Midway at the Mall

larzini's picture

I was picking up the kids' Christmas pictures (aka our Christmas cards) at JCPenney the other day, when I came across the Midway Arcade. The baby fell asleep in the stroller, and this arcade machine intrigued me more than shopping for Christmas presents. (Giving is cool, it's the shopping part that can be a nuisance.) Anyway the last player had been playing Defender, so I tried that out first. The controls were stiff, but the old games are much better played with a joystick than with your corporate-issue Sony Playstation controller. I tried Wizard of Wor next. I hadn't played that one since my Atari 800XL days, so that was a real treat, untril I got treated to a beat down after about three levels. Nowhere near "The Arena" (level 8), but they say those reflexes slow down with age, so I guess its downhill afte age 11.

Scrolling through the selection screens I found something named Timber. I had never heard of this game before so I gave it a shot. You have X amount of time to chop down X amount of trees without them falling on you or getting hit with beehives hurled horizontally by an angry bear. Perhaps this was some sort of environmental statement against the logging industry when it was released. I have to admit it was kind of fun, a gave that game a couple plays, before moving on to Sinistar.

I know Sinistar has a strong following. All I remember in my arcade days was hearing taunt of Sinistar while I was busy with Galaga or something else. I don't know why the machine never piqued my interest, but I'm not ashamed to admit it. Needless to say I was not very good at it. Mining for crystals didn't get me too far before ol' Skullface reared his ugly head and put the kabosh on my futile efforts.

In addition to Wizard of Wor, Defender, Timber, and Sinistar, the Midway Arcade also includes Robotron, Joust, Root Beer Tapper, Rampage, Satan's Hollow, Bubbles, Splat!, and Defender II. For $379 (currently on sale, regularly $499), not such a bad buy. Personally I'd rather have a pinball machine, if I'm going to have a furniture sized piece of arcade hardware, but the price does not seem too bad.

Now I know I'm bigger now than when I was eleven, but I'm sure this has a smaller screen than the typical arcade game, and the placement of the screen was quite low. I would have preferred something with a more upright picture like Centipede, as would my neck if I was to put in the hours like I once did. A coin slot would be nice, too, then I could put it in the waiting room of my business, and have it pay itself off.

Well, I saw the link in my profile to blog, so I figured I'd throw something up here, I don't know where this will show up on Armchair Arcade, but I'll post it at my blog as well.

Comments

Bill Loguidice
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Hey, Larzini, thanks for the

Hey, Larzini, thanks for the post. It just so happens that we've covered this machine last year when it first came out. While it's custom hardware, the technology is equivalent to those "TV games" joysticks with the built-in games you see for $20. While licensed, they are generally weak approximations of the original arcade games. The Midway Arcade is indeed a roughly 3/4 scale arcade style cabinet with a low resolution 14" television as its display device. The images are quite soft on this screen and bizarrely enough, some of the games are cut off, meaning that the games were not properly optimized for the display.

While the price is attractive at $350 (sometimes less), considering a proper custom arcade machine can cost well north of $1000 on the low end, from the controls to the display to the visuals and sound, this Midway machine ultimately falls far short of being worth it for the average consumer. Frankly, there are a plethora of choices out there that deliver a much more accurate and pleasing experience, as long as you're patient enough to save up for it (let me know if you need any links).

If you want a 3/4 scale pinball machine, check this one out (I am getting this for Christmas): http://www.walmart.com/catalog/product.do?product_id=5238447 . It does a much better job of simulating the arcade experience on the cheap.

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(A PC Magazine Top 100 Website)
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larzini
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That mini-pin should be fun.

That mini-pin should be fun. It looks like the same scale of the Pirates of the Carribean pin that's been in the circulars as well. My father-in-law threw down the coin about 1 1/2 years ago for the Star Trek Next Generation machine, on mine and my wife's recommendation. Our first recommendation was The Addams Family, which as I'm sure you know has a huge following, and I've been told by a dealer it still makes money wherever it's placed.

