The Downfall of the American Arcade.

For many years, I would pine over any random arcade machine I would find. At grocery stores, Jamesway, Chuck E Cheese, the Showcase East in Robinson always had something cool like The Simpsons or X-Men when my grandmother used to take me, and I would always wrangle up a few dollars for the arcade at my local bowling alley after league every week.

My mother would always ask me why I would want to play these games when I had my Nintendo at home. But, like Will Smith said, parents just don’t understand. These games in the arcades were always something unattainable in the way of graphics and just plain awesome. Paperboy’s handle bars were different than my computer’s keyboard. Ninja Turtles was damn awesome in the arcade, compared to its inferior port (in comparison, it was still fun) to the NES.

Flash forward and all of us with our multi-core computers, our Xboxes and Wiis. We went to Dave & Busters for my birthday again this year. Hadn’t been there for a while. And honestly, it hasn’t changed. Still the same racing lineup (including at least 8 Daytona USA games linked up). Same DDR rip off game. Same games in the light gun gallery. More an more, the innovations that were keeping the arcade interesting, such as dance pads, motion responsiveness. I found no interest in the boxing game, because I’ve had it on the Wii for over a year. It’s not very expensive to get a pad and play DDR at home. Guitar Hero brought something new to the home console, inspired from the likes of Beatmania, or Drummania, which all begets the Rock Star phenomenon. And it didn’t seem to help that when the home technology caught up with the arcades, they started to co-op the technology. There have been arcades built on 3dfx, Sega Saturn, Playstation, Xbox, and Gamecube hardware, if I’m not mistaken.

Maybe it’s time to look at something different for these excursions, such as the Games N’At we played at last year. One fee, play all night. Really can’t beat that. And mostly the same games. So unless you’re a big fan of the ticket machines and prizes, it might be a good option. Soon, these places might be replaced by home consoles for those that can’t afford them.

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