In Like Flynn’s

Last weekend, my best friend and I made a trip up to Disneyland. This isn’t unusual for us, as we only live a couple of hours away. “But Hawk,” I can hear you saying. “This is a nerd blog. Why are you telling us about your vacation when you should be playing Half-Life 2 and/or Portal?”

Because, my friends. Because I have found It. I have discovered my own personal Shambhala–a nerd Mecca unlike anything I had thought possible in this day and age. Now, I know my reader/viewership tends to skew a little young (younger than I am, anyway) because I LP relatively modern games, so not all of you may appreciate this as much as I did. You might find it interesting nonetheless, though–this is, in many ways, the story of where my love of video games came from.

I grew up in the 80s and early 90s. Although I just missed what most consider to be the golden age of the video arcade, the arcade culture was still very much alive and well when I was a kid. This is where I discovered video games–in various mall arcades, and also at the (at the time) very large arcades present in Chuck E. Cheeses. At first it was with games like Asteroids, Space Invaders, Dig Dug, Pac Man, Donkey Kong, Mario Brothers…all those. As technology progressed, the games got much cooler–that’s where I discovered things like Street Fighter, Mortal Kombat, the classic Simpsons and X-Men arcade games…even lame gimmick shooters like Area 51 would eat quite a few dollars worth of quarters over the course of a day at the arcade.

Of course, nowadays I don’t have time to go to arcades even if there were good ones still around. The few arcade-esque places in existence carry modern games–Guitar Hero cabinets, DDR, all those. And that’s not a bad thing, that’s just evolution–but it’s not the arcade I grew up with, and not one I’m interested in spending time in. Especially not when most of the games are upwards of a buck a play! (Seriously, one song on a GH cabinet costs a whole dollar–and you don’t even get to keep playing if you win! What kind of an arcade game is that?!)

Well friends and neighbors, after almost 15 years of searching for something I didn’t even know I really missed, I have found it. At the Disney’s California Adventure theme park (Disneyland’s younger and lesser-themed brother.) There, Disney has created something remarkable. It’s called ElecTRONica, and it happens every weekend. Now, this event would be pretty damn fun it its own right; it takes place on weekend nights and involves a really cool TRON-themed street party with techno music, live DJ and dancers, and even–and this is truly amazing for a Disney park–a bar. An overpriced bar sure, but it’s a theme park, what do you expect? The drink selection is not large at all, but it is fun, and they call come either in a glowing glass or with a cool glowing “ice cube” inside them. There are places to stand, places to sit, places to dance. To give you an idea of how good this was, I HATE going to clubs, I refuse to ever go to a rave…and yet I had the time of my life here.

What does that have to do with arcades and going back to the 80s, you might ask? I’m glad you brought that up, reader. In addition to the really cool street party, DCA has seen fit to include one more small piece of TRON-themed goodness at this weekly event:

This, ladies and gentlemen, is Flynn’s Arcade. I had noticed the sign during the day, when the place was all closed up, and had assumed it was just a cool bit of decoration or set dressing. NOT. SO. During ElecTRONica, the doors open and…

That’s just the tip of the iceberg, because we were too busy playing and listing to all the old 80s music being pumped in over the sound system to take any more pictures. It was like being seven again (in a world where you’re allowed to enjoy a beer at seven.) Every single game I remember from childhood was there–they even had an old school air hockey table!–and all of them–every single one–was only one token.

Yeah, token! They even had a token machine. Looked just like the ones I remember.

Anyway, that was a bit of a ramble, but I had to share it with you. If you’re in the neighborhood and get a chance, check it out–it’s well worth spending an hour or two. Because the games are only a quarter each, you get a lot of bang for your buck, and it’s just so much fun. Whether the place is a new experience or brings back memories like it did for me, if you’re in SoCal and going to the parks, put this near the top of your list of things to experience.

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23 responses to “In Like Flynn’s

  1. Damn it Hawk, you’ve gone and made me all nostalgic. I used to love playing the Whac-a-Mole type games (ever heard of Whac-a-Croc?) and fighting games like Mortal Kombat at my local arcade. Wish I could visit Flynn’s sometime soon, but it’s quite a ways from Australia, plus there’s an ocean or two in the way.

    By the way Hawk, what home video games did you play as a kid? I spent an unhealthy amount of my childhood playing stuff like the original Commander Keen and Duke Nukem, and I could probably still play through the first few levels of Wolfenstein 3D blindfolded. Crap, now I’m getting even more nostalgic.

    • Oh man…well, when I was just starting out with video games, it was all about the NES for me. Final Fantasy was my crack–to this day, I don’t think I’ve ever felt prouder than I felt when I finally beat that game–and that includes graduating boot camp, getting out of college, and getting my commission. What else did I play…lots of Legend of Zelda (in the days before we had an internet and FAQs–I literally spent MONTHS trying to get through the second quest), Super Mario Brothers, Duck Hunt, Kirby’s Adventure, Zelda II, Batman, Ninja Gaiden, Metroid, Dragon Warrior… And I also rented lots of games from my local Blockbuster too. Quatro Adventure is the one I remember getting all the time. That and The Last Ninja.

