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Open Discussion: Bring Your Quarters

pmf.jpgI know I've done this before, but I'm doing it again. Why? Because this month marks Pac-Man's birthday and I'm in a celebrating mood.

If I come across a Pac-Man game coin-op, I have to stop and play, just to keep fresh the pattern that has been seared into mind for 25 years - the chomping pattern that earned me many a high score in various arcades around Long Island.

I miss going to arcades. I miss the thrill of stuffing an paycheck's woth of quarters into a slot. I miss spending almost entire days controlling joysticks and trackballs, mashing buttons and shooting missiles and riding ostriches in joust tournaments.

Let's talk coin-op games again. Give me your favorites. Share your memories. I'm feeling nostalgic for the good old days of Centipide, Q-Bert and Tron.

And happy birthday, Pac-Man. I never liked your wife or kids, but you? You fucking ROCK.


Sticking with Spy Hunter. There was just something smooth about the movement of the car (and the boat, etc). And use of the oil slick was extremely satisfying on a profoundly primal level.

Remember Tron? I'm playing Tron 2.0 right now. Satisfying in a way because of the retro-feel it has mixed with the kick assity of today's games.

But I admit that a donkey throwing barrels at a plumber climbing up random scaffolding still makes perfect sense, even when 100% sober.

At the home my grandfather is in, there's an original PacMan machine. Alas, it no longer requires quarters, but it's always fun to play PacMan for the nostalgia.

Oh, and as for my favorite games...

Qix. Loved it. Played for hours.
Galaga. Could literally play for an hour on a single quarter.

But my favorite of all times, period - Asteroids. Duhn-dunh-dunh-dunh..... Eww....eww....

Burgertime! Nothing quite like a hamburger with a hot dog and a fried egg on it.

I was pretty good at Pac-Man, although I only cracked the 300k score once.

Missile Command was my game. Once you reached around the 800k mark, and you got all of those free cities, you could play for hours. Besides, I liked blowing shit up.

Are there any big-time arcades any more? Seems to me coin-ops are just shoved into a corner at the movie theater these days.

Ikari Warriors was pretty cool. So was Heavy Barrel.

Almost forgot - Karate Champ.

Galaga would place number one. It was a big improvement on the original. Whenever the Midway Classic Arcade comes out for a new platform (PS, PS2, XBox, PSP), I have to buy it.

I also loved Joust because of the coop mode.

Ann Arbor has a good arcade with a whole wing of old classics for $0.25. Good times.

Tetris is my favorite, in any form. At the aforementioned arcade, I once sat with a roll of quarters until I had surpassed the high score of 947,000 (est.).

What I didn't realize is that there were only 6 digits for the score and when I hit 1 million, I started back at 0. So you need to die between the high score and 1,000,000. D'oh!


Side-scrolling action using what looks like a circular-saw blade at the end of a chain that you swing around, killing the various monsters. Power-ups will increase your range, kill more with one swing & give you a vertical attack.

Used to be at one of the pizza places I worked at and we all got hooked on that and Commando.

I have both on MIME now, but Commando doesn't work very well without a joystick.

Rygar ROCKS! \m/

This may have been a strange Canadian thing, but when I was a kid you had to be 16 to get into an arcade...so instead of playing video games we set trash cans on fire and harassed old ladies all day! Oh, Canada!

my fave was always Stargate (Defender II)... dude, i could seriously kick ass on that game for hours on one quarter.

some of my other faves:
Galaga (i always tried to get a good hit/miss ratio - like, around at least 80%)
Berzerk (remember this one?)

I loved the old vector graphics Star Wars coin op where you flew the mission to destroy the Death Star. The one in our arcade was one of the full cabinets you sat down in, with speakers behind your head and a subwoofer under your arse. It had all the cool sound effects, movie quotes ("Use the force, Luke!") and music. I managed to keep a top-5 score on that game for quite a while. Good times!

I forgot about the old Star Wars game. That one rocked!

Christ I'd forgotten about Burger Time. I was hooked on Tron. I also enjoyed
Dig Dug

Remember Dragon's Lair? Invaders? How about Journey's videogame? heh

Man, I remember summer days at Flourtown Pizza pumping quarters into Elevator Action and begging for discounts on single slices of pie. Good times.

