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