Vectorguy's Blog

Posted on Nov 24th 2014 at 12:28:18 AM by (Vectorguy)
Posted under arcade games, coinop, pinball, coin operated

Hi gamers!  I did a search for this topic, but couldn't find a blog in regards to it, so this could be the first of its kind at the time of this writing Smiley

This is in regards to the glory, golden age of arcade gaming (roughly late 1970s [especially once Space Invaders was released in 1978] until probably 1982/1983), where there were many arcades across the lands of all shapes, sizes, and wonderful sounds and sights to be beheld of coin operated video games and pinball machines.  I've lived in Houston, Texas for all of my life (so far) and there were plenty of these to go around here.  Plenty to reminisce over, obviously, as each location has a story to tell, if not many.

I'm going to briefly go over just a few local ones that I frequented, then get down to business in regards to why this blog is really here, and not just for old gaming fart's sighing over the long gone past sake.

*Jason's Game Room--this one was different, due to being run by two ex-cops!  Unfortunately they probably lost it all, as I don't think they were even open for a year (I was able to nail down the year they were around due to remembering seeing Beastmaster at the dollar theatre just a few doors down at one point after going to this game room once, which was released in 1982).  If I remember correctly, the first part of this arcade was all pool tables and/or pinball machines (I got out of pinball for a while, I hate to say, so I'm not going to remember that), then in the back were the video games.  They had the Pac-Man flop of Professor Pac-Man, I remember my mom saying of how funny Mouse Trap was when you turned yourself into a barking dog and took out the cats, but unfortunately I never played Warrior, a rare machine Sad

*Games 'r Us--not a huge game room, but it wasn't far, and they had some, uh, *unique* games, lets put it that way: several of the ones that were there upon first opening for business had generic marquees that read they were presented by some company (like, say, "Fun, Inc. presents Scramble", which they didn't distribute Scramble, Stern did!).  Made me wonder about the legality of those.  They also had Meteorites real briefly, a raster Asteroids clone that Atari sued over but lost eventually.  Space Fever was a flat-out Space Invaders rip-off, but it had three games to choose from (which I want one some day).  One day the guy there said that he wanted to go get something to eat and if he could just lock up me and a friend of mine in there (no, don't take that out of context, he was a nice guy.  And who the hell wouldn't want to be in a game room to themselves?).  It would be a while later before my mom would pick us up so we agreed.  Too bad we were out of money, but it was still cool!

*Quiptar's--ok, so the heck with the medium- and small-sized arcades (respectively), how about the biggest and best?  Quiptar's had pretty much everything, including the 15 minute fad of the laser disc games (Bega's Battle, Interstellar, Cobra Command, Astron Belt and Dragon's Lair, the latter of which a friend of mine was practically rich by having a paper route, so he didn't have a problem spending 50 cents per game until he learned it all and beat it), vector games (Gravitar and Star Trek), a mix between big hits (Tron, Q*Bert) and the not so big (Lost Tomb, The Pit), plus they even had unique displays for games, such as when Reactor was released and they had a monitor several feet above the machine proclaiming "New game", so everyone gathered around could still watch it from further away.  This great place also gave you a whopping 12 tokens for a dollar, so you couldn't beat that, and they must've had 80-100 games.

Those are just a few of the many examples I could go on about, as I grew up in the fourth largest city in my country, having tons of game rooms, as the local Memorial City Mall (where the mighty Quiptar's used to be, among several others) once had seven game rooms all at once, I do believe (if not seven, it was six, and that counts the very small one the theatre in the mall had, which is also long gone).

However, I'm going to leave that there as it is, and get onto business from here: as I was thinking about past game rooms, I lamented a few months ago (at the time of this writing) on my forums the bummer of a thought of with all the tons of arcades all over the world back in the day -- whether they were small, huge, or somewhere in between -- they closed decades ago, yet there is pretty much no record of them ever existing anywhere for the most part; even if you look around the internet you can't find anything about them.  If we're lucky, maybe someone mentioned one in a blog somewhere, or for the absolutely huge ones (100 or more games) and/or chains, we'd get a tiny bit of a Wikipedia article on, but that's it.  Other than that and with JammaJup on here listing arcades in two counties in the U. K., which, even though he got in several dozen, that's still not a worldwide catalog of game rooms or anything.  People started these up, bought games, brought joy to many, and went under with the video game crash of 1983-1984 (for the most part), disappearing like they never existed in the first place.

