Monday, July 22, 2013


The New Arcade

All right.  I've got the classics.  I've got pinball.  But my home arcade is about more than just living in the past -- this is a continuum, not a fossil record.  Why disclude the new classics just because they're new?  So here's The New Arcade.  The games that feel right at home next to the classics.

How do I decide which games make the cut?  I don't want to nail down the definition too tightly, but these are just games that I wouldn't be surprised to see in an arcade.  They're designed to give the player brief sessions, usually around 5-10 minutes or so, depending on skill level.  They're games that you pick up, play with a little, and then put down again.

So, what's going to go into my new arcade?

Activision Anthology

Maybe it's weird to start the "new" arcade with ports of 30-year-old Atari games, but hey.  These are games that were never in an arcade, though they wear the cabinet well.  Many games in this collection fit the bill, but I'm pointing to Enduro and Pressure Cooker in particular.  The first is a racing game, the second is about making sandwiches.  Beautiful.

Temple Run

This one's so much more fun with a joystick.  Nab coins, jump and duck.  Poetry.

Fix-It Felix Jr.

I never downloaded the update, so I'm still the proud owner of a Fix-It Felix Jr. desktop arcade cabinet. All these months later, the game still gives me a smile.

Fruit Ninja

I was reluctant to include touchscreen games in this list just because it kind of breaks the arcade feel, doesn't it?  Robot Unicorn Attack and Jetpack Joyride are very addictive and very arcadey, but if you're not playing them with buttons, do they really feel like arcade games?  Still, considering the fact that I've see an actual Fruit Ninja game set up in an actual arcade, I feel compelled to concede the point on this one.


Until I can determine whether or not the new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles game coming out for Wii is a viable substitute for the classic arcade game, Beatdown is a reasonable sidescrolling beat-em-up.

Unicorn Dash

It's basically Robot Unicorn Attack, minus the robot part, but plus iCade controls and the option to play your own music, such as "Can't Keep Johnny Down".

Wii Sports and Sports Resort

In the mid to late 90s, arcade games started coming out with all sorts of wacky gimmicks to try and compete with our home supercomputers, and I remember weird controllers being one of them.  You know the kind -- you'd pay $2 or something insane like that, take up a giant fake gun or something, and the game ends five minutes later.  The Wii Sports games feel perfect for capturing that spirit.  Go Vacation may go under this heading at some point, but for now, I'd still rather relate to it as an open world exploration game than as a minigame pack.

Link's Crossbow Training

Oh hell yes.  I can just see it, every pack of 3 levels at $1 apiece.  And it's so much fun.

Donkey Konga

Music game, stupid controller.  That's an arcade game all right.

Super Smash Brothers

Smash Brothers was born on the Nintendo 64.  It was designed for analog controls, which makes playing it with a digital joystick kind of awkward.  But hey, that's just part of the charm, isn't it?  Like trying to play one of the old Super Mario Brothers arcade cabinets and discovering just how much more awkward a joystick was compared to the D-pad?  Sure, I love the novelty of playing all three of these games arcade style.

Dance Dance Revolution: Mario Mix

It's the only DDR I've got, and the only one I've ever been good at.  Judge me all you want, see if I care.  :D

Game & Watch Gallery

I love the sheer perversion of hooking up a supercomputer to an industrial strength joystick and a giant monitor to play LCD games.  I've always thought of a Game & Watch Gallery as a pocket arcade without the quarters, so sure, let's give them their time to shine on the big screen.

Wario Ware Inc.

Supercomputer.  Industrial strength joystick.  Giant monitor.  5-second games.  SHEER.  PERVERSION.

Muscle March

Also known as "The Greatest Thing on WiiWare".  Maybe this was an arcade game in Japan?  It sure looks like one.  And it is SO AWESOME.

Samba de Amigo

Fudging it, I know, because this absolutely was an arcade game at some point, but what the heck.  I never played it until it came out on Dreamcast.  The Wii version is kind of hit and miss -- some days it seems to work fine, other days I can't seem to catch a single beat -- but what else am I going to do?  My Dreamcast and maracas are dead.

Rock Band

Yeah.  Rock Band.  Another one of those games that, years ago, it would have been completely impractical to see outside of an arcade.  Now it's become so commonplace that we've become culturally bored with the idea.

So there we go.  My home arcade.  One tiny corner of the basement, one enormous embarrassment of electronic entertainment.  Switching games is perhaps inelegant, and with only two stations available -- you have to move the iPad between the iCade and the Duo Pinball -- it wouldn't satisfy a real mob of gamers the way a real arcade would.  But as a hideaway for a middle-aged man on the cusp of a midlife crisis, looking for a door back to his childhood?  It'll do.


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