Word to the wise. Don’t mix rum and grape juice then try to use spray paint in the middle of winter. It won’t dry in 22 degree weather and there’s a very good reason it says use in a well ventilated area. This is going to be a fun night. ‘scuse me one sec…ah ha ha! That tastes awful, almost as bad as the time my college roommate and I made zombie smoothies. Why didn’t I just open a bottle of wine? Well I’d already poured the juice and the rum was sitting right there on the shelf. It seemed like a good idea at the time, sort of.
Ok, so I’m here tonight to to talk about ripoffs. Specifically, I’m here to talk about arcade games. As Tophat mentioned we went to Arcade Legacy last weekend for both our birthdays. What he failed to mention was his birthday was this week so we sort of treated each other with a lady free trip to the arcade.
Really the only reason I even consider going to Arcade Legacy is because of their kick ass pricing system. I don’t want to sound like a walking, or typing as it word, advertisement for the place but their business model is one I can get behind. Though how they manage to make money I’ll never know. When I walk in their door I slapped down good Mr. Hamilton and I’m free to play every game in the place without paying another dime. Why is this so cool? I mean all you do is sit down at the wheel of Daytona Cruisin Thunder Taxi and drop in your coins and your free to have veritable minutes of fun, right? Well, sure. But once you step up to the big leagues you gotta pay to play. And I mean pay out the dairy air (sic). Oh that works on multiple levels.
Case in point a little game called Metal Slug. I think this run and gun side scroller got its name because the only way to beat it is by using a washer with a string tied around it. Metal Slug is a hilariously outrageous games that has you fighting zombies, mummies, pseudo-Nazi soldiers led by Castro, and surprise! aliens. Hmmmm. I moved the wet paint to the bathroom and flicked the fan on. I don’t taste sunshine anymore. Delicious sunshine. The outlandish enemies and gratuitous violence is everything I’ve ever loved about videogames with the exception of flying through space. Though to be fair, Tophat and I have only played Metal Slug X, and Metal Slug 4. Both games allowed you to eat things, but four makes you fat if you eat too much. Hilariously fat.
I don’t remember what I was talking about. Something to do with outlandishness. Or was it inland? I never was much for the ocean. What with the rolling seas and the water full of salt. What a mean trick that is. But yeah, the Metal Slug series is awesome. The problem is, or was rather, it falls squarely in the realm of things I can’t afford. When I was a kid I was the biggest cheap skate amongst my friends so going to the arcade was a nightmare. I’d take my three dollars worth of quarters and walk around watching other kids play while I decided how best to spend my pittance. It’s not that I was poor, I just spent my money on cool things like NASCAR memorabilia and, and, other stuff. Important stuff. Oh! I did save up to buy a stereo. A three disc changer, dual tape decks, AM/FM radio, detachable speakers, remote control. Man that thing was cool. I still used it in my bedroom, though the disc changer likes to change at will. Oh we were in the arcade. So yeah, I’d end up playing a few round of Ivan “Ironman” Stewart’s Super Off Road and almost a full race of Cruisin USA before going back to Area 51 and laughing at how dumb the aliens looked. Turns out there was a much cooler version of Super Off Road for SNES called Rock N’ Roll Racing. It had rockets!
When it comes to arcades I avoided fighting games because these took quarters to master, plus I could just get my friend to do all the fatalities on his console at home. I avoided the big fancy giant peripheral games because they were like a whole dollar to play. I avoided puzzle games because you have to be completely lame to play those in an arcade. That’s what those late weeknights at home in your room are for. I avoided games with gun peripherals for reasons that still escape me, and I avoided shooters because I couldn’t ever finish the story. That is after all the best part of the shooters, the story. Double Dragon? Some big tough guys punched your girlfriend in the stomach and ran off with her! You’d better beat up everyone ever. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles? Well that one has a story we all know and love. Xmen? Uhhhhh. Time for die? And we already discussed the awesome that is Metal Slug’s story, or complete and utter lack thereof. Regardless, I could not start killing all the mummies/Nazis/aliens and not see it through. Then the terrorists win. Or well, the zombies/Nazis/aliens win. We just can’t have that.
But how has Metal Slug gone about fleecing pimple faced children for the last 15 years? Simple. The game gives you two lives, NO health, and enough chaotic fire and seizure inducing explosions to bring about a quick and bitter end to these little sprites. This isn’t Halo. You don’t get regenerating shields and pickups for your health. If you survive long enough you get armored vehicles that offer protection. Except for this stupid little open air mobile turret thing in Metal Gear 4 that is only good for using the sweet Kamikaze move. That was a nice addition for four. We didn’t time it, but I bet it took Tophat and I about 30 minutes, maybe 45 to beat two of the five Metal Slug games we played Saturday and I’m fairly certain I was going through credits at one a minute. Tophat might have stretched it to one every two minutes. That means to beat the game it would have cost me…oh no maths! Hold on….$7.50 to beat the game in 30 minutes at a quarter a credit. That’s almost my entire admission fee into the joint. Not to mention that’s a little less than half the most I ever spent at an arcade as a kid.
That was only one game. Tophat and I spent about four hours going through the two player games and daring each other to do stupid things like play some weird Japanese fighting game with Sasquatch and Red Riding Hood, or play DDR. I quit half way through a song, for the record. I did however get the high score on Battlezone. All those early Saturday mornings running the Bobcat for my uncle paid off in spades baby! We clearly got our money’s worth and then some. I pity the fool that still saves up their precious quarters for a few more seconds of Ninja Assault. I’m on to you Namco. I’m on to you.