Ok, not from an arcade, but an unpublished photo from a gaming expo I attended once.  This is from this page, as giving a link to a wiki makes it legal, so hah on you.

I couldn't even find a wiki for such a thing, so I came up with my own Smiley

So, now's your chance to create a history of these places.  One thing I want to let everyone know immediately/vow to people, though, is that this is NOT like the horror stories I've heard about Wikipedia, where someone spent hours writing an article about a game, they included references, then the article was deleted within a few hours.  This site pretty much runs on the honor/memory (or not!) system; it's just whatever you can bring to the table.  If the site gets enough people eventually, perhaps other games will chime in and edit articles and add info to them that you may have forgotten or weren't there to see for yourself.

For those new to wikis, on the front page (or you can click on the link) is a link to the How to write an article page, which explains as to how you can just look at pretty much any page that's currently on the wiki to see what kind of format I'm looking for: the first time an arcade's name is mentioned in the article, it's to be in bold, game titles are to be italicized, etc.  It explains everything, although a quick summary in the intro sums it up pretty much, as it may come across sounding more complicated than it actually is, but then, you can just open up editing from a page like this,


copy and paste everything from it onto a new page and change info as needed (/take out the Background if you don't think it needs one, name of arcade, games, categories at the bottom, etc.).  Plus it also has a generic placeholder graphic in the infobox for an arcade that could have closed down decades ago that you probably won't have any pictures of, unfortunately, but at least that's all done already.  Also, check out the bonus stuff on that page, as I do have many placeholder graphics for various U. S. chains that can be used in the infobox, and perhaps others can add even more.

And for those that just want to jump right in, first do a search for a game room you want to write about to make sure a page isn't already there (which it won't be!), using the search field at top right (the magnifying glass) if you don't have an account and/or you're using the default Wikia skin, or type up the name of the game room in the search box at left if you're using the MonoBook skin and hit enter.  A direct match won't happen with the Wikia skin, or the name will come up in red if using the MonoBook skin.  Then you'll click on the Contribute button at the top right and click on Add a page to do just that as you type in the name of your game room, or click on the name in red if using MonoBook and you'll be ready to preserve an arcade!      

If anyone has any questions, feel free to ask, although I'm not a coder or anything (at some point I'll have a formatted infobox that you won't have to copy and paste -- with just fields to put in -- as that's all I have for now), but I'll still help out where I can.  It'd be great if people could add arcades long gone (or even ones that are still around/brand new nowadays) that will never be back.

Or in a way, they WILL be back, via this wiki Smiley "Game over" my ass!



Full page entries with partial game lists (sadly, no photos though Sad Who went around taking pictures of arcades back then?) for:

*Games 'r Us
*Jason's Game Room

Posted on Mar 15th 2013 at 06:08:19 PM by (Vectorguy)
Posted under plug and play, Plug and Play TV Games, DreamGEAR, retro games

First off, thanks to whoever is reading this blog, although I can't guarantee I'll be doing a lot of them.  There's only a few other subjects I can think of that I'll possibly write about, and that could be it, but who knows Smiley I'm mainly doing this entry for two reasons: one, I couldn't find much under a tags search for "plug and play", and wouldn't mind getting some discussions/comments going about the subject.  And two, this is a warning for a certain plug and play brand to stay away from, as many of the games on this unit that I got are still included on many other units years later (which I'll get to).

Now, I REALLY love the...well, idea of plug and play units, due to them being small, compact, easy to use, inexpensive, and have many fun games on them all in one piece of plastic, wiring and buttons.  Unfortunately the actual execution of these units can result in being mixed, if not being total garbage as far as results go, due to us old gamers that have been around since commercial video games were in its infancy in the mid 1970s, getting grouchy when manufacturers (who are out just to make a buck, rather than care/try to make us happy, let's face facts) port/reprogram old games and get them wrong (we just want stuff the way they were, dammit!).        

