Arcade

Fall 2018 Game List

Sometimes, in this hobby you get to a point where you think: "Okay, now I'm done."  But, you seldom really are :)

That said, I think my gameroom titles are more-than-likely locked in for the remainder of 2018, with one potential exception.

Youtube rejected my first recording of this b/c of background music so I reshot it pretty quickly without voiceover and turned down the gameroom music.

The Arcades

Tron

My Tron has some of the usual lower particle board damage but isn't bad. The Artwork and Marquee are pretty good but not perfect. Let's call it authentic battle-damage. :) Picked it up from a Pawn shop in Saraland thinks to a heads up from fellow collector-friend, Mike.

My Tron has some of the usual lower particle board damage but isn't bad. The Artwork and Marquee are pretty good but not perfect. Let's call it authentic battle-damage. :) Picked it up from a Pawn shop in Saraland thinks to a heads up from fellow collector-friend, Mike.

Tapper

Owning a 3400 in 1 Games Family Multi-Cade I noticed my wife always played Tapper on it. Took awhile to find this one and a little work to get it to this point. Reproduction CPO, powder coated cup holders. Monitor issues galore... I eventually found an overpriced 19" Vision Pro CRT that works well in it with original mounting and wiring. It has the high score save kit & switching power supply on a factory harness.

Owning a 3400 in 1 Games Family Multi-Cade I noticed my wife always played Tapper on it. Took awhile to find this one and a little work to get it to this point. Reproduction CPO, powder coated cup holders. Monitor issues galore... I eventually found an overpriced 19" Vision Pro CRT that works well in it with original mounting and wiring. It has the high score save kit & switching power supply on a factory harness.

Nintendo Hyperspin

A couple years ago I came by this empty cabinet while it was on its way to the dump. No monitor, power supply or anything. I put Super Mario Artwork on it and a PC running Hyperspin. Recently I realized by the serial number on the cabinet that this was, at some point a Donkey Kong. I’m planning on do a conversion back to DK on this cabinet soon.

A couple years ago I came by this empty cabinet while it was on its way to the dump. No monitor, power supply or anything. I put Super Mario Artwork on it and a PC running Hyperspin. Recently I realized by the serial number on the cabinet that this was, at some point a Donkey Kong. I’m planning on do a conversion back to DK on this cabinet soon.

Star Wars

Many Bothan's died to bring this arcade to my game room. Procured from Michael @ Automated Services / pinballs.com. I parted with a Star Wars Trilogy stand up to make room for it, first part of 2018. I fixed the marquee light and worked out some cabinet swell. It has some typical wood-hardener-repairs on the cabinet bottom. It has a Wells 6100, Empire Strikes Back kit as well. I replaced a damaged AVG chip with a modern remade AVG chip, recapped the power supply and fixed some sound-issues to get it to this point.

Many Bothan's died to bring this arcade to my game room. Procured from Michael @ Automated Services / pinballs.com. I parted with a Star Wars Trilogy stand up to make room for it, first part of 2018. I fixed the marquee light and worked out some cabinet swell. It has some typical wood-hardener-repairs on the cabinet bottom. It has a Wells 6100, Empire Strikes Back kit as well. I replaced a damaged AVG chip with a modern remade AVG chip, recapped the power supply and fixed some sound-issues to get it to this point.

Q*Bert

This is the Arcadeshop remake Q*Bert Cabinet running the Mylstar FPGA boardset. Modern switching power supply and this machine and recently mounted a NIB 19" CRT w/ a custom-built chassis. The knocker works too! Fun game.

This is the Arcadeshop remake Q*Bert Cabinet running the Mylstar FPGA boardset. Modern switching power supply and this machine and recently mounted a NIB 19" CRT w/ a custom-built chassis. The knocker works too! Fun game.

Robotron

Original Robotron cabinet with a late series Wells 19" CRT. I believe it was an ArcadeShop machine back when they had CRT's available. A number of board issues, so it is currently running the FPGA multi-Williams board and direct booting to Robotron. The multi-Williams control panel is pictured here but it also has a Robotron Control panel that appears to have been adapted from a Bubbles. Original Wico sticks on the Robotron Panel, Groovy Game Gear leaf switch sticks on this control panel. The original boards are stashed away safely for "one-day-maybe" troubleshooting and repair.

Original Robotron cabinet with a late series Wells 19" CRT. I believe it was an ArcadeShop machine back when they had CRT's available. A number of board issues, so it is currently running the FPGA multi-Williams board and direct booting to Robotron. The multi-Williams control panel is pictured here but it also has a Robotron Control panel that appears to have been adapted from a Bubbles. Original Wico sticks on the Robotron Panel, Groovy Game Gear leaf switch sticks on this control panel. The original boards are stashed away safely for "one-day-maybe" troubleshooting and repair.

The Mutt

After a few failed attempts at acquiring some cabarets, this happened. It started as a joke, re: "Hey here's this thing, it's a piece of junk anyway and you won't owe it anything, just have fun with it." Typically found for $100 or less, the Konami 12 in 1 is my RPi3 MAME cabinet for discovery and play of vertically oriented arcades. The 15" VGA monitor and small cabinet footprint paired with the RaspberryJAMMA / ArPiCade setup are going to make it a pretty versatile little game that isn't taking up a ton of space. The Attract-Mode, Raspberry Pi-based Multi-MAME boot image is ridiculously customizable if you are comfortable with linux command-line and bash scripts. Converting it to JAMMA and using VGA to CGA adaptor, the front hatch access will make it a convenient test bench for JAMMA games. Currently working on building a different control panel with less-crappy stick and switches. I'd kinda like to find the Midway 12 in 1, equivalent horizontal cabinet now...

