The Final Day at Westfield Arcade

The highs and lows of video arcades of the 20th century impacted many. The darkened rooms with the flashing images and hot shot arcade champs are one thing that has yet to be duplicated by modern day video game consoles and mobile devices.

The Final Day at Westfield Arcade

For Chicago author Andy Hunt, these two golden ages of coin-operated bliss also served as the backdrop for his new novel The Final Day at Westfield Arcade.

“Like many people, I lived and breathed video games when I was growing up,” Hunt recalled. “I’ve always loved writing as well, so writing a novel with a very video game heavy slant to it only seemed natural. One bit of writing advice that is always given to writers is that you should ‘Write what you know.’ Well, I know classic video games, so writing a novel with a heavy video game angle to it seemed far more exciting to me than writing a novel about Ancient Egypt or bloodsucking vampires or some other weird topic that I have little interest in.”

The fiction novel brings readers to the final day of business for a shopping mall video arcade where main character Mike Mayberry has worked for nearly two decades. As the coin-op behemoths are rolled out of the retail space, Mayberry thinks back to both his personal and video gaming based memories.

The Wonder Years is my favorite television show of all-time, and I basically envisioned the novel as ‘The Wonder Years but set in the 1980s as opposed to the 1960s,'” he said. “In my novel, a once-popular arcade is closing, and on the final day of business at the arcade, the owner reflects back on the decades of memories he’s had at the arcade. There’s a girl who’s a Winnie-Cooper-type character, and, through his flashbacks to the arcade’s earlier years, he tells the story of the ups and downs in their relationship, as well as chronicling the experiences that he and his friends have as they grow up.”

While attempting to combine real-life arcade nostalgia with a fictional ride through a man’s life, Hunt hopes readers will find enjoyment within it’s pages.

“I honestly just hope people are entertained,” Hunt added. “Hopefully, those who were fortunate enough to be around during the height of the arcade scene will be able to re-live the memories of screwing around with friends in the local arcade, and those who weren’t around during the heyday of the arcade scene will be able to experience what the era was like through the book. I think nostalgia is a really powerful emotion to tap into, and I’m sure there are plenty of people who are nostalgic for those times when there was an arcade on every street corner and in every shopping mall, so hopefully the novel will rekindle that nostalgia that people feel for the classic arcade gaming scene.”

The book can be purchased at Amazon.com in paperback form for $9.89 and for the Kindle reader for only $6.99.

Holosseum: Time Traveler

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Holosseum: Time Traveler

I remember walking into my local arcade and seeing this weird looking game in the center of the room. It was the place they put all the new premier games they wanted all the kids to try. What was weird was this game did not look anything like the other arcade cabinets. This game looked like some futuristic console made by the Nintendo Wii designers. Now the game was called Time Traveler and it featured awesome 3D holograms, well kind of.

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The game was released in 1991 by Sega and the overall story was that you were a cowboy and you are tasked to stop an evil scientist called Vulcor. Vulcor can manipulate time and so you have to travel to different time periods and undo the damage he has done, get to him and save the Princess of the Galactic Federation. Now the game was pretty expensive at the time. To play the game cost anywhere from 75 cents to a dollar which I guess was to pay for the over 40 actors they used in the filming of the game.

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Those of you who are into current gaming will know about stereographic 3D which is what makes everything look three dimensional. The arcade cabinet itself was specifically made to project the game characters and make them look like holograms. The gameplay was kind of like Space Ace where the key is to move the joystick or hit a button at the right time to avoid being killed. The game was known for its death sequences kind of like how Dragon’s Lair became known for.

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Unlike Dragon’s Lair and Space Ace, Time Traveler gave you a lot more hints and when you died showed you what to do. You also had a time reversal button that you could hit to rewind time, think sands of time from Prince of Persia. The problem was this game was made to suck coins as you only had a few time reversals, sometimes as few as one, but you could always pay quarters to buy more. You also only had three lives and nine times out of ten the game was set to hard. So how did people beat it? They would watch someone else and write down what to do. If you did that without dying you got a whopping ten minutes of total game time.

There were seven time periods based on real time periods in our history and one called the Age of Magic. It also had a bonus game called Hellgate which was a slot machine type game where you could bet your lives to win more, but again, this was a money grab and most of the time you never won additional lives. Believe it or not, the game sold pretty well, perhaps because of how expensive it was, but had a short life span as the awesome fighting games of the 90’s were being released. However, I remember this game even though I only played it a few times as an interesting fad just like how I view glass wearing 3D gaming today.

Arcade at the flea market

Well as we took a break from shopping last Sunday, we decided to check out the arcade inside the flea market. It was awesome! Lots of different machines! Also, some misleading ones…check it out!

Classic Arcade - Ms Pac-Man Cabinet

This is a very misleading arcade game. You can see that donkey kong is the game in it instead of the Pac Man game….I want my quarter back!

Classic Arcade - Arcade Cabinets
More machines around here.

Classic Arcade - Die Hard, King of the Fighters and california Speed
and more…
Classic Arcade - House of the Dead and Gauntlet Legends
even more…
Classic Arcade - X-Men versus Street fighter and Jurassic Park III
and more..

Me and my friend ended up playing some Die Hard game which was really fun. I also played Xmen vs Street Fighter but the buttons didn’t work that well so I lost real fast…oh well…