Family Arcade in Los Angeles- an institution since 1971… Remodeling and reopening it’s doors this month!

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I love arcade stories… I mean, that’s what I started the Archives for. But- when this popped up on my Facebook feed, I had to share. Harry & David Peck, brothers from Boyle Heights, CA had a dream to open an arcade. They have been in the arcade business since 1971. They have seen the highs and lows of this industry. In August of last year, a fire damaged a portion of the building- Fortunately from what I can tell, no one was hurt, and a majority of the games were spared. What makes this even more important, is it’s considered to be the oldest active game center in Los Angeles. The good news- they are about to reopen after a lengthy remodel! As sad as it is to loose a piece of arcade history, it’s amazing to see one not only survive 49 years, but to reopen- better than ever! So, in honor of this amazing arcade- I thought I would show pics of the past- and future!

And as a extra treat- let’s do a walkthrough, shall we?

Thanks to Arcade Crainiacs for the video.

Once I get the Video Arcade Raiders together- this might have to be a destination!!!

Hey Arcaders- give this great establishment some love and go visit them yourselves if you happen to be in the Los Angeles area!!!

Oh man- it’s down the street from a Jack in the Box!!!

870 N. Vermont Ave. (2,189.58 miles from me)
Los Angeles, California 90029

Get Directions

Have you ever been to Family Arcade? Do you have any cool stories to tell? Leave a comment below!

Keep Playin’ Like It’s 1981!

Homebrew Spotlight#1- Dragon’s Lair For The TI-99/4A!

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Hey Arcaders!

Raygunn here with a new series I know your gonna get a kick out of- HOMEBREW SPOTLIGHT!

I know what most of you are asking- Raygunn- whats a homebrew? That’s easy to explain. Homebrew is a term frequently applied to video games or other software produced by consumers to target proprietary hardware platforms (usually with hardware restrictions) that are not typically user-programmable or that use proprietary storage methods Wikipedia. Homebrewing has been popular for almost two decades now due to the resurgence in the classic game consoles of the first through third generations especially.

So, now that we got that out of the way, why don’t we take a look at our first home brew to spotlight- Dragon’s Lair for the TI-99/4A! First- let’s go over the machine specs!

Texas Instruments TI-99/4A
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Type Home computer
Release date June 1981
Introductory price US$525 (equivalent to $1,447 in 2018)
Discontinued March 1984
Media
  • ROM cartridge
  • cassette
  • floppy disk
Operating system TI BASIC
CPU TMS9900 @ 3 MHz
Memory 16 KB RAM
256 bytes scratchpad RAM
Graphics TMS9918A
Predecessor TI-99/4

-Wikipedia.

Now- to create a home port (that’s the term used to describe a game created for the console during its original life cycle) of Dragon’s Lair back in 1983 would have been impossible. The were no means to create the video files in a way that would have worked without a laserdisc player.

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Even the amazing Coleco Adam port had to be altered because of the hardware limitations.

But… Fast forward about 35 YEARS- and behold- this little jem appears on the YouTubes and I have to share- thus the nexus of a new article series!

Now- THIS GAME truly defines a homebrew! An actual, playable version of an arcade classic on a system that it wasn’t truly meant to be played on! But, given the time we live in- with advancements in software and hardware technology, and the talented people who want to bring their favorite (and ours!) childhood arcade games home- or even… IMPROVE THEM! Yes, we will even see that in this series!

So- keep an eye out for more Homebrew Spotlight articles- where I’ll even try these amazing games- and give em’ a review- to see if they are worth a purchase for your classic console!

Hang on- this is going to be a fun ride! And if you know of any homebrew games you would like to review- leave me a comment below!

Thanks gang!

and-
Keep Playin’ Like It’s 1981!

Raygunn

New Pac – Man Fever E -Book on Amazon Comes With A Totally Awesome Bonus- Check It Out!!!

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Hey Arcaders!!

My good Facebook Friend and arcade anthem LEGEND Jerry Buckner posted on his page yesterday…

Jerry with book

about a project he had been collaborating on with Mike Stewart  for some time now, That was just released on Amazon’s Kindle E-Book service. The Amazon Page states-

“If you’re a child of the early 1980s it is likely that you were consumed by the ubiquitous Pac-Man video games that seemed to be everywhere at the time.

The game not only spawned a worldwide craze but a million-selling gold record for the Buckner & Garcia duo called “Pac-Man Fever”.

In so many ways, “Pac-Man Fever” became the soundtrack for an era and the unofficial theme song of one of the most popular video games in history. This book captures the story of that song and history that led it to be the unlikely smash hit of 1982.

