ACNews #69
07 апреля 2018

Memories about arcade machines - from russia Leningrad and Saint-Petersburg

<b>Memories about arcade machines</b> - from russia Leningrad and Saint-Petersburg
                 Memories about arcade machines

             AmoNik(Leningrad / Saint-Petersburg)

In this article, I will refer any device where you can play for
money to as an arcade machine. So Atari computers are also
mentioned.

                       Years 1984-1987

My earliest recollections about arcade machines are my
visits with parents to gaming room in a unique trefoil-shaped
house at the crossing of Severny and Grazhdansky avenues
[https://goo.gl/maps/SWSdSGpB7ws].

At the first floor, it contained space dedicated for shops.
However, in this specific house there was a big gaming room. A
similar house across the road contained a commission shop where
my parents worked part-time at noon, cleaning rooms. Sometimes
they brought me with them. I liked to drive in the shop on a
foot-driven car[https://goo.gl/images/98S8TZ].

Let's return to the arcades. The entry was in the middle of
the house. Near it, there was a booth with a woman changing
money for 15 kopeck coins, used in all the cabinets. If you walk
to the right, you reach the arcade room, to the left - the board
games room.

Apart from the usual set of Soviet arcade cabinets (Sea Battle,
Gorodki, Highway, Sniper, various rocking machines for children
etc.) there were unique things I haven't seen elsewhere. For
example, there was a motor rally on a snaky road and a
bowling-alley. However they were not arcade machines. Cars in
the motor rally were moving along the guides on a closed track,
and you must press some button, I don't remember why. I don't
remember if I've ever played it. But I have player bowling a
lot. The board games I remember were giant chess, basketball
under a dome, and aero-hockey. There also were chairs and sofas,
where you could rest.

We went here with my mother, not often, maybe once a month
was the best. Once, for a birthday or a New Year, I was given a
mushroom-shaped money box, big and nice, all of wood. The top of
it had a shallow hole for coins. The cap was glued together with
the base, so it was hard to release coins from the money box.
You must shake it for long, holding it head first, and one coin
might fall from the hole. My parents dropped there small change
after visiting a shop.

When the mushroom became heavy enough, I asked my father to
open it, because I didn't want to break the thing. I don't
remember if he had succeeded but I never saved up money after
that. Maybe the money box broke. Anyway, with this saved money I
went to the gaming room with my mother, and that time I had a
lot of fun. I mastered Sea Battle so that I destroyed 100% of
ships in both the main game and the bonus game. They didn't give
a second bonus game for some unknown reason.

                       Years 1988-1991

At some moment, having played from the heart, I abandoned
that gaming room. I knew all the machines and was bored. I was
spending my spare money for ice cream, chewing gums, and pens. I
had a passion for ball pens, sometimes I was even buying ink
pens. Then, at classes, I bit them, and they weared out. When
the saved money were out, somebody told me that one could play
interesting games in "Child's World"/"World of children"
(Детский мир) store at Science avenue (проспект Науки).
It was a long way of six bus stops. But I was quite independent
a boy, and I didn't need a permission from my parents to go far
from home. I travelled across the whole district and even
beyond. My parents knew that and were not against. I only needed
to return for supper and to make my school lessons. So I went
there to see the games.

In one of the departments of the store, there was a big
Soviet colour TV set and a joystick on the counter. The joystick
was attached to an Atari computer (I didn't know about joysticks
nor Ataris then, I only remembered that, and later found a photo
in the Internet). Atari loaded simple childish games, like River
Raid, Montezuma's Revenge, Ninja, International Karate, and you
could play these for several minutes if you had much money. I
haven't, so I just stood there and looked at others playing. I
think there mostly were the children of sellers and their
friends.

I was there maybe twice, and in the spring of 1989, we moved
to the city centre. I still visited the old school before the
school year ended, and also in the summer. Once, maybe in the
summer of 1989, across the road from the Akademicheskaya subway
station, I was a sign: GAME MACHINES BAR. Previously there was
something like a pub. I decided to go in.
[https://pastvu.com/p/204996]

It was a small one-storey building about 10-12 by 8 meters.
I don't remember windows there. It contained arcade machines -
not the usual Soviet ones, but imported from overseas. I felt
myself in a fairy tale - so many new games at once! There was a
dozen machines or maybe more. And the most of the visitors were
adult men, almost no children. One token costed 50 kopecks, so I
never played because it was too much for me. I only remembered
the cabinets. There was Pooyan about a family of pigs fighting
against wolves. There was a Punch Out box with the third person
view, the characteer was drawn as a transparent net to see the
enemy through it. There also was a bicycle without wheels, it
tilted when you rotated the handle bar. And finally there was
Gauntlet, maybe the second part, where a hero walks around a
maze and throws axes to goblins in white and grey sheets. At the
time I thought that was a Bruce Lee game, so I remembered only
those pigs and Bruce Lee. After a long time I could play them
for free, in MAME emulator.

When the next school year started, I could no more return
to my old yard, and gradually forgot my old friends. I acquired
new friends and new game rooms. I found one from ads, as far as
I remember. That was a hall in Winter stadium at Manezhnaya
square[https://goo.gl/maps/fwBYЧfЧi51B2].

