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Pacific Novelties

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DD/MM Unknown, 2000 : Game Room, Southwest Australia [Oct. 23rd, 2008|08:29 am]
Pacific Novelties


In early 2000, I took a short road trip through southwest Australia. Along with absolutely beautiful shoreline and some of the best weather I've experienced in my life, I found an odd, wonderful little treasure: an arcade game room.

It was a small room attached to the side of a diner, I think. All the games were switched off, and it was clear that no one had been into the room for quite some time.

Pictured: Delta Race (a bootleg of Omega Race) (1981), unknown game, Snow Bros (1990), Wonder Boy (1986)

Point of interest: For being a bootleg, that Delta Race cabinet is lovely. I'd never heard of a bootleg sit-down cabinet, either. The points where any resemblance to the original have been concealed are pretty seamless.

Pictured: Special Force (1986), Star Wars (1983), a Neo Geo MVS (ca. 1989), Vindicators (1988)

Point of interest: It seemed strange that a game room that no one ever used would have not one but two sit-down cabinets in such beautiful condition, especially alongside so many bootleg / generic cabinets. I think this is the only shot in which all the games pictured are (apparently) originals.

Pictured: Operation Wolf (1987), Galaxy (Stern, 1980), Arch Rivals (1989)

Point of interest: Two pinball machines so far—neither one of them are particularly classic or anything special, play-wise, but pinball is pinball and these machines were also in fantastic shape. Which presents another mystery: pinball machines are a pain in the ass to maintain. Why are they even here?

Pictured: Special Force (1986), Star Wars (1983), a Neo Geo MVS (ca. 1989), Vindicators (1988)

Points of interest: The same machines as the second photo above, just from a different angle. I think the sun was just coming up. This was way before digital cameras were cheap and ubiquitous; these were taken on real film and I had to make my shots count. The girl I was traveling with would only allow me so many photos of switched-off arcade machines, since we were there to see the scenery and such. Fair enough.

You can see that one of the games in the MVS is Nam-1975 (1990).

Pictured: Arch Rivals (1989), Duke (see below), Rolling Thunder (1986), Rygar (1986), Mortal Kombat II (1993)

Points of interest: I have no idea what Duke was; based on the war theme of the generic marquee, I'm guessing it's Dynamite Duke (1989), but of course I'll never have any way of knowing for sure.

Interesting that Rolling Thunder (one of my all-time favorite arcade games, and a damn shame it wasn't turned on [not like I haven't played it a million times, but you know how it is when you find a favorite in the wild]) and Mortal Kombat II are in generic cabinets but have their original marquees.

The generic Rygar marquee has a kangaroo on it, and that's awesome.

Non-Australian readers might be interested in the coinage used to buy a credit:

A game costs three twenty-cent pieces rather than a good ol' quarter.

[User Picture]From: drakee
2008-10-23 05:27 pm (UTC)
Very fascinating, thanks for sharing.
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[User Picture]From: zartan
2008-10-23 07:03 pm (UTC)
Nope! And the twenty-cent piece has a platypus on it!
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[User Picture]From: revbrandon
2008-10-23 07:25 pm (UTC)
Thank you for this. I always love seeing old game rooms like this, especially when they look like they haven't been touched for a decade and change.

There's this show, Game Center CX, that you may have heard of, and the host often goes out to little places like this, barely-used and barely-maintained game rooms still existing in hot springs and hotels or on the roofs of department stores. There the host, Arino, gets excited seeing all these games he hadn't even thought about in ten or twenty years, then going about being stymied by the redemption games until eventually winning and having the machine snake him out of his prize. To a dork like me, it's fascinating and a little bittersweet - a little slice of my wasted childhood at arcades next to laundromats, in waterparks and movie theatres, all of which with that fucking Ninja Gaiden arcade game that is awful but has that game over sequence seared into every kid who has ever played the game's memory permanently, places that have disappeared and have long since been replaced by liquor stores and printing shops and parking lots.
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[User Picture]From: zartan
2008-10-23 07:35 pm (UTC)
I'd heard of Game Center CX, but I've never seen it and I'd somehow conflated it with that Japanese show about the man who sits in a room and, armed only with somewhat average skill, hammers his way through hard-ass old NES games.

Anyway. That show sounds absolutely fantastic. And what you're saying there, about laundromats and waterparks and movie theatres, is a big part of why I found this game room so magical: there was a time that you could find coin-ops just about anywhere, regardless of context; if a shopkeeper had a few unused square feet, well hell, why not plunk an Express Raider or Krull or whatever in there and monetize the space. Most of my one-time encounters with really obscure coin-ops were not in proper arcades, but corners and side rooms like these.

Looking at these photos again and replaying the memories, I'm now wondering if these aren't the proprietor's private collection and he had more room for them in his diner than in his home. It would explain their good condition, the somewhat eclectic selection, and the fact that they're all powered down.
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[User Picture]From: revbrandon
2008-10-23 07:51 pm (UTC)
It's actually the same show. They made an excellent little DS game based on it, full of NES-style minigames year or so ago. The main attraction is compelling, but I really enjoy the other segments where he talks to famous game designers (or unknown designers who worked on a famous games), guys with absurdly huge Famicom collections, going to giant Akihabara retrogame shops, and, as I mentioned, going to arcades and run-down little game rooms. It's a wonderful program, for sure.

I think even more than playing the games at these places, I can remember staring longingly at the attract modes as my parents went about their business elsewhere in the store. They figured I had enough video games at home that they shouldn't have to give me any change to play the Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom machine at the 7-11; bah, what did they know?
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[User Picture]From: griphus
2008-10-24 03:58 am (UTC)
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[User Picture]From: revbrandon
2008-10-24 07:46 am (UTC)
Yeah, I'm pretty stoked to finally be able to finally play the RPG segment without trying to fumble my way through it with trial and error and a Japanese-English dictionary when that inevitably gets me hopelessly lost.
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