Friday, August 9, 2013

Tekken Tag Tournament 2 Global Arcade Championships

Namco is sponsoring a really big Tekken Tag Tournament 2 competition with some insane prizes. This competition is ARCADE ONLY, for a welcome change!

Qualifiers are being held in various arcades around the world, with the one or two winners from each country being flown to Korea to compete in a country vs country world tournament and a $10,000 grand prize.

For USA:
The tournament qualifiers are being held at the Puente Hills Round 1 in SoCal.
Hella details on the USA qualifier HERE.
I was just at (Moreno Valley) Round 1 at the beginning of the summer. When I went for the second group of visits, the arcade was re-arranged and they had some new games. One of them was Tekken Tag Tournament 2 Unlimited. Not only did this machine have a working Bana Passport reader, with cards available to buy at the counter, but it was also set on free play for some reason.

It was probably a mistake of some sort, but I'd like to think that they secretly set random games on free play every once in a while for fun (I would). When I came back the next day, free play was not set. We got to play tons of TTT2 during that last set of visits. So, long story short, I fully caught Tekken fever. I haven't really played any Tekken games since Tekken 4 and I had no plans to buy the PS3 version of any Tekken game. Thanks to the arcade, I went out and picked up TTT2 and Tekken 6 for PS3. It just shows that arcades are important in driving console sales (duh).

I think it's a super rad move that Namco is hosting an arcade only tournament. I've heard some people complaining about it, but seriously, console tournaments are a dime a dozen. Arcades need to have some special love. Thank you Namco!

Namco posted the tourney news on the Tekken-net, but I heard about it on the Avoiding the Puddle show.
If you care at all about Tekken, fighting games in general, or arcades you should definitely check it out. It's pretty super.

The World finals are going to be held on October 26th 2013 in Korea. Cafeid is going to be streaming the event on their channel.
Good luck!

Friday, May 10, 2013

Discovering the Lost Ark

According to, the average price of a new car in 1983 was $6,100. Thirty years later in 2013, it's $30,000. Despite the fact that inflation drives prices higher every single year, for some reason people still associate playing arcade games with a single quarter. In today's economy it is almost impossible for quarter-based machines to be profitable; in an attempt to survive in today's marketplace, arcades have been forced to evolve and adopt new business models. There's the "pay a single fee and play all day" model which has been successfully implemented by the 1984 Arcade and Arkadia Retrocade. There are places like Dave and Busters and Gattitown that lure you in with games and make their profits from food and drink. Another model involves combining arcade machines with console video game sales. Nashville-based Game Galaxy has been successfully doing this for years. Another retro arcade that has implemented this business model is Lost Ark Video Games in Greensboro, North Carolina.

What catches your eye first most likely depends on what you're in to the most. The center of the floor is filled with racks of video game cartridges, with everything from Atari 2600 carts to Xbox 360 games lining the shelves. In a large glass case near the entrance is the shop's museum area. You can practically smell the nostalgia dripping off of the boxed Atari 2600 games.

Pushed out against the exterior walls are the Ark's cabinets -- 10 classic arcade games, 10 Japanese-style candy cabs, and 10 pinball tables for a total of 30 machines.

Of the ten classic arcade games that were up and running, I only saw one (X-Men) being played. A couple of the machines (including the 60-in-1 machine) had monitors so dim as to be borderline unplayable. Many of the machines featured on the Lost Ark's website were not on site when I visited. Like many arcades, non-working machines are often swapped in and out of service for working ones.

Unlike the vintage machines, the store's candy cabs were bustling with activity.

The candy cabs consisted of fighting games and SHMUPs and were busy all day. The Lost Ark is only a token's throw from the local college, and I suspect it has become a popular hangout for students. I know if I lived anywhere nearby, I would be a frequent Ark patron.

Last up were the store's pinball tables, and what a collection of tables it was.

Tron. AC/DC. Whirlwind. Earth Shaker. Dirty Harry. Family Guy. X-Men. Iron Man. The list (and row of machines) went on and on. While I consider myself to be an "arcade" guy, the Lost Ark's selection of pinball tables is outstanding -- phenomenal, even. While I don't consider myself to be a huge fan of pinball, between the flippers is where I spent most of my tokens. I particularly enjoyed the range in games, with tables spanning at least 25 years in age. I came for the arcade machines and stayed for the pinball; for me, that's definitely saying something.

Smaller in scale than many of the other modern retro-themed arcades I don't know that the Lost Ark has enough draw to warrant out of state gamers in; that being said, every retro gamer in the triad area or simply passing through North Carolina on I-40 should make an effort to stop by. Whether you're in to classic arcade games, modern fighters, pinball action or console games from every generation, you may find what you are looking for at the Lost Ark.

(Rob O'Hara is the author of the arcade-themed book Invading Spaces: A Beginner's Guide to Collecting Arcade Games and the host of the popular retro-themed podcast You Don't Know Flack.)

