This past weekend I put on my Playstation VR helmet and played Crisis On The Planet of The Apes. For several hours I navigated my way down hallways at a military science facility as an ape shooting soldiers and helicopters. It was great fun, but let's be honest this was not the making of lifelong memories.
Sure, the technology might be pretty impressive these days, but it doesn't compare to the video games of my youth. Being 12 years old with my friends down at the local Timezone on a Sunday morning at a lock-in session playing the latest and greatest arcade games. The bright lights flashing before my eyes, the long wait for the Ninja Turtles machine to be available, and the minor frustration of knowing I had to pay extra to play a game that might result in some tickets that can be traded in for toys at the counter.
It doesn't matter how sophisticated gaming is today - the greatest video games of all time were there to be played at Timezone in Modbury, SA, in 1992. This is an absolute fact and there is no debating it.
The greatest game of all-time
Based on the pop culture juggernaut, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles let you play alongside with three other friends with some serious Turtle Power. The arcade game was released in 1989 and ruled Timezone for years to follow. Sure, there was the TMNT game available on Nintendo, but it wasn't the same or as good as the real thing that required coin after coin to be pumped into it.
Pro tip: Playing as Donatello was always the sweetest as he has the long staff to pick up enemies with at a distance.
Bubble Bobble wasn't the coolest game. I know this because while there was a queue for Street Fighter 2 from the second we all piled into a lock-in sesh, it was always guaranteed that I could walk up and play some Bubble Bobble.
The too-popular upstart
In the final months of my interest in playing arcade games, Street Fighter 2 became the bees knees of the arcade. And I'll be honest, I could never be bothered learning the button combos required to pull off the kick-ass moves in the game. My reliable character of choice was always Chun-Li - with her long legs and spunky attitude, I was always able to get by without too much of a need to hold left, then a quick right, followed by the punch button to make Blanka do something cool (re: a sweet rolling attack).
The cheap cash in
It was the early 90s and if you are going to put The Simpsons on some merchandise, we were going to buy it and proudly wear it. So in 1991 when The Simpsons Arcade Game was rolled into my local Timezone, it had our attention. Because we were dumb kids, we never cottoned on to the fact that the game was practically exactly the same as the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle game we'd been playing happily until then.
The game I could just play at home
I spent so much time playing Smash TV in the arcade despite the fact I had the same game on my NES at home. The game was obviously inspired by the Arnold Schwarzenegger film The Running Man and the commercialism satire of the 1987 Robocop film. Despite being just ten years-old when I first played the game, I got the references immediately. Back then parents weren't concerned at all with their kids renting out ultra violent movies from the video store. It was a glorious time to be a child.
Relive the joy of the video game arcade on SBS VICELAND Thursday night at 9pm with The Lost Arcade - a documentary exploring the social world of video game arcades. You can also watch the doco anytime at SBS On Demand: