Friday, March 5, 2021

The cocktail table arcade game in the living room

My wife, a gift-giver extraordinaire, bought me this for Christmas. It is an authentic, cocktail table-style arcade game unit that includes several versions of Pac-Man along with my second-favorite video game of all time (Galaga), as well as Galaxian and both versions of Dig Dug.

It has been a hit in our house from the moment it was unveiled Christmas morning.

Actually, I should clarify that it has been a hit mostly with me, Terry, and Melanie's boyfriend Jason. We're the ones who play it the most.

It should also be clarified that, while it's technically "mine," Terry logs the most time on it. She has always been very good at Dig Dug. Over the last couple of months, she has progressed to expert level.

I enjoy it not only because it's so much fun, but also because it takes me back to the years when I was a regular visitor to our local game rooms...say roughly 1981 through 1984.

I remember Tuesday nights at Food and Games (later Fun and Games) at Willo Plaza where, for a $3 cover charge, there were unlimited credits on all games in the arcade and you could play them to your heart's content for three hours, no quarters/tokens needed.

We also frequented Up to Par and the game room closest to home, Galaxy Gardens.

Whenever I wanted to go to Galaxy Gardens and lacked the funds to support my video game habit, I would simply stop at the home of one of the customers on my paper route and collect whatever money they owed. For those who received the newspaper every day, the amount was $3.10. I could last a full 90+ minutes at Galaxy Gardens with three bucks, depending on the games I played, so it worked out nicely.

That's assuming I remembered to mark the customer from whom I collected as "paid" in my records once I got home. That wasn't always the case, which led to more than a few embarrassing visits to collect from customers who had already paid me that week.

Anyway, my quest on our new machine is to get to 200,000 in Galaga. Once you get past level 20 or so in that game, it is nothing but chaos. The best gamers back in The Day could get way past that, but it's a challenging and worthy goal for my 51-year-old self.

Well, that and breaking the habit of trying to insert a token into the machine when I want to start a new game. Even 40 years later, that's a tough adjustment to make.

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