This eBook is specifically designed for fans of the song, the Pac-Man game, and the 1980s. The stories in the book were derived primarily from interviews and conversations with Jerry Buckner.

Not only will you read about the history of the music but we’ve included exclusive and extended Pac-Man Fever downloadable tracks of the song (including a karaoke version) as well as sheet music. Also included are never before seen behind the scenes photos and links to videos and other exclusive multimedia content.

Get the story behind the unlikely ’80’s hit that defined a worldwide craze in an exclusive digital music e-book commemorating the 40-anniversary of the Pac Man video game.

This is a digital music ebook which means you get…

* DOWNLOADS! Exclusive Pac-Man Fever music from the original album including Pac-Man Fever, Froggy’s Lament, Ode to a Centipede, Do the Donkey Kong, Hyperspace, The Defender, Mousetrap, Goin’ Berzerk, Country version of Pac-Man Fever… it’s never sounded so good!

* KARAOKE! You also get the karaoke version plus lyrics so you’re ready to perform!

* SHEET MUSIC! Get your band together to play Pac-Man Fever!

* BEHIND THE SCENES! Get exclusive video content behind the scenes and how the song became the anthem for one of the most popular video games in history

* SUPER-FAN! Get the inside story of how Pac-Man Fever became a worldwide hit a 80’s pop-culture fixture

If you want to enjoy and re-live music from the 1980’s, have fun singing Pac-Man Fever karaoke, and/or play Pac-Man Fever with your band… then this is the most important digital music e-book you’ll ever purchase!

Now is the best time to enjoy nostalgic music from the 1980’s! – Order Now!”

So- You get history of the making of the arcade anthem of my generation, AND… THE PAC MAN FEVER ALBUM on MP3 to boot!!!

Great Job, Jerry!!!

I’ll pick it up this weekend and do a review in the next few weeks!

And at only $4.99- that’s a bargain for everything you get !!!

Click HERE to go to the Amazon page and get yours TODAY!!!

Coin Up Review Of Astro Fighter!

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Hello Arcaders!

Welcome to the latest issue of COIN UP! This is the review series where I go back in time and review those arcade games of the past that you probably remember or or have a memory vaguely playing at the local arcade- the game tucked away in a corner while you’re waiting for your turn at Dragon’s Lair. If you have a favorite game you would like to see in a review- let me know in the comments section below! This beauty will be a part of our Shmup series!

Wait- what’s a Shmup? Good question! It’s a shortened name for Shoot Em’ Up- a genre of game that involved a space fighter or jet moving in a direction (or all, as we’ll see later in this series!!!) Shooting enemies who move in a pattern (or random as well…) trying to shoot you down. My favorites tend to be space shmups (or space shooters!) And this one is at the top of my list!

 

AF-logois a space shooter that was designed (and their first game by the way) by Data East. The game was released in 1980 by Data East in Asia and Europe and by Gremlin Sega in the U.S.

With the success of games like Space Invaders and Galaxian, a fledgling Data East wanted in on the action. This would be the game that would break them into the U.S.- and the world.

 

 

 


Astro Fighter was always one of those visceral favorites of mine- meaning when you even look at the game, those familiar smells, and yes, tastes of that bygone era come flooding into my head again.
It was 1980. We had a little Mom and Pop Deli up the road from our house. I rode my bike there every chance I got. If my Mom needed ANYTHING from the store, I was on it! The reason- they had a 5 piece arcade in the back! They had this game- I could play for hours! We always needed bread at home- Mom would give me $2.00 for a loaf of bread that cost .60! So, I could get a Twix bar, (or a Whatchamacallit, before they put caramel in them, by the way!) a Nehi Grape, and enough for a game or two! So, every time I play this game, it just takes me back!

Remember- this game came out in 1980- at the height of Space Invaders and Galaxian’s popularity. So at it’s core, it plays the same. But- it has so much more going for it! Let’s go over the game’s instructions for a moment-

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The first thing you will notice- you have a fuel gauge! Now- it’s not just about stopping them from reaching the bottom (which you have to do… but more on that in a moment…) you are quickly running out of fuel. The enemy groups are moving down towards the bottom of the screen. If they get there… they REAPPEAR at the top! IN FULL FORMATION! That’s right- you may have gotten a few of them. but if EVEN ONE gets to the bottom- the ENTIRE FORMATION is back. And- to make it a bit more difficult- you move up the screen a little. AND YOUR FUEL GAUGE IS STILL GOING DOWN! Reach The Master ship to refuel (and score a nice bonus) to start again!

