On our November 29th 2009 show, we are going to have an interview with a man who is trying to set up an arcade museum here in Toronto. I won’t spoil the interview at all, but at the same time I have a small taste of the future(past) for you. About a week ago I had a chance to check out a couple of his museum pieces and it took my breath away.
To speak plainly, the history I experienced that night was beyond words. From the second I stepped into the room with these pieces, I felt like I had stepped back in time. Back even further then the creation of Galaxy Game. My trip officially started in the 1930s when I saw this piece, from that time, called “Peppy the Musical Clown.”
At one point in time, this piece of history would have let young children create their own musical performances by using the 4 blacks buttons that you see built into the front of the counter. Each button is used to manipulate an arm or a leg on the clown, and by doing so you could make the doll dance.
From there I stepped 4 feet to my right, and about 40 years forward in time to find this wonderful beast called Jet Rocket (released by Sega in 1970) standing before me.
Just like the Transformers, there is more to Jet Rocket than meets the eye. At first glance I mistook it for a early video arcade machine. However, this machine is like the magic show at your local shady bar. Instead of a video monitor, it uses lights and mirrors to entertain. It also has a giant carpet of blue, green and white carpet on a powered belt system that it uses as a map. When activated, the map would move in such a way that it would give you the impression that you were flying above a coastal town or city.
Sadly, I wasn’t able to see this beast in action; but from what I could understand of it, you would play as a bomber pilot and by using lights and mirrors the cabinet could show you targets on the ground to attack and the bombs/missiles you were firing.
Here is a picture of that blue, green and white map, and the powered belt system it rests on.
Now if you’re tastes lean towards having actual VIDEO in your games, then there was plenty to enjoy. Everyone probably remembers a cocktail table or two from their college years, and there were plenty of games loaded onto the 6 cocktail tables that were present that night.
And, if you were ever in an arcade in the 80′s, then you’ll probably remember Sinistar. However, the same can be said if you’ve bought the Williams Arcade’s Greatest Hits, or any of the Midway Greatest hits collections (which is actually how I first played Sinistar). It’s not a hard game to find today, but in a world of XBLs, Playstation Stores, and Wii-wares it is easy to forget the simple thrill of having a cabinet in front of you and people you can impress behind you. However, I probably should mention that my Sinistar skills impressed no one that night.
Luckily for me however, I can redeem myself by pointing out the fact that I was able to impress many using this fully functional Spy Hunter cabinet. This was MY game when I went to my local arcade (back before it closed); and I was glad to see that after 5 minutes of using it, everything about how to play it came back to me.
After that I took a look at this big blue submarine game. I am not going to lie; I have no idea what it does or how to play it. It was one of a handful of cabinets that were there were, but not operational.
An believe it or not (in a room full of video game enthusiasts who averaged in their late 20s) this was the hands down greatest hit of the night.
The easiest way for me to explain it, is to call it a pinball table that stands up. In the center of the below picture there are about 8 pieces of metal that would rest in a series of V shapes; and the basic idea this game is to manipulate those pieces, and use them to get a ball from the top to the bottom of the machine. However, if the ball went to far left or right, it would fall out of the playable area and you would lose. It was also the hardest game there. I don’t remember seeing anyone beat it that night.
This game also has some of the most inventive controls I have ever seen. While playing you would mostly use the red valve to move those metal V-shapes around. The silver arm on the left was used to call a ball forth at the start of the game, and the red key shaped thing was used to control some sort of arm at the bottom of the machine. I’m not sure how that one worked, because no one was able to get a ball far enough down the machine to use it.
Now if anyone was wondering, you too may one day have a chance to play such awesome pieces of video game history. The arcade museum does not exist yet; however, it could soon. If you want to know more about this then make sure to check out or show/podcast for Sunday, November 29th, 2009 as we’ll interview the man behind the push for an arcade museum.