If you were born in America between 1965-1985, there’s a good chance you have fond memories of heading to the mall with your parents, only to arrive and beg them relentlessly for money to hit up the arcade. Watching other kids play was straight up FOMO. A powerful force to be reckond with. If you were extra lucky, you not only got one round of funds from the folks, but two! Or, maybe the demigod-like arcade attendants would unlock the coin banks and ring you up with more plays.
Myself, having been born in 1980, got a great dose of the American Arcade life before the rise of gaming systems, with better graphics and high speed internet connections, sent the childhood sanctuaries to the wayside.
The arcade games I hold most dear to my heart rank as follows: (depending on the day of course)
10. Terminator 2 Judgment Day
9. Time Killers
8. Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom
7. NBA Jam
6. The Simpsons
5. Alley Cats (Pinball Machine)
4. Final Fight
2. Mortal Kombat
1. Street Fighter 2
While there are many other games that deserve to be on this list, I feel that I could always find refuge in these titles. I have to give Ninja Gaiden honorable mention. Most of the popular titles even had the extra screens on top so you could view them while everyone crowded around. What’s that? You think you might like to play some Mortal Kombat or Street Fighter 2? Forget it, or be prepared to wait a long time while only to get beat in 30 seconds by some 19 year-old employee from the Orange Julius.
On more than one occasion I was fortunate enough to have a father who rented out the Aladdin’s Castle. Once for a basketball team celebration in the 5th grade, and once for my 8th birthday party. Both were magical experiences. Knowing we could play any game for an hour and not have to put money is was truly unforgettable.
I spent many good years of my life depositing tokens and collecting tickets in the arcade. I could always count on it, and it would usually always deliver. As the arcade generations have gotten older, the arcade has come back in fashion, rather in bars than in dying malls. I mean what better way to drown your sorrows than with a good game of Golden Tee.
When I think of the things that really formed my tastes and interests, MTV was at the forefront. Anyone born and coming up in the 80s remembers the heyday of this juggernaut. It wasn’t until the early 00s that people began to complain about Music Television’s “lack of music.” Before then, that was the place that exposed me to things that would be along for the ride with me from that day forward.
With that, you may find it odd that I would choose to focus on this particular weird little corner of MTV. But I got to thinking the other night and it really blew my mind just how many things got their start on this one peculiar little show that aired Sunday nights (at least, as far as I can recall): Liquid Television.
It was on this show that the first Beavis and Butthead and Office Space shorts were featured. It’s a bit shocking now to watch the original “Frog Baseball,” perhaps we’ve just gone that far past it and reeled our senses back in so much it’s offensive again? Brutality aside, what really hit me as I watched this for the first time was that this very short was my gateway to Black Sabbath. As our heroes NUH NUH NUHNUH their way through the riff to Iron Man, I’m reminded it was that exact moment that led me to ask my guitar teacher what that song was. A week later, I owned Paranoid and was well on my way to learning every riff.
The funniest by far for me was their encounter with Sterculius, Roman god of the feces (I seem to remember looking this up and seeing it was actually true). Also, Electric Funeral by Sabbath yet again, and Mr Van Driesen getting ground into paste by a monster truck:
Beavis and Butthead alone would be more than enough to cement Liquid Television’s status in TV Valhalla, but that wasn’t all. The original conversation between Lumberg and Milton, which would be immortalized later in the movie Office Space, took place on this very show; a fact many never were aware of.
Let’s also not forget Aeon Flux. This was where I first saw this bizarre cartoon, which would later become its own series, and then a movie (never saw it). What I remember more about the shorts on Liquid Television is the fact that she would die EVERY. TIME. Also, there wasn’t really any talking, which changed when she got her own series. SOOOO bizarre. I look at it now and think “wow. I was only 12 when I was watching this.” That explains much.
Here’s the best thing I could find on YouTube re: Aeon Flux. It has reworked audio and sound, but the original animation is intact. This is one of the shorts from the Liquid Television days. As you can see… Aeon doesn’t feature too heavily.
There were also plenty of weird ones featured here: A talking house named Thomas and his human resident, Nardo. A weird biker lady puppet named Winter Steele. And all kinds of other weird nonsense. I hope you enjoyed this trip down memory lane with me. The early 90s certainly were a weird time to be a kid.
The recent release of Masters of the Universe: Revelation on Netflix has the internet up in arms. Having watched it myself, I was hoping to really re-live some of the classic vibes from my childhood when He-Man ruled Saturday mornings. This won’t be a review of that, as I’d like to reserve judgment until I see the final half of the series. However, I’d like to highlight some memories I have from my childhood.
The show itself: to watch it now with its animation style, heavy use of reverb, voices of He-Man and Skeletor, the absolutely killer intro and music, and finally the Filmation sound effect that always preceded the show is a total mind trip. Words escape me when trying to describe the sensation, but it’s always a nice way to spend 10-15 minutes.
My earliest memory of a He-Man figure coincides with my memory of my first swim lesson at the local YMCA. I don’t remember specifically what transpired, but I think I inhaled some water or sank, which led to me being extremely upset. My parents felt bad for me, and probably to ease the trauma (oh the humanity), they took me to a Wal-Mart to get me a toy.
It was then that I took home Battle Armor He-Man and Battlecat. I remember the box with the plastic window on the front of it, and being so excited about this new acquisition.
My next memory is the commercials for the Slime Pit playset, which after doing some research, I just found was actually part of the cross-over with She-Ra and Hordak. To be captured in the Slime Pit would turn one into a mindless zombie, swearing allegiance to the Evil Horde. Killer movie with She-Ra if you have not seen it.
I just remember being so captivated by the idea of a weird apparatus where a claw restrained you and slime was dumped on your head. Kinda grody.
Some other favorites besides the obvious He-Man & Skeletor: Trap-jaw, Dragon Blaster Skeleton (with the water gun), Faker, Modulok, Roboto, Rokkon and Stonedar, Spydor, and the He-Man figure that you loaded cap gun ammo in the back which went off when he did his punch action.
After I got out of high school, my figures long gone, my partner in crime gave me all of his. For some reason, I went on a major eBay action figure binge and had soon amassed a pretty nice MOTU collection, including some of my favorites mentioned above. Maybe they helped me realize how much value there was in having these things around, which gave me some amount of feeling that anchored me back to being a young kid in awe of these amazing toys.
Too many memories to fit into one post that you’d want to take the time to read, but just looking at these toys again takes me back now like it did when I first got them again in the late 90s. I hope that reading and seeing this gives you a little bit of that feeling too!
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