After a few failed attempts at acquiring some cabarets, this happened. It started as a joke, re: "Hey here's this thing, it's a piece of junk anyway and you won't owe it anything, just have fun with it." Typically found for $100 or less, the Konami 12 in 1 is my RPi3 MAME cabinet for discovery and play of vertically oriented arcades. The 15" VGA monitor and small cabinet footprint paired with the RaspberryJAMMA / ArPiCade setup are going to make it a pretty versatile little game that isn't taking up a ton of space. The Attract-Mode, Raspberry Pi-based Multi-MAME boot image is ridiculously customizable if you are comfortable with linux command-line and bash scripts. Converting it to JAMMA and using VGA to CGA adaptor, the front hatch access will make it a convenient test bench for JAMMA games. Currently working on building a different control panel with less-crappy stick and switches. I'd kinda like to find the Midway 12 in 1, equivalent horizontal cabinet now...

The Cocktail

The first arcade I ever bought.. Picked it up from a central-Florida area arcade repurposing business. I overpaid and it arrived smell like Geritol and discount Wal-mart paint. Featuring a 60 in 1 , wrong controls and a sketchy slot machine monitor barely hanging onto a rebuilt top. Sketchy power supply, dead bugs and rusted-through leg levelers rounded out this $1050 Craigslist find. I didn't know any better. Custom cut glass, new control panels, new controls, new wiring harness, new power supply and running ArcadeSD, this arcade gets more play than any other in the room.

The first arcade I ever bought.. Picked it up from a central-Florida area arcade repurposing business. I overpaid and it arrived smell like Geritol and discount Wal-mart paint. Featuring a 60 in 1 , wrong controls and a sketchy slot machine monitor barely hanging onto a rebuilt top. Sketchy power supply, dead bugs and rusted-through leg levelers rounded out this $1050 Craigslist find. I didn't know any better. Custom cut glass, new control panels, new controls, new wiring harness, new power supply and running ArcadeSD, this arcade gets more play than any other in the room.

Multi Mortal Kombat

No side art on the cabinet so I'm not sure what it was originally but the inside stickers and serial numbers all match a MK4. Added IL sticks and fresh buttons. Still needs some T-molding and a little cabinet love. I added Mortal Kombat 1, Mortal Kombat 2, Mortal Kombat 3 Ultimate to Mortal Kombat 4 via a JAMMA switcher and a vertical rack. It also has a Pandora's box on a spare JAMMA Channel for exploration of horizontal arcades. This winter, I'm planning to add two auxillary LCD panels to the marquee and a deep-learning enabled camera to provide glanceable real time moves-and-fatalities to each player based on their current game and character choice.

No side art on the cabinet so I'm not sure what it was originally but the inside stickers and serial numbers all match a MK4. Added IL sticks and fresh buttons. Still needs some T-molding and a little cabinet love. I added Mortal Kombat 1, Mortal Kombat 2, Mortal Kombat 3 Ultimate to Mortal Kombat 4 via a JAMMA switcher and a vertical rack. It also has a Pandora's box on a spare JAMMA Channel for exploration of horizontal arcades. This winter, I'm planning to add two auxillary LCD panels to the marquee and a deep-learning enabled camera to provide glanceable real time moves-and-fatalities to each player based on their current game and character choice.

Mario Kart Arcade GP 2

Hands down my most expensive and time consuming arcade-effort has been in the acquisition, repair and maintenance of these two Mario Kart Arcade GP machines. Both machines are running HAPP LCDs in order to get compatibility with the new version running in the game, Mario Kart Arcade GP 2. 4 Triforce Main PC's, 4 cameras and two force feedback controllers later, they run and stand out as my kids' favorite. The problem areas are the wheel control loom being pinched by a cam in the steering column (item button not lit), camera failures in POE power transmission and force feedback controller failures (usually relays) related to walk-aways during a game and the carts vibrating themselves down the track at default speed.

Hands down my most expensive and time consuming arcade-effort has been in the acquisition, repair and maintenance of these two Mario Kart Arcade GP machines. Both machines are running HAPP LCDs in order to get compatibility with the new version running in the game, Mario Kart Arcade GP 2. 4 Triforce Main PC's, 4 cameras and two force feedback controllers later, they run and stand out as my kids' favorite. The problem areas are the wheel control loom being pinched by a cam in the steering column (item button not lit), camera failures in POE power transmission and force feedback controller failures (usually relays) related to walk-aways during a game and the carts vibrating themselves down the track at default speed.

The Dome

The Dome is my custom-built Star Wars Battle Pod wanna-be. Its strengths are racing games, flight sims, space games. Its weaknesses are First/Third Person shooters and sheer size. Currently running w/ a PS3, xBox 360 and Wii U which all exhibited a good selection of titles for this format. I've also used it as a mixed experience sit-down VR booth with a PS4. Future enhancements to this would be to acquire a professional quality planetarium optic for direct projection or upgraded first-surface lab-grade mirror for improved reflected projection. However, this is currently the only Arcade game that I consider "for sale" and even then only because of its size. If I sell the dome, it opens up some rearrange opportunities in the game room.

The Dome is my custom-built Star Wars Battle Pod wanna-be. Its strengths are racing games, flight sims, space games. Its weaknesses are First/Third Person shooters and sheer size. Currently running w/ a PS3, xBox 360 and Wii U which all exhibited a good selection of titles for this format. I've also used it as a mixed experience sit-down VR booth with a PS4. Future enhancements to this would be to acquire a professional quality planetarium optic for direct projection or upgraded first-surface lab-grade mirror for improved reflected projection. However, this is currently the only Arcade game that I consider "for sale" and even then only because of its size. If I sell the dome, it opens up some rearrange opportunities in the game room.

