Arcade Games: Antiques or Opportunity?
Cody “Kingblunkers” Allison here again to talk about Arcade Games. This was inspired by two recent trips to Arcade-Bars, Beer-cades, whatever you want to call them. One called Start Bar here in St. Louis, MO and another in Nashville, TN called HQ beercade.
Way back when…
As I’ve stated many times, I’ve had video games my entire life. Home consoles were with me the whole way. However, I know the idea of home gaming systems were not always a reality. I won’t pretend to be an expert on the subject, so here’s some background information I used in preparation for this article. Most experiences that people have today with arcades are going to be chuck e cheese, Dave & Busters, or some similar establishment. But its fun to imagine that a teenage-Blunkers 20-30 years ago would have likely spent every spare quarter playing these arcade games.
Today with high-speed internet, accessible consoles, and booming video game industry, we don’t need arcade-cabinets. In our phone we have way more processing power than arcade games ever had. I can download 100’s of games for free off the google-play story. Some of them are even the classic arcade games, either a direct port or slight modern take on the original.
If we have so much more advanced games and technology in our own homes, why ever go to an arcade or arcade bar?
Arcades as they stand today leave a great opportunity for us Gamers to look at our roots. Its like an interactive museum. Sure Overwatch has gorgeous graphics, and the hitboxes and gameplay are way more complex than Galaga… But what about Galaga made me spend about $3 playing. Its the simple fact that many of these games are still great games. I don’t even want to say that today’s games are better. They are just on a different level. There’s something so rewarding about getting a high score when you know that if you die, you start all over. And if you manage to get your name on a highscore board, it feels amazing. Online gaming has opened the doors to the world, so to be the top spot often is a full-time job for some games. But at a local bar, you might actually only be 1 of 100 people, and if you’re top 10… that’s still a good feeling.
The Beercade in Nashville was an awesome surprise that a friend and I literally stumbled upon when exploring downtown Nashville. We explored the place and one of the first things we did was a competitive game 0f NBA Jam. Now, I played NBA jam on the SNES, but never played the cabinet version. And I am not too much into Basketball, so I picked what looked like a good team, the Pheonix Suns. (Which after some post-game research was a good choice) Charles Barkley is still a voice in the game today, as I’ve heard his name linger on. Barkley apparently… is not supposed to be good at shooting 3’s… but somehow I kept sinking them.
My friend, played the game like the name suggests and laid some hefty boom-shakala’s and strong slam-dunks. But I kept making three’s and won with a buzzer beater 3 pointer… by 1 point. This isn’t a tale to brag, but a story I won’t soon forget and my best friend was in complete shock as I “played the game wrong”. We rematched in St. Louis and he destroyed me. There is something about being out in public and spending time and money with friends in order to share an experience. Home gaming isn’t inferior in any sense, but its nice to have a variety of life experiences. We never would have played NBA Jam here at home, despite the fact that i could easily download an updated or online port from the internet.
Where do Arcades go from here?
If I am in an Arcade I will almost never pass up Galaga, Pac-Man, or Time-Crisis. But you can only bring so many games from the past, what makes the cut? Donkey Kong? Asteroids? Joust? There are so many, and its inevitable that some will be forgotten. And many of the new games aren’t so amazing that it will draw people like me out to the arcade every week. In fact there was very few “new games” that I remotely enjoyed.
Start Bar St. Louis has a game, that at this point is pretty rare across the country. That game is called Killer Queen. Its the closest thing to an E-Sport that I think an arcade will have for sometime. I mentioned highscore lists. Those are cool, but if you really cared about being at the top and staying there, its going to take lots of quarters and lots of time perfecting and defending your score.
What is Killer Queen?
Killer Queen‘s site boasts itself as “The World’s only 10-player arcade Strategy game” . You have two giant cabinets set side-by-side with 5-player stations on each cabinet. The middle player on each team plays the role of the Queen, and the other 4 play as the Queen’s loyal subjects, or as I’ll call them “Workers”. In this competitive 2D platformer, players work together to accomplish one of three win conditions.
- Military Victory- Kill the enemy Queen 3 times, before any of the other conditions are met. The Queen is easily the most capable of combat, but runs the inherit risk of dying in order to kill others.
- Economy Victory- The Workers can collect 12 berries and store them in your teams base. To collect berries your worker cannot be armed and are pretty east targets for the opposition.
- Snail- Yup, a Snail. You can have one of your workers slowly ride a snail all the way home. This puts your team down a member as they have to remain on the snail in order to move it.
Social and competitive
Playing Killer queen, our group of 7 people would often try to find three-strangers to fill in the remaining spots in order to have a complete set. I bet I’ve never asked a stranger to play Tekken or Teenage Mutant Ninja turtles, with me. But there’s something about this game that draws people in.
And I mentioned e-Sports. This game has leagues! For StartBar you can go Wednesday nights and play for free if you enter tournaments as a team. And If you get a solid group together I can see ton’s of room for strategy and tightly-executed plans.
I think that Arcade won’t be going anywhere for a while. Maybe there will be fewer, and they will certainly change, but I think if you see a cabinet in public give it a shot. Nothing about most of these games isn’t so advanced that it couldn’t be done at home, but Its always a little fascinating to see these games played in public. I could imagine seeing more competitive games like Killer queen, and maybe VR will open up a whole other door to arcades that has yet to be explored, but I think its a treasure that should be explored as long as its around.
Keep the conversation going, what are you favorite arcade games? what do you wish to see in the future?