austin_dern (austin_dern) wrote,

It's so good to know there's still a little magic in the air; I'll weave my spell

The Brighton Arcade is about an hour away from home, enough far away that we weren't going to rush to leave the minute we were done playing pinball. The arcade did clear out surprisingly quickly after pods were done playing, possibly because there's not much food or drink to be had. But we weren't going to be chased off all that quickly.

As mentioned, the arcade has something like sixty pinball machines, many of them classics, and a fair number of them at least interesting. Some I hadn't played in ages --- Jack*Bot, for example, a new-rules edition of Pin-Bot, I've barely played since the days when Latham Circle Mall had an arcade or for that matter existed --- and some I hadn't but did find intriguing, like the 1991 Star Trek pinball, or Space Invaders the pinball machine, or some of the electromechanicals. I did some practice on those and think I've got the hang of how playing them differs from more modern machines. Meanwhile bunny_hugger practiced enough on El Dorado that she was able to reliably get a replay each game; in principle, she could have gone on all night for just the one quarter.

The upper floor is all vintage video games, giving bunny_hugger some major head-rushes of remembrances of games once played. I had fewer of them because we went to fewer arcades as a kid. I'm rotten at pretty much all of them. But she's good at many of them, and was overjoyed to find Mousetrap, a Pac-Man variant with a changeable maze, and which she never sees in arcades. They also had a Berzerk, the game where you wander around a blue maze while robots call you a chicken. There was Kangaroo and a Space Invaders ripoff housed in a Space Invaders box and Burger Time and this peculiar game called Kick-Man in which you're a clown on a unicycle wheeling back and forth to get balloons or Pac-Mans to land on your head.

Also in the collection: Dragon's Lair, which you never see in arcades, because its complicated laserdisc system had a lifespan of about twelve minutes before something in it broke. But there it was, ready to be played. At least we think it was. bunny_hugger put her money in and ... uh ... well, Dirk the Daring walked onto a drawbridge, was grabbed by an octopus from the moat and killed. Then came back and got killed again. Then he was inside the castle and fell and get got killed. And again. Eventually he died for the last time. We have literally not the faintest idea whether bunny_hugger affected the course of Dirk's short life at all, or why after dying on the drawbridge a couple times he was suddenly inside the castle to die some more.

Afterward we learned that the game was probably a reconstruction with new hardware, possibly playing the game in emulation, which took away from the fun. So did the realization that Mousetrap and probably others were emulations stuffed into the real arcade machines, presenting a decent problem of identity but also making it feel a little less amazing that they had these games.

This wouldn't stop us having fun, though, and we hung around the arcade until closing. We're good at closing places out like that.

Trivia: Incentives to enlist as a United States soldier in the War of 1812 included an enlistment bounty of sixteen dollars (half on enlisting, half on mustering out) and eligibility for bonuses (a certificate of faithful service, 160 acres of land, and three month's pay). Enlistment bonuses for the Marines had been recently raised by Secretary of the Navy Paul Hamilton to twenty dollars. Source: Union 1812: The Americans who Fought the Second War of Independence, A J Langguth.

Currently Reading: To Touch The Face Of God: The Sacred, The Profane, and the American Space Program, 1957 - 1975, Kendrick Oliver.


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