Saturday night I went to the Last Arcade on the Planet, a private arcade in Santa Ana. From the outside, you’d think it was just another typical warehouse. On the night of a party, people lounge outside near food vendors while the inside is packed with people and games.
Juan Sanchez owns a great selection of arcade games and pinball machines from 1986 or earlier. In other words, no games younger than me! He periodically throws parties, charging a $10 cover with all the games on free-play. I’d been meaning to attend for a while, but when I learned that the parties are coming to a close by the end of the year, I made sure to visit. Juan’s going to be getting them into top shape so he can sell the games.
I’ll apologize for the bad photos right now. The lighting conditions obviously weren’t fantastic, and taking photos wasn’t my priority. gem was smart enough to wear this cool t-shirt of a t-rex playing Asteroids, so she posed in front of the Asteroids cabinet. This time it was for me, but she was actually asked for a photo on her way inside the party when paying the cover. Pretty cool!
Woo, high score! We set a few high scores that night, but of course, many games reset their scores when power is lost.
I love the screen on Space Invaders. There’s no actual color of course. The display is reflected from below. A lot of machines used this, and it’s pretty smart. I’ve always loved Space Invaders, probably as an icon for gaming as much as I do for the game itself. In fact, the Space Invaders Extreme games were fantastic modern takes on the series. I also can’t help but think of the episode of Futurama, Anthology of Interest II, in which Fry asks the What-If Machine what life would be like if it was more like a video game.
Zoo Keeper was a pretty fun game with which I wasn’t familiar. Animals bounce around a box representing their cage, slowly breaking out of it. As you run around it, you rebuild the walls. You can also jump over animals and collect food for more points. It’s simple but pretty fun. I was the fifth and ninth best keeper that day, and gem was the tenth!
We also played some other games I didn’t photograph – Mario Bros., Pac-Man, Ms. Pac-Man, Tron, and Discs of Tron to name a few. I played Donkey Kong 3 for a bit. I don’t think I’d played it previously, so that was interesting. It felt like Galaga basically, but maybe that was also because I had just played Galaga. Star Wars was another interesting game, a first-person space combat simulator using a yoke rather than joystick. It was pretty cool.
All that game playing made us hungry, so we headed outside. I had nachos with cheese sauce and jalapeño, lumpia, and a quesadilla. It was tasty, and everyone was pretty nice!
Our bellies full, we continued to pinball! We started with some Jack•Bot, a beautiful machine. With the combination of fun, illustration, story, energetic sound effects, physical clanks, responsive lights and colors, and tactile feedback, it’s hard not to love pinball. Aesthetically, Jack•Bot was my favorite pinball machine.
gem sent me this Snapchat of myself playing. I’m no pinball wizard, but I appreciate the reference!
We ended the night by taking turns on The Machine Bride of Pin•Bot, the second of three Pin•Bot pinball machines ending with Jack•Bot. Despite not being as pleasing to the eye as Jack•Bot, I enjoyed the mechanics of The Machine Bride of Pin•Bot more as we attempted to complete the Bride and then make her human. (It’s amazing how much story Pinball makers can cram into a pinball machine.) We didn’t succeed, but I feel like I could make another post in the future just about this machine.
The Last Arcade on the Planet is truly an awesome collection. It’s great of the owners to open it to parties (and offset the costs a bit I suppose). I’m glad I had the chance to check it out while the option still exists!