AR­CADE MA­CHINES

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Time was, ar­cades were king. Ma­jor ad­vances like vec­tor graph­ics ar­rived with alarm­ing fre­quency, pro­pel­ling the games in­dus­try on­wards, new tech and con­trol meth­ods cap­ti­vat­ing any­one drawn to the ex­cit­ing young medium.

Dur­ing the late ’70s and early ’80s, gaming evolved in­cred­i­bly quickly from the most ba­sic of ti­tles, spawn­ing gen­res and sub-gen­res. In­vaders from space would be shot at; you’d zoom along a beau­ti­ful vec­tor Death Star trench, Obi-Wan’s dul­cet tones steady­ing your aim; and the last hu­man fam­ily would be saved by the twin-stick-wield­ing hero bat­tling robotrons in 2084’ s dystopian world.

Be­fore long, ho­mo­gene­ity in­fected the home games mar­ket, nat­u­rally un­able to repli­cate the unique ex­pe­ri­ence of­fered by each ar­cade cab­i­net, where game and con­trols were de­signed as one. So I and many oth­ers would con­tinue to lose hours in those dark caves of blink­ing lights.

To­day ar­cades cling on by their fin­ger­nails, un­able to out­pace home con­soles. Ded­i­cated folk, such as The Heart Of Gaming in London, hero­ically keep a se­lec­tion alive, but orig­i­nal hard­ware is fast be­com­ing ex­tinct. Sur­viv­ing ma­chines need to be played and saved, be­fore it’s too late.

As the award-win­ning game cre­ator (and ar­cade re­storer) Archer Ma­cLean re­marks: “Cheap­skates might get a MAME cab with 8000 games on it, but that’s like buy­ing a kit car. It’ll look OK from 100 yards away but you know it won’t close up.

“If I’m go­ing to play Robotron: 2084, I want the orig­i­nal board

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