Let’s look at the the opponents in this galactic war, shall we?

rocketThis is your ship- the Astro Fighter! She’s fast- but with a quickly dwindling fuel supply, and a single blaster to shoot down the enemies, do you have what it takes to survive?

gauges

This is your ships gauges- it will tell you everything you need to know at a glance. Ships remaining, sector you’re in, and your fuel is displayed.

The first wave of enemies the player faces are blue ships that stay in a small formation, moving from side to side, then occasionally dropping down a notch.

The second wave of ships are purple, which behave in pretty much the same manner, although their formation covers a much wider area, spanning across almost the entire width of the screen.

The green ships afterwards (which somewhat resemble T. I. E. Fighters from the Star Wars movies) fly at a diagonal, reverse direction, then fly at a diagonal again.

The final round of yellow ships only occupy a few vertical rows that move straight down. These are the easiest to hit- fire away!

Watch out for comets! They randomly fly down the screen. Shoot them for a bonus! There tons of them!


At the very end of each level is the GS MASTER ship, which is at the top of the screen and moves from side to side. It can shoot in ANY DIRECTION and it’s very fast- moving from left to right at the top of the screen! Hit the center to destroy it and get it’s fuel for a bonus, and to continue the fight!

SEQUELS-AND-SPINOFFS

Look at this- a new tag! It’s because Astro Fighter is our first game with sequels! That being said- things are about to get… interesting. that’s because there wasn’t one- but TWO SEQUELS to Astro Fighter! Remember how I said there were two companies involved with Astro Fighter? Now- this wasn’t a unusual arrangement- companies like Namco, Tekahn, and Konami did this all the time. It’s 1979- you are a big Japanese arcade company- kicking major butt in Japan with some great killer arcade games. The problem is- you have no american plants for manufacturing and distribution- losing out on a HUGE market. You read about U.S. companies like Atari, Midway, and Centuri who is rocking it with their own games- but HAVING THE SAME PROBLEM- no distribution in Japan. So, you reach out to the american manufacturer to come to an agreement- Distribute OUR games in western markets- we will distribute in the east. It always works out for us- the Arcader. If they hadn’t- we wouldn’t have had seen games like PAC-MAN, Swimmer, and Scramble.

Well, that’s what happened here. Data East had created the game. Sega became the distributor in the western markets. The game did well enough in the U.S. that Sega wanted a sequel. Not a problem! in early 1981- Data East had completed a sequel- Super Astro Fighter.

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There were a couple of problems with this sequel.

One was Data East decided to release Super Astro Fighter on their DECO cassette system- the games were put on a micro cassette- that transferred the game data to the game PCB. It was a great concept that unfortunately had two problems- as the cassette got older, the data would corrupt- making it impossible to load- the other was the load times at power up were LONG. Up to three minutes. To a U.S. distributor- this was no good. Bally had distributed Burgertime from Data East. the first few thousand had the DECO system. Distributors HATED it! Bally quickly took the games data, and but it on a rom, and used one of their own PCBs for the game- so if you have an ORIGINAL DECO cassette Burgertime cabinet- consider yourself lucky. Most were converted to the PCB version. Super Astro Fighter a sequel- meh. It’s more of the same game wise. Some enemy ships appearances change a bit, Some enemies are completely different, moves have been updated- Some dive like in Galaxian, there’s some new backgrounds, but that’s it. the sounds are AWFUL- scratching fingernails against a chalkboard awful- especially for 1981. Just watch the video- I DARE YOU! (skip to 4:00 to see the game- I’m not kidding.)

The second problem was Astro Blaster was such a success in the U.S., Data East decided to open their own offices in here. While it would be a a few years before they would build their own cabinets here (or use JAMMA ready cabs- like the ones made by DYNAMO) Sega wasn’t needed exclusively at this point. Also, because of Astro fighter’s success, other companies were jumping up to snap up their titles- Taito released Lock n Chase in 1981. Sega wasn’t going to take it sitting down- so they went on to make their own sequel. and in my opinion- a better game. Astro Blaster!

AB flier

We’ll talk about this amazing game in a future Coin Up!

 

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Home versions- yup- we had some!

The two I found were on two different computers. One looks official- the other… not so much.  Surprisingly, Data East’s first game wasn’t on their own compilation for the Wii- being it’s the game that started it all.

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(get this compilation- it’s good.)

The first one’s from the TI- 99. I looks good. kind of a port of both Astro Fighter and Super Astro Fighter-

The other one I found was for the EACA EG2000 Colour Genie- a computer out of Germany. It’s called Cosmic Attack.

