A Look Back at the Golden Era of Arcade Games

Remember the times when all you needed was a coin to jam on the best games in the world? Yeah, today’s feature looks back at the absolute greatest times gaming has ever seen thanks to the amazing arcade games and how they shaped up the industry for what it is today.

Insert Coin To Play

A fond memory that many gamers have of their early or perhaps even of their intermediate gaming days is the presence of arcade machines that populated densely crowded public places.

What one might recall is that they would purchase some tokens or have some spare change lying around in their pocket which could be used to play a few rounds of gaming at these various arcades. Contrary to what one might believe, arcade gaming did not begin with Space Invaders in 1978 but rather, it went way back to the early twentieth century with shooting ranges and fortune telling machines at carnivals and amusement parks.

These developed into electromechanical games towards the 1960s which would use flashing bulbs, lights, and other forms of attractive accessories to keep players riveted to the games. The first arcade game would launch in 1971 with Computer Space by Atari, Inc. with Space Invaders taking gamers and arcades by storm in 1978 which would be released by Taito.

Arcade Games

While being rather new at the time, arcade cabinet owners that utilized them commercially only had one common complaint: they were just too popular; the coin trays would fill up within a matter of a few hours and had to be emptied every now and then.

Golden Age Of Gaming Begins!

With the release of Taito’s Space Invaders, gaming was already starting to make headlines. This would eventually lead to what is called as the “Golden Age” of video games, while the term remains very much disputed, arcade games had shot up to worldwide popularity along with home consoles joining the market.

It was in this era that many names such as Outrun, Pac-Man, and Frogger would make their appearance and captivate the audience. It also signaled the rise of Nintendo and its titles Super Mario Bros., Legend of Zelda, and Donkey Kong.

This was also the era that would see the videogames crash of 1983, only for the videogames industry to be saved by Nintendo, then having the talents of the late Satoru Iwata. If anything, one can agree that if Nintendo had not pulled videogames out of its largest crunch, the world of gaming would have been fundamentally different from what it is now.

However, while arcade games soared in popularity and reached their pinnacle, the appearance of home consoles would prove to be a constant thorn by their side. Home consoles, despite being very expensive at the time, were steadily becoming more affordable. Used deals on gaming consoles and other gaming accessories in the classifieds could also bring home consoles within the possession of those with budget constraints.

Clearly, the sales of arcade cabinets, arcade tokens, tickets, etc. had peaked and like anything that peaks, they would soon start to slump due to the popularity of home consoles along with their exclusives.

The End Of An Era?

Perhaps not very likely, while arcade game sales were declining and the world of videogames was being revolutionized, arcade games would not just disappear like disco and become a thing of the past. Arcade games would hold up to the competition surprisingly well and continue to innovate with the rise of home consoles.

In 1987, Capcom would release a mainstay of fighting games titled “Street Fighter” and the game’s incredible popularity would make way for the even more revolutionary Street Fighter II in 1991 which would introduce competitive gameplay in videogames. Street Fighter II would be perhaps the most successful post-golden age videogame that would go on to sell 200,000 arcade cabinets and 15 million software units worldwide.

Street Fighter II would go on to be considered one of the best videogames of all time in various top-tens and it would spawn multiple editions of the game itself because it was so well-received among fans. Soon afterward, Mortal Kombat would release the very next year and introduce the ability to shed liters of blood everywhere in the form of fatalities.

This would not take long to become a very controversial matter, with many parents and even lawmakers concerned about the “violent” nature of these games. The ESRB would soon be formed to rate videogames in a similar way that movies would be rated. While the popularity may have never reached their golden age levels, arcade games were most certainly here to stay and continue making waves in their realm.

Millennium Age Gaming

The popularity of home consoles was only escalating rapidly and the fact that gamers could pay once for a game, or even rent a game compared to paying for every single session would play a large factor in the rise of home gaming systems.

Arcade gaming had to combat this defining feature that could spell disaster for itself, in turn, Konami responded with an exclusive arcade experience in the form of Dance Dance Revolution, this was a music game for arcades that would utilize an entire (but small) dance floor as an entire gaming controller, where the players had to press different tiles in an attempt to perform various dance moves to play the game. Once again, arcade gaming had made it into the spotlight and this game would spawn various clones owing much to its popularity.

Now, arcade gaming is usually considered a thing of the past, but in Japan, the story is entirely different. Surprisingly, in the home of Playstation, arcade gaming remains extremely popular. This is perhaps due to space for an arcade game and its exclusive experience to be available at a premium only a few could afford.

Arcade Games

Arcade gaming for Japan includes various new titles put out by developers which attract a lot of money and widespread attention from gamers. Panchiko games are also styled similar to arcade games in Japan and the revenue of these “games” is more than the casinos of Singapore, Macau and America combined. It is almost as if the arcades in Japan had resisted the test of time and continue to impress, owing much to the trends of the Japanese markets and exclusive games only for arcade systems.

Largely due to Japan, arcade gaming is very much alive, and even in certain parts of the world, a “gaming lounge” seems very analogous to arcades of the good old days. Here, gamer still pays to play and it appears to be close enough to arcade gaming in all but name.

That’s a wrap for the super heartfelt feature, share your favorite arcade games and memorable moments with us, and for features like these keep checking Gmeshedge.

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About the Author: Buntoo Cage

Hi I am Buntoo Cage yeah you herd it right. I absolutely love videogames and the things attached to its very culture like. I love professional wrestling ( heck I've even fought a few matches) I do my own show on Facebook called "TheTooSweetShow" and I'm an active musician as well.

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