This week, I returned home from my vacation which is always difficult. Oh well.
I was happy to get back to my arcade stick. I wish I had gotten this years ago. I’ve been playing an old arcade game called “Juno First“. The graphics are so cool.
I’ve been using Games Database to find old arcade games to play. Search on the internet sucks these days. If I search for a list of good 80s arcade games, every list is the same (full of the games we all know already, like Pac-Man.) Games Database lets me sort by year, platform, genre and more. I can see screenshots, videos – it’s really a nice way to find old games to play.
It’s sad that arcades aren’t that big of a thing anymore. We have a few around here in the Detroit area. Barcades, that type of thing. Then there’s Marvin’s Marvelous Mechanical Museum, which is incredible. It has arcade games, pinball, ticket games, and “curiosities” both new and old. You know, like the fortune teller from Big? Things you put a quarter in and it does some mechanical show or something.
What’s cool is some of the very retro looking “mechanical” games are actually new ones done by artists.
Video arcade games, are pretty much dead these days. If an arcade has some, it’s only for nostalgia value and is probably like a Ms. Pacman or Simpsons or something. Some of the other categories in arcades are doing a little better. Pinball is very mechanical and hard to replicate elsewhere, unlike a video arcade where you’re probably getting a better experience at home. Ticket machines seem to still do OK but are just glorified casino games.
One company trying to revive the video arcade is exA-Arcadia. They sell machines that take cartridges, and their games are exclusive(ish) to their hardware. So you can’t play these at home. I guess this could drive people to the arcade?
I was thinking about the new mechanical games at Marvin’s. They’re not that interactive. They’re not even fun really. They’re just cool pieces of art. This would interesting to do something similar for video arcade games.
Looking at something like the PICO-8, I think about how many one-person programmers make really cool games that would do great in an arcade.
I would love to see a video arcade game as an art project. A cool looking cabinet. Not retro (that’s played out), but eye catching. Done by a local artist. Running a game that no one is familiar with, something exclusive, intriguing (and fun). There’s so many games like this on PICO-8. Put it in the back of a local coffee shop or bar. It wouldn’t be a huge money maker but a cool art project. I wish I had enough money to fund a project like this.
Games I’m gonna try this week:
I got an arcade stick this week for playing Shoot Em Ups! It’s super fun to play, and I think it’s increasing my skill a little.
I’ve been having a good time putting on Gyruss in MAME with unlimited lives and listening to music. It’s just a nice vibe. I’m starting to think I prefer games with a black background. They seem more cozy at night? I may start a collection on here of good games with a black background.
I haven’t found too much new music this week, which is rare. But I’m digging Big Earth Energy by Cool Maritime.
Now I’m at an all inclusive resort this weekend. I’ve never been to one before. It’s pretty crazy! I’m relaxing a lot, although part of me feels like I shouldn’t be here. I feel like I’m have more in common with the workers than the other people staying here. It’s nice though – all the loud extroverted party people stay at the pool in the back, and the quiet introverts stay at the pool in the front. It’s funny how life is always self-sorting like this.
As I was floating around the lazy river, reflecting, I was struck with a thought. This resort is very fake and manufactored, in a way to maximize human relaxation. The plants and palm trees are real – it’s not as fake as say, Disney World, but through the foilage weaves a “lazy river” pool. It invokes the feeling of floating through a jungle river, but I don’t have to worry about crocodiles or anything like that. It’s completly safe.
It brings to mind something I’ve been thinking about lately. There’s a lot of talk about how much technology is ruining our lives and society. How we need to get back to some past ideal – put down the smart phone and pick up a book. I’ve been very much in this space for the past year – trying to limit my phone use, being descerning with what tech I engage with. I mostly agree, a lot about technology is bad for society. But Gosh, is it also really really good for a lot of things! I’m enjoying being able to relax in the lazy river without piranhas eating my toes, a product of human ingenuity and progress!