The Pinballs

Indiana Jones

The longest lasting Pinball in my collection, Indy is still my favorite pinball. An upgraded player's quality game, it has custom golden-vein, relic-inspired powder-coated metals. It is running a customized Pinsound orchestration to bring John Williams iconic sound to the gameplay experience but still nods to the original mix quite well. The playfield is pretty good and the plastics look great. It has OCD LED on the controlled lamps and I recently went back to incandescents in the GI, trying to add the warm-fire-glow back to the game. The side art has alot of fade and a few gashes. Instead of cabinet decal, I'd like to find a mural artist to brighten the colors back but keep the original elements in-tact.

The longest lasting Pinball in my collection, Indy is still my favorite pinball. An upgraded player's quality game, it has custom golden-vein, relic-inspired powder-coated metals. It is running a customized Pinsound orchestration to bring John Williams iconic sound to the gameplay experience but still nods to the original mix quite well. The playfield is pretty good and the plastics look great. It has OCD LED on the controlled lamps and I recently went back to incandescents in the GI, trying to add the warm-fire-glow back to the game. The side art has alot of fade and a few gashes. Instead of cabinet decal, I'd like to find a mural artist to brighten the colors back but keep the original elements in-tact.

Tales of the Arabian Nights

Low production numbers and not being part of the current projected CG Remake roadmap seems to make this a hard pin to find. Having a designer who was nearly run out of pinball and being the free table offered in Pinball Arcade probably didn't hurt, either. Scarcity and such. Acquired from Big Bob in Atlanta, by far this game came to me in the nicest condition of any game I've ever bought. The Mike Chestnut-gold plating on the rails has a few wear marks but not enough to make me want to undo the legend's work. I added OCD LED and GI LED. It isn't as purple and blue as it appears in the photo. Color Changing LEDs in the BAZAAR inserts are one of my favorite additions to this game.

Low production numbers and not being part of the current projected CG Remake roadmap seems to make this a hard pin to find. Having a designer who was nearly run out of pinball and being the free table offered in Pinball Arcade probably didn't hurt, either. Scarcity and such. Acquired from Big Bob in Atlanta, by far this game came to me in the nicest condition of any game I've ever bought. The Mike Chestnut-gold plating on the rails has a few wear marks but not enough to make me want to undo the legend's work. I added OCD LED and GI LED. It isn't as purple and blue as it appears in the photo. Color Changing LEDs in the BAZAAR inserts are one of my favorite additions to this game.

Attack from Mars

One of the byproducts of the CG Remakes is that games that were once astronomically priced can now be in the cloud-city price range, instead. This is a player's quality game with alot of additions and repairs. It came missing the strobe electronics and with various issues in the saucer area. New ramps, upgraded strobe board, reworked the power driver board, fixed a few careless grounds and it was back in business. Added chrome-plated metals from  Pinball Plating , OCD LED board on the controlled lamps and  Convolux  protectors for extra pop. A few wear spots with sloppy mylar work left to address on the playfield but nothing major.

One of the byproducts of the CG Remakes is that games that were once astronomically priced can now be in the cloud-city price range, instead. This is a player's quality game with alot of additions and repairs. It came missing the strobe electronics and with various issues in the saucer area. New ramps, upgraded strobe board, reworked the power driver board, fixed a few careless grounds and it was back in business. Added chrome-plated metals from Pinball Plating, OCD LED board on the controlled lamps and Convolux protectors for extra pop. A few wear spots with sloppy mylar work left to address on the playfield but nothing major.

Star Trek: The Next Outlane

Second time around with this title.. Bought one and a sold it to get Stern's Star Trek. Eventually I came back to STTNG through a convoluted trade of my Ghostbusters. The cabinet is really nice with nearly no fade and the playfield cleaned up very well, shows minimum wear. It came with a RD MPU board and I'm still looking for an original WPC-95 MPU to swap back in because of some (very) subtle differences.

Second time around with this title.. Bought one and a sold it to get Stern's Star Trek. Eventually I came back to STTNG through a convoluted trade of my Ghostbusters. The cabinet is really nice with nearly no fade and the playfield cleaned up very well, shows minimum wear. It came with a RD MPU board and I'm still looking for an original WPC-95 MPU to swap back in because of some (very) subtle differences.

Scared Stiff

Another title that I've previously owned and came back around to. Limited production numbers and the hard life of living in a bar, increasingly make this title hard to find for a decent price. An abundance of new pinball, rumors of a future Elvira themed game and a somewhat shallow gameplay dynamic helped to bring this game into my price range. A pretty nice player's quality game, it was at a pinball clubhouse & weed dispensary in the Rhode Island area. The power driver board has some interesting hacks and the left portion of the cabinet has a substantial fade in the Red accents. I'm a little young to have been a consumer of Elvira's TV shenanigans but I really appreciate that this is an all-around fun game and in my opinion the all-around winner for best Halloween theme. Just the right amount of dime-store knock-off Boris Karloff and playfully suggestive callouts mashed with classic 90's feeling generic halloween music make for an excellent sound design. The shots have excellent flow and a nice balance of control versus random bounce. My favorite edition to the pin is the MindOrbits color changing shooter knob and the custom bony-beast lighting.

