At Arcade 92 we want our video arcade to be a second home to you. If each of these machines could talk and tell us their story, we could only imagine what they’d say. Where have they been for the last 40 years? While we only have a limited view of each machine’s adventures, we at least know when their journey began. Arcade 92 is not just a living museum. We also look forward to the future of the gaming industry. While we don’t know exactly what the future of gaming holds, we can look back at where it all started.
1970’s arcade games at Arcade 92.
It’s time to play again, 70s kids!
Maybe you were a 70s kid and you remember games like Pong, Asteroids, and Space Invaders…a time when gaming was simple. Batting a square back and forth trying to outsmart your friend or going toe to toe with the computer was the extent of video gaming. Pong is the game that started it all and is perhaps the most recognized video game in the world. Then came Space Invaders! Sure it’s easy shooting at those critters when they are high up in space, but when they get close or lessen in numbers, that 286-kilobyte processor kicks into high gear and you better be quick on the trigger! Asteroids took the arcade to the next level and put you in the cockpit on that famous triangle spaceship blasting those pesky asteroids that broke apart into tiny pieces. To make matters worse, you were tracked down by the quick-moving UFO that thankfully had poor aim. The late 1970s kicked off what would be the first golden age of the arcades.
Events you may remember from the 1970s:
- 1970 — A nation watches on as Apollo 13 mission successfully returns to Earth after potentially tragic malfunctions occur in mid space flight.
- 1975 — After exceeding disapproval and protest, the Vietnam War comes to an abrupt end.
- 1976 — Apple computer company is founded by Steve Jobs and Stephen Wozniak. From humble beginnings, Apple would see their company grow to be worth over a trillion dollars.
1980’s arcade games at Arcade 92.
- Centipede – 1980
- Missile Command – 1980
- Pac-Man – 1980
- Defender – 1981
- Galaga – 1981
- Ms. Pac-Man – 1981
- Frogger – 1981
- Donkey Kong – 1981
- Joust – 1982
- Time Pilot – 1982
- Dig Dug – 1982
- Q*Bert – 1982
- Donkey Kong jr. – 1982
- Mario Brothers – 1983
- Tetris – 1984
- Gauntlet – 1985
- Commando – 1985
- Super Mario Brothers – 1985
- Double Dragon – 1987
- And many more…..
It’s time to play again, 80’s kids.
The golden age of the video arcades would continue strong until turmoil struck in 1983. Pac-Man continued to make a gamer out of everyone. Unlike Asteroids, Galaga and the later Ms. Pac-Man, there are no other video arcade cabinets that were more mass-produced. Donkey Kong, released in 1981, introduced a character known as “Jump man” who faithfully took on a giant gorilla to save the love of his life, Pauline. After more character development, these characters would later be known around the globe as the power couple, Mario and Princess Peach.
Pushing the game industry to new levels of creativity, new great hits adorned the arcade with titles such as Q*Bert, Frogger, Time Pilot, and Defender. The gaming industry had exploded into a wild success and everyone wanted in on the action. This is where the end of the first golden age began.
While several attempts to bring the 300-pound arcade machines to homes in a much smaller version, a new company became a household name…Atari. Atari delivered what everyone wanted. They wanted the fun and adventures of the arcade but on their television at home. No more pockets were full of quarters. You could also switch games at the drop of a hat. It is hard to find an American family that did not own an Atari 2600 or one of the similar models made by Sears-Roebuck. Game programmers, including Apple’s co-founder Stephen Wozniak (creator of Breakout), prided themselves on creating a video game in a matter of days.
Everyone and I mean everyone, wanted in on the action, including Purina Dog Chow, who even created an Atari game. With no oversight, Atari quickly lost control of a market flooded with disappointing games. By 1983 it was too late. As a result of Atari becoming seen by arcades as an insurmountable competitor, this led to a gaping hole from 1983 to 1991 where very few new arcade games were released. The country went from loving Atari to Atari becoming essentially a 4-letter-word.