I think too about how quickly I can get into a relaxing flow state with a video game – having a rough day and being able to turn off my mind in 30 seconds is quite incredible!
I was chatting about all this with ChatGPT and we started to combine it with other topics, mainly God and evolution. I said, let’s assume God is real. Let’s assume evolution is real. Many people think humans were created whole – that the ideal way to live is maybe growing our own food, living in tribes, etc. Even people who don’t believe in God think like this. That we may have levolved a certain way and technology is disrupting it.
But what if we’re still evolving and what if this is part of God’s design? If there is a God and evolution is real, then evolving is part of God’s plan for us and we are evolving toward our true potential as a species. Maybe technology factors into this. A way to refine our being and reach out true potential – like being able to relax quickly.
ChatGPT informed me that these are not new ideas. It recommended that I read
Pierre Telihard de Chardin. Also Ilia Delio. A corisory look into these thinkers shows me I have a lot of reading to do!
I don’t necessarily believe all of this. It’s just fun to think about such things.
This week: I beat Kalikan on Pico-8. I didn’t have much free time this week, but I spent all of it on this game. It’s opened my eyes to a few different things…
I really love Shoot ‘Em Ups. They’re what I’ve been looking for in gaming. I haven’t been gaming hardly at all lately. I don’t really have much time these days. Shoot ‘Em Ups are pick up and play – you can do just a few quick sessions. They’re delightfully retro – they can trace their lineage back to Space Invaders, the game that kicked off the golden age of video games. Even newly made Shoot ‘Em Ups have a retro feel.
Even though they’re easy to pick up, they’re often very challenging. You die. A lot. But it’s a good feeling to experience incremental progress. It puts me into a flow state.
From here: The term “flow state” describes a mental state in which a person is completely focused on a single task or activity. They are directing all of their attention toward the task, and they do not experience many thoughts about themselves or their performance. Some people refer to this informally as being “in the zone.”
Tasks that tend to encourage a state of flow often share similar characteristics. These tasks may be: challenging, but not so much that they are impossible. rewarding, meaning that a person gets a sense of pleasure or purpose from doing it. in-depth, involving an investment of some time or energy to make progress.
It’s nice to shut my brain off but be focused, and have fun. After I beat Kalikan, I’ve been looking at a few other Shoot ‘Em Ups to go to next. DoDonPachi is a popular game in the genre. I really like it. I rotated my monitor so it’s vertical.
I’ve also been trying out some TurboGrafx 16/PC Engine Shoot ‘Em Ups, as the TG16 is home to a lot in the genre. I spent a little time with Final Soldier and I loved the vibe. I’ll probably be coming back to this. I want to explore more TG16 games – it’s an interesting system. It’s like a souped up NES. The graphics are really nice!
I also have been playing a lot of Gyruss this week. I remember playing it at a hotel a lot on a vacation when I was a kid. I couldn’t remember the name, so I described it to ChatGPT and found it. I also got my screen rotated for this. This one has been fun to just put on and listen to music and chill out.
I was using my Switch gamepad but I read that the analog stick is bad for Shoot ‘Em Ups. I switched to my SNES controller. The Internet was right! A good D-Pad is much better. I’m hoping to get an arcade stick soon.
Music for this week:
I’ve also been listening a lot to PsyTrance. I go in and out of EDM. All the subgenres are confusing. I’ve been trying to make note of the subgenres I like, so I’m starting the list with PsyTrance. I’ve just been finding mixes on YouTube and Soundcloud. Are DJ mixes the way to go when listening to EDM? It seems like it. I like it better than listening to an EDM album.
Northwoods Baseball Sleep Radio A “sleep” podcast that’s a fake baseball game. Very enjoyable for background music.
Hanging Out With Audiophiles A podcast interviewing musicians and going deep into making music. I’ve only listened to half an episode so far but it seems right up my ally.
This week so super super busy, which has been hard because I’m a low energy person. But I think I’m appreciating winter more these days. I guess it helps that it’s been a mild winter. It’s been nice and cozy though. I even bought a hoodie for the first time in my adult life to help me be cozy!