Another title that I've previously owned and came back around to. Limited production numbers and the hard life of living in a bar, increasingly make this title hard to find for a decent price. An abundance of new pinball, rumors of a future Elvira themed game and a somewhat shallow gameplay dynamic helped to bring this game into my price range. A pretty nice player's quality game, it was at a pinball clubhouse & weed dispensary in the Rhode Island area. The power driver board has some interesting hacks and the left portion of the cabinet has a substantial fade in the Red accents. I'm a little young to have been a consumer of Elvira's TV shenanigans but I really appreciate that this is an all-around fun game and in my opinion the all-around winner for best Halloween theme. Just the right amount of dime-store knock-off Boris Karloff and playfully suggestive callouts mashed with classic 90's feeling generic halloween music make for an excellent sound design. The shots have excellent flow and a nice balance of control versus random bounce. My favorite edition to the pin is the MindOrbits color changing shooter knob and the custom bony-beast lighting.

Medieval Madness

For a couple of years I've let myself get talked out of buying this pin. The excuses ranged from the high average cost to the shot-map similarity with AFM and MB. This summer CG ran another batch of remakes for this title and they started showing up in distributor inventory. Typically, whenever distributor inventory stacks up on a re-make you can temporarily find an original for less-than MSRP of the Remake. Medieval Madness is my newest pin and last new-to-me pinball for 2018. Really enjoying it so far!

For a couple of years I've let myself get talked out of buying this pin. The excuses ranged from the high average cost to the shot-map similarity with AFM and MB. This summer CG ran another batch of remakes for this title and they started showing up in distributor inventory. Typically, whenever distributor inventory stacks up on a re-make you can temporarily find an original for less-than MSRP of the Remake. Medieval Madness is my newest pin and last new-to-me pinball for 2018. Really enjoying it so far!

Robotron in the House

Robotron is one of these games that I've only recently discovered a love for through the recommendation and good-advice of friends.   It is a slightly older title than I would have normally identified with as an arcade-dweller kid but wow - what a fun game! 

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After spending some time with it on a friend's MAME setup and on my ArpiCade card I decided that it was the next arcade cabinet for my gameroom.  I recalled having seen one locally in a local basement a few years ago helping a friend pick up a game.  I figured it would already have sold but was surprised to find it was still available.  Not running but still available.

After some light haggling we can to terms and I agreed to buy it.  Another good friend and purveyor of arcade goodness, David - even picked it up for me while servicing the seller's Burgertime.

In condition, the game's technical condition had deteriorated a little since a couple of years ago.  I recall it booted to a memory error back then, these days it didn't boot at all.

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The original power supply apparently had some issues (though was thankfully still in the cabinet.) .  This power supply sat atop the coin door. The owner would reach in and power on the game by flipping this PS on and off.   

I'm not really judging whomever did this as a fix, more so I'm just really thankful that these days Arcadeshop, highscoresaves, twisty wrist and others provide viable adapted power supply modernization options that allow you to preserve the original game harness and introduce a switching power supply.

This stuff might not have been around when the tech did the fix or maybe the owner opted for quick-and-easy route, "Just get it going."

At any rate, the original interlock switch and cabinet power switches were all bypassed by this inclusion.

 

When modernizing a power supply situation, I'm a fan of these Power Supplies (pictured below) that I usually get from Arcadeshop.  They have a pretty handy, well-diagrammed on/off remote wiring capability, which makes them versatile.   If you aren't a purist or working with a modern-or-remade cabinet, you can cut a hole in a cabinet and have it protrude like a PC power supply out the back of a cabinet.   No, of course I didn't do that with Robotron. 

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The 4-pin connector gives you a nice ability to wire into an existing cabinet power switch and wiring loop.   I made a couple of connectors and boom the cabinet switch is back in service, as is the safety interlock.  Even though they are more annoying than helpful in most cases..

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The boards have some head-scratching black paint overspray. The black paint seems more like rhino-lining material than spray paint but who knows.    Also a fair number of board repairs and trace workarounds on the mainboard.     I spent a few hours troubleshooting voltages and reseating chips before deciding, for now, the original boards are not a priority for me.

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There, the game sat.  Pulled out from the line up, parts strewn about everywhere as I tried to work in free moments to continue troubleshooting.   Kids running in and out of the game room, parts everywhere.  As I opened the Nest app one night to set the temperature I saw the B&W footage of the game in the basement and this stirred decision time..

After only a few hours here and there troubleshooting voltages and reseating chips.  I decided for now the original boards are not a priority for me.   Let's just get it playing.. 

I could throw hundreds of dollars and dozens of hours at the original board stack and maybe power supply or I could throw hundreds of dollars and a few hours and do a non-permanent Multi-Williams conversion and have not only Robotron but Joust and Defender and Stargate and others..

In what is probably equal parts of impatience and curiosity, justified-after-the-fact: I ordered a bunch of stuff from ArcadeShop.  I didn't want to do any permanent conversions to the cabinet or control panel but decided to order a Multi-Williams fPGA board and control panel, related cabling, etc.

I pulled everything, the original wiring harness, control panel, power supply, boards.   I have to admit I felt a little guilty for doing this.   I made no additional cuts to cabling, I cleaned it all as best I could, wrapped it all in paper, bubble and pallet wrap plastic and stowed it in the cabinet.

It still felt wrong..  like removing the games' vital organs or something?  I guess all of these years of watching KLOV threads and watching people get thrashed for multi game conversions has made me sensitive to this.   

I kept.. everything.  Documented it all with photos and my thoughts are that one day, I might decide to put the game back into an original state.  As the KLOV trolls might put it:

You neutered the unicorn but at least you put the balls in a jar, in formaldehyde. 

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For now, though - I'm running the Multi-Williams board which is directly booting to Robotron.  