      The original Zelda is probably the one I could still beat blindfolded though, at least the first quest. And if you show me a screen shot of any NPC or object in Final Fantasy, I’m willing to bet I can still quote them verbatim off the top of my head.

      Once I got a PC–a very, very old IBM running DOS–I got to play Wolfenstein 3D. I also vividly remember a submarine game called Wolfpack (spent HOURS creating my own missions on that), and a helicopter war game called Commanche. In fact I still remember the old DOS command I had to type in to play it (or any other game on that dinosaur).

      Man oh man. Take me back.

      • A lot of my friends had the NES, but for me it was all about the PC. Probably because my parents used IBM computers for their work, and I’d get the old one whenever they bought a new machine. Of course, a lot of the PC games back then were almost identical to the stuff on the NES – I think Commander Keen was an attempt to replicate the side scrolling action of Super Mario Bros. I also remember playing a Ninja Gaiden clone on PC, though as I recall a lot of features were left out. Still fun though.

        I think I played a shareware version of Comanche, or one of that series anyway. My Dad used to buy computer magazines and they’d always come with a CD stuffed full of shareware and demos. It’s how I first encountered gems like Command and Conquer and System Shock.

        Ever feel old talking about all this? A lot of gamers today have never played any of these. Sometimes I feel like an old man shaking his fist at those darn youngsters with their Halos and their Wii consoles and how they have no respect for the classics.

  2. God you’re making me was nostalgic for the arcades at my local mall. I remember being overwhelmed with the loud noises when I’d first enter as a youth and being fascinated with games like the cycle game you actually mounted a cycle to play, or the Star Wars arcade game with the 3/4 perspective speeder bikes.

    During “Tilt’s” second incarnation, an old high school era friend of mine was working there…and was the reason they had to change the locks on Gauntlet Dark legacy (he’s open it up and set us up with 99 continues/tons of life).

    Now that place is a Vision Center since it didn’t renew its lease.

    • Hah! Wish I had had an in at my local arcades like that! I totally remember that cycle game too. I also loved Alpine Racer, the one where you got to stand on ski-like footholders and pretend to race down a mountain.

      Believe it or not our local mall still has a Tilts. It’s a shadow of its former glory though–almost no actual games. Just a Guitar Hero, DDR, ski ball, and a bunch of crane machines.

  3. question? why do you think area 51 is gimmicky. it may be a bit repetitive but compared to maximum force ( you know, the game where you shoot terrorists while civilians wander aimlessly ), at least 51 has a plot.

    • Well, gimmicky was probably the wrong word. I (perhaps erroneously) remember it as one of the first games to actually allow you to hold a gun and shoot things on the screen. That was the main attraction of it, not how good the game actually was.

      Like I said though, I loved the thing.

  4. one more thing, i cant wait for your blog post on the vort quotes. if you pay attention to what he says, you learn that the vorts are aware of the gman, when he mentions an entity that they do not name.

    • Sammy, didn’t I already tell you to play Ep. 2? A part towards the end of the second chapter contradicts what your saying.

      :::WARRING DO NOT USE THIS LINK HAWKE:::

      I’m not saying your wrong about them knowing about him, but the rest of the quote your talking about goes agesnt what we see in that scene(and one other).

  5. say, since im one of your “younger” fans, i had a really shady introduction to gaming. whenever i saw anything 8 bit, when people mentioned anything outside characters from super smash bros melee or the gameboy advanced mario remakes (which back then i thought were the originals) i had no idea what it was. around 10 i realized the wolrd of gaming is about 50 times bigger than i imagined. so i learned about the NES and SNES, the sega master, the genesis, the atari 2600, the oddysey, the 5200, the original gameboy, all that stuff. and since i watch so many lp’s, i know shit about WAY too many games i haven’t played. and my friend new about all this stuff from the start, and hes you know…one of those AVGN console junkies that just has to have everything gaming from 1960-2011. so i learned alot about stuff from him. and also, the remakes confused me alot. like when i saw super mario world on the snes, i was like, “well isn’t that super mario advanced 2 on the gameboy”? so yeah, remakes confused me.

    infact, there is only one mario game that i have fully beaten, no guides, nothing. and suprisingly, it was yoshi’s island.

    (btw, i didn’t know samus was from the metroid series for so long it was ridiculous, i lived by this logic that if there was a main character in a story, there name had to be in it)

    • I can’t take that down, but I sent hawke a PM telling her I posted that and to avoid it. I expected that to be a link not an inbeded video.

    • oh come on man, it was an accident! as I remember, you posted something on Hawke’s youtube channel some time back, and you couldn’t remove it ether…

      At lest I put a spoiler warning on it, it’s a shame [I’ve] become accustomed to stating [undesired] [data]//
      [Our] actions as [Overwatch] have weakened [our] self-censorship//
      This [will] be [reprimanded] soon//

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