Daily Retro: What, in Fact, are Arcade Games?

Pong-Large

It was ages ago when I laid my hand on my first computer – a Speccy, which has served me well for years in a row – and started playing the games of the time. The graphics were crappy, the sounds were too, and the color depth was ridiculous (although, to be completely fair, I never used a CGA display, which was often even worse). Although loading the games was way too long and annoying for the whole family. Under such circumstances, as you can imagine, we loved going to the Arcade.

If you consider the term “arcade” a bit too similar to the architectural term (a covered passageway with arches along one or both sides), you are close to the truth. Arcade games got their names based on these arched passageways, where colorful cabinets often surrounded by neon lights, and painted futuristic, offered their exciting new worlds to players. If you’ve ever been to a casino, you can imagine what an arcade looked like: a bit similar to the slot machine parlor. Cabinets standing side by side, people frenetically feeding them with coins, game noises and flashing lights everywhere.

The decades have passed, the game has changed. Instead of cabinets, games are now running in browser windows and on smartphones. And the number of games has also exploded.

Just take a look at the hundreds of games available at Euro Palace – page after page of games to choose from. And you won’t have to feed them quarters anymore: deposits can be made using e-wallets and credit cards, and winnings are paid out in any currency you might imagine. And what winnings! Euro Palace has one of the most generous jackpots of the gaming world, currently worth over EUR 10 million. But players need not to aim so high – other games have smaller jackpots, paying out more often, and a winning streak at Euro Palace can also fill their pockets with some well deserved cash. Besides, the Euro Palace online casino also gives out free money to play with, and some of the most excellent prizes worth competing for.

Out of the light and noise extravaganza only two things have remained: the name and the games. Although the games themselves are no longer coin operated, their style has survived the great migration into our homes. And what games! They’re fast paced, action packed and colorful, with addictive gameplay. They are still best played with a joystick (a controller also works great).

The first veritable arcade game ever released – which was also a commercial success – was Pong, launched by Atari in 1972. Several other games followed suit in the coming years – Taito, one of the oldest game developer still in business, has launched racing and sports games, and brands like Sega and Midway emerge. The first important landmark in the arcade game history comes in 1978, when Taito releases the legendary Space Invaders game. Companies like Namco and Nintendo enter the race for arcade supremacy. Pac-Man, one of the best known arcade titles, is launched in 1980, and becomes one of the most influential titles of the gaming industry. In the next few years other legendary games are released: Donkey Kong, Frogger, Pole Position and many others. Arcade gaming reaches its pinnacle in the early 1990s, with Street Fighter, Mortal Kombat, Virtua Fighter, Tekken and other great series being released in this time period. The arcade rules supreme until the late 1990s, but the arcade fever finally wears off by the early 2000s, when the PC takes over as the prime gaming hardware.

What, in fact, are arcade games?

Arcade games are a symbol of an era, the most important period of the history of the gaming industry, which has had an incredibly strong influence of what and how we play today. Arcade games echo through the gaming of today, reminding us of the roots of modern video gaming.

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