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It’s not just nostalgia—arcades are here to stay

Why arcade gaming is still relevant in an era of personal gaming consoles

Raise your hand, anyone who was surprised to learn that companies are still making arcade games in 2020.

No, this isn’t just about a new version of that pinball game that everyone who grew up with Windows XP played like 50 bajillion times as a kid. These are physical arcade cabinets with actual pinball mechanisms and levers and buttons that respond with a gratifying CLACK when you tap them for that totally fair, not-at-all OP Fahkumram combo in Tekken 7.

There are more reasons why arcade cabinets will always have a place in pop culture than just satisfyingly loud and tactile button presses (try telling that to mechanical keyboard fans). For one, they’re an expression of creativity that would paint even the most tricked-out special edition console release or custom PC build green with envy. Take the “House of the Dead: Scarlet Dawn” cabinet for example:

House of the Dead: Scarlet Dawn at World of Fun

Maybe with some home VR systems you can approximate the same experience, but not even the best home rigs can replicate the sense of windshear or panic-inducing flashes of light and sound that the implements built right into the cabinet pull off with aplomb. Also, the cabinet design just looks so cool. This is something you have to see in person if it’s not too far out of your way.

Going back to Tekken for a second, arcade sticks tend to be a lot more conducive to moving around and inputting combo sequences than D-Pads, which tend to be mushy by comparison.

Tekken 7 tournament grand finals at Timezone

And it’s not just flagship titles like these that are carrying the spirit of arcades on either: nostalgia for pinball aside, the countless hours many people have spent going wild on air hockey tables or shooting hoops amidst a chorus of lights and sound with the scent of soggy, ketchup-coated fries perfuming the air are experiences that embody a very specific and very deep part of the pop culture subconscious.

A lot of that last paragraph was leaning into nostalgia, sure, but even without the rose-tinted glasses, it’s just an overall more engaging, more visceral experience that draws you well into the thick of things whether you’re running through a Gungeon, blitzing through the Sahara on a tricked-out ATV, or taking zombie hordes out from way downtown. 

Real talk: If not for their prices, there’d probably be way more people collecting these things.

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