The will likely be spoilers, but should I talk about something super new I'll warn ya. But consider this a pre-emptive warning! You're WARNED!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

two pockets full of quarters

Tomorrow will be a great day on Xbox Live. Why, you ask? Because tomorrow is the day that a wicked sweet blast from the past becomes available for you to download, play, and clutch to your bosoms: the 1992 arcade classic X-Men. I loves me some late 80s/early 90s X-Men (particularly the awesome cartoon Pryde of the X-Men, wherein Wolverine inexplicably has an Australian accent) and way back when, this side-scrolling, 2-screen behemoth brawler was the shit. I believe it still will be, and I can't wait to get my download on.

I call dibs on Dazzler!

As I am elderly and therefore I love remembering, the news of this game has me in a state of bittersweet nostalgic bliss about arcades. You Kids Today can't possibly know what it was like to have real arcades in your life like we did during their heyday. Or maybe you can. I don't know, I don't live your life! Still, every modern incarnation of an arcade I've seen is mall. So bright and family-friendly. So Chuck E. Cheese or Dave and Buster's. We olds, however, know how they used to be, dammit. Arcades used to be dark- very, very dark with minimal lighting and tinted windows- and funny-smelling and grimy and illicit-feeling. The first time I walked into Twilight Zone- my local arcade, yo- I felt as if I didn't belong there, even if I did have two pockets full of quarters. It was kind of amazing.

I got over my trepidation pretty quickly- I mean, video games were involved, and therefore I wasn't about to fuck around- and I walked to Twilight Zone whenever I had the chance. I fed many a quarter to many a machine...including X-Men (duh) and these other favorites of mine:


The ultimate play-with-your-friends button masher. I was always Valkyrie, and she always needed food badly because she was always about to die.

Dig Dug

What's not to love about a game where you head underground to inflate dragons and...blob things in goggles until they explode? Nothing, that's what.


My favorite thing to do in Asteroids was to get down to one tiny remaining asteroid, then hit the turbo boost on my ship and fly erratically everywhere until I hit the tiny asteroid and died. YES I WAS WEIRD.


Looking at it now, I feel really bad for Q*Bert. He's trapped on this odd pyramid in some weird negative zone, forced to hop away from snakes and other creatures for the rest of his life. Poor guy. Man, my mom used to have lunch with a friend every weekend at the Howard Johnson's and I went, too. After I finished my clam roll, I'd go play the hell out of Q*Bert while they talked.


Donkey Kong

Donkey Kong was a real jerk, wasn't he? And honestly, I don't know how well Mario's plumbing business ever did financially seeing as how he was always off rescuing one Princess or another.

Dragon's Lair

I shudder to think about how many quarters I put into this damn game- at fifty cents a go, even!- since I was so, so, SO bad at it. I didn't get the concept of the timed-reflex gameplay at all; I do now, but then...oh, it was constant death. Still, I couldn't resist- its FMV cartoon was unlike anything else in arcades at the time. Damn you and your money-sucking pretty pictures, Don Bluth!

Ms. Pac-Man

I've never been good at Pac-Man. Never. I was marginally better at Ms. Pac-Man, but still I was nowhere close to the place called good. Let's put it this way: if I got to the pretzel, I was having an exceptional game. That's level 4 out of roughly 250. However, a local Chinese joint called Ming Garden had a Ms. Pac-Man table (like the one above) in their bar...and if there's something better than having a beer and an egg roll and playing Ms. Pac-Man with a friend, well, I'm not sure what it is.

Okay, I can think of a few things that might be better, but still- it was pretty fucking good.


I played Outrun before I could drive, and therefore I found the option to choose my own in-game/in-car radio station very scintillating.


The cabinet had handlebars. What was I to do? It was like riding a bike, yet not at all like riding a bike!

Star Wars

I mean, duh...Star Wars. Like I wasn't going to be all over a Star Wars game- especially one with such a sweet-ass cabinet (as seen above), actual sound clips from the actual movie, and cutting-edge graphics like this:

No seriously, those were cutting-edge graphics.

In closing, I would just like to say this: on the occasions where I was able to enter my three initials because I earned a high enough score, I never ever ever put SMP. It was always DIK, TIT, FAG, or ASS. I know I'm not the only person to have done this- not by a long shot- but surely it says something about something.


stonerphonic said...

damn you Ponder. For 2 very good reasons -

1. I have all those bloody late 70's to late 90's game, and I mean all, on about 8 discs of some RAM thingy where they captured all the games from pong rite thru til hell, maybe mid to late 90's to archive them for posterity. now, you can't 'just' archive the data without it being playable rite? uh huh. gauntlet fucking rules...

2. You've put comment moderation on. RRRRRRRRRR. hell, i don't even have captchas on ye olde bloge anymore. all too much like hard work... eeehhh...

but anyhoo, thanks for the walk.

we should do it again some time.

Stacie Ponder said...

Ah yes, moderation. I need to keep out the blatant wackadoos and spammers, after all. :)

I understand people can play the old stuff on their computers thanks to emulators and whatnot, but I get all grandma when it comes to that kind of stuff.

Paul Arrand Rodgers said...

My mom used to take me to the arcade so she could beat me at Street Fighter 2.

StuartOhQueue said...

I was a willing slave to Ms. Pacman for most of my formidable years.

Tanya said...

Gauntlet was my shit! I loved that game!!!

Congrats on another awesome blog I'm following Ms. Ponder!

Eerie Erik said...

I used to play the shit out of that double wide X-Men game down at the boardwalk. Such as badass game... and I always thought it was cool that they went with those main characters and outfits. Very nice.

Dig-Dug and Q*Bert were also childhood favorites of mine. I picked up the Namco collection for the Cube so I've got Dig-Dug again now. And with the Sonic Sega Collection for the PS3 I've got old favories like Golden Axe and Altered Beasts.

Nick Mullins said...

Remember putting your quarter on a game so you'd get to play next? I mean, you actually had to *socialize* to play a video game.

In all those video game collections they've put out, why, oh why, have they never rereleased Q-Bert? I used to play that game endlessly on my Collecovision.

I did some Playstation 2 recommendations years ago here:

Anonymous said...

My top 10 classic arcade games...

10. Centipede - still fun to play in MAME, but the white "trak ball" controller is sadly missed. :(

09. Yie-Ar Kung Fu - better than Karate Champ imo

08. Space Duel - sequel to Asteroids that actually improved on the original

07. Gyruss - a cross between Galaga and Tempoest

06. Juno First - similar to Defender, but enemy ships came straight at you - intense!

05. Star Wars - loved shooting those little white tops off the yellow towers!

04. Punch-Out

03. Galaga

02. Time Pilot

01. G O R F - The only game I just *had* to master when I was a kid - Five missions, destroying the flagship, going from Space Cadet to Space Avenger... classic!

Natalie said...

Come to Portland. We have retro-arcade bars. All the classic arcade machines + no children + tall cans of PBR + karaoke style rock band nights = epicness of epic proportion.

John Bem said...

Natalie, Portland sounds awesome. I was visiting Brooklyn a few years back and found something called Barcade with a smiliar offering of awesomeness. Moon Patrol, Ghosts & Goblins, & Elevator Action were some of the games on hand.

Stacie Ponder said...

There's a Barcade here in LA, too...such a great idea. It reminds me how much I suck at old-fashioned arcade games, though... :D

Jamie K said...

hey stacie! love your final girl blog and this one (duh)

anyways i just recently watched a video of the q*bert world champion and, holy shit, its the cutest most adorable, deserving lady ever!

thought you'd might like to watch it too!