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GameCritics.com Podcast Episode 43: Our Earliest Gaming Memories, and Sweet, Sweet Pinball

Tim Spaeth's picture

Technical difficulties be damned; the show must go on! We salvage a rough night with some casual conversation about our earliest gaming memories, pinball, Mega Man, and more. Featuring Chi Kong Lui, Mike Bracken, Richard Naik, and Tim "Yeah, I Have Pac-Man, Let's Make Out" Spaeth.

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Genre(s): Arcade  
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Burned 50$ at Arcade

I remember finding a 50$ on the sidewalk as I came out of a Disney Double feature (the Jungle Book & Unidentified Flying Oddball) in Scotsdale, AZ. I was maybe 8, and spending the week with my grandparents and against all reasonableness, I vowed to spend the entire 50$ at the arcade at the Diamonds shopping mall. The morning I went, the arcade was empty the entire time I was there. And I was all about Tailgunner, STUN runner, Vanguard, Crazy Climber ("Go for it!"), Gorf, Donkey Kong Jr., Jungle Hunt, Elevator action, Robotron, Reactor, Monaco GP, Lunar Lander.... oh man, that was a geek porn fantasy morning.


Rob -- I'm impressed you had the presence of mind to conceal the $50 from your grandparents. Had I found $50 at age 8 I'd have shouted from the rooftops that I was rich beyond the dreams of avarice. At which point my parents would have taken the money and given it to the theater owners for the lost and found.

GORF! Loved that joystick: http://wiki.arcadecontrols.com/wiki/GORF_joystick

that Gorf Joystick-

bore a striking resemblance to the Tron Joystick! And both games were like 4 games in one... coincidence?! I THINK NOT

Damn, Rob, that's a great

Damn, Rob, that's a great story. As a kid, that was like my ultimate fantasy. My parents would take us to the arcade every week while we were out running errands and we'd each get a dollar -- which didn't last long back in the days when Pac-Man and Berserk were king. I'd blow through that buck in no time and then look longingly at all the things I didn't get to play and think to myself "when I grow up, I'm gonna come in here and blow a hundred bucks."

Unfortunately, by the time I could afford to do something like that, arcades were mostly a thing of the past and the few that were left were filled with games I didn't want to spend a dollar on, let alone a hundred...

arcades of yore

yeah that was a magic morning- personally, I think my gramma probably dropped that 50 to get me out of her house for an afternoon, lol. Who knows?

It seemed by the mid 80s where I lived, arcades were already getting pretty seedy, and places where kids were buying meth and whatnot. We did have a Nathan's Famous Hot Dogs in White Plains that had a nice arcade for some time. I remember playing Discs of Tron there, and Reactor and Space Harrier, Commando.. Space Ace..

that reminds me - they're going to releasing Dragon's Lair on PSN, soon. Looking forward to that if it's reasonably priced.

The arcade I frequented as a

The arcade I frequented as a kid (mid-90s) at the shopping mall was always kind of the "kids who wanted to pretend to be badass" hangout. Then the real gang members started showing up, and everyone went home.

Now the place is like a ghost town It's a very surreal experience walking in such a large building that used to be so vibrant. I could vaguely remember where all the cabinets I used to spend my allowance money on stood. A nostalgia trip is one thing, but recalling such vivid memories of your 9-year-old self is quite another.

Wasn't exposed to coin-op machines

I grew up in a rural area so I wasn't exposed to Coin-Op machines until around the time I was in middle school, though the early consoles did reach us. My earliest video game memories would be of the Texas Instruments TI-99/4A which my parents bought when I was two or three years old. Most of the games that we owned were educational, with some entertainment games like Munch Man (a blatant Pac-Man clone) and Car Wars. Notably, I was absolutely terrified of Hunt the Wumpus, a labyrinth game involving luck and logic deduction (as one of the game's loss screens has the wumpus's jaws come in from the top and bottom of the screen as it eats you).

Hunt the Wumpus!

I remember that game being in the legendary Basic Computer Games book by David Ahl.

Hunt the Wumpus was based on a dodecahedron. each 'room' had 5 exits, you had to 'catch' the Wumpus before it caught you, by moving into it's 'room' first.

I played that on a Olivetti teletype computer. Note to youngsters: computer games used to be prohibited because it was a waste of paper! lol. I also have fond memories of Trek73, a Star Trek battle simulator that would use dialogue from the episodes. You could, for example, use the Corbomite bluff to scare off an attacker, or reconfigure a probe into an anti-matter bomb. Funny: my friends and I would keep the printed pages to show off our games to one another.

Different time. We had a decent computer lab program in my school and by the time I got to High School, the C64 was making it's debut, and the Atari & Apple computers had been around for some time. I think the Atari computers did more for action oriented video games than any other. LucasArts as well did alot of experimenting back then. Rescue on Fractalus was a title I remember seeing amazing possibility in. It generated a random mountainous terrain on the fly, incredible stuff for the time. And Ball Blazer created a smooth mode 7-ish virtual one on one soccer game that was blindingly fast.

The first cabinet video game I remember in my town was a Space Invaders machine at the Corner delicatessen (it was actually a diner). The first arcade games I remember piquing my interest was Lunar Lander, with it's precise physics, and Vanguard. Vanguard was the first game I remember that had contextual music and also changed perspective and color scheme- ie: each chapter was 'different'.

heh, rambling- good stuff! :)

My early memories

I was 5 or 6 when Dad brought home an Atari 2600. I don't remember an arcade until being older by a few years, which was at the local mall. Xevious and Indian Jones Temple of Doom stole a fair amount of quarters from me.

Now, the only place I know that has an arcade is Cedar Point, an amusement park (which, btw, you HAVE to visit if you are a fan of rollar coasters in the slightest). There are two arcades, actually. One is more like the old boardwalk arcades, and the other is more in the modern sense, with ticket games and cheap prizes. Last visit they didn't have any of the newest games though.

Oops, just remembered Dave and Buster's (speaking of cheap prizes)... but that's more like Chuck E Cheese with beer than an arcade.

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