Monday, March 18, 2013

Ostrich Mount's and Light Cycles: My Day at the 1UP

Back in the 80's, there was a magical place called the arcade. Most towns had one. Some were attached to a bowling alley, or an ice skating rink, and others were stand alone arcades with a soda pop stand. Their reign dwindled after the coming of the home gaming system, like the Nintendo and Sega entertainment systems. Once we reached the end of the 90's, when home gaming became as good if not better than most arcades, game developers stopped focusing on arcade machines to develop just for the Xbox and PlayStation systems. The arcade was a thing of the past.
But I've recently discovered that arcades are still around, some in the form of Adult Arcades. These arcades are made by and for people of my generation to reexperience that nostalgic experience. No longer are they soda pop stands, but full on bars. Here in Denver we have the renowned 1UP, a 21 and up adult arcade stocked with nothing but the original machines of the last century. Donkey Kong, Galaga, Pacman, Tron, TMNT, Joust, Paperboy, and Mario Bros are just a sampling of the machines they feature.

I thought I had played all these games before. As a kid of the 80's, I had every one of those titles on either my Atari or my Nintendo. Surely the Atari version holds up to the arcade experience, right?
How wrong was I.

Besides generally having better graphics, I discovered some games had cut scenes not included in the home versions. Many games performed better. The obvious difference being in the controls. Driving games had the steering wheels, or Paper Boy had the bike handles. Marble madness had the spin ball. My favorite new experience of an old game was found in Tron.

Tron, first off, is just a cool looking machine. It glows neon from all its angles. The controls glow in bright blue with a joystick and a spinning knob. While the game itself is challenging, I found the controls fun and easy to use. Well, easier than the keyboard version I knew growing up playing Tron on the Commodore. Now I get it. This is how this game was meant to be played.

I had this sort of "ah ha" moment on all these games. This is how the designers meant for us to experience them. I can only describe this feeling as how it felt to see Star Wars in a theater for the first time.

If you're a gamer like me, and live in Denver I highly recommend a visit to 1UP simply to educate yourself on the historical arcade experience. All the games there still only cost a quarter a play. I spent three hours there today, and I only spent four dollars on the games. Also, I only got a high score on Galaga of 75,300 which I am determined to beat on my next visit.

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