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The Mall Arcade

by Alley Cove

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

3. Tekken 

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.  

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Back in the early 80's, mom used to take me to the mall every few months (we lived about an hour or so away, so it was a big deal back then) and Aladdin's Castle was my first stop every time. Krull, Star Wars, I Robot, Robotron... man, those were some good memories!