Behind the grave wooden doors, before the stadium itself,
there was rather big vestibule with arcade cabinets. There were
even more than in the trefoil house. The game machines were
mostly the same, but there also were new ones. For example, on
the wall hung Penalty game, where you must launch a small rubber
ball on the field filled with plastic bars. The ball hit the
bars, jumped chaotically, and gradually fell down, where the
gate was. It rarely reached the gate, most time it missed. You
could try several times for one coin, and every goal added you
score at the electronic scoreboard. If you had enough score in
the end, a prize could fall from below. When I walked by that
machine, I put my hand in the prize hole for some reason. And,
luckily, I touched something hard, stuck across the hole. I
moved it a little, and got a small pink plastic box. I opened
it, and there was a piece of paper with printed words, "Take the
prize at the cashbox". So I brought the box to the cash woman,
and she gave me a pack of bubble gum named TipiTip. (A Turkish
bubble gum label with comic strips about a big nose guy.) I was
delighted. I had never seen that kind of bubble gum in kiosks.
Sadly I have lost the unique inlay.

I used to visit that gaming room asking money from my
grandmother. She never refused. The only problem was with
"shakers" (my term). They were a gang of boys aged 12-14 who
walked by two or three and ripped off money. Sometimes I was
their prey. They encircled you and guided you away from the
cabinets, then started to ask for money, under the fear of
cnocked out teech. If the prey refused and said he has no money
(as I did), the rascals asked to jump. Or they clamped the
pockets. If they heard ringing of coins, the prey almost
voluntarily parted with money. I saw that once and started to
hide money in a sock. There it didn't ring, so when I jumped, I
never gave away a kopeck. Afterwards, I imperceptibly bent and
took a coin to play. Anyway, the trend was disgusting, and I
left that arcade after some time.

I asked mother, where are more gaming rooms, and she
remembered one in Tavrichesky garden, near Leningrad cinema.
There was a small town of attractions, and there stood a small
house with arcade cabinets. I asked her to show me the place,
and when we on a walk in that garden, I drove in that house. It
was very small and tight, and looked temporary. The set of game
machines was usual. When I played Penalty once, I noticed that
if I wave a hand nead the gate, the counter scored me a goal
even if the ball missed. Some bug of the photo-sensor, reacting
to the shade of the hand. I realised quickly that I can save
money with this trick. But I was deceived. When I dropped a coin
in the machine for the next (and the last) time, I made a score
big enough with the hand. But in the end, the prize hole was
empty. I searched in the hole in vain. I was offended and went
to complain to the cashier. I said that I scored to the prize
but hadn't got one. The cashier responded that was impossible. I
asked her to see with her own eyes but she sent me to other
games to let her work. So that's how I wanted to trick the
system and was tricked myself. I never came there.

Around 1991, my friend Slava showed me "Конёк-горбунок"
(Humpbacked Horse, a kind of ТИА-МЦ-1 cabinet) cabined in one of
grocery stores opposite the circus
[https://goo.gl/maps/GFTiRzdcju92]. Strangely, the cabinet stood
alone, without other games. Slava at the moment had mastered the
game and even some cheat manoeuvre. During a battle with an
enemy at one of the screens, Slava started to quickly joggle the
joystick to one side. He said this way you can win. However, a
store woman saw that and drove us from the store - she thought
we were breaking the machine. Later the cabinet was removed from
the store - maybe it was not popular.

                       Years 1992-1993

Once I walked by Nevsky avenue searching for Eskimo ice
cream, and found an interesting shop. Near the underground at
the crossing of Nevsky avenue and Sadovaya street, from the side
of the puppet show theatre, you could play for money. Of course
it was not a slot machine hall. But I immediately liked it.
[https://goo.gl/maps/jRkXK1pprQn]

It was a game place near the theatre entrance.
The entrance to the theater was somewhat drowned in the depth of
the building, and this provided a shed above the playground. By
the time, I didn't know what kind of games there were, and later
they turned to be NES-like consoles. No idea if they were
original or clones like Dendy - I hadn't seen them on sale.
Behind the glass case stood several large colored Soviet TVs
(four or five), to which these Dendies were connected. The games
were controlled with dumb industrial joysticks with automatic
relay buttons instead of Start and Select keys - black and red
ones, tightly screwed to the windowsill. A man was sitting
nearby with an eletronic alarm clock and a copy-book where he
registered the number of TV set and the deadline of paid time.
The cost was high but affordable. I played a few times. But
usually I just watched others playing, and ate an ice cream
bought near the underground. The ice cream had priority.

You couldn't change the game after you started playing. So
you must think twice before choosing one. The selection was
like:
- Super Mario Brothers
- Ninja Turtles
- something about karate.
The games were changed time to time, only Mario remained
forever, as I could see.

Later, inside the theatre, there was a Dendy cartridge shop.
You could also change your games with small charge.

