knew plenty of people that did.  I was always restricted to maybe an hour of playing it because I only got to play it when I visited relatives.  Now here was part 2, something I did not know even existed, and for all I knew none of these people with Zelda 1 did either.  There was no deliberation, I took it home.

When I got home... holy crap what was this?  The game was like a map without monsters... wait, so you go into the thing and suddenly we're... Mario style?  No, more like NES Rambo style.  Well maybe it is still good.  I was hopeful for my first rental, so I tried.  Wow.  Wow.  This game was bad.  This game was so bad, I started inspecting things like the cartridge.  Sure it was gold, but I think it was an off color gold, not exactly like Zelda was, right?

I came to the conclusion that the game was a bootleg.  Not a true sequel by the people that made the original  I know it is hard today to understand how I could think that, but back in the late 80's and early 90's, we could still get the shady junk from the far east.  You can now go and download roms of things like Sonic the Hedgehog, hacked into another game and sold as a real Sonic game for the NES.  They come on real cartridges.  There was also the Tengen games that were not licensed to be sold on the NES and were real sketchy games as well.  So that's what I concluded, must be a bootleg.

It wasn't.  But thankfully my next run in with Zelda, the SNES "Link to the Past" was exactly what I expected in a Zelda sequel.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Arcade Project 03: Roomifications

With this set up, I want to accurately estimate how much it would cost to outfit a room as an arcade.  So first I have to settle on the room size.  There are several room standards around today, and I did a little research to try and get an idea for them.  In most rented apartments, condos and town homes, the average size of a bedroom is 10'x10'.  I am not a big fan of living around a lot of people like that, high density living I guess you'd call it.  Well in the suburbs, you get a little bit more space with 10'x12' rooms.  Now this stays the size for quite a wide range of homes.  When the house gets larger, you simply get extra spaces in the home for gathering together, and the emphasis on a "room" holding all the entertainment kind of goes away.

I have decided that a 10'x12' room will be what I choose to base this project on.

The Dark Room

Now that we have a room, I need to come up with a color scheme to match everything with.  The classic is to go with blacks, dark blues, purples and some neon.  Some people really like that, and that's the way that the Penny Arcade artist, Mike Krahulik, went for his game room.  This is what the arcades looked like in the 1990's.  Presumably it saved on the cost of lighting to be able to have everything dark, and it made the older arcades with the fading televisions look decent enough.  As I've said before, I actually do not have a big picture of "this is what an arcade should LOOK like" I more know how I want it to feel and the memories for it to bring back.  The cool thing is that they make glow in the dark and UV reactive carpets for this style.  What I do not like is that it is very dark, even when the lights are on.  The arcade room I'm designing is not something for someone's basement, or for a room in a detached garage, it is part of the home.

The Light

Looking at home theaters, there is another set of colors that I like; the red and gold scheme.  This scheme looks good in light as well as when its dark.  The gold is a little gaudy though, and I've never big a fan of lots of red in a room, it causes me to be agitated.  If we darken the red to be closer to maroon, and tone down the gold, maybe use a light wood instead, and we start getting into something that looks decent among other rooms.  Another thing to take into consideration is all the accessories for the room.  Gumball machines, sticker dispensers, popcorn machines, all of these come in red, and so matching that would be easy as well.

So I found a pretty easy to edit empty room that somewhat looked like the right size and I paintshopped it up to try these out.

I have to admit that even though I've decided not to go this way... this is tempting.  I would love to make a star filled ceiling and some galaxy artwork around the wall instead of gaming artwork.  Still, you can see it is REALLY dark there.

This one has the addition of the accessories listed at the bottom in the colors you can get them.  The carpet is just... an approximation.  I have some ideas on the carpet I'd like to have and I'm not happy with the carpet i used here, but still, its there for visual estimation.  The room was still a little too red for me and the room itself looked a little too normal.  So I tried again.

