Salutatum Decerto

by Crom

I remember the first arcade game I ever finished. I remember where I was, who I was with, how long it took and the amount of money needed to do it. I remember the triumph I felt when I’d done it, the knowledge that I had been victorious. I was 8. Heh, yeah I can imagine what you’re thinking. What the hell does a 8 year old know about victory and elation? Well, I guess I knew everything I could know about it. At the time I knew what I needed to know.

It was at Bullwinkle’s on Macleod trail. A bar stands there now; I won’t voice what I think of that. It was my birthday, and finishing the game was the only thing I wanted to do that day. We ate pizza and watched the sad animatronics show they had there. Bullwinkle and friends dancing and singing… very sad. Didn’t matter though, I could have seen a midget play the hill street blues theme song on a jug and it would have made me happy. When dinner was finished me and my brother walked up to our destiny, we knew what was gonna happen. We were gonna finish a game no one else I knew had finished. Double Dragon.

Two dollars and seventy five cents each. That’s what it cost us. Two hours of beating down punks with bats and chicks with whips. At the helm of these Double Dragons, you dished out gangland justice with a joystick and three simple buttons-jump, punch, kick. The battle raged through four stages, covering a street scene, a factory, a jungle-like setting and the Shadow Warriors’ creepy castle, where a still-armed Willy awaited.

Slamming the big guy with the bat and knocking him onto the conveyer belt to fall off the edge. Kneeing the punk in the face 3 times (no more) then throwing him over your shoulder, using the whip to get my brother out of trouble; him using the bat to smash the big guy who’s got me cornered. Eventually each obstacle was over come, each boss was defeated. Finally the blue character got his girlfriend back and the red guy shook his fists menacingly; Erik and I walked away feeling like gods. I was happy for a week. But, no kids are gonna feel that anymore, no more Final Fight, no more Battle of the Midway. Street Fighter’s gone Hollywood, bubble boble’s just gone. No more Sunset riders, high impact football. No more Operation:Wolf, no GI Joe.

Midway Games announced on Friday June 23 2001, that it would be pulling out of the coin-operated game business, and would no longer produce stand up arcade hits. No one is left. It’s sad really, and it makes no sense. Well, in truth it makes perfect sense, in so far as the economics go. When I was a kid you could play a video game for an hour on 50 cents. Now you can’t even start without shucking out a dollar. Kids can’t afford it, inflation went up, allowances didn’t compensate. It shouldn’t have happened. The arcade was my training ground; it was the first place my “DARRYL” like powers started. I played games like Alex Rogen, preparing myself for the day when I would be called upon to use my skills. Now the arcade stands empty. The kids have gone home to their Dream Casts, Playstations and N64’s. The days when a handful of change meant hours of laughter and fun are washed away in the commercial sales of “home” entertainment and outrageous coin-op prices. The greatest arcades stand now like empty shadows of their formal glory, with a few pittance games lining the walls, and stony eyed clerks handing out change. We who lived those years, gaze on our old stomping grounds, jingle our pocket of change and sigh.

  • Salutatum Decerto
  • by Crom
  • Published on July 1st, 2001

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