Those Were The Good Ol' Days -- Now Get Off My Lawn, Young Whippersnapper
Like pretty much everybody in this forum thread, I feel old. The discussion topic? "What were arcades like?", started by a kid who's never seen one. I just spent far too much time reading all 18 pages of that thread, taking a trip down memory lane.
I don't know how many dollars in quarters I blew playing arcade games growing up, but I'm sure if I had all those quarters back today, it'd probably make a mortgage payment or two or seven. It first started when the old pizza place in Sunriver that's now where Blondie's is put in a few arcade games (can't remember the name of the place for the life of me). I remember being about 10 years old (at most), riding my bike into Sunriver (we lived about five miles south of Sunriver then) and folding pizza boxes for the lady that ran the place. After making boxes, she'd give us some quarters that we'd go blow on the machines. There were only a couple games there, but one of them was one of those old Nintendo systems that had two games attached to each other in one upright system -- one was Super Mario Bros. and the other was Nintendo Baseball. We didn't have an NES back then, so I played Super Mario Bros. like crazy.
Then a year or so later, a small stand-alone arcade opened up in the Village Mall with more mainstream games that were update frequently, along with a few pinball machines (my personal favorites). When I was little, that area seemed so huge with what seemed like hundreds of games. Now I look at it (as it's a storage space now, just down from my office) and it's tiny -- maybe 20 games, tops. Just the same, I spent a ton of time there until we moved into Bend when I was 12.
In Bend, I always tried to hit up the Aladdin's Castle in the Bend River Mall, and the arcades that appeared off-and-on at the Mountain View Mall (Spaceballs is the only one I can remember off the top of my head, but I know there were others). I remember there being a bunch of arcade games at the Deschutes Station (I think it was called) in the building which is now an auto parts store by Wal-Mart (went to a lot of birthday parties there).
Now, you can't hardly find a good arcade. Sunriver still has a small arcade in the mall, I don't know of one in Bend other than at the bowling alleys, and they're mostly emphasizing ticket-generating games to get prizes (though Sun Mountain does have a few old-school Atari arcade games which is pretty sweet). I don't play them much anymore (since I'm married, have kids, and subsequently, never have money), but I'll try to sneak in some pinball now and again.
OK, I'll quit day-dreaming here. So I leave it to you, dear readers: Did you spend far too much time on in the arcades, or am I the only one?
Update: If you had the money, it looks like Michael Jackson has a good collection or arcade classics that he's getting rid of.