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Put Another Token In The Nickelodeon...
As a teenager, I loved to visit my grandparents in Urbandale, Iowa. They had MTV! This was right when it came out... I think I saw the first few days it ever broadcast. I remember Hunters & Collectors "Talking To A Stranger", which I *think* was the second video MTV played right after The Buggle's "Video Killed The Radio Star", but I can't confirm that. My grandfather couldn't understand how I could sit in front of the TV and watch music videos for hours. But it was amazing... like history in the making. The pop culture and music that I loved was in visual form for the first time. It was like seeing a hidden side of my favorite artists, so I HAD to keep watching just in case I missed something.

But I also loved going down to the local video arcade. It was called the "Fun Factory". Sadly, it closed in the nineties. But here are some photos of Tokens, a different amusement arcade that I visted while I was in Des Moines, Iowa last weekend. It had a sad run-down vibe to it, like a low-rent Chuck E. Cheese. It made me long for "Showtime Pizza" - if you remember that place, then you were truly old school. Or rather you were old truant-from-school-because-you-were-too-busy-playing-Frogger-at-the-7-11 school.

























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One of my fondest arcade memories was coming across a machine in my senior year of high school in the arcade of a big miniature golf complex (four courses, two on the roof of the arcade!). You had to repeat a sequence of lights and notes (much like the famous sequence in Close Encounters, although the game probably inspired the movie scene, which came out several years later). This was right on the cusp of the first video games (Pong, Space Invaders, Asteroids, Centipede, and then Pac-Man) coming into the arcades to replace pinball and skee-ball. Against such competition, although I found the game incredibly fun and addictive, I never saw it again in an arcade, and long forgot its name.

I found it just now through this cool blog,

It was made by Atari, and called "Touch Me":
(scroll down to last three images)
In my memory I remember it being a lot sleeker with a colorful, futuristic Moloko Bar-like design, and I wonder if there was a competing company that came out with its own version that I couldn't find documented.

Anyhow, Milton Bradley took the concept and came out with Simon. Atari, seeing the success Simon had, was late to the market with a handheld version of Touch Me, but it was a failure due to its inferior design. Simon is still made and sold today!

It's amazing how massive the arcade chassis (and probably circuitry) was back then -- now you can get keyring versions of Simon for $5!

I played pinball a lot in arcades while in college in San Jose, and in arcades and bars in San Francisco. Pinball was all but pushed out in the remaining arcades in NYC's Times Square (plus which you couldn't win a game by state law, it was considered gambling), by then I was addicted to Tempest and was plotting on how I could save up enough money to buy one for myself.

Today I guess my opiate is playing play money poker online.

Toucha toucha toucha touch me!

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