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The Failing of PSN, XBL, and Wii Online

The year is 1990. My parents and I were living in the small rural mountain town of Coarsegold, CA. Its a friday night, and i was partaking in a rare treat. It had been a long week, and we had decided that it was a pizza night. It wasn't just any pizza night, though. While we usually had it delivered from one of the few local places in the area, tonight, we were taking the fight to the Pizza Parlor. The drive is short, but the anticipation makes it feel 10 times longer. Not anticipation for the pizza or the breadsticks or even the chance that i might run into a friend there.

This pizza parlor had arcade machines. Not just any arcade machines, they had Street Fighter 2.

The car had barely stopped before my seat belt was off, sprinting at full speed into this poor old building. The ambiance was incredible. Now you usually don't hear terms like “ambiance” thrown around to describe Pizza Parlors, but if you grew up in my generation, you can relate. The Smell of greasy frisbees made from pure cholesterol, the salad bar that kept everything at just a few degrees below room temperature, and the tables that were sticky from years of grease and soda spills.

It was heaven.

My parents had begun to order but i didn't care. My attention was focused in on the measly “arcade”. Like any sneaky mischievous 8 year old, i started to slink away, hopefully unnoticed by the benefactors of my habit. i get 3 steps away and i hear my name called. “ANDREW, Get BACK here. You can play games when you're done eating” My heart sinks. I know i’m going to love the pizza and the soda, but that's not why we're here. I was here to play.

Sure i had a Nintendo like any other kid of my generation, I even had a decent collection of games, but It was a poor substitute for this. I could play single player games until my eyes bled, but multiplayer was not the greatest on NES. The arcade had this cornered. packs of sweaty teenagers gathered around a nondescript wooden box just waiting for their chance to play; for their time to shine.

The pizza had arrived, i had scarfed it at warp speed and sat there with a longing look in my eyes. My mom looks at me, sighs and grabs her purse. Holy shit this is it! Her hand reaches in and pulls out her wallet. one by one she begins handing me quarters. I don't even see them as currency anymore, these are chances. Chances to play, Chances to Win, chances to impress. I say thanks, and begin my trek over to the machine.

It's a fairly busy friday night and one of the few pizza places in town. There are 6 or 7 kids (most of them older than me) all standing around this Street Fighter Cabinet. I look up and see the screen. Ryu is Pummeling Blanka. But that's not what i’m looking for. The object of my attention is right below them, on the bottom of the monitor. There lies the quarters. a row of quarters marking the play order of the gladiators in this arena. I sneak over to one side and place mine into the group. Now we wait.

The next few matches are exciting, with most people playing wither Ryu or Ken (pretty much the same as the tournament scene today). These kids are good. Really good. A perfect here, a hadouken or shoryuken there. I’m in way over my head. I don't care, i came to play, winning is a bonus. Finally my turn is up, i walk up to the machine, the glares of the gods on me, and assume my position. I reach up and grab my quarter. My hands are shaking. I’m sweating bullets. I slide the small metal coin into the slot and hear that beautiful sound.

Now, the real fun begins.


  1. Ah... I remember those arcade days well myself. I got my start in them around the time Ninja Gaiden, Double Dragon, Elevator Action and Solar Warrior were the mainstays there.

    Then in high school Mortal Kombat, Virtua Fighter and Street Fight II were happily eating my coins. I don't know that the PSN and XBL failed this generation online (the Wii? Dismal failure imo) - though I agree the experience is nothing like the ones you and I have memories of.

    But arcades are pretty much a thing of the past now, at least in my experience. The only arcade left in my old town was a handful of cabinets nestled into a pizza shop on the university, but they were almost all 'throwbacks' - things like Galagy, Donkey Kong and so on.

    In my current home town there are three or four old cabinets in our local movie theater. I think the latest of those is probably Donkey Kong Jr.

    In a nearby town, there are places like Chuck-E-Cheese and Zap zone that have some games, most of which seem to be the sit-down racing ones. There's definitely none of those old days of stacking quarters and waiting for your turn to dominate the competition. Now it's a single kid or two who bum a few quarters off of their parents and stand in front of a cabinet with buttons or joysticks that half the time don't work. It's sort of sad really, but that's the reality of it at this point.

    I enjoyed the article (as my long-winded reply likely indicates) - thanks for sharing it. :)

  2. I learned a lot about life in arcades. How to spend your money wisely. How to avoid child molesters... true story. How to win and lose gracefully. How to interact with humans. How to give and take shit. All good lessons. It's too bad the anonymity of the online world you lose some of those things.

  3. How to interect with human is a great topic.

  4. Money spend gideline is very useful.


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