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I wanted to get my Joust and Defender on, so I added a Multi-Williams control panel from ArcadeShop as well. 

The assembled Multi Williams control panel with slightly modified IL-stick joysticks and repro ball, sticks and shafts.

The assembled Multi Williams control panel with slightly modified IL-stick joysticks and repro ball, sticks and shafts.

Then, I fell down the WICO leaf-switch hole and got stuck on trying to find a way to get WICO's working in the reproduction control panel.

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I borrowed the WICO joysticks from the original control panel.  Which, it turns out isn't so original.  Looks like a converted Bubbles control panel. I rebuilt the WICO sticks with new shafts, balls, leaf switches, grommets and washers.  I crimped on new pinch connectors on the old control panel - and stowed it away for later.

The original control panel being wooden and the repro Multi-Williams being metal creates a height issue with the existing sticks.  There isn't a spacer and e-clip configuration that would allow me to get the height in range of being correct, so I came up with something that might be janky but seems to be working well, so far:

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I cut square spacers out in the relative shape of the WICO from some 3/4" nominal cabinet-grade scrap leftover from another around-the-house honey-do project.  I shot it with a couple of coats of rattle-can clearcoat to give the dust washer a nice slick surface to glide over.

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This gets us a closer-to-accurate height and lets me have dust washers sandwiched between the control panel underside and WICO top.   I used standoff's to mount the blocks and WICO's to the repro control panel's existing screws.

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..and... after a night of installing everything and another evening of tweaking.. It lives!  Robotron in the house ya'll.   The direct-boot option on the J-Rok is pretty awesome. The game boots straight to Robotron and if it were not for the control panel you'd never know it was a Multi-Williams board.    P1 Start + P2 Start and you get to the game select menu where you can switch games.   A few games included on the board are vertical but all of the horizontals play very well.

Nathan was the first person to get a High Score recorded on the High Score board for Robotron. It is a hotly contested spot, though with Justin currently in the lead. :)

Nathan was the first person to get a High Score recorded on the High Score board for Robotron. It is a hotly contested spot, though with Justin currently in the lead. :)

Gameroom Changes, Concluded (Early 2018)

Former Layout

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Using ideas and help from friends, Justin and Nathan (who have a lifetime anytime-no-questions asked pass for all there help moving this stuff around), it was a very good layout.  As you entered the room, Tapper was in front, in the middle, with the arcades flowing off the left side and pins to the right.  

Back left housed my Dome environmental system and back right included a small love seat and and large-ish TV for consoles and movies. 

Pros:

  • It presented very well and was logically balanced.

  • Pins-in-a-row makes me smile

  • Added the loveseat / couch area for movies and consoles

  • Good visibility to the TV from most of the room

  • Open layout = good airflow


Cons:

  • Pins in a row, make for crowded multiplayer games

  • Arcades often ignored

  • Have to pull pins out to work on them

  • Mortal Kombat in the Middle of the room, is big

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Working Concept and Bad Math

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The new concept was to intersperse the pinball machines alongside arcades.  

By this, hoping to achieve these benefits:

  • Pinball machines are easier to work on.

  • Multiplayer games are less crowded

  • Arcades get more play

  • Better "themed zone" potential around isolated pinballs

I measured the room and equated lines to linear feet.  Still, somehow I managed to misjudge the size of the Mario Kart cabs and where I thought I could squeeze an extra pin (left side of the page above) - near the mini-split AC unit - wasn't happening. 

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As you enter the room, I put STTNG and Tron together, followed by Mario Kart(s) and AFM.  Cocktail in the center.  Made for interesting theming opportunities for posters and "stuff" around STTNG and lets me see more of the STTNG side art, which is cool.

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On the right side, Indy, the Mario hyperspin, Multi-Kombat and TOTAN on the wall.

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On the center / right, Q*Bert, Donkey Balls, Tapper and an enlarged seating area for TV / Console / Gaming in the back.  More comfy couch from the clearance back-room of Ashley Furniture FTW.

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The back left houses AFM, Atari Star Wars (yes, I fixed the marquee light :) ), the Dome tucked behind it and DESW  alongside the dome.

Early IMpressions

My early impressions are: I like it.  But we will see when the newness wears off.  I will say, the practicality of being able to more easily work on the pins (without pulling them out of the row) seems to be encouraging me to give them the maintenance attention they need more readily / without feeling like a total chore. 

The downside is, you sort of loose that wow-factor of the line ups of games and pins.   One of the first visitors to the room noted, "you need more pinball."   It was tongue-in-cheek but having the games spread out does make it seem like "less pinball."  Since I'm continually just-as-interested in arcadeyness as pinball, I think the room fits my bipolar (and scattered) approach to the hobby... Kinda meta.. 

At any rate, I shared out the room as it was a mess and in transition and thought you might enjoy to see the progress in a little over a month since that video.  Thanks for checking in on my craziness!

Vegas Arcade-y Goodness and Amazon (AWS) Re:Invent

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In late-fall / early winter every year, Amazon hosts 50,000 plus developers, systems, dev-ops professionals and technology decision makers for AWS: Reinvent.  AWS (Amazon Web Services) is the arm of Amazon that sells platform and technology services to businesses looking to use Amazon's cloud infrastructure for app, web app and online service delivery.   Each year, Amazon adds over a hundred pr....  vertical markets ... technical debt reduction .... scalable solutio......[snore]  ZZzzzzzzZzzzz   Zzzzz ZzzZzz.  

Still Awake?

Still Awake?


I've been to this conference a few times.   Vegas is an expensive town and I'm not much of a gambler but each time I've been I've tried to build in some arcade and pinball discovery in the afternoons and evenings, when off the clock, so to speak.  Although this year, the arcade and classic gaming motif was felt more in the AWS Event itself than previous years. 

