This past Saturday, the missus and I threw our annual Halloween Arcade Party. Between the heavy arcade action (which was far more competitive this year than in years’ past) and a couple hours of Karaoke Revolution (all versions minus the CMT Presents bullshite, of course), everyone seemed to have a very good time — despite the appearance of some unexpected technical issues.
I’ve always taken pride in not having any “dead” machines in my coin-op collection, ’cause, as any collector will tell you, keeping a large group of 20 to 30 year-old arcade games constantly in order can be quite a challenge. (After all, we are talking about very old electronics that have been subjected to many thousands of hours of use and abuse.) Yet, despite the challenges and the many parties that I’ve thrown in the past, I have never had a non-working machine in my arcade during a get-together. Well, that is until this past weekend…
Part of my pre-party ritual is to thoroughly clean and polish the cabinets, as well as fire up all of the games to make sure that everything is A-OK. A few hours before the party I did just that, and found no issue with any of the games. However, about 20 minutes before the first guests arrived, I began turning on all of the machines, only to discover that Dragon’s Lair refused to startup. After pulling the cabinet out and feverishly tracking down the problem, I got the machine up and running just in time. Unfortunately, though, within 5 minutes, Joust decided to crap out with a power supply problem. Luckily I had a brand new spare, so within a few minutes I had the power supply replaced and Joust was back in action.
Everything went fine until the last 30 minutes of the party, when Mortal Kombat II had a chip failure on the main PCB, Dragon’s Lair said “the hell with it” and took a dirtnap, and the monitor on Joust decided that it preferred only one color: GREEN. I’ll be able to resolve all of these issues in time with little to no problem (although the Dragon’s Lair repair is going to be a hassle), but it just sucks that I had that many games fail in such a short period of time. (Having games go down really bothers me.)
Aside from the technical difficulties, the arcade was a hit during the soiree — perhaps more than it had ever been before. There was a constant stream of activity on the games during the whole evening, and it was really nice to see so many people “kickin’ it old-school” and enjoying it. And as I usually do, I took note (as best I could) of how each game fared in popularity, the results of which I will detail below:
- Space Invaders: Aside from myself, I’m not sure that anybody else even knew that this game was in the room. Despite being THE definition of “arcade classic”, possessing one of the most beautiful examples of cabinet design from the era and functioning 100%, nobody seemed to care. If anybody else besides myself played this game, I sure didn’t notice.
- Operation Wolf: The Wolf fared as usual; getting played quite a bit by the guys, with the occasional female mercenary stepping up to go all Rambo on somebody’s ass.
- NEO-GEO MVS: I have four titles in my NEO cabinet: NEO Turf Masters, Samurai Shodown II, Metal Slug 3 and Bust-A-Move. Turf Masters got played a couple of times, Shodown and Slug were completely ignored, and Bust-A-Move was a bonafide hit — seeing a great deal of action from both men and women alike.
- Donkey Kong: DK had a pretty steady stream of attention from the guys, but it seemed like the chicks had little to no interest.
- Pac-Man: Truly the ladies choice of the evening, Pac saw a lot of action.
- Star Wars: The Force must have been strong this particular night, because whereas this game has often been ignored in previous parties, it was one of the evening’s favorites, seeing almost non-stop use from several guests. (And the monitor didn’t crap out! Yay!)
- Xenophobe: As usual, nobody gave two shites about poor ol’ Xenophobe; NOBODY.
- Wizard of Wor: Goddammit. Like Xenophobe, not a single person (other than myself) played the Wiz. I can almost look over the Xenophobe non-interest, but WoW? Really? Give me a break, people!
- Joust: Sure, the game flaked out a little at the finish line, but it didn’t really make much difference as only a couple of guys showed (minimal) interest in it.
- Tron: *sigh* Very little interest…and no, I can’t explain what’s wrong with these people.
- Dragon’s Lair: As is always the case, pretty much no one understood the concept of the game. There were a couple of guys who knew how to play and did so a couple of times, but everyone else who tried the game ended up informing me that it was “broken” — citing how they couldn’t control the main character and how it just “beeped” every time they tried to do so. After I would explain that the player doesn’t have any real control over Dirk and that you had to wait for certain instances to occur in order to perform any actions, all interest was lost. No wonder the game decided to shutdown. I suspect suicide. (That’s what I get for having what, truly is, a shitty-to-play game in my collection.)
- Dig Dug: Dig Dug saw some action, but surprisingly little. If it got played more than 10 times during the whole evening, I’d be quite surprised. Typically, it performs far better.
- “Arcade Classics”: This is a cabinet that runs one of those shady “multigame” JAMMA boards, and I use it to run a few classics like Galaga, Phoenix, Frogger, Qix, Burgertime, etc., etc. Oddly enough, I don’t think Galaga was played a single time, despite being one of the most popular arcade games EVAR. Frogger and Burgertime DID see a lot of action, however, with the occasional game of Super Pac-Man and Phoenix being thrown in for good measure. Other than the lone guy who played a round of Phoenix, this was most certainly a machine for the ladies.
- Outrun: One of the more popular games of the evening, OutRun saw near-constant action from nearly everyone.
- Mortal Kombat II: MKII did way better than usual, with several guys giving it a good bit of attention. In fact, it was in pretty heavy use when the nasty chip failure took place.
So all in all, the party was a smashing success, despite a few games acting like complete bitches. Being repeat offenders, I know what to do with them, so they should be up-and-running in time for the birthday party that I throw for myself every year. If not, I’ll just turn them into Golden Tees or MAME abominations like the lamers do. *wink*