I also started a 2024 Moodboard. Maybe it’s just a winter moodboard. Who knows.
The Golden Age of American Rock ‘n’ Roll Volume x
Letting Up Despite Great Faults
Maybe they would make a nice decoration, as I don’t have room or the money for the actual arcade game.
Operation Wolf – this was at my local bowling alley and I was obsessed with it. I don’t know if I ever even played it! I would just watch it. They also had it for NES and it worked with the light gun and I always wanted it but never got it. This has cool comic book style art, although it’s a little scary for me to look at every day.
Rampage: This was also at my local bowling alley. I do remember playing it. I think maybe someone left a credit in it? I think my friend had it for NES. This marquee looks really cool!
aGyruss: I had trouble remembering this game for awhile but found it through some googling. I went on a trip with my family, who knows where, and they had this in the hotel arcade. I was a bit older, so I had my own money and a lot of quarters. I played this a ton and got pretty good at it. It was a good memory. I only played it that one time, until I tried the ROM on my computer.
TMNT Arcade: This was a big deal when it came out. I loved playing this. The marquee is pretty cool, April is the hilghlight here.
Ms. Pac-Man: One of my favorite games of all time. I got pretty good at it. Very common to find even these days. Love the art here, especially the hairy ghost.
Donkey Kong Jr: I had this for NES but I always play it when I come across an arcade. I wrote in the NES manual as a kid that this was my favorite game ever.
Paperboy: I don’t know if I played the arcade until I was an adult, but I had this on NES and loved it. The graphics of the marquee are real nice.
Here are some other marquees that I don’t really have a connection to but I think look good:
Pink Floyd – Live at Pompeii
I had a dream the other night. In the dream I was able to see something no one else could see. In front of everyone who was naturally happy, there appeared a strip of gold leaf, floating in front of their face. I desperately wanted to know how they did it – how they were happy.
Research has found that around 50% of a person’s happiness comes from genetics. Maybe the vision of the gold leaf I saw was an indicator of those with high genetic happiness. What if everyone could see some sort of seal of happiness on everyone else? How would life be different? Those with the seal would probably be revered. Those with the seal would probably also only reproduce with others who had the seal, producing babies genetically disposed toward high levels of happiness.
As an aside, in one of the Harvard articles on happiness I’ve been reading, they mention going back to find what made you happy in your childhood. I’ve been having that thought lately too, as I’ve reconnected with a few things that I loved as a kid and have largely ignored as an adult. I used to love animation as a kid. Not just watching cartoons, but I was intrigued by the process behind it. I wanted to be an animator. I’ve recently started watching some animators on YouTube, and it’s brought back that childhood wonder and joy I used to feel.
I’m going to start keeping a worksheet on things from my childhood that I want to revisit as an adult. It’s a complicated thing – I know a lot of the movies, TV shows, games I used to love simply don’t hold up. And I don’t want to be a man-child who’s obsessed with pop culture from their childhood. Overindulgence in nostalgia can be dangerous. How does one honor their past interests without getting stuck in them? What does it mean to grow and evolve in our hobbies and interests? I want to figure out the essence of what brought me to these things. What about it did I enjoy, and can I update that for my life now?
For instance, yesterday I bought the PICO-8 console. If you’re not familiar, it’s a “fantasy” game console that exists as only an emulator, not actual hardware. It’s modeled after an 80s game console. There’s a very active game community for it, and new games are being released all the time. This really scratched that same itch of gaming on the NES when I was little, but in an updated form. The games are very retro, but many have modern concepts. They tend to be more “out there” then mainstream games since they’re developed by either a single person or a very small team. I don’t game much these days, but I very much have been enjoying the PICO-8 and I’ll probably stick with it as my main source of gaming.
Pizza Hotline – Emotion Engine (remix including the window startup sound)
Nathan Moody (found via the Sounds Apart podcast)