Re-Invent

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AWS: Reinvent is massive, in terms of scale.  The conference lasts all week and more-or-less subsumes the Vegas strip.   There are two keynotes in the week, the primary keynote venue houses probably around 10,000 people and there are overflow viewing areas at each participating major resort that will hold about half that, each.

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As an engineer that has worked for numerous start-up sized companies, I can say that I'm largely pretty cynical about the exhibitor floors of these shows.    I worked for a company years ago that had a fully stocked kitchen of snacks and goodies (soda, energy drinks, sugary pastries and other goodies) and an even more stocked room full of conference swag (pedometers, shirts, hats, mouse pads, gadget-du jour, which these days would take the forms of drones, Nintendo Switches or iPads. That same company, couldn't always make payroll in regards to the engineering staff and contractors...   

But, I digress.  Hopefully these guys have their houses in order. :)

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Bo-bo Pac-man

One vendor went so far as to build demos of their product into arcade cabinets and port a version of Pacman over on a few of the cabinets.  "Cloud Crunch" - to exhibit all of the security goodness they could bring to your cloud infrastructure.

(I guess, I really still don't fully know what they actually *do* over at CTP.)

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Notice they even went with Arcadey - Family Fun Center styled carpet. (above)

The controls on the arcade cabinet themselves were pretty crappy (below) - I think they were loose mounted in the cabinet.

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Their leaderboard was used to control the output of swag.  I only played once but held first place for the better part of the day with my freshman effort.  For my efforts, a pretty decent Patagonia pull-over.

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PHOF 

Those hoping this acronym is a reference to the venerable David Hasselhoff will be disappointed but maybe otherwise delighted to learn it is the Pinball Hall of Fame, aka The Las Vegas Pinball Museum.

I walked through the PHOF with my phone on a facebook live broadcast.   Unfortunately the iOS version of the facebook app ignored my preference to save the 4k version to my camera roll, so I'm stuck with this version, which was downloaded from Facebook after the fact.

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Sadly, these classic EMs and early Solid States were not getting much play, as is the case every time I've been to the PHOF.   I wish I had time to come and just work my way down these rows and learn to appreciate the bits of character that each of these machines have.

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Mostly pins (of all eras) but some arcades on the backwall, too.  

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PHOF has an excellent range of eras represented in their lineup from modern LCD games, through B/W DMD games and back to EM Classics.   They were all reasonably well maintained and along the back of the building, an employee worked on an STTNG while listening to an audiobook.    There were very few people in the place and there almost never is when I go in the Winter months.   There was one etiquette-challenged older gent that was playing more than one game at a time and draping his jacket over 1-2 nearby games not in play and challenged me over recording the video walkthrough.   I offered to play him a round and he chose the new Star Wars.  I won and we had a fun conversation about pinball during the game.

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For some strange reason, the most interesting machine at PHOF to me is this awesome popcorn vending machine. I want one!    

Have Quarters, Will Uber

Fremont Arcade

Last year, when I was on my way out from Vegas - waiting on my flight, I remember reading about Fremont Arcade on Pinside.  I was bummed because the OP of that post had posted all sorts of promising pictures of the line up at these neat arcade down in Old Vegas / Fremont.  

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This year I made it a point to go check it out.   

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Unfortunately, instead of a promising line up of pins, I found the pretty typical modern card-based almost-redemption arcade with the exception of the 5 Stern games pictured here.

The pins were all well-maintained but the volume was down and even in the empty arcade you couldn't hear them.

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The Big Apple Arcade @ New York, New York

I ventured over to Big Apple Arcade located inside of the New York, New York Casino.

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Here, I was impressed and spent more of my arcade dollars than probably at an other location in Vegas.  A nice layout of modern pins, each properly set up and well-maintained..    

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Speaking of Star Wars, it was nice to get the opportunity to spend more time with an updated Star Wars Battle Pod.    Even though I built a redneck equivalent, I sure do enjoy this game.

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On my way out of New York, New York, the Bally logo of a slot machine caught my eye and sort of develops a lump in my throat as to what might have been had Bally stayed in it, making Pinball after 2000.

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Zero Latency VR at MGM 

In MGM, they've set up a pretty sweet full-suite VR experience called Zero Latency VR.  It is similar, though probably not quite as good as The Void.  While we were there, the options were a Halo-styled space combat sim and a Zombie battle style sim.

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We opted for the space-sim, since the zombie genre is well covered in the PS4 and Vive VR offerings.  The gameplay last about 1/2 hour (for about $50/person).   The resolution of the experience wasn't 4k but the effect was quite good.   On more than one occasion I found myself reaching for a virtual-only cover (a crate) in the environment, to hoist over and shoot at the alien boss.   Therein lay the hack.  You can clip in the environment by nestling yourself inside parts of the environment. :) 

I could see a version of this with practical trip-hazards that are represented in 3D space, virtually - as being pretty awesome.   Me, I'm glad I got to play it and I'm definitely looking forward to trying out other full-suit VR experiences. 

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Closing Night, the AWS: Reinvent, Re:Play Party

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The last night of AWS: ReInvent, Amazon sets up three football-field-length structures in the parking lot of The Linq and throws one hell of a nerd party.  The middle structure had a bad with EDM, House type coding music blaring to an impressive laser light show.  The right-most structure included physical activities, like nerf bow-and-arrow in paintball gear - type battles, adult bouncy castles, etc.  The left-most structure was packed full of classic arcades, a dome VR experience, foosball, airhockey and all sorts of gaming awesomeness.   