Then, out of the blue… there is this AMAZING HOMEBREW!

From programmer Robert DeCrescenzo- This is an AMAZING PORT for the Atari 7800! The Atari 7800 was a great system that didn’t get much love in it’s time- it’s so great to see homebrewers are making great games for it! so, if you have an Atari 7800, and your looking for a really good Shmup- you can’t go wrong with this one! head over to Atariage to get your copy!

As I find more ports- I’ll post them!

 

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Appearance and Sound-

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Given this is game not only was programmed in 1979, but was Data East’s FIRST GAME…

It looks good. The gauges on top tell you everything you need, from fuel remaining, to what sector your in. That being said, the enemy ships are… a bit sparse. I mean, we had Space Invaders two years before, and at least they were- animated. The ships in Astro fighter are static. May be they should have animated the windows. make them look like moving eyes. They look like that already. I would have given them a bit of depth and look more threatening. Also- there’s only the four types of enemies. A few more would have made it that much better. But, the final round with the master ship looks great! When you warp into his sector- you know it’s on!

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Given that, the sounds are spot on. The warping sound is very reminiscent of  the thumping noise in Space Invaders. It keeps the sense of urgency high throughout the game. The laser fire and explosions do their job. But, the fuel critical sound mixed in with the master’s warbling noise will get the heart racing! Knowing your’e just a couple of seconds from defeating the master ship and collecting the precious fuel (and some sweet bonus points in the process) or certain doom is palpable. and the master ship’s explosion is spot on!

Control-

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Why am I giving this a four? It could fire… a bit faster.  I’m not asking for a rapid fire chip. But knowing you only have a minute  or so to get out of a sector, and your ship is firing like it’s in a game of GORF… no bueno. It gets the job done, but it could be better.

 

Difficulty-

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Astro Blaster will give you a challenge. The enemy ships movement and speed takes a sector to get used to. Except sector four- they come straight down- so fire away! The master ship is tough- just keep firing at its center- you’ll get it!

Play ability-

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With it’s simple but challenging game play, you will be coming back to play Astro Blaster again and again to see what else it has to offer!

So, whats the final score?- 

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You know this was going to be a five out of five! It’s such a piece of my history. out of most games I played as a kid- this one sticks out. And as the sophomore game from Data East- it’s good. and it’s one of those shmups you can just pick up and play- no explanation required. Astro Blaster is hard to find today- complete boards fetch a hefty price. But- fret not Arcaders- this classic can be played on the 412 Game Elf board- or better yet- there’s always Retropie to get your Astro Fighter fix! And don’t forget the amazing Atari 7800 port!

Hey gang- Thank you for joining me on this journey through another rare classic arcade game here on Coin Up! And to celebrate the return of my favorite passion project, I give you- OUR NEW VIRTUAL COIN UP CARDS! Collect ‘em! Trade ‘em! look at them! they make great holiday gifts! Please give me a shout! Have you played Astro Blaster? Do you like it? Hate it? What’s your high score? Let me know!

Thanks for reading and keep playin’ like it’s 1981!

Raygunn

The Electric Circus Episode #10- The Magical Mystery Podcast!

Electric Circus New Logo copy

EPISODE-10-TITLE

Hey Arcaders!

Here it is- finally!

#10!

We’re in the double digits now!

And to celebrate, I thought we would post this podcast as a special “MYSTERY PODCAST!” There are clues on the page…

All I can say is- Get a bowl of your favorite cereal, and don’t sit so close to the pod-casting device- you don’t know what that does to your ears!

Please like us, share us, and give us five stars on Itunes!

Keep Playin’ Like It’s 1981!

The Electric Circus Episode #5- VIDEO GAME MOVIES!!!

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Electric Circus New Logo copy

Movies intro

Hey Arcaders!

If Megacon wasn’t Enough for ya’- guess what? we’re throwing in the next episode of the Electric Circus! and it’s a doozy! So, get you extra large drum of popcorn with the artificial butter flavored topping, an ice cold superdouperlargegrande sized drink and enjoy! And don’t forget your 3D glasses!

The 1983 CBS Saturday Morning Preview Show with Saturday Supercade!

…And if you didn’t get enough Saturday morning goodness, here’s the 1983 CBS Saturday Morning Preview Show with Saturday Supercade! This also has the introduction of Dungeons and Dragons TV show, which was awesome as well! So lets join Boss Hog, Sheriff Rosco P. Coltrane, and… Scott Baio? in this Saturday morning preview from 1983!