I've only played a few modern day units, the best of which is Retro Arcade Featuring Pac-Man, which unfortunately they quit making a little over a year ago at the time of this writing, which is especially a shame due to there being 27 units before it before they came out with this near creme of the crop (ok, so I'm exaggerating, it was only 26!).  I've seen YouTube videos of Jakks Pacific's past units (Retro Gold Featuring Pac-Man) where they got sounds, graphics, and/or various other things wrong on the included games.  On this unit, though -- and which I give an 8 out of 10 (which you can see on this page, along with a YouTube presentation I also did, which a link will be at the end, although without a video camera, there isn't much video footage to it, which I hope to correct later) -- only Xevious was totally ruined (four way joystick control ONLY and several of the ground targets -- including the mother ship -- were taken out?!), with only minor changes with a few other games (Galaxian attack patterns, steerable shots on Bosconian) not screwing up the rest for the most part (although the joystick could've been better though).

Another one I played is the Star Wars Original Trilogy, with the games being pretty easy (which a review I wrote can be seen here), which I give it a 6 out of 10.  I played it for a few weeks, then wrapped it up for a Christmas present for the nephew (had to make sure it worked first though, you know!).  That one isn't bad, but it's nothing great either.         

And then, there's the 25 Games unit, which is what inspired this blog; baaaaaaarf.  Very, very bad.  This is a totally different story altogether.

There is very little to like about this one, as games are rip-offs (and not as well done) of the arcade classics of Rally-X, Columns, Clowns, and I believe Depth Charge (if that's not it, it's some old game where you command a battleship and you drop bombs down on ships below), done to death themes of the scrolling shooters and snake games (i. e. avoid walls, and each time you eat something your snake grows in length), games taken (possibly illegally) from the Famicon, and then several bizarre games that no one in their right minds would rip off from the unit, unless they came up with better gameplay elements of, among several other craptastic games.

Now, chances are pretty slim that anyone is going to find or play this piece of junk, as it's a pirated version of the DreamGEAR 25 in 1 unit that came out in 2003 or 2004.  However, the reason I'm putting this up as a warning is that, right now, in 2013 that I'm writing this, the DreamGEAR company is up to a 140 games in 1 unit.  And that's what you have to beware: I don't know if these units are sold outside of the States here, but upon doing research, many of the games on this 25 Games unit is on the current 140 in 1 unit, along with several of the DreamGEAR's previous ones.  Because I first became aware of DreamGEAR about a year and a half ago when I spotted their 50 in 1 unit at a local Walgreens and wondered what it was like.  However, it said it was for ages 5 and up, so that means these are for only:

1. Hardcore game collectors
2. 12 to 14 year olds, max
3. And/or people who are terrible at video games, since the games on this 25 Games unit are WAY too easy and boring for the most part

To summarize, I only gave 25 Games a 3 out of 10 rating.  A link to my review of this can be seen here, although, with going over every single game (briefly, though), it is a bit lengthy, I'll admit.  At least I only paid $2 U. S. for it, as the price tag read $4 at a local resale shop, but luckily everything was half off that day when I got that piece of junk.

I can definitely understand why someone got rid of that junk heap, and got pretty much nothing in return for it.  I just feel sorry for whoever bought it and paid full price for it though; luckily when I saw the 50 in 1 unit at Walgreens a couple of times, I only had enough money for whatever it was I was buying on those nights, because I was bored and really needed some new games.  So as we should all be thankful for things when we can, I'm glad I only spent $2 on this (plus tax), rather than $10 (again, plus tax) on the 50 in 1, which would've taken even MORE time to play twice as many games, which those might not have been any better than the games on this unit that I ended up with.

I will most definitely welcome comments on this subject, especially for those who have some plug and play units that I haven't really heard much about, such as the Intellivision and Commodore 64 ones and the like.

And who knows, maybe even pirate versions.

(Note: no, this unit's not in the database here, since RF Generation doesn't accept pirated games or consoles, so that's why it's at Stage Select.  So don't bother trying to add it here, either.)


(The first four links are the reviews mentioned throughout this blog, with the fifth being a bonus [not!  You'll see why!]  one)
*Stage Select page for Retro Arcade Pac-Man, with pictures and review
*My YouTube channel, which has a presentation of the above
*Stage Select page for Star Wars Original Trilogy, with pictures and review
*Stage Select page for 25 Games unit (puke), with pictures, a code and review
*YouTube channel (not mine), having many videos on the actual legit 25 in 1 unit, which most of the games on there are on this unit too

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