I'm not ready for the machine investment as of yet. I've got a basement to be finished first. And before that happens I have to make sure its dry, and there's still some issues there. For now I'll probably stick with the Namco collections and such on the PS2.

I read some of the discussion on your site, about your blog hosting and cms. My blog is hosted by Blogharbor, and while I have done little to no customization of my own site, they have pretty good interfaces to work with and some good support instructions online. I've worked with John from BlogHarbor on other people's sites, and he may either have some insight into the CMS or have a product solution that might help you here at Armchair.

Full disclosure: I was not paid to mention BlogHarbor, but I personally know they've been good with support, and that John knows way more about this stuff than I do, I've built web sites for people, but it's been nice to work with him and focus more on layout and content (writing), than to get buried in the code as well. There's a reason sites like CNN.com have over 100 developers.

Good luck with the book. And it would be great to see more videos like the 2600 shooter review on myspace.

Matt Barton
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I saw these units at Sam's

I saw these units at Sam's Club:
Quasicade FX Arcade System w/ PS2

It's apparently powered by a PS2, so you might save some cash that way, I suppose. I haven't had a chance to try this out myself, but I am intrigued by the idea, and the cab looks more family-compatible if you know what I mean.

Seems like these units are springing up everywhere lately!

What kind of business do you have? I'm sure you could find some old coin-op arcade machines if you were really serious about it.

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Bill Loguidice
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Matt Barton wrote:I saw
Matt Barton wrote:

I saw these units at Sam's Club:
Quasicade FX Arcade System w/ PS2

It's actually stunning how many options there are, Matt. This is a fledgling niche in our industry, whether it's build-your-own or a turn-key solution that you can get in many (some surprising) stores or online. It's amazing how that's happened - I never thought that there would be such a market for it. Truly the classic arcade concept has been reimagined in the home. When my free time actually becomes free, I will finish that arcade at home article discussing all those options, with a focus on the one I happen to have from Dream Authentics. But really, if someone wants an arcade machine of any flavor/options, there are many great options.

Interestingly, the majority of these would need to be converted to accept coin input (or have coin input activated), since it's not legal to sell redemption machines for home use. In that case, if one wants to charge money, they're usually better off contacting a distributor or making sure they can easily do the conversion (with the right software to match).

I also like how this is not only applying to arcade machines, but also pinball machines, which for a while there weren't even being produced for arcade use. While videogames may have tried to grow the market too quickly, leading to the infamous "Great Videogame Crash" at home and in the arcade, it just shows that the actual problem was never with the concepts or the games themselves. They're timeless.

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Bill Loguidice, Managing Director
Armchair Arcade, Inc.
(A PC Magazine Top 100 Website)
======================================

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larzini
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I think that cabinet looks

I think that cabinet looks nicer than some of the furniture I own. And my furniture is not that shabby. Perhaps they build a matching bar for that. The game list is quite lengthy. Sam's Club is sold out, maybe since they sold it for $2,800 when the retail is $4,499.

My business is not game-related, but people sometimes wait or have children with them, so...although I may get less work done when no clients are around with the Quasicade in my possession.

larzini
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Double post originally

Double post originally appear because of flunky wireless connection at hotel. Have a good weekend.

Mark Vergeer
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Great post Larzini, hope you

Great post Larzini, hope you post some more of those ;)

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larzini
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Muchas gracias, Mark.

Muchas gracias, Mark. Sometimes I post about games over at thisblogismyblog. Some are better than others, but to keep blogging sometimes the chaff has to get churned out along with the wheat. It's far easier to walk away from a blog than to keep posting. I'm sure all you folks here know that as well.

Thanks for the encouragement. If I have anything I deem worthy for AA, perhaps I'll post here again.

Mark Vergeer
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Looked at your Blog Larzini,

Looked at your Blog Larzini, it's looking good! Please feel free to post here again.

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Mark Vergeer - Editor / Pixelator
Armchair Arcade, Inc.
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