Quick, shaky cam walk through to show the retro gaming goodness going on in one of the structures.

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Of the classic arcades, some impressive collector titles were on the floor

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The center structure of the three structure layout included a stage, lightshow, food, booze and tunes..

I thought the lighting assembly was impressive, especially considering this was a temporary structure!

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By the end of the week, it was time to relax atop the balcony at Twin Peaks and bid Las Vegas farewell.   I attended 3 to 5 sessions each day and filled the evenings as best I could think to with arcadey and pinball fun, not the most risqué activities available in Vegas but these are the ones that interested my inner arcade nerd. :)

Halloween 2017

What do you get when you take a 5.1 Outdoor movie experience, add in 98 glow ice cubes, 120 glow sticks, a makeshift haunted house, a table full of tasty treats and enough sugar to induce a diabetic coma?    Halloween 2017 at our house. :)

Here's a clip from our Nest cams from the block party & awkwardly appropriate halloween-era music track that captures the meta-narrative and sea of neighbors & friends that came out to enjoy some Arcade and Pinball fun.

Game Room Voice Control w/ Amazon Echo

One of the (minor) annoyances in Arcade and Pinball collecting is that over the last 40 years the amusement industry hasn't really build up a great deal of standards around common things, simple things: like the power switch.  

On Tron, the power switch is on the Top / Right.   On Donkey Kong, the power switch is on back- bottom right.   On many pinball machines the power switch is located on the bottom right, near the front of the game though annoyingly Revenge from Mars put the toggle switch half-way down the middle of the cabinet where I have to crawl underneath to power it on.    More recently, Stern Pinball puts the power switch under the lip of the head of the machine.

(GAH!)  - First world problems, I know.  

For Christmas, Dina bought me an Amazon Echo, a couple of Amazon Dots and some wifi enabled switches.  Having attended an Amazon Developer's conference just last month and knowing this is the direction I'd like to go, I've been planning for this for quite awhile. 

This video shows a pretty stock setup, just triggering devices by grouping and playing music and I'm pretty darned happy with the result.  I am playing with some custom Alexa skills to do a bit more, though...  

More on that later :)

A couple of things of note.. The 2nd generation Amazon Dot is fully functional. You can have a Dot only and still get most the features you want.   I used a combination of iHome plugs (like them for their size) and Belkin WeMo wall-switches connected to switched outlets.   You could potentially save a little money by going with a hub-based solution like Z-Wave, Zigbee but I found the savings versus convenience was sort of minimal, at least for my uses.

The WeMo software seems to be more mature.  iHome is integrated with HomeKit and installs pretty quickly but I did have a few snags getting it married up to the Alexa app.   It is almost as if you end up with two iHome accounts, one with a userID, associated by the app - and one with an email as the username as part of the OAuth handshake when you enable the skill.   The secret sauce, in my case - was to set up Device sharing in the iHome application, to basically share the {MyUserNameAccount} on the app devices with the {MyEmailAccount} on their portal.  Once I did this, Alexa was able to discover all of the iHome devices without a hitch.

The WeMo plugs work really well but they are big, generally blocking part of the outlet or at least preventing to WeMo plugs from going into one outlet.  The iHome plugs, however - have the added benefit of being the size of a standard plug, so you could have two iHome plugs in out outlet, if you wanted to.   WeMo has the better wall-switch offering, however.    

Being split across the two ecosystems is annoying if you plan to use their apps to control things but Alexa is the glue for the end result - since you can group devices regardless of manufacturer.

Echo also supports integration with Nest and IFTT, though my IFTT recipes for triggering the lights on Nest motion sense - seem to be spotty, at best.

All in all, being able to enter the room and saying things like "Alexa, turn on the Pinball Machines only" or "Alexa, turn on Mario Kart" or "Alexa, turn on the classic arcades" - is very-very nice.   Now, if I can just keep Miles from saying "Alexa, turn off the pinball machines" - while I'm in the middle of a game... :)

 

Southern Fried Gameroom Expo 2016

This summer I was happy to get to attend Southern Fried Gameroom Expo in Atlanta with my family and along with fellow arcade and pin collecting friends.  These events are always better if you can share them! 

The SFGE folks put on another great show.  It is impressive considering this is only their (3rd?) year of doing this show  - just how well it all comes together.  In fact, this year the show moved to a new venue to accommodate the growth / popularity of the event.  

In 2016, the event was hosted at the Renaissance Waverly Hotel in Atlanta.

In 2016, the event was hosted at the Renaissance Waverly Hotel in Atlanta.

My family appreciated the new venue.   Spacious rooms and clean rooms, friendly staff and roomy venue area, all walking distance to a nearby mall via a sky-bridge with good eats and shopping.

Miles staging his Mario toys out, getting ready of a day of gaming fun.

Miles staging his Mario toys out, getting ready of a day of gaming fun.

Who doesn't like a glass elevator, except for maybe Wreck-It Ralph? Jena approved, though.

Who doesn't like a glass elevator, except for maybe Wreck-It Ralph? Jena approved, though.

Opening day, a respectable line waiting for the doors to open.

Opening day, a respectable line waiting for the doors to open.

The event coordinators handled the morning /day one rush and constant comings-and-goings with professionalism and efficiency.  An organized, well-oiled machine.    Speaking of machines, the repair volunteers did a great job of keeping games going throughout the weekend.

Tournament Play

There were some real proud-dad moments watching Jena play in her first ranked tournament match.  In fact, maybe I should have spent less time being proud and more time playing better; she qualified ahead of me in standings :)

JJP

Being a JJP loyalist / I would start off with JJP, right? JJP and Flip-n-Out pinball brought two Hobbits, a WOZ and a MMR.

