I have recently acquired a brand new 80's Cocktail arcade Cabinet (pictures below) that plays many of my favourite games from the 80's. Besides the unit being very nostalgic , and presents the games in the same way as they were, there have been a few things that occurred to me on why these old units are so much fun to play.
I hear you say, "but I can play all these games on my xbox or MAME on my computer". While this much is true there a few things that can NOT replicate the real arcade experience..... let me explain :
The controls are important!
First an most importantly these games were designed to be played with the real controls of the day, not control pads of the xbox, not touch interfaces , real control sticks that were digital, and real buttons you can mash. This can not be easily replicated with modern day controls. Also these games were designed with very low resolution CRT monitors, not HIGH RES monitors or LCD displays that just make the old graphics look wrong, too sharp and blocky. So if you are going to get one, make sure its a real ARCADE CRT and nothing else.
The social aspect is missing
I play online games all the time on my xbox, I have enjoyed many many 100's of hours playing various halo games online, but not too many people chat to each other, or if they do, the swear and carry on in a rude childish manner. If you did this in person in the arcade years ago, you would have been punched out! No one behaved in this manner, people played for total fun, and while you might have teased each other a bit , it all was all fun, and not taken seriously ! Nothing beats the aspect of playing games with the other person sitting right next to you, this is not easily replicated with your computer.
Plain simple fun !
Self explanatory really, but the old 80's games are simple (by todays standards), but are fun, simple and quick enjoyment. They have very little learning curve, but take practice to master, and are unforgiving, which makes it all the more fun. People who did not grow up in the 80's do not know the whole social aspect and the discovery of going to the arcades, socialising with real people in the real world have missed a golden era! Every time you went to the arcades, you would see something different, see some new game technology or aspect you have never seen before, it would lead to conversations before and aftwards of games, or things that happened in the arcade.. it was a total real life experience, this is not replicated in any way. So if you are like me, and grew up in the late 70's and 80's with going to arcades as your social aspect, relive some of the fun you had with your kids, friends etc, and get yourself an arcade table, you won't regret it!
I liked the aspect of a cocktail cabinet, which were very popular in Australia, and were found in many fish and chip or pizza shops of the day. I intend to get a stand up unit later this year (like the one pictured above) to replicate al those horizontal games I liked, and to play some head to head games that come out in the later 80's. Finally I hope to complete my collection of 80s nostalgia and fun with a pinball machine, as I haven't seen any thing that comes close to replicating the real feel of a pinball machines, its so real and tactile its not an experience that can be reproduced by any other means...
Alas the expense and the maintenance of such a machine is a little daunting to me, so it will be a few years I think till I can muster enough funds to acquire such a machine.
ANYWAYS GO AND AQUIRE YOUR FAVOURITE 80'S ARCADE TABLE AND GO HAVE SOME REAL FUN :)