Back in September, I went and got myself married to a fabulous woman. One of the best decisions I have ever made!
…But, this is a gaming blog. And the reason I mention it is, I have enticed a pretty good group of dudes to be my friends over the last decade and a half. We’ve shared a lot of good times over the years, which include lots of gaming and arcade-visiting. And as a wedding present, they went ahead and put together this beauty:
Yep. It is a custom made, fully functional arcade unit, fitted with every NES, SNES, Genesis ROM and more. After purchasing the shell of an old Ms. Pac-Man Cabinet, they gutted it, painted it, fit in with a monitor, internal lights, speakers and a rat’s nest of wires to make it the living beauty it is today. For the perfect aesthetic, they mimicked the fictional arcade game Fix-It Felix, Jr. from Disney’s Wreck-It Ralph. PERFECT call, if you ask me. Rather than misleading Pac-Man or Donkey Kong graphics, the images on the machine are a reference to a movie that celebrates video game history, which is exactly what this beast holds within its glorious, pixel- and chiptune-filled innards.
Owning my own Donkey Kong machine has always been a far-fetched dream I always told myself I would realize, while secretly knowing I never would. Finding one, budgeting for such a ridiculously frivolous item when you are over 30, transporting it if you ever found it, having the space for it…
I knew all of these reasons would only make it more and more difficult as life went on. But, then I came home from work one ordinary day, two weeks before my wedding, to find this literal dream-come-true setting next to my paltry NES and SNES collection.
The reasons why it is awesome are, obviously, too many to name. But why not try? There is, of course, the feeling of playing arcade games, on an arcade cabinet, in your own home. The experience of standing at an actual machine and blasting through a few rounds of Mortal Kombat 3 with a friend, two rooms away from your own refrigerator, cannot be explained. Then you start to peruse the list of what to play next. Suddenly, you realize so many console games, such as Star-Fox and Super Punch-Out!!, are an INCREDIBLE experience on an arcade cabinet, a setting in which the gaming gods never implied. They give these games new life, and make them feel fresh again as you play with an intensity and focus only standing at an actual cabinet can give you.
Next, you’ll be finding yourself Googling unsung classics you may not have heard of (Sunset Riders, where have you been all my life!?), or simply havenot thought of yet when faced with a list of the entire SNES library. Now, I am no newbie to emulators and ROMS – the thrill of having the entire SNES gameography at my fingertips is not a new feeling. Yet somehow, with arcade buttons and a joystick, it is. Playing King of the Dragons on a modded XBOX is fun for a few minutes, but feels too unauthentic for the long haul. Not here. Beat-Em-Up’s especially are must-play experiences on a machine like this.
Sometimes, I’ll have an evening where I feel like reminding myself why Overwatch‘s competitive mode will be the death of me. For gaming sessions such as these, the arcade becomes the most glorious piece of furniture you could ask for. One part room lighting (I now only turn on the machine, and no other lights, when I am in my game room), one part jukebox (I’ll turn down whatever current-gen game I am playing to listen to Street Fighter shuffle through its demo screens and soundtrack all the time), and one part distraction (insufferable install/load times? Let’s see how many levels I can get through on Toejam & Earl), I now don’t know how I ever lived without it.
I’d like to tinker away at this blog some more, even if I only have less than or equal to one reader. This glorious gift from the heavens has inspired me again, and provided a fresh new twist for reviewing. The final miracle it has performed leaves me with less time to play games I’d like, though – whenever I boot it up, my wife, about as far from a gamer as you can be, is always itching to kick my ass in Super Mario Kart.