Favorite Games List - Arcade Cabinets

I've tackled consoles, handhelds, and early PC so far in my Favorite Games List series so I thought today I'd tackle something a bit different.

Arcade Cabinets

Growing up, I remember regular trips to places like Outer Limits up at the Scottsdale Pavillions to enjoy a variety of arcade games (as well as the occasional laser tag, mini golf, or go-karting). This was before it turned into a Fiddlesticks (which I still visited and had many a high school friends who worked there) and then later closed its doors all together (an early sign of the times and the collateral damage to the oncoming Playstation/Xbox console wars). With that in mind, I figured since I've been tackling this mostly chronologically, perhaps now is as good a time as any to slip some of my favorite Arcade Cabinets. Back in the days before something like Goldeneye on the Nintendo 64 or this little thing called the internet changed multi-player gaming forever, the arcade was the best play to go hang out with some friends and enjoy gaming together. Or if we wanted to divide and conquer, we could go our separate ways and enjoy games like Top Skater (that skateboarding one with the footboard and handrails), classics like Pac-Man and Asteroids, or on-the-rails shooters like the Star Wars Trilogy, Area 51, and Time Crisis. But screw the Dance Dance Revolution games. If I wanted to dance, I'd dance instead of spending my time coming up with elaborate moves to coincide with the button pattern of jumping around on those pads.

The Simpsons - The Simpsons was one of the first television shows I remember really enjoying. Over the years, I've discovered that many iconic pop culture moments live in my head in their Simpson-ized form because I saw them on the show before I knew the references they were making. Case in point: I knew "Who shot Mr. Burns?" years before I ever heard about the iconic "Who shot J.R.?" storyline from Dallas. Anyway, my love for the show reached new levels when The Simpsons arcade game came out. Hanging out with some friends, playing as Bart, Lisa, Homer, and Marge through a fun action beat 'em up (with weird mini games like a button mashing race to inflate a balloon faster than your friends) was a great time and did a great job capturing the humor and spirit of the early years of the show. I remember thinking, "When I'm rich, I'm going to buy this arcade game." I'm not rich yet, but I am able to enjoy it anytime I want since it was released to the PlayStation Network a couple years back.

Shootout - Every summer, my grandmother and aunt would cram me and my sister into my grandmother's car next to a giant cooler of food and take us to up to a guest ranch between Springerville and Greer for a week. Our trips coincided with the ranch's waning years. Early on, there would occasionally be another few families but the last few years we went, it was typically just us. We'd go fishing at their little pond, play hours upon hours of card and board games, and have their Rec Room all to ourselves. This Rec Room included a pool table, ping pong table, pinball machine, jukebox, and Shootout - a shooter where you basically played as a private detective shooting the bad guys with tommy guns and trying not to shoot innocent civilians. My soundtrack for this game (and many games of pool and ping pong - really those weeks as a whole) thanks to that jukebox consisted of songs like "Mmmbop" by Hanson, "Addam's Groove" by MC Hammer, and "She Bop" by Cyndi Lauper (waaaaay before we knew what that song was about).

Michael Jackson's Moonwalker - As weird as it was to fight bad guys by breaking out into the dance or saving Bubbles the chimp to turn into Robot Michael Jackson, the game was just fun. Plus, you had Michael Jackson music playing in the background.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles - This was probably my favorite of the arcade beat 'em ups back in the day. Playing as the heroes in their half-shells with friends was just all-around fun and also worked as a great subtle indicator about what role you filled within your group of friends: Leonardo meant you were the leader of the group, Raphael was the serious one, Michelangelo was the party dude, and Donatello was the smart one/nerd. That or you just liked their respective weapons.

BONUS Arcade Memory: My friend Bryan (seen above) and I were in a music video for heavy metal band Flotsam and Jetsam (the lead singer Eric "A.K." Knutson was a friend of the family). You can catch me pulling pantyhose off my head around the 1:38 mark (with Bryan right after me) and then again later in the dogpile at the end of the video - letting pretty much everyone else go first so I didn't get crushed beneath 50 other kids. We shot the video in some warehouse-y kind of district but in one of the buildings in the complex was a business an arcade repair shop. The guy running the place was really cool and basically popped the coin case open for some of the units so we could have unlimited free plays. I don't remember what games he had but they were free so that was awesome!