Friday, June 16, 2006

Blast From My Past Pt6 - Video arcades and video games

Ah the old video arcades... ever since video game consoles overtook the performance of arcade machines and the authorities clamped down on 'illegal' arcades, it's never like it used to be...

My earliest memories of video games involve Space Invaders and the machine they had installed in my primary school's oldboys association. Then it was Scramble - the horizontal shoot em up which I loved from the old City Park arcades to the arcades of Genting Hotel (where they had table top monitors).

As I grew up, I enjoyed the Atari 2600 (while the richer kids had the Colecovision)... but it never reached the heights of true arcade experience. Pacman, Combat, Yar's Revenge, Missile Command, River Raid, Galaxian and tons of other games gave us countless hours of fun at home.

During my primary years, handhelds such as Nintendo's Game&Watch were the rage - Popeye, Mickey Mouse and Octopus gave the kids lots to shout about. G&W soon went on to games that covered multi-screens such as Oilpanic and Donkey Kong Jr. Casio's calculator with boxing game in it was REALLY quirky.

Here's a site dedicated to the once-ubiquitous Nintendo Game&Watch. And this really cool Japanese site for G&W.

Konami, Tomy and other gaming manufacturers also produced a lot of really nice LED handheld gaming devices - there was a small version of Scramble and also Lupin, etc. I owned a Gakken Amidar game and a Tomy Scramble which cost a lot of money back then.

Some other examples of these games are here and here.

I begged my parents to buy me this game which featured Dr Slump characters and played it to death. My sister got really good at it too!

God... this website holds a ton of memories for me...

Anyway fast forward to the mid 80s. I was very good at Irem's R-Type... good enough at the arcades for a crowd to build behind me sometimes. Back then, we were quite engrossed with Double Dragon, Ikari Warriors and Shinobi. Then came the big one... Capcom's Street Fighter in 1987. I cannot erase the famous phrase from my head, "What strength! But don't forget there are many guys like you ALL over the world!" It was my first experience with the Shotokan brothers and Sagat but it would not be the last. 4 years later and SFII came around. ALL the arcades had a machine of some sort. I was a mediocre player on SFII.

For while, there also emerged a whole new slew of handhelds that allowed us to play Tetris and Columns on the go (today we have Sudoku handhelds instead).

After having left Malaysia for my A Levels in Singapore and then having returned, I started to build my skills with Fatal Fury II (I didn't like the first FF that much). I spent hours at the Sungei Wang arcades with a friend. Back then the internet was not a big part of our lives yet and it was really cool when we discovered the death moves of the characters. I remember going around the arcades challenging other players with the Fatal Fury games as well as the Samurai Shodown series and the King Of Fighters series.

As technology advanced, more graphically sophisticated games appeared. It started with Virtua Fighter and Virtua Racer... then went on to the other VF series, Virtua Cop, Tekken and of course, Daytona (though I was a bigger fan of Namco's Ridge Racer series). Today's arcades are filled with music related games such as Dance Dance Revolution and Beatmania.

I never gave up on the home front though. I had a Super NES followed by the Sega Saturn, Playstation 1, Sega Dreamcast and Playstation 2. Soon, as my arcade kakis slowly dwindled, we started to play more and more games at home.