Tuesday, March 12, 2013


Ahoy! This time around we're going to talk about BlackBeards! BlackBeards has a very special place in my heart. A true 80s arcade that is still standing, I used to go here all the time as a kid (in the 80s). The arcade is set up to look like the inside of a pirate ship and it does a good job of it, with skulls, jewelry, chandeliers, and pirate flags everywhere.

In the 80s it was a long hallway lined with classics, flanked by another level on each side, filled with more classics and pins. Another BIG room off to the side housed even more games. I'm not sure how it happened, but I was under the impression that BlackBeards was long gone. Surprisingly, it is still around in Fresno, CA.

It has changed obviously, but the layout is still familiar. It was pretty amazing seeing it again and climbing the stairs to the upper levels once more. I couldn't find Strider, but there were some other games worth playing in attendance. Here's the pictures then.

When you first walk in, a little alcove to the right with the name 'Gasoline Alley' holds some racing games.
Including a Hang-On!

Gasoline Alley

Gasoline Alley pins

Some guns an boxers.

Part of the main hallway.

Some pins and a Centipede on one of the upper levels.


A loud DDR Extreme, notice the working ceiling fan.

In the Groove 2 on the other side of the DDRx. Two working fans.

A Banpresto prize machine! Too bad the prizes are garbage though.

A long shot of the right side upper deck, this is where my Strider machine was....crazily, there are like 5 photobooth machines here now.

A cute little multi-cab with the ugliest marquee I've ever seen.

More crane machines than anybody could possibly need are now here in BlackBeards. In contrast to the zero cranes on my last visit.

You got your Stacker, taking up too much room as usual.

The next room over has some more games and a big ol' ride in the middle of the room.

This little guy is sitting awkwardly by the stairs for some reason.

Some good stuff mixed with some bad stuff. Do you see the Puzzle Fighter II?

MVC2 and CVS2 seemed pretty popular that day.

More pins shoved in the corner. Theatre of Magic is working great. This area could use a fan though!

Out back, a creepy kid ride from the days of yore. I was happy to see this guy.

BlackBeards has a lot going for it, an interesting style and layout make it a memorable arcade. There are other things to do there if you're so inclined, mini-golf, paintball, waterslides?, batting cages, etc etc etc.

The arcade isn't nearly as glorious as it once was, but it still has quite a bit of charm. They have a large amount of pinball, but except for two or three tables, they are all suffering from neglect. A few simple repairs to get them all running smoothly again would do wonders for the pinball in this arcade. Everything else seemed to be in good working order.

In my opinion, the insane amount of UFO catchers, redemption, coin pushers, and photobooths, should be scaled back to make room for other (better) stuff as well.

In any case, I was thrilled to see one of my favorite childhood arcade hangouts still around. If you are close to Fresno, go check it out.

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Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Round 1 Moreno Valley

2012 saw a second Round 1 opening in California, this time in the Moreno Valley Mall. We decided to go check it out. Having just opened in September, it has a kind of a "new arcade" feel to it. I think it still has room to grow.

When you first enter the mall, a fancy sign greets you.

It's a pretty large presence.

Dark Escape 4D. A fun shooter, but it's $2.00 a game. It's loud and nice looking though.

Dark Escape 4D side view.

The famous Round 1 UFO catchers take up massive amounts of floor space.

A good mix of new and old fighters running on modern HD candies.
A pair of working DJMax Technika 3's, with working card readers.
Round 1 has a Pop'n Music Fantasia! Super fun!
Pop'n Music Fantasia sits between the Technika 3's and a employees only door that seems to have heavy traffic.
A Blast City and a New Net City stand proudly near the modern candy section.
A wild ReRave appears! I personally think (the cabinet) looks a bit silly, but it was loud at least!
Dance Dance Revolution X2
Pump It Up Fiesta 2 - They had the volume up to 11 on this one ^^
Lots of deluxe ticket games are around waiting to take all your credits. Here is a Bejeweled.
I don't know what this is, but it looks crazy. I think it's a pachinko type game.
Some Skee Ball
Winners Cube
Private Karaoke rooms make up the back wall of the arcade, near the Bemani/music game section.
A giant Purikura booth sits near the entrance.
This Round 1 sports an entire room for ticket prizes. GOOD prizes abound, making the ticket games tolerable.
A Pac-Man Battle Royale! Not quite as fun as I'd hoped, but it still looks impressive.
The mandatory Initial D racers. (they had lot's of racing games)
Some Dead Heat I think...
doodle jump........I have no idea.
KOF XIII (arcade, not climax) is in the house.
Some older favorites are lurking about; Let's Go Island 3D.

Overall it's a nice arcade and we had a great time during both visits. I finally figured out the pricing system and I'm not sure why I was confused before as it's pretty simple. It is possible to spend quite a bit of time in this arcade without spending very much money if you have any skills at all and stay away from the ticket games. If you come with the kids, better be ready to drop some funds though.

When you go, I'd recommend staying away from the unlimited credits for an hour pricing deal, the games that are set for unlimited play (green swipers) are games that don't cost much and take a good deal of time to play anyways if you are any good.

This arcade is a winner and I will certainly be back. If you are in Southern California, do yourself a favor and pop in for awhile. Now if only Round 1 would open some of these up north more....

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