Thursday, June 05, 2008

Time to Pac Man

Any of you ever been up to Lake Geneva? Right off the lake is one of the last of the classic game rooms. You go in there and it's back to the 80's. Asteroids, Tron, Defender, Pole Position, Missile Command, Moon Patrol, Red Baron, Battle Zone. They're all there.

Not for much longer:

Come September, when the tourists head home and school begins, this dimly lit room, awash in garish blinking Day-Glo— boasting machines so authentic they still bear the cigarette burns of 1982—will go silent. Donkey Kong will lay down his barrels, and Ms. Pac-Man will cease to chomp. And Gameland, a block from the lake, a charming staple of Chicago day-trip culture since it opened in 1944, will close for the season, and for the last time. So go now. The machines will be auctioned off. The plugs pulled. Its demise was inevitable. Its problems are the problems of any arcade—the rise of the Xbox, old machines, big electric bills, an overwhelming lack of youthful interest—and its lonesome decline more prolonged than a bad actor's death scene.

Very sad. While there are still ways to play the old games today (on a PC or on a home made cabinet), nothing beats taking turns standing up in front of a tilted TV screen trying to get the track ball to line up the cursor and blast a smart bomb.

I guess this is the downside of aging. Well, this and death. Dying I can deal with. But no more Zaxxon, Frenzy and Rally X? I guess it's MAME from here on out.

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