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October 2015 Retro Gaming Article


October 1, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

A good cocktail is hard to come by- especially with Frogger

No one seems to invite friends over for cocktails anymore. It's always a meet-up at a bar. The notion of crafting a fine alcoholic drink at home feels like a lost art. This skill has seemingly been relegated to behind-the-bar professionals who are better suited to pour. It's a lost art, I say.

Frogger arcade game Alas, I can't say I have many skills in the art of the mixed drink, but I grow weary of the lite-beer offers I get. Just once I'd like to be offered a gin and tonic before we delve into the night's festivities. I'd be hard pressed to say a gin and tonic is the proper beverage to accompany 4-player Warlords on an Atari 2600, but it wouldn't hurt to try.

Cocktails have taken a backseat for quite some time - even in the arcade realm. You saw this segue coming, right? The arcades of the 80's predominantly featured upright game cabinets. Even before maximizing the earnings-per-square-foot was financially paramount in arcades, cocktail style games were few and far between.

I recall seeing them in restaurants or spaces that traditionally didn't have arcade games. They certainly took up more floor space than their upright counterparts, but there was something really unique about the cocktail arcade game experience. Sitting across from your opponent/friend waiting for the screen to flip around for your turn was pretty cool.

Naturally, the setup had to include 2 sets of controls which necessitated having enough floor space for the unit as well as 2 chairs. This wasn't the sort of machine you could jam up against another one. If you've ever dined where the tables are much too close to one another, then you can imagine having a few cocktail arcade games jammed together. Not much fun for anyone. But upright cabinets didn't suffer that personal space issue. Cocktail arcade games set a different mood.

Frogger arcade controls Player 1's view. This cocktail Frogger game was situated in the front of the arcade by a large window. This glare was constant during daylight hours. This is clearly a nighttime setup :)
Frogger arcade controls Player 2's view. It was a bit unnerving to sit on the back side and have only a joystick. I felt naked without a fire button of some kind.

Cocktail Tempest & Pizza

My favorite one was in a pizza restaurant where my buddy and I would each get a few slices & sodas and precariously rest our meals just outside the viewable screen area of Tempest. We would sit there for an hour dropping quarters and eating - alternating playing. The owners seemed content to have us dine off the Tempest's glass top.

Frogger arcade screen The unique spinner control had a heft to it and spun like greased lightning as your Blaster seemingly danced across each vector shape. It was a break-through machine and our eat & play routine was an epic part of that Summer. This was during the summers about 30 years ago, so it's been a while since I found a cocktail arcade game in my travels.

As luck would have it a local arcade has been slowly expanding their retro games and my son and I discovered they had a cocktail style Frogger! Konami has done a great job in keeping Frogger relevant on consoles, mobile, and arcades over the years. My son recognized it immediately and we sat down to "play in traffic".

Even though I routinely sit in front of the TV to play video games, I had forgotten how wonderful that experience is with a cocktail arcade game - especially with a classic like Frogger. If you feel as though your home is inundated with video games - and why would you ever leave that - seek out an arcade.... You may likely find a completely different gaming experience.

It always feels good to step into an arcade.

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