Today, you can find arcade games that run on computers. But before that happened, arcade games were typically found in restaurants, malls and movie halls. Kids and grown ups alike played mainly three types of arcade games — the famed pinball, video games or redemption games.
Yet, the ancestry of arcade games could be traced to the hugely popular games commonly known as the ‘amusement park midway games,’ like ball toss game and shooting galleries that were popular at the beginning of the 20th century.
The 1930s saw the first coin-operated pinball machines. Though made of wood with all functions mechanical rather than electornic and a far cry from the electronic ones that came much later, they were still quite a hit. The late seventies would see these mechanical pinballs replaced by electronic games.
The change in fortunes of arcade games happened with the formation of a company called Atari in 1972. This company created the coin-operated machines, beginning with the electronic ping pong game, called Pong. Pong was a huge hit, and led to the entry of a lot of imitators. This was the time when arcade game machines sprung up everywhere, from big shopping malls to the ‘corner arcades.’.
Many games like Pac-Man, Donkey Kong and Space Invaders became huge hits in the late seventies and early eighties, paving the way to a revolution that would last until the end of the millennium. The last breath taken by arcade games was the emergence of two player fighting games like Street Fighter II , Mortal Kombatxb8 Fatal Fury, King of fighters etc in the early 90s. However, this was not to redeem the fate of arcade games completely, as the growth in computers and video technology saw the emergence of new type of games, including PC games and games that ran on special consoles such as the Playstation, Gameboy and the X-box pushing arcade games into the sidelines — almost ending their existence.
The 1980s are considered to be the golden age of arcade games. It was in 1972 that the first electronic arcade games with coin slotting machines came into the limelight with Atari inventing the game called Pong, which was a ping-pong game. This game caught the imagination of gamers from all walks of life, especially teenagers who flocked to game joints with coins in hand to play them. Though Atari could not maintain their supremacy in the Arcade game segment as a lot of clones came into the market, the 80s saw some of the most inventive Arcade games.
There were the popular pinball games, whose mechanical ancestors were replaced by state of the art electronic counterparts. There were arcade games seen all over, from shopping malls, to restaurants, cafes, grocery stores, bars, bowling alleys, college campuses, movie theatres, airports, bakeries etc. The phenomenon was popular all over the US and Japan and caught the fancy of the rest of the world as well.
The 80s saw some of the most popular arcade games ever, beginning with games like Space Invaders which made their debut in 1978, Pac-man in 1980, Donkey Kong in 1981 and Tapper in 1983 being the most popular ones.
Most of these games extensively used solid-state electronic technology and integrated circuits. Those operated by coins, usually ended up using multiple CPUs and additional sound and graphics chip boards, with the latest display technology of that time.
Yet, what perhaps made these games most popular across all sections of the society was the ease of use. It did not take much time to learn these games and they could be learnt on the fly. The rules of the games were also simple. One could play the game as long as their character on the screen lived. Once it died, they had to put in another coin and start all over again.
The golden days of arcade games came to a close with the growth in PC usage. Computer games not only provided better visual and sound effects, but also gave a personalised touch to the games, along with the privacy of playing it anywhere anytime without having to go to an arcade and insert a coin. The popularity of such games saw a drastic decline in people going to play arcade games in the places where they were installed. Now, only the most diehard fans play the games.
However with the growth of PC technology, arcade games were born in a new avatar. These were computer games, but they used the look, feel and sound of the old arcade games. These games too became popular and began to be downloaded by users all around the world.
The basic version of the Pinball game is available today along with the Windows operating system software. You’ll find you can download a lot of these games and play them on your own computer systems. Over the years, these games have undergone a drastic change, with new features added in to the same old games — increasing the satisfaction level of the players. 3D versions of these arcade games have also become popular.
There are many web sites that allow you to download free arcade games on your computer. Some of these web sites include arcade-game-download.com, astatix.com, arcadenut.com and arcadetown.com. Several of these sites charge a monthly minimum fee to allow users to download their games. It helps them develop the game and release new versions.
A lot of these games are advancements or rip offs from the original arcade game. Most of them employ good special effects and ensure the satisfaction level for players. It’s a good deal to download these arcade games, both for the nostalgic factor as well as the effects and the satisfaction that these games give their users. What is significant is that arcade games can be played on cell phones and are also available for download.
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