Please Insert Coin

Please Insert Coin
27 Apr 15

I was bored at the weekend and just happened to turn on my Xbox to see if there were any new deals or games. In the end nothing jumped out at me but I had a hankering for a quick, enjoyable game that would give me maximum satisfaction and then my mind turned to retro gaming and for me the king of my youth, Street Fighter II. As luck would have it you can pick up a version adapted for the Xbox with all the glory of the pixelated graphics and the war cries that make your spine tingle for a few quid. I was all in.

Then this got me thinking. What really happened to the amusement arcade? I remember spending all of my time after school heading down to the local arcade and slotting silver coin after silver coin into coin-ops and feeling such invigoration. It also helped that my Dad worked over the road from the arcade so I could con him out of his hard earned cash to fuel my addiction.

It was a golden era now that I look back on it. For my generation it really was the social club of its time. You’d get together with like-minded individuals and challenge each other to the death as Ryu, Ken or Chun-Li if you were kinky. There were much higher stakes about playing games in the arcade as there was a financial risk to your success, something that’s vanquished with the console gaming of today, there is no consequence of dying or failure, you just try and try again until you get it right.

There was also the added bonus of beating the gods of the game. There was such an individual at my local, we never knew his name but he was a demon with a joystick, we just called him ‘Greasy’ derived from his personal hygiene. It was like he was plugged into the Matrix and could just see numbers and not sprites. He was killer and if you on the remote occasion were to beat him then the accolades were legendary, shame there were a lack of the female species in the vicinity to share in your success.

These challenges surpassed the various incarnations of Street Fighter II (Championship Edition, Hyper Fighting, Turbo, Super, Super-Turbo, Super-Turbo-Hyper-Fighting, the list goes on and on) then there was the original Mortal Kombat, Killer Instinct, the one-on-one fighter was the game of choice and has lived with me for a long long time.

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We took these games home with the introduction of the Super Nintendo and were even allowed to take them to school and plug them into TVs were the battle continued but we always returned to the arcade because nothing could compare with the atmosphere.

Today all of my childhood arcades are dead an gone and those that do survive are just full of fruit machines and 2p drops with the promise of naff prizes. I also recently visited the Trocadero in Piccadilly Circus which for me back in the 90s was the most amazing sensual experience in terms of lights and excitement but now it’s home to naff gifts and E-Cigarettes.

So what happened? With the home console did we just miss when the arcade withered and died? What are your thoughts? Should we return to the skill and the excitement of what came before or do we just sit at home on our consoles and let a 12 year old whip our arse on Call of Duty?

By the way would you like to see more coverage of retro content on BTN? For me it’s something very close to my heart.

What is your favourite retro arcade game would love to hear in the comments below?

Author

Paul Wright

Comments

Avatar AndersUk

A great article! I’ve been thinking the very same of late. I often look around to see if I spot a SF2 arcade machine up and running. Never do tho.

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