Meanwhile, in Japan, a company called Nintendo ignored the bleak future for the gaming industry and took a risk on a sequel to Mario Brothers titled Super Mario Brothers. They created it not for the vanishing arcades, but for a new home-based system called the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES). The video game industry was saved by Nintendo but only in the realm of home consoles. The second golden age of the video arcades would have to wait a little longer for their time in the sun.
Events you may remember from the 1980s:
- 1985 – Microsoft takes the world by storm with the first release of the Windows Operating System, making computers much more user-friendly.
- 1986 – A nation including young children tunes in to watch a live broadcast on the Space Shuttle Challenger only to be met with tragedy as the spacecraft explodes in mid-flight.
- 1989 – Excited children and parents with furrowed brows met a new television character named Bart Simpson. The first episode of the Simpsons is aired and would become a national treasure. The Simpsons are still being aired today in 2019 and have over 600 episodes to date. Every kid in America handles all conflict resolution with “Eat my shorts!”
1990’s arcade games at Arcade 92.
- Street Fighter 2
- Mortal Kombat 1, 2 and 3
- NBA Jam
- NFL Blitz
- Area 51
- Maximum Force
- Virtua Fighter
- The Simpsons
- Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
- Killer Instinct
- And many many more…..
It’s time to play again, 90’s kids.
With the Nintendo NES and the Sega Genesis, the late ’80s did not give the arcades a second thought. That is until 1991 when a new arcade game was released called Street Fighter 2. Before this time, the majority of arcade and home consoles expected player 1 to play the game while player 2 watched. Taking turns is a great character trait, but what if your buddy playing Mario is player 1 and they are really good? What if you have to watch him play while you sit there for 45 minutes waiting for your turn. And the split-screen! Ugh! Am I on top or bottom? No, it was honestly a nuisance to have your friends over to play, so most kids defaulted to playing alone.
Quickly, the gaming industry went from hanging out with friends at an arcade to playing in isolation. To gaming innovators, this was as ridiculous as playing Monopoly or Checkers by yourself. When 90’s kids heard about this new game called Street Fighter 2, they were intrigued, but in 1992 when a similar game called Mortal Kombat was released, the second golden age of the arcade truly began.
The release of these 2 games saved the arcades, and business was booming once again. Picking up on this success, other games emerged that focused more on the multiplayer aspect, whether it was competitive or cooperative. The Simpsons, X-Men, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles were 4 player games. Sports focused games such as NBA Jam and NFL Blitz offer a team of 4. Rampage and Super Off Road were 3 player. The arcades were packed once again until the mid-90s when Sony decided to get in on the action with the release of another home console, the Playstation. This was a game-changer that allowed for the community, but this time offering it on the world wide web.
Online gaming was officially in full swing, and the arcades died off once again in the late 90s. With the additional creation of social media, we have never been more disconnected. Online gaming is a community, but to many, it’s just not real. You can’t grab a beer with Sniper4Life32 who lives in Wisconsin while you’re on your couch in Texas. It’s time to play again. It’s time to have a real community, and at Arcade 92 we are on the leading edge of the 3rd and greatest golden age of the arcade!
Events you may remember from the 1990s:
- 1991 – The internet, referred to as the World Wide Web becomes available for mass public use.
- 1991 – The Gulf War begins in Iraq as 35 nations join forces to subdue Iraq from invading Kuwait. The overwhelming forces end the war in a matter of months.
- 1998 – President Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky go before cameras to all of the nation. The President is backed into a corner by falsifying statements under oath and impeachment proceedings begin.
- 1999-2000 – THE SKY IS FALLING! The nation is gripped in fear as we approach the turn of the century. What will happen when those computers go from 99 to 00? Will planes fall out of the sky? Will all the banks lose everyone’s money? The world waits and watches only to wake up on January 1, 2000, to minor, if any, computer issues.
At Arcade 92 none of our video arcades are Y2K compliant and amazingly, they still work great!