Saturday, December 23, 2023

RIP DoctorC

    Hello friends, I'm sorry to have to make this post, but my friend DoctorC has passed away this week. Today is his birthday. DoctorC was a great friend and a great player. He helped start this website all those years ago. When we first set out to discover where all the arcades went, DoctorC went on all of our early missions, that first trip to California Extreme where we met Walter Day from Twin Galaxies and Seth and Michelle from 8 Bit Weapon/ComputeHer, going to SouthTown Arcade for the Final KOF XIII tournament the weekend before it was released to console, various flea markets, including some wild goose chases to arcades that were rumored to be around, especially trying to track down KOF XIII machines in California. 

It is safe to say that arcades are no longer "dead" and we definitely found them, but those first years of searching for them were pretty unforgettable and DoctorC was an integral part of that dream. So many ridiculous times and memories with the Doctor. All the inside jokes that only DoctorC would get...Spiderman serving balloons at the flea market, wolverine and all his little cronies, the game cave, a whole new world... I GOT MORE JACKETS. Just total shenanigans. DoctorC inspired me to learn Tekken again after humiliating me at Brooklyns' house that one time (I never got that rematch). He was an Asuka main and just a totally amazing player. 

DoctorC on the Cyber Lead

DoctorC vs BBZ

I'll miss you brother, happy birthday friend and rest in peace.

Sunday, March 3, 2019

Coin-Op Game Room Sacramento

So I went to a barcade in Sacramento, California recently. By recently I mean almost a year ago.

We went up to Sacramento to see Slayer on their "final tour" in 2018. Before the show we stopped in at the Coin-op Game Room. Here's some pictures:

Entrance and outdoor drinking/smoking area.

They have monthly IFPA pinball tournaments.

Love these change machines, but which one do I like more?

Lot's of places to sit.

Some good classics, TRON wasn't working :(

They have a 10-player Killer Queen.
The building is pretty big, they had cool stuff on the walls on the way to the restrooms.

House pinball rules.

Lot's of good pins in great working order!

Houdini, I'd never seen this one in the wild before. I like the playfield art.

They have a beat up SFII. It's crazy how weird octagonal gates on fighting games feel to me now. Love it.

Great mural outside.

So this arcade has a pretty good atmosphere in the daytime, I really wanted to go back for the IFPA tournaments, but it's pretty far from where I live (90 miles) so I never got around to it. No cover charge, you don't have to drink to play, but you do have to be 21. 

Great modern pinball selection and awesome hours. They open at noon on weekends and 4PM on weekdays, open till 2am every night!
Last sunday of every month they have the games set on free play (not sure if this applies to pinball, I'd be surprised).

It's worth checking out if you are in the capital.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Retrovolt Arcade

     Welcome back arcade lovers! This time around we are going to take a look at a newish arcade in Calimesa, California... the Retrovolt Arcade! Retrovolt opened it's Calimesa location in 2017 and I got a chance to give it a visit on my recent SoCal vacation.

Retrovolt Arcade

     Retrovolt uses a pay by the hour with games set on free play model, I paid for an hour for $10.
I knew that I was really going to like this arcade immediately, when I walked in on a blazing hot December day, it was dark and well ventilated with fans and tinted windows. Siouxsie and the Banshees Happy House was playing on the stereo! In fact, the music selection was amazing the whole time I was there, it was all good songs from the 70s/80s. They had the whole arcade done up with Christmas lights for the holidays. The atmosphere of this arcade cannot be oversold, it was incredibly comforting to be there and enjoy some arcade goodness, I'm sure it is even nicer at night.

This Nintendo Popeye cab looks really good ^^
Nice layout and neons
They have a Neo Geo Gold

Haven't seen one of these in a while, 4 player Gauntlet.

I love this Rolling Thunder cab ^^
WHO dunnit...I spent some time with this machine, I'd never seen one before (it's good).
Pac-Man Pinball. I love the soft glow of those lamps in the pop bumpers

     Such a nice arcade, I wish I would have had more time to hang out, but an hour visit was still very good. They had a few questionable things going on, like the multicart in the Neo-Geo red 2 slot (eww) and some of the video games had LCD monitors, I'm sure most people wouldn't notice or care, but I found it a little off I wanted to play Karate Champ, but I couldn't bring myself to play it like that..why I don't know. I'm sure having the games always set to having credits on them would cause massive burn in problems on CRT monitors since the attract mode isn't running, maybe that's why they have LCDs in some games.

    My final rating for this arcade is an A+++. I really loved this arcade and you should go check it out if you are anywhere nearby.

Retrovolt is open Thurs-Sun

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.

Discuss this topic on the forums!