This is looking much better IMO.  The wood trim breaks up the room, and the addition of white means I do not have to have an "accent" white wall to break up all the red.  I like this, and as far as things go, I think this may end up how the room looks.  I have an "over the top" concept I want to do based on  a home theater picture I found.... when I do that, I"ll add it into this post, but I think this room is the way I'm going to go.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Gaming Memories 01: Top Gun

Gaming Memories 01

Gaming Memories is probably going to be all over the place in size and scope.  Its going to be a series where I just chose a game and talk about a memory associated with it.  Sometimes it'll be "the cover was so bad, I never rented it" and sometimes it might be a huge story.

Top Gun

I'm not sure if I'm one of the last generation to remember that younger kids got black and white televisions before they could have a color TV or not.  My cousin was one such person that had a tiny black and white TV aside in their living room so that he could play without taking up the main television.  He had several Nintendo games that I had played in other homes, but the one game he had that no one else did for a while was Top Gun.  Now, if you go back today and play Top Gun you're going to be treated to a neon colored user interface, with greens and oranges showing up everywhere.  The explosions are going to be red and yellow, the ocean is going to be a bright blue.  The game is actually pretty high contrast in design.  I did not get to see any of that for many years.

They say that dreaming in black and white is a phenomena associated with people that grew up with black and white television, and that while it was thought of as common place a couple of decades ago, no one generally dreams in black and white today.  You get a lot of references to dreaming in black and white in old 80's sitcoms, which makes sense as in their childhoods they all had black and white.  Well, when I dream of playing Top Gun, I dream about it in black and white.  The rest of the world is colorful, yes, but it is always the black and white version of Top Gun I played as a kid that pops up in my dreams.

Arcade Project 04: Extra Sensory

Extra Sensory Memories

Memories are not just visual, I find that many of my strongest memory triggering events focus on smell and taste.  These will shape my "food" section that I think is a must for any arcade.  While all the true arcades I saw at the mall were near the food court, the ones in my mind had their own snack bars.  A snack bar is a must for me because food is nostalgia.

The skating rink is one of my most early memories.  I could not skate, but I remember going there with my sisters and cousins a few times.  This was probably around 3-4 years old?  Somewhere around there.  It was so long ago that I can not remember the games AT ALL.  But I do remember other things.  There was an Alvin and the Chipmunks cardboard cut out at the front that I always wanted to play in because it looked like a tree house.  The other thing I remember is Bugles.  Yes, the salty corn snack Bugles.  It is a very powerful taste to memory association for that time period.  EVERY time I eat or smell Bugles, it makes me 3 years old again.  Very little things in my life are as strong a send back as that.  So Bugles is a must.  Vending machines are super costly brand new, yet pretty damn cheap used, so I will probably look to Ebay for that.  I have some ideas on how to manage a vending machine also, that'll be in the cost evaluation posts later.

My most frequented "arcades" were actually little sections in other stores.  Walmart is where I got most my arcade experience, but it was set up at the front of the place, so aside from pressure sensitive doors, nothing much about it to remember.  But then there was Pizza.  Pizza Hut was a place that had 2 or 3 arcades and I got to play a game every time we came to pick up our pizza.  The games... weren't really all that great.  There are nice shiny stickers... so that's something I need to put down on the ideas list.  Later it was CiCi's Pizza, the one that recently went out of business, where I got my arcade gaming on after the old Walmart moved.  Whoever ran it was a big Mortal Kombat fan because they got the latest version of the game as soon as it was out.  The pizza was secondary, but the smell was always there.  Pizza and Rootbeer.  Its weird for me to have pizza without having rootbeer with it now.  A soda machine might be right out of budget, but one of those turn style pizza bakers may not be.

Lastly in this section we have popcorn.