Defender (you could blow up the people you were trying to save, is that sick or what)

Ah, it's Make Me Feel Old Day, I see.

I actually, for some reason, did better at Ms. Pac Man.

The cool thing is that for like 12 bucks I bought a disk for my sons' Game Cube with Pac-Man, Galaga, Pole Position, Dig Dug and a slew of others.

Discs of Tron (Stand up Cabinet)

Reactor - kind of obscure, but great music

Omega Race - obscure, vector graphics.

Battlezone - I remember hearing that Atari had made a special version for the Army as a training sim, and that several programmers quit because they didn't want to do miltary-related work.

I was always partial to Astro Fighter for some reason.

You know, you can pick up those old games for a couple of hundred dollars at auctions (like the ones held by Super Auctions.

Donkey Kong Jr.
Pole Position

Mappy. A mouse policeman bouncing on trampolines, trying to recover stolen items while avoiding the cats. Weird, addictive, and accompanied by synthetic banjo music.

I was also a big fan of Tempest and Elevator Action. And I dropped a LOT of money into Pac-Man and Donkey Kong.

Oh, and Mr. Do!

Berserk (well, duh! you say)
Disks of Tron
Ms. Pac Man
Time Pilot

I love liveing in Orlando sometimes, because we have the Pac-Man Cafe. And surprisingly enough it's actually a decent place to eat.

Qbert. I played that until I actually lost the abiltiy to see the pyramid properly.

Elevator Action was great.


I still can't believe I've never stopped into the Pac-Man Cafe. hanging head in shame and disgrace

I vividly remember the first time I played Pac-Man (I think I blogged about it a while back). Arcade in the old Denver airport, spring break, 1980. Damn near missed our flight home because of sticking around to play that game. My folks were pissed.

I always wanted an Asteroids Deluxe machine when I was growing up. So I eventually got one (traded a Donkey Kong, Jr. that I bought for $40 at a yard sale) a few years back. It's in my living room.

There's also a tabletop Missile Command out in the storage shed, plus a couple more broken full-size arcade games (Eyes and Jumpman--$2.50 each, I kid you not) and the shell of a play-everything MAME cabinet that I'm building.

Any video game newer than about 1985 doesn't really interest me...

others have already hit a lot of my faves (tempest, BZ, etc) but how about 1942!

fun fun fun. and well air conditioned in the summer.

during my frosh/soph years in high school we used to trek up to the local 7-11 and play tron for hours. when you weren't getting time on tron, it was star castle.

while at university, we played a lot of "yie ar kung fu".

pacman will always hold some fond memories. i remember the day it came out for the atari 2600 console. i think my dad still has the t-shirt that was packed (pun not intended) with the game.

Eric J, I loved Omega Race. Bouncing off the force fields, spinning like a top, shooting everything and anything. Great times...

Some of my favorite arcade games growing up, keeping in mind that I'm a bit younger than a lot of y'all :-) :

Mortal Kombat
Mad Dog McRee (that was the live-action shooting game)
T2- The Arcade Game
Revolution X

anybody remember "Crystal Castles"? an old "rollerball" game with a bear collecting the red crystals in a quasi-3D Qbert-like environment.

conceptually ripped off of Pacman, but I always thought it was a blast.

Except when you get the very tips of your fingers caught for a split second between the ball and the socket. that friggin sucks.

Mad Dog McRee! Hells yeah!

All time fav coin operated games include

The Original Star Wars where you sat down.

The Simpsons

I don't remember the exact name (maybe Mutant League Football or Medieval Football) but basically it was four on foru football where you could kill opposing team members with a variety of trqaps and weapons.

Galaga. I wish to this day that I could get back all the quarters I fed into that game in college. I sacrificed at least a pack of smokes a week just to play it. I wasn't even good at it, but damn I loved it. I even got my kids one of those retro-arcade PS2 games because it has Galaga on it. It's just not the same without a joystick though.

Air-hockey. No one beat me, I had the reflexes of a cat and the eyes of an eagle. I turned my nose up at the little home versions, it had to be the full size arcade table. Also, and this dates me, I was pretty good at pinball. After racking up big scores I would intentionally shake the box to see how far I could go until it shut down with a TILT. I didn't care, I had plenty of money from my paper route.

Didn't we just do this or is my mind that far gone?

