When I was 8 years old, I picked up my very first Nintendo. It was an epic moment in my life that changed my views on video games forever. However, before this, before the availablity of home consoles to a mass market. There was the arcade. A majestic place of wonderment. Lights, sounds, smells and quarter-eating entertainment right at you fingertips. These places helped solidify my life into video games and knew that regardless of where I go, the arcade will always be the place to be.
Our story begins when I was just a wee tot. My very first memory of ever playing an arcade game was a 7-11 near where my mom lived. I was about 6 or 7 years old and I distincly remember playing Super Mario Brothers with my mom’s then boyfriend, Scott. It was simple. A Joystick and two buttons was all you needed for 5 minutes of fun. As I grew older, it became a place called Showbiz Pizza (Now known as Chuck E. Cheese to most of the country). Showbiz Pizza had everything from ball pits, ticket games, mechanized-animal music performances, And best of all…video games! One particular game in general, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. It was my first experience taking on a beat ‘em up with a group of friends. Being a huge fan of the show, this was a dream come true! I played almost nothing else except a couple of ticket games. As a few of my friends dropped out, I was still probably 7 or 8 bucks deep into TMNT.
As I got older, I had graduated to a little place here in Boise called Pojo’s. Pojo’s was ALWAYS hoppin’ at every time of day it seemed. Pojo’s has been a staple in Boise for a very long time. My first memory was when I was about 9 years old when it was at it’s first location. It use to be where Gen-X Clothing is now on Fairview. The floor was wall-to-wall entertainment. Again, it had ticket games, but it’s emphasis was on video games. As time went on, it grew so big it had to change locations, as the parking was very limited. They only moved about 1/2 mile up the road into a way bigger building. This is the place that holds all of my best arcade memories. I experienced so many firsts at this partiulcar location. I became a quick fan of Beat ‘em ups and fighters. Street Fighter II, Mortal Kombat, X-Men (6 Player of Course), Punisher, Spider-Man and many others. My fondest memory at this location was playing the X-Men arcade game with 5 random strangers, all about 5 years older than me, and playing it with them from beginning to end as Nightcrawler. I dropped easily $20 into the machine trying to accomplish this feat too. One of the biggest things this arcade had also, was a Nickel section. All games were only 1 or 2 nickels to play. $20 could last you a couple hours easy. My grandma would just give my cousin Jake and I $20 each and we’d just go to town. I recently revisited Pojo’s for my 26th birthday a couple of years ago, and altough arcades have changed in the last 15 years, Pojo’s still manages to come out on top.
In my personal life, I own two arcade machines:
1) TAPPER (Budweiser Cabinet) – From what I understand this cabinet is fairly rare, as the arcade was mostly intended for bars. I won this at an auction a few years ago and when I got the arcade, I realized it wasn’t the actual Tapper game in the cabinet. It was replaced with a gambling machine. A combination of slot-machine and Hi-Low. if you won your bet in the slot game, it would give you chance to double your money buy guessingt he next card in a stack as either Hi or Low. if you guessed correctly, your money was double, but the incentive to keep trying was the 8 bit woman on the other side of the screen that gradually kept losing her clothes as you guess correctly. 8-bit boobies FTW! LOL
2) Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles – Yes the original arcade game that I fell in love with is now mine. I bought it off eBay and had it shipped from a vendor called Jesters Amusements in new Jersey. This arcade sat in my friend Jennifer’s garage for almost a year, as I didn’t have a way to get it into my apartment. But after my fiance’ and I bought a house, it now sits in my garage. LOL We want to get it in the house, but it doesn’t fit through any of the doors. *SIGH* we’ll get it in here one day.
In the end, the arcade is an experience that every gamer must have. No matter your age or experience level, an arcade visit will turn every frown upside down. Visit your local arcade, show it your love and support, and share it with everyone you know. Arcades are, sadly, a dying business. With the advancement of home consoles, arcades are on life support. Help keep your arcade alive and well by pumping quarters back into it’s life bar.
AKA – Dustimus_Prime