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Whenever I look at Hobbit, I'm struck with just how awesome the game looks.  It is gorgeous and it exudes quality in person.   I have complex opinions regarding this pin.  On one hand, I think it looks great / sounds great and it was quite fun to play.    On the other hand, I'm not really into Tolkien stuff, I'm not a LOTR or Hobbit fan.   I guess maybe a symptom of my rampant ADD, I've never been able to sit through the books or the movies enough to really care what's going on.

In fairness, my complex opinions towards this pin might be colored by a largely disappointing pre-order experience with a particular JJP Distributor.

In the end, I think The Hobbit, is much like LOTR, at least to me.  Whenever I'd play LOTR in a setting full of noise and distraction, I really didn't get the love that people have for the game.   As I got to play a few good examples of the pin and go through the modes, learn the shots LOTR opened up for me. "AHA! I get it now, this is a really fun pin."   

Same goes for Hobbit.  I don't think a show is the best environment to really experience what Hobbit has going for it.   You really need to hear it, see it and feel the shots as you go through mode progression to fully appreciate the game.   Hobbit is a great second game from JJP.    WOZ was a hard act to follow.   Is The Hobbit better than WOZ?   As a matter of opinion, I don't think it is.  But WOZ might also be among the best games ever made..  

Jack's presentation covered his storied history in the industry, a Q&A format with a follow-on slide deck of some of the awesome things going on at JJP.   They continue to build Hobbits, will be building more WOZ 75th games and are staging for their next title.  From the sounds of it, the next title will scuttle the preorder-payment model and follow a more concise announce / reveal, sell and ship schedule similar to Stern.     

If you've never met Jack in person, you should endeavor to make it to a show and get some face time with him.   He's a super-sharp guy and his influence has raised the bar for pinball in quality, innovation (and price..)  Jack is good people.

Ghostbusters

Ghostbusters, the hype is real.     In my short time in this hobby, I haven't seen anything in the pin community like the response to this pin.    This show was the first change for many folks to get their first plays in one of several Ghostbusters games brought to the show by Marco Specialities.

Want to check out Ghostbusters LE? That's it in the center of the frame and this is the line to get to it.

Want to check out Ghostbusters LE? That's it in the center of the frame and this is the line to get to it.

The Ghostbusters pins at the show had a line behind them, constantly.    I would love to have gotten their play counts, though the SM VE next to it got around 500 plays for the weekend.   (Not as much as I would have expected)

My impressions?   Ghostbusters if fun, fast and challenging.  Ball times are generally short, less than 1/3 of folks appeared to start Storage Facility Multiball.  I noticed two people get Mass Hysteria, in the full weekend.   The artwork is.., well art.  Gorgeous.   Nearly TOTAN-level of gorgeous in my humble opinion.   

I couldn't hear the sound very well during the show but I recently found a GB in the wild at a Movie theater and got to enjoy the full sound experience - it sounded great.   I can see, though that some of the callouts and sounds might end up being repetitive after a lot of play.   

The pro and the LE played differently.  I think the pro was a little harder, though the LE was plenty difficult.  I *really* liked the magnetic slings in the LE.  They often worked like regular slings but when they didn't - it was cool. Something fresh, something different.   Apparently Marco set them to "Very Active" in game settings.

The LE/ Slimer Mech did experience some problems a few times during the show.  At some point they had to disable him entirely.  As far as I could tell, the pros experienced no problems.   Negative Reinforcement was spelled wrong on the pro. :)

I did get to put my initials on one of the games, though I'm sure I didn't hold GC for the weekend.

I did get to put my initials on one of the games, though I'm sure I didn't hold GC for the weekend.

At one point, there was a Ghostbusters 1-Ball tournament.  I was proud of Jena for stepping up for some tournament action, this trip.   The the video below, the GB Pro I was playing was super-tilty, or maybe the sun was in my eyes?  Playing up-hill in the snow.... :)

I spent much of my pinball time at this show running back and fourth between Hobbit and Ghostbusters.   I liked them both but for different reasons.  

Which one comes home with me? For now, Ghostbusters.  I love the theme, the art is cool and it fills a play / gameplay style hole in my pin lineup.    

All in all, Stern has a smash-hit in Ghostbusters.  Now they just have to catch up with demand.  I expect they will be making this game for years.    Looking forward to my Premium in a few weeks.

WNBJM

What can I say about Whoa Nelly Big Juicy Melons?  I was surprised how much fun I had playing this title.  I don't think I'll ever buy one but I did really enjoy it.

...and at the end of the day, who doesn't like Big Juicy Melons?  It is summer after all..

Marco had an excellent showing at this event. Really appreciate the new titles they brought out for us to play!

Marco had an excellent showing at this event. Really appreciate the new titles they brought out for us to play!

Getting Our Game On

I tried to balance my time between pins an arcades because I really love both.   While most of the pinball tables constantly had lines, the arcades were quite accessible.

I would like to have one of these! Love these setups

I would like to have one of these! Love these setups

I had to double check which finger was up when he waved at me.. Very movie accurate. :)

I had to double check which finger was up when he waved at me.. Very movie accurate. :)

As always, a pleasure to meet a member of the 501st!

As always, a pleasure to meet a member of the 501st!

SFGE this year was a blast.  The weekend went by really too quickly.  As, I came home and flipped the lights on in the game room it was a bitter-sweet moment; a mixture appreciation for the fun games I have but sorry the fun weekend of arcade festivities was over.  

All the more reason to go back next year!