Friday, April 18, 2008

Continue?:A look into arcade gaming

A local arcade is closing down around the way,and while it's not the earth shattering news to be expected,it's certainly noteworthy.Having grown up in the Nineties arcades were loud,bright,and noisy gaming centers.In that timeframe the 16-bit generation was underway,PC gaming was always around,and even though it was top of the line at the time,nothing compared to the arcade.


Being able to play Street Fighter on a stand-up cabinet,quarters lined up,with competitors waiting for someone to get Ko'd.Keeping your record in Daytona USA for everyone to see.Pushing that last quarter on Ninja Turtles until you had nothing left.These were experiences that couldn't be had on a Genesis or Super Nintendo.Sure most of these games had home versions,but it was like practice for the real game.Every arcade had what seemed for an unsurmountable opponent for the cabinet in it's prime.Even if you were that local legend you had to keep your wits sharp to keep that title.

The biggest draw had to be the graphics though,the sheer power of these machines to have these huge,colorful sprites.Just like any other game,reading what was coming out next was always fun,anticipating the next big game (or when Street Fighter 3 was actually going to come out.)The main catch being these weren't games you could just OWN unless you shelled out the cash for the board and cabinet.Playing these games was almost a privilege,no matter how many games of NBA Jam you played,it was never yours.You could put all the money you wanted into Virtua Cop but you couldn't bring it home.It gave each game you played that extra bit of meaning.Imagine going to a LAN center to play Counterstrike but the game Counterstrike itself cost thousands of dollars.It's extreme,but yeah,kind of like that.

Of course this isn't the 1st arcade to ever close in all of history.Since the advent of the 128-bit era it's harder to get that pull from arcade machines graphically when you can in most cases play the game at home on your Playstation 2 or Xbox.Who wants to pay a dollar to play this game when I can just buy the home version and in some cases have online play available? A sad truth,that when coupled with the ongoing march of technology,meant the end of mainstream arcade gaming

Dance Dance Revolution still brings in people and ticket games will always bring people in,but the atmosphere as a whole is like a shell of its former self.Arcade fighting games still have a decent pull as far as far as the genre goes with games like Street Fighter 4,Virtua Fighter 5,and Tekken 6 on the market.With every passing moment though they become more and more niche,more often than not,becoming DLC on a network as opposed to getting a home release proper....and I'm not going to start in on 2d fighters today.

As online gaming improves and the gaming market changes we may never see a resurgence of the arcade as we knew it,it came back before though,and it can come back again.