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8 Bit Central - Retro Gaming Blog

September 2014 Retro Gaming Article


September 30, 2014 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Mobile games repackaged as arcade games inspire duplication not inspiration

The golden age of arcades was an amazing era to be a gamer. The games we loved weren't timeless classics. They were brand new and captured our attention and engaged us through innovative game mechanics and novelty that rained down awesomeness. No one knew that Pac-Man would be adored 30 years into the future. We just knew it was fun!

Stargate arcade game We were in awe when Stargate arrived as a sequel to Defender. The arrival of a new arcade game was always exciting. Over the years, I've played Spy Hunter on so many consoles and computers, I sometimes forget the original arcade game had a steering wheel!

There are still a handfull of retro arcades that cater to those games we loved in the 80s. Galloping Ghosts in IL and Robot City Games in NY keep retro gaming alive in arcade settings. Dave & Busters and Chuck E. Cheeses have integrated restaurants with arcade games, but have stuck with modern games. There's been a recent surge in Barcades which combine gaming and alcohol. Many of these barcades have focused on retro games.

While it's great fun to enter any arcade that focuses on retro games, we are familiar with most of the games and know that no "new" games will ever arrive. Even the arcade housing for Wreck It Ralph's Fix It Felix game was a facade for a flash game on a PC.

In the 80's, we all dropped enough quarters to fuel a fast growing gaming industry. Home game consoles began releasing arcade favorites to be played at home. In today's economy, no one talks about quarters or tokens. Most arcade games have bill-readers or swipe-card readers.

Bay Tek Games logo With insane passion for the arcade scene of the 80s, I rarely visited arcades as the 90s wore on and the advent of redemption games being the dominant "game" genre in arcades. Change is inevitable. It happens everywhere on a daily basis. Once you've found something awesome, it's hard to admit that one day it will change.

Flappy Bird Ships to Arcades via Bay Tek

Flappy Bird arcade game I rolled my eyes and groaned when I heard that Flappy Bird had been licensed for an arcade release. Bay Tek Games in Wisconsin will begin shipping units this month. I can't fault them - someone was bound to do it. An arcade in my area has a Doodle Jump game. Like Flappy Bird, The Doodler began as a mobile game and even found his way onto Nintendo's DS and 3DS before hitting arcades.

Part of what irks me about Flappy Bird coming to arcades is the game itself. I became quickly addicted to the Android version - for a few days - due to it's simplistic game play and savage difficulty. As a free game, I was happy to flap and marvel at my inability to crack a 2-digit score.

When that same game comes to arcades, suddenly I have to pay to play it and how about that difficulty. I'll laugh at myself when I fail miserably on the free version. However, if I'm swiping an arcade game card and paying to be humiliated in front of a 42" display - that's a different story. I fully admit I have not played the arcade version and the game may not be as ridiculously difficult as the mobile game.

There's a secondary irritation I have regarding both Flappy Bird and Doodle Jump. Both cabinets (perhaps "enclosure" is a better term) look like giant cell phones. I hope that this won't become the default form-factor for mobile games that are released into arcade settings. I say this because it sets a precedent to take popular mobile games and dump them into arcades for nothing more than financial gain - with a cute cell phone enclosure. Being able to play mobile games on a large display doesn't offset the fact that prior versions were free. I'd rather play an arcade game that's original - not a mobile port.

This is similar to Hollywood's trend toward sequels and remakes, rather than creating original stories. These are safe concepts that have a proven following. Check the last film you saw and do some research. Nearly 70% of all films released in the last decade or two are remakes of foreign films... with proven track records.

arcade In the early days of arcades and video game development, ingenuity ruled. Risks were taken. Crazy notions were developed into awesome games. Innovation was what would reward developers.

Today, we see too many proven successes duplicated over and over and over. Why be innovative, if you can repurpose something popular and dump it on the public? Arcades need less redemption booths and more innovative games that attract players. Ticket redemption and mobile ports won't benefit arcades in the long run. I think amazing games are the key to success. Perhaps this is why I'm not an economist.

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