This must be the Site B laboratory.

Saturday, February 5, 2011 at 10:08 am Comments (1)

Possibly due to his new-found love for OutRun 2, my brother has had arcades on the mind lately, and this morning we decided to head over to Yorkgate and check out its sorely neglected arcade and bingo hall. We weren’t expecting much at all; we were well-prepared to just mosey around it for two minutes to gaze over the wares, inevitably see nothing of interest, and then just go home. One game shoved away in the corner gave us good reason to hang around. Why?



In the off-chance I’ve never stated it, I have very, very fond memories of playing this game back in Spain about thirteen years ago. The arcade in Porta Ventura back then had this game (and Puzzle Bobble but dude you can buy the PC version for £1 in Toys R Us, it ain’t got obscurity value) and my brother and I would go out of our way to play it every day  we were there. We sunk so much Spanish currency into that thing. Quite justifiably, because it’s a pretty rockin’ lightgun game with some great intense sequences and a few elements that just mix things up a little. We watched a few clips of it on YouTube a few weeks ago (because that’s precisely the sort of boring things we get up to) and couldn’t help but be a little wistful. The game is nearly fifteen years old, has never had a home port and the chances of it receiving one now are very unlikely. Would we ever play the game again?

And then, holy shit, there it is in Yorkgate. That’s not far at all! Heck, it’s my usual movie-going spot. I would ask myself how on earth I could’ve missed it for so long, but given how modern arcades never exactly have much to offer, I think that speaks for itself.

It’s still a fantastic game. I’m not exactly qualified in judging lightgun games, but it still remains my favourite, not just because it’s so easy to pick up and play, but I’m a sucker for the Jurassic Park license. It’s pretty tough! We were playing on Easy mode and we were still having a hard time, though that might just be the fact there was no on-screen crosshair, and it’s hard to judge where you’re aiming when we’re both seated at angles. There’s a fair few segments I’d forgotten, most notably a part where you drive through a herd of brontosaurus (I’m a bit of a stickler for calling them apatosaurus, but the movie calls them brontosaurus, right?) and have to shoot their necks, tails and… pooping anuses so they don’t flatten you. Given my love for all things bodily functions, I’m surprised that wasn’t one of the defining moments of the game when I played it long ago.

Mostly because I hadn’t much small change, we limited ourselves to three credits each. I was really hoping we could’ve reached the final stage, but Steve died on the fourth level and I was munched upon by the chameleon dinosaur boss. Yeah, there’s a chameleon dinosaur. There’s also a huge fuck-off crocodile boss that tries to eat you, and in 2-player it can actually eat one of the players, forcing the other to save them before they get gobbled. It’s pretty hilarious, actually.

Right next to it was another SEGA lightgun game (I think the only lightgun game that wasn’t a SEGA title was Time Crisis 4, actually), The Ocean Hunter. We only sunk a credit each into it, and holy crap, is it terrifying! You play as a diver with a funky jetski-harpoon-gun thing and basically annihilate all sea life you can find. The humans have an almost cutesy anime-esque look to them, but everything is detailed and realistic (by 1998 arcade standards), which is particularly unsettling when it comes to the bosses, which are humongous, fang-filled monstrosities that eat NPC divers for breakfast.

Have I ever mentioned my irrational fear of water levels?

The first level has you entering a sunken ship, and the characters explain that something big is lurking inside. You naturally have to go through a few waves of killer sharks and barracudas before it shows up, but the suspense was really killing me – quite often I was just closing my eyes and firing aimlessly just in case something shit-your-pants-scary popped up. It turned out to just be a giant octopus, but the second level made up for it with a fucking huge shark. Before each level there’s a wanted poster with a crude image of the boss, as if an image on a pirate map, and it showed the boss looking like some dorky cartoon fish. Instead it turns to be a totally humongous shark that’s constantly trying to tear your face off and breaking through walls and all manner of freaky crap.

Water levels freak me out is what I’m saying.

It’s not bad either, and it’s actually very nice looking. Rather than a lightgun it’s got the jetski-harpoon-gun mounted on a pivot, so you can rotate and angle it to aim at the screen, which is pretty neat; plus it’s got a really nice meaty rumble whenever you rapid-fire, which is always appreciated. If it’s still there next time I might need to sink a few more coins into it.

Then we cooled off with some OutRun 2. This is the second time I’ve played it in arcades, and having played the Xbox 360 version a lot in between, it’s kind of disorientating how different the drifting and turning physics are. You got a less restrictive turning arc in the arcade version, which is nice, but I couldn’t wrap my head around the drifting – every time I tried (in various ways) it just turned my car totally horizontal and made my speed drop to nearly zilch. If anything, at least I could drift – Steve was stuck with a gammy cabinet that had unresponsive brakes and a gear stick that could only go up, not down. Still, tremendous fun. You don’t know how badly I wanted to start singing along to Night Flight.

I also played The Fast And The Furious. Um. Yeah. Let’s leave it at that.

I’m very tempted to find the manager of the place and say, if he’s ever getting rid of that Lost World cabinet, he can contact me. No idea where on earth I would keep a giant two-seater arcade cabinet in the off-chance I ever paid 2k monies for one, but I would hate to have it slip away, y’know?

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