Space Wars (Two players around one "sun" and you could mess with the gravity)

Eight Ball for Pinball

Jeez, remember when we thought Space Invaders was so much better than pong?

We couldn't afford to go to arcades when I was a kid. The only time I ever got to play games was either some other kid's birthday party where his folks had rented out the joint, or report card day at Chuck-E-Cheese.

Gotta be REALLY obscure:

Moon Cresta
Space Fury
Smash TV (ultra-violent Robotron knock-off)
Devil's Hollow
(have them all on an emulator)

Is Devil's Hollow the same as Satan's Hollow?

I was always partial to Tempest, Galaga and Joust. But I was obsessed with Dragon's Lair. I swear there were moments in 1983 when I thought I was Dirk the Daring on a mission to save the fair Daphne from Singe. Remember The Lava Monsters, The Giddy Goons, The Crypt Creeps, The Lizard King, The Smithee, and The Grim Reaper? I was never good at Asteroids, but really good at Jungle King for some reason.

Anyone remember Sub-Roc 3-D? Or Quantum? Both were from about 1982-83.

In Sub-Roc, you looked through a periscope-like viewer, which gave you a 3-
D view as you sailed along at wave height, blowing up planes, missiles, and ships.

In Quantum, you used a TracBall to encircle sub-atomic particles to eliminate them while trying to avoid anti-matter.

Bizarre fun, both. Gave me a chance to relax my death grip from the Galaga joystick. Never saw them outside of the Penn State arcades, though.

I loved Berzerk, Jungle Hunt, Kung Fu, and Pole Position, but my absolute favorite is Bubble Bobble, where you have to shoot the different colored bubbles and get 3 of the same color to make them disappear. Oh, and Gauntlet rocked.

Shawn, yep same game. Different name was for world/Asian release

Ooh, for all you original Star Wars game fans, I played the sit down uber-hydrolic-motion assisted game at Circus Circus in Las Vegas when I was a teen. BEST.GAME.EVER. They had the biggest video arcade I had ever seen. This was many years ago, but Las Vegas still has some of the most advanced video game arcades in the U.S.

Discs of Tron
Time Pilot
Donkey Kong Jr

Time Pilot
Pole Position

BTW, we don't have quarters here in Australia. Games here used to cost 20c (we have 20c pieces instead).

MAME ROMS all the way now..

Can't believe no-one has mentioned Sinistar yet. When that skull came flying at me, I would scream like a little girl...

...sigh, if I'd only started reading the blogs a bit earlier, I could have mentioned Sinistar. ("Run, COWARD!!")

Also liked a slightly later game called Vindicators or similar. You drove a tank around and blew up stuff, ran over fuel to keep alive and collected little stars to buy upgrades. (Like being able to rotate the gun turret and such. Firepower and shot speed upgrades. Things like that.)

Ah... somebody finally mentioned Gauntlet. That game probably took more of my quarters than everything else combined, but I just couldn't stop playing...

'green elf needs food badly'

Spy Hunter, Battlezone nd Guantlet were always my faves.

720 (SKATE OR DIE!!!) (I can still hear the midi ragtime music associated with the Slalom Park)

Another one that I kind of half-remember is the one where you were a guy who got turned into a monkey and you had to travel through different worlds to rescue the princess: I think it was called Toko, or Koko, or something like that (c. 1989).

Growing up on the Misissippi Gulf Coast, we didn't have many 7-11's, but there were L'il General's all over the place. I remember poaching quarters from my Mom's purse to go stuff into the Dig-Dug machine. I played it recently and I still managed to get through 15 levels using the exact same patterns I used back then, some 25 years later. Man, that rocked, and my son thought I was GOD.

Only other machine I really liked was Robo-tron, but I was never as good at it as I was Dig-Dug.


Arkanoid and Arkanoid 2

Keith wrote: "Mappy. A mouse policeman bouncing on trampolines, trying to recover stolen items while avoiding the cats. Weird, addictive, and accompanied by synthetic banjo music."

I played that a lot, too. I bought MS "Revenge of Arcade" for the PC just for that.

Dave wrote: "anybody remember 'Crystal Castles'? an old 'rollerball' game with a bear collecting the red crystals in a quasi-3D Qbert-like environment.'

I played that for a while. It used snippets of classical music.