As we headed through (what we thought was) the main FunSpot entrance, a handful of classic arcade stand-ups greeted us. Many were old and withering away, and some were even unplugged. Naturally, we feared the worst. Had the mission already failed? Was this fragile sanctuary dead along with the era it was established to preserve?
Of course not! Turning the corner we realized the room we had entered was not meant to be our first glimpse into the mission behind FunSpot and the American Classic Arcade Museum. A row of machines from our youth, from Ikari Warriors to Tetris, padded the walls, surrounded by 8x10 pictures of arcade legends who had spent hours in these very rooms in search of high scores.
As though, somewhere, an unseen patron saint of classic coin-op and pinball machine nostalgia was waiting for the perfect moment -- this moment -- to press "play," the overhead speakers crackled on and Journey's "Don't Stop Believing" began to fill the room. Row after row of arcade machines stretched forth, organized and placed by company: Sega, Nintendo, Atari, Namco, and so on. Pinball machines hugged the left wall; machines dedicated to heroes of another generation like KISS and the Harlem Globetrotters.
Tucked away in a far corner of the room sat the machine made famous by the documentary The King of Kong - A Fistful of Quarters
: Donkey Kong
. To our surprise, the top score held by Steve Wiebe was missing from the machine's leaderboard -- later it was explained that all machines are powered down at the close of each business day, resetting even the most historic of records. Since the release of King of Kong
, FunSpot has enjoyed renewed public interest. While the Donkey Kong
machine is usually the first stop for new visitors, Gary Vincent, one of the founders of the museum, told us that Pac-Man
remains one of the busiest machines on the floor.
Venturing down to the second and third floors of FunSpot transported us back to more recent eras with light gun games like Time Crisis 3,
team brawlers like The Simpsons
arcade game, and modern pinball machines like the Addams Family
-- which happens to be the bestselling pinball machine
of all time
. Further down, racing games flashed before us, including an 8-player Daytona
section. But what really caught our attention was the price to play. FunSpot depends on donations from generous collectors to entertain visitors, so we were expecting an expensive visit. (How many arcade philanthropists can there really be?) To our surprise, most games required a mere 25-cent token per play.
If you love classic arcades and are seeking an opportunity to relive your youth, or you're simply interested in witnessing the industry's evolution in all its glowing glory, we highly recommend stopping by FunSpot. It may be a trek for some, but it's well worth it. Check back tomorrow for our interview with Gary Vincent, co-founder of the American Classic Arcade Museum, where we discuss how technology has both hurt and helped the arcade scene and touch on violence in today's video game entertainment.