Monday, 29 September 2014

High Scores Interactive Arcade Muesem

We have 10 days in San Francisco in between leaving Berlin and flying back to New Zealand.

After failing to spot a single coin-op game in Germany, I was really keen to see if SF had something to offer an arcade starved traveler. A quick Google search showed much promise: this blog entry by Simon Careless really helped to narrow down the hunt.

After a bit of web snoopy I decided to go check out High Scores Interactive Arcade Museum in Alameda. It was an easy half hour bus trip from Oakland (where I'm staying) and I could hardly believe my eyes when I got there...

High Scores - Interactive Arcade Museum
Unlimited - All you can play!
Pristine Nintendo cabs!
Punch Out, Vindicators, Tempest!
Neo Geo, Double Dragon, Hyper Street Fighter II Anniversary Edition 

Instantly I recognised that this was the sort of place I have always dreamed of: a boutique retro arcade jam packed with the best video games from the '80s with all machines lovingly maintained and set to free play.

When you walk in the door you're asked if you'd like an hour pass for $5 or an all day pass for $10. Of course I opted for the all day pass. It was a bargain considering I wouldn't be able to experience something like this in Australia no matter how much money I was willing to pay!

The other thing that struck me was the wonderful condition of the machines. Almost every game was in a dedicated cabinet, the marquees were glowing, the glass was sparkling and the majority of monitors were tuned to perfection.

Many of the screens looked ridiculously good. In particular, Vindicators, Xevious and Gauntlet were about as good as an arcade CRT can possibly get.

Vindicators looking good
Xevious marquee
Xevious title screen
Super-clean Gauntlet cabinet
Crazy good focus and convergence

All these pictures were taken with my old Samsung Galaxy Nexus phone. Not exactly ideal... but the point is that you can be sure that these games looking even better in the flesh.

With my day pass wristband on and nowhere else to be, I set about trying to play every game in the house! Being a teenager of the '90s of course I had to start with Street Fighter II.

Super Street Fighter II Turbo

Despite what the marquee says, this was actually Hyper Street Fighter II Anniversary Edition which I'd never seen in an arcade before. Super cool! I battled another gamer for a good half an hour and had blast.

Hyper Street Fighter II - The Anniversary Edition

Next up I had bash on Final Fight. I loved this game as a kid! I'm still pretty crap at it and can't get that far with continuing. A few years back I decided it was quite a "cheap" game. Becomes a really coin guzzler in the later stages. Gripes aside, it was awesome to be playing this game on a dedicated cab!

Final Fighter marquee
Monitor in tip-top condition

After some Capcom action I jumped across and indulged with some of my favorite Neo Geo games. High Scores has two Neo Geo multi game cabs. One has a smaller 20 inch CRT which was lovely while the other larger cab had some nasty misconvergence that was atypcial of their machines.

Neo Geo Multi-Video System
Metal Slug 3 title screen
Larger Neo Geo machine
Game selection menu
Nice to finally play Blazing Star on a cab!

Before diving into all the '80s goodness I had a crack at Revolution X. What a strange mess that game is...

"Music is the Weapon" WTF?!
Helga actually looks pretty fun to me...

After touring High Scores '90s collection it was time to hit the '80s! Certainly, this is the focus of their collection and, gee, what a collection!

One sweet Frogger cab
Frogger looked amazing in person
Featuring "Peter Pepper"
No idea how to play this!
Williams' Defender
Pristine looking Defender monitor

I have to admit that I'd never played many of these '80s originals. Sure, I've fired them up in MAME before but it's not the same. I don't doubt the authenticity of MAME's emulation but many of these games have unique controls that can't be properly reproduced with an XBox gamepad or generic 6 button fighting panel.

Anyway, check out some of the gems!

Centipede marquee
Crazy game!
Deluxe Space Invaders cabinet
Such a cool effect...
Discs of Tron logo
Another awesome light show
Double Dragon!
The old classic in action
The ever green Galaga
Bad photo of a pristine monitor
More to come!

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Second last day in Berlin

On my second last day in Berlin, I planned on dumping my Berlin TVs at BSR Recycle Center.

However, there is a group of old men that hang out down the road from the recycle yard and hoard over a pile of electronics. Since I hate seeing lovely televisions go to waste, I was more than happy to pass my TVs onto them when they asked.

It took two trips on up the road, 40 mins each way. Three 14 inch TVs and one 28 inch TV. I'll sleep well tonight!

Triple stack
Travelling with a Grundig
Elevator action
Ticket to ride
The new owner of my four televisions

Monday, 22 September 2014

SCART Hunter's MAME front end

So, that wraps it up for the Berlin TVs...

In other news, I've been working on my own MAME front end for the past month or so.

It's pretty tacky (coded using AutoHotkey) and geeky but it's really cool for finding games based on their video modes.

Check out a screenshot:

New MAME front end
Based on what you see, you can probably workout the concept... filters help navigate the games within MAME.

Fernseher aus Berlin - Nr. 6

My final CRT scavenging trip in August was pretty epic... I travelling across town to collect a vintage 70 cm Blaupunkt that was defective. I had to catch two trains and go to the top of an apartment block to fetch this baby.

Trolley on train, loaded up with a Fernseher!

Due to it's vintage I was interested to get hold of it and send the chassis back to Australia. Alas, I am at the end of my trip and have no more money! This one is gonna end up on the scrap heap too, unfortunately.

Front (with glass screen removed)
Blaupunkt IS 70-40 VT (chassis 500.30)
The guts
Vintage all the way
Ready for packing?
Philips A66EAK51X01 tube

It's a shame I can't afford to post this home. Would have been a nice little project... Better to save the money for a full blown cab when I get home, I decided.