Every once in a while I take a look over at what’s happening in the arcade side of gaming. Usually I’m left feeling pretty sad. The age when there were dozens of cool arcade concepts being released every year was very long ago at this point. For arcade video games made in the US, the only two companies I’m aware of that are doing anything substantive are Raw Thrills (who are ubiquitous) and Play Mechanix. I mean, there’s also Incredible Technologies, still making their yearly Golden Tee updates. And of you consider screened slot machines to be a kind of “video game” then sure there’s more–but I don’t. I don’t consider them to be video games.
All of this is just from a cursory look, mind you. I haven’t had the will to follow the current-day arcade industry, from any country, for a good while. The demise of Atari Games and Midway took a lot out of me. I’ve carped a bit about Raw Thrills a bit, but honestly that’s probably just how upset I am that Atari is gone. A lot of the games that are made seem to be things like driving or light-gun games, usually with a big-cabinet or ride-like component. Mind you, a local arcade has two Raw Thrills Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles machines, but they’re so inferior in play to Konami’s classic cabinets, even running on thirty-year-old tech, that I’m embarrassed to watch them on their behalf.
But there are a few interesting newer games in arcades. Two places local to me have interesting Space Invaders-themed light gun games, that use a large bank of LEDs for a screen. And… well, that’s actually about it, as far as recent games I’ve gotten my own hands on that I find remotely interesting.
But the blog Arcade Heroes, which makes the arcade scene its beat, sometimes uncovers some games I’d like to have a play on, if I ever were to encounter one, which seems mostly unlikely, alas.
For example. While I find them theme on most current pinball releases to be a bit lacking, for example focusing on rock bands consisting of senior citizens, in the case of the upcoming table based on Spinal Tap, that actually makes the machine more entertaining instead of less.
Bandai-Namco has a game coming up called Bike Dash Delivery, which actually allows players to (gasp) actually explore a little, instead of being stuck on a set course like so many other arcade titles in these sad times. The article mentions both Crazy Taxi and Propcycle, both machines beloved by me, so I’m rather hopeful this game will make it to the States!
Kevin Williams has a recurring column on the arcade scene over there, and his most recent is a retrospective on the years of 1982 and 1983, the end of the “classic era” of arcade gaming. Whether for history or nostalgia, it’s worth a look.