I spent part of the holidays visiting friends in Park City, Utah. There I experienced some of the best skiing on earth and some of the best food I’ve ever tasted. But as the Video Game Theologian, one of the biggest highlights was getting to play one of the two coin operated video game machines in their play room. One of the machines had Pac-Man, Ms. Pac-Man, and Galaga. The other machine had a collection of over 120 video games. Best of all, both of the machines were rigged so that no quarters were required. All I had to do was push the start button!
Pac-Man, Ms. Pac-Man, Galaga
This was a 25th Anniversary edition of the game cabinet but it seemed to be authentic in every way. As I played each game, I realized how much I missed the excellent joystick control and nothing, NOTHING will ever replace the fantastic fire buttons. My favorite game on this cabinet was Galaga. I played it the most and was able to get a high score of 110,000. I found that I had worked myself up into a sweat while I was playing. If I ever score less than 100,000 on Galaga I will be forced to turn in my official “Gamer” card.
Galaga just can’t be played correctly on anything other than the real arcade cabinet. Playing while standing and using the fire button gives it a completely different feel. I felt like I was 14 again, playing at Time-Out. I could almost see the video game attendants walking around with their coin changers on their belts, and see the high score cards set on top of each machine.
This is more of an all purpose arcade cabinet equipped to play a wide variety of games. Although I was probably playing some sort of emulator, most of the games looked good – very good. There were many controller options to choose from – including a track ball for playing games such as Missile Command, Centipede, or Golden Tee Golf.
I played a lot of games. I was able to select the game making company on the right and then select some of their games. I found myself mostly in the world of Williams, Taito, and Atari but also found a new game that was surprisingly fun. Robotron 2084 was played using both joysticks and was an authentic experience. I’m surprised I didn’t experience a seizure after all the intensity. I also played Berserk and Moon Patrol.
And then along came Atari. I played Centipede and found the track ball controller to be as good as the original experience. My only criticism is that some of the Atari games – the vector games – such as Lunar Lander and Asteroids Deluxe did not look as good. The lines were not crisp and this is the only time I felt like I was playing an emulator rather than the original. The last game I played was Puzzle Bobble, which is essentially the same game as Bust A Move. I was just aiming balloons in a “Match 3” type of game but it was a blast. What also made it great was not having to put another quarter in every time I lost. That was the real magic of those classic arcade games. They were designed from the ground up to make me want to put another quarter in. I would love to have either of these machines installed in my train and game room.
I couldn’t play games forever. I had two great days of experiencing a dream come true. I had never gone skiing anywhere except the east coast. I have become a Park City snob! The views were tremendous and I skied on lots of beautiful, real snow.