Videogames, politics, science, all the important things in life.

Authenticating the Xbox Game Room Experience

Posted by nfinit on January 24, 2010

Save for a brief dalliance with online Street Fighter IV, I’ve managed to avoid the siren’s call of Xbox Live Arcade Gold membership.

Paying for online service seems a punitive and regressive tact for Microsoft to take as compared to the fully functional free services offered by Sony (and to a lesser extent, Nintendo) and the fluff services that Microsoft has tried to attach to Live Gold (Twitter, Facebook, Last FM) have yet to entice me as these services work perfectly well for free on the regular ol’ Internet.

So I’m a fairly satisfied second-class Xbox 360 owner, and I’d be hard pressed to think of a service which would sway my opinion and warrant another $50/year bill to my credit card– Well, I mean, unless Microsoft had a plan to create your own arcade space within Live using retro arcade games where your friends could come and visit then yeah, I’d probably have to break down and buy Live Gold for that.

(via Kotaku)

(via Destructoid)

(via Giant Bomb)


However, Microsoft being Microsoft, I’m concerned that they may push the ideal of the arcade over the reality of the arcade– namely,a bright, safe, clean, a place you don’t dread walking into, nothing of which represented the actual authentic arcade experience.  And I think a lot of reason for that is that most gamers haven’t actually been inside an arcade.  They went out of business!  Arcades were dank, dismal places that probably did more harm than good to the gaming industry and it’s no mistake that as soon as home consoles could convincingly replicate Tekken without need for specialized hardware that the arcade industry in America died virtually overnight.

So if we’re going to do this right, I want my arcade experience to authentically replicate the arcade as I knew it personally, if perhaps for no other reason than for my arcade to serve as a lesson for generations to come:


Possessing no discernable form of income, no car of his own, nor any detectable identity away from the immediate confines of the mall arcade, and likely operating under a variety of illegal narcotics, Clifford exists for one reason and one reason alone– to defeat you at Street Fighter.  Clifford is an implacable arcade game playing machine, laying waste to all in his path, issuing mocking dismissals to his opponents even as his quarters fall into the catch box.

If Clifford were to direct his natural game-playing skills toward something useful instead of mastering Guile’s seven hit corner handcuff combo he could have become one of the great chess grand champions, or world-famous poker player. As it stands he uses a mixture of phenomenal natural talents and a drug-induced haze to make sure you won’t spend more than two minutes at any given Street Fighter cabinet before slinking off to a nice safe game of Fatal Fury Special.


The straight-laced, methodical Ryu to Clifford’s cocky and overbearing Ken; Phillip may seem a nice fellow with a good-paying job (despite also seemingly never leaving the arcade) and a bright future ahead of him– but make no mistake about it, Phillip also exists entirely to take your hard-earned tokens away from your pockets, denying you even the visceral thrill of Clifford’s elaborate, flashy 27-second long air juggles as he executes an endless, demoralizing, boring secession of three-hit Jumping Fierce-> Crouching Jab-> Fierce Fireball combos.

Possessing no discernable personality of his own, Phillip eschews Clifford’s opiate-induced zen state for a mixture of his own superb skills and an obsessive amount of research to stifle his foes.  Phillip will peruse messageboards, usenet, YouTube, ancient Assyrian texts, anything at his disposal in order to gain an advantage, all to perfect the exact frame of animation where Ryu’s first pixel of fist interacts with Chun Li’s hitbox.

Battles between Phillip and Clifford often take hours to complete and are fully capable of depleting the gold reserves of developing nations.  These conflicts will usually end with Phillip issuing grudging respect toward Clifford’s abilities while Clifford will ask for a ride to a friend he knows who “owes him some money”.

That One Awesome Machine That’s Always Broken

Maybe it’s a deluxe Galaxy Force machine with full rotating cockpit, a Capcom Dungeons and Dragons arcade machine, or  a two person Tokyo Wars booth, but whatever it is it’s by far the coolest machine in the entire arcade and it’s always broken.  Maybe you’ve heard about another machine like it in a Chuck E Cheese three towns away, but the one time you drove out there to lay witness to a fully functional version of That One Awesome Machine That’s Always Broken you found a barren lot overrun by wild marsupials and vagrants.  You’ve never actually managed to play That One Awesome Machine That’s Always Broken yourself, but you’re sure that if you were to experience but a credit’s play on the machine that you could die a happy man.

On the rare occasions where you’ve actually seen it operational That One Awesome Machine That’s Always Broken is almost always being surrounded by….


You don’t know how they got there and no one will take responsibility for the little bastards, but they’re invariably all over the place, under foot, slamming violently on buttons to machines they don’t have quarters to play, waving their hands between you and the screen, begging for quarters, screaming with the staff over the crane machine, asking if anyone has seen their dad, running cover for their friend who’s being chased by a liquid metal assassin robot from the future, breaking the Galaxy Force cabinet again… And the worst bit is how you’re utterly powerless against these little brats as you just know if you ask the kid if he’d mind moving out-of-the-way so you can play some Captain Commando that his meth-riddled mom who’s been using the mall as her own personal daycare will materialize to knee you mercilessly in the crotch.

Dropping off the kids at the arcade was a classic late 80’s/early 90’s white trash child rearing technique and one wonders where these mothers abandoned  their children once the arcades began closing their doors.  It’s interesting to note that this dovetails nicely with the rise of the homeschooling phenomenon in the United States– Could it be that the collapse of the American arcade industry left millions of mothers with little option but to force their kids to stay at home?  Would America be facing its current public education crisis if Daytona USA had never been developed?  Most importantly, are we raising an entire generation of children lacking an instinctual smooth crouching roundhouse into a double fireball?

A Row of Daytona USA Machines

As much as I love Sega of yore, I have to wonder exactly how much the success of Daytona USA played into the eventual downfall of the arcade.  Sure, most people like to point fingers to the proliferation of fighting games, but it always seemed to me that the Daytona USA machine– while undoubtably popular– took up most of the oxygen for the casual arcade fan.  How many times would someone pop into the arcade, see the Dayona USA machine in use, only to walk back out again without dropping a single token in an NBA Jam machine?

I contend that the success of Daytona USA forced arcade operators to stuff their arcades with ever more elaborate Daytona USA setups, eventually forcing operators to spend tens of thousands of dollars on multiple four-player cabinet setups– which in itself set up an arms race between arcade developers to release the most eye-cacthing, stupidly expensive, space-hogging arcade cabinets imaginable, culminating in Dance Dance Revolution and the spectacle of thousands of obese pasty geeks sweating profusely as they attempt a sadistic form of digital Riverdance.


One Response to “Authenticating the Xbox Game Room Experience”

  1. The sole spruce included with the game is in variants
    which have more than one pocket card, which can be positioned wherever.

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