It was the old movie theater from my childhood that makes me think of popcorn when I think of games.  That theater always had movies a year after they were released, the prints were in horrible condition, and their games were just as bad and old.  But old beat up arcades still held great games; I played the hell out of Pole Position, Punch-out, and even played Street Fighter 1.  So a popcorn machine is a must... I just have to decide weather Air-popped with no oil will cut it or not.  My HUGE HUGE problem... that place used a coconut oil system for their popcorn.  Now the type of oil largely dictates what the popcorn smells like and i bet the one from your childhood used coconut oil.  When it gets cold, your coconut oil solidifies.  So every time I'd want to make a batch for memories sake... I'd have to make sure the oil is warmed before turning the machine on.  I do not know if any other kind of popcorn would trigger my memories as much, as the vegitable based oils will bring up my teenage movie theater job memories instead.

Bugles, Pizza, Rootbeer, Popcorn, prioritized in that order.  There are some super cheap additional things I may get for atmosphere and because they're cheap.  I think I may end up just keeping the soda in the fridge, and cooking the pizza in the oven, but making sure I have a way to present it in the room.

Arcade Project 02: Inspirations

A trip to Google Image Search will nab you some great pictures of people's home arcades.  I said earlier that I have seen some "bad" arcades in homes that look like garbage and cost a ton of money.  I am not going to show you examples because these people still worked hard, and I do not know the whole story.  What if the arcade room they have built is exactly like the arcade they had, so all the warts and flaws are there on purpose?  It could happen, people spend $5000 on Fender guitars that are made to look 50 years old after all.

That picture above is what is right about home arcades.  It is way more money than I'd ever spend, but the guy knows what the hell he's doing.  It is not just about having some machines in a room, it is about getting the feel.  Look, because of technology I can play anything made before 2002 for very little money.  If I want to sit in front of a computer screen and use a connected PS3 controller, I can do that.  It is not about playing the games, its about creating an experience.

This one is more like I see my actual one being one day.  Just one feature of a basement entertainment room, near the food area.  I know this is actually just a small part of a larger arcade with stuff I do not want.  I never wanted a pool table, I never wanted a hoops game or a foosball table.  I am a video gamer.  I never wanted to play the pinball games when I was young, and I only grew an appreciation for skeeball in my late 20's.  All that's lucky for me because that shiz takes up a lot of space and a lot of money.

So what do I want?

This man's home arcade is probably the most expensive to fit in a one bedroom area.  Even so, he is sort of my inspiration for this.  I do not live in New York, and I do not want his rare and unobtainable arcades.  He has one of 10 Disney produced Wreck-it-Ralph arcades, and he has the literal machine used in the King of Kong documentary.  I have no use for that stuff.  I think I can do a room like that for way less money.  He was my inspiration for pricing out a "normal" sized room arcade.  He is also my inspiration in another way; his collection of quarter vending machines.

This is perfect, this is the kind of thing from people that "get" it think of that no one else does.  In his interviews he talks about how he bought them just for an atmospheric piece of decor, but how it has become his most favorite addition to the arcade.  He says that no matter who comes in, be it 60 year old journalists to the 20'something bloggers, before they get to the video games they see these vending machines and start telling stories.  He claims he never asks, people just light up and give him a story about using these machines as a kid.  Reading this instantly brought back memories of football helmets at Ingles.  It brought back sour gumballs, dinky plastic banannas, handfuls of Runts, and even brazil nuts.

My vending machine story.  There used to be a really cheap super market where there is a school now.  They used to rent that parking lot out for fairs every now and again, and I still have dreams of those fairs.  Anyway, fairs aside, they had vending machines in the front like everyone else, but they had one that no one ever had.  It was a vending machine full of oily, greasy, salty Brazil nuts.  Growing up the only way to get a Brazil nut was to wait to get some at Christmas, and you had to break the shells yourself, you know how hard that is as a kid to break those?  You use a hammer, and you end up getting a handful of crumbs.  Anyways, for a quarter you got a handful of perfect Brazil nuts, so in a way it was like getting a little Christmas every time I went to the store with my aunt.

Do you see?  I bet you thought of stories with those machines too.  So even though this guy inspired me to do "better" than him for way less money, and I've probably even talked a little trash about him... He had a great idea that made me change my mind about him, and now I want that for my own arcade one day.