Weekend Reading: Arcade oddities

Ocassionally, I walk into the local arcade here in Syracuse, just to check out what they’ve got in there. From time to time I come across some things that make me do a double take at what I’m seeing. Usually it’s nothing too obvious — it’s something you have to see someone doing in order to really even notice that anything is off.

So, this week’s Weekend Reading is dedicated to some of the oddities that I, or the rest of the staff, have encountered in our visits to the arcades. These aren’t the utterly bizarre games that you’ll find in Japan, but just quirks and oddities of machines here in the U.S. and Canada.

First, there’s Beatmania III, which features a 3 1/2 inch floppy drive. When I first saw it, I had to pause for a minute, simply because I didn’t believe that I was seeing a 3 1/2 inch floppy drive out in the wild. The use behind the drive in the machine, though, is so that players can save their high scores and use it again on other Beatmania machines, or so that you can go home and check the scores on your PC. Apparently in certain machines, with the floppy in the drive, the machine will allow for additional game modes and extra songs.

Now, the fact that Mario Kart has its own arcade machine is an oddity to begin with. The game is a co-development between Nintendo and Namco, creating Mario Kart Arcade GP. The game features Pac-Man, Ms. Pac-Man, and Blinky the ghost as characters. As a bonus, the machine actually has a camera built into it so that it can take your picture and place it above the player’s character in multiplayer races. From what I’ve heard, it’s actually a pretty fun racing game, as it builds up on some of the features from the previous Mario Kart games (Mario Kart DS came afterwards). Perhaps next time I’m at the mall, I’ll actually drop the overpriced $1+ to play a race.

The Tekken 5 machine has some neat abilities: there are ports for PS2 controllers, as well as for a system memory card. This allows players to save their stats for the home version of the game, or bring in characters that they’ve been using for a while. On a similar note, Dyson brought up the fact that the old arcade version of NFL Blitz had ports for Dreamcast VMUs.

Faith brought up a Star Trek arcade machine that has two handles for competing players to hold on to. The handles then vibrate faster and faster, trying to shake off the players. There’s not a lot of information for the game, but the flyer above just makes the game seem really odd. I’d find it a little creepy if while in the middle of trying to hold onto these two vibrating handles, an animatronic Borg face starts taunting me.

Since I have a fairly limited knowledge of all the arcade machines out there, I ask you readers: what are some of the strange things you’ve found in the arcades?

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