You could also play at Vitebsk railway station. There were two
kinds of machines: foreign arcade cabinets, and a loser's
machine with turtles. Let's start with turtles. In fact, it was
a usual Spectrum hidden in a plastic box with power unit. There
was only one button on the box, to start the game. It possibly
started directly from ROM. The box was attached to a small
colour TV. In front of the TV there was a barker woman with a
megaphone, inviting everyone to participate in the instant
lottery. The idea of the game was simple. On the screen, six
turtles were crawling from left to right, with the same speed.
On the right, a flag was moving top-down with variable speed,
displaying sums of 5 to 25 roubles. Every time it reached the
bottom, it could change speed and the sum. When the turtles made
it to the right side, the winner was the one that touched the
flag. And the player received the sum indicated.

The player paid 5 roubles (or more), choose his turtle, and
took a plastic flag with its number. You could buy many flags at
once. When all the flags were sold, the barker pressed the key,
and the game started.

You can easily see that in any case she had profit, because
she gathered 30 roubles and paid maximum of 25, that was rare.
Nevertheless, the scam was extremely popular between passengers.

I also remember that the game, before the start, played
music stolen from Wham 48K music editor.

The scam was situated just before the exit to the platform
for long-distance trains. And the arcade room was on the
opposite. There were four or five cabinets, fenced off from
spectators by stands with a rope stretched between them. I only
remember there Rampage about giant monsters that destroyed
cities for some reason, and the classic Pac-Man. I don't
remember the price, but they surely were not popular, there were
no tail of people who wanted to play. I never played there, just
looked, maybe until the late 1992. After that, I dropped all the
game rooms for long time.

                       Years 1998-1999

Somewhere in 1998 in front of the metro station Academic
there was a big arcade hall Indiana. I had not seen or heard any
advertisements about the opening. I learned about that hall from
my friend Denis. He told me this news and offered to go see.
[https://goo.gl/maps/YKptiiQ243U2]

The hall was huge, and contained only the foreign cabinets.
The place was dark and without windows. The only light came from
colour LED striped by the walls, and from the screens of the
machines. That was atmospheric but too loud. From every side,
every cabinet produced music, shots, explosions, voices and so
on. How could they work the whole day? Some of the cabinets were
grouped and certainly connected to play with a live opponent.
That was in OutRun race and in tank games.

There were possibly more than thirty machines. And there was
also a second floor with more serious games. However, there were
few people. They played for some own tokens that costed like a
metro token, too high. I was there alone or with Denis several
times, and we have played only once - kicking a punching bag to
measure the strength. The next year the hall was closed, there
appeared a billiard club, then strip club. It still exists, even
with a restaurant.

Around that time I walked by change to the same "Child's
world" with Ataris, but there was no more. However, in the
vestibule there was a small room with four cabinets. They were
some Mortal Kombat and Bad Dudes.

                       Years 2008-2010

In the autumn of 2008 I was at Anton Popov's home, and I
asked him to buy a CompactFlash adapter for Amiga 1200 at ebay.
Anton had no money at his card, so we went to a nearby bank
office to add cash. There was a lunch-time break. To spend time,
we went to the shopping and entertainment centre Atmosphere at
the Komendantskaya square.[https://goo.gl/maps/XcoJZCAUЧKK2]

There was a big hall of game machines. They worked with
electronic money on magnetic cards. One could add money at the
cashbox. I don't remember how much we spent, Anton paid for
everything. At the end of a game machines produced a stripe of
tickets that you could change for some prizes. We played OutRun
one against another, on machines with a chair, a steering wheel,
and pedals. Anton defeated me and was enjoyed. We also played
House Of The Dead (I don't remember the part), where we shot
zombies from rather heavy guns. And after the game we went to
the bank.

In 2009, I bought in Play-Asia (online store) a dance mat
for Dance Dance Revolution game series. It was on sale with a
big price cut, but with very costly shipping. Having jumped on
it at home for some time, I was imbued with the spirit of this
game and decided to search the Internet for like-minded people.
I found information at some forum about a planned DDR
competition in our city, and I decided to look at the pros.

The competition was held in one shopping centre near metro
Ozerki. When I arrived and found the DDR machines, there already
were several guys warming up. They changed clothes in the
corridor near the vestibule with one (possibly) cabinet. There
also was a sofa where I sat. Nobody else went to see, all the
others were competitors. They played two at once, one against
another. What they did was incredible. I got the feeling that
the participants knew where to step on the dance platform by
heart. At least, when they turned away from the screen, they
still matched arrows showing on screen. I understood that I need
a lot of training to do so.

I did not sit out that day until the end of the tournament,
so I don't know the winner. At home, I jumped on the mat and
tried to repeat what I had seen. I failed. Then I had ache in my
knee, and the dancing mat was forgotten for a couple of months,
and then packed forever. I never more unpacked it to play.

And for the last time in my life I visited an arcade hall in
the foyer of Mirazh Cinema in the nearest shopping centre. The
day before my father gave me a plastic card he found on the
street, which I had to pay for games, and I decided to check it
out. Of course, there was no money in it, but I found out which
machines are next to the house and how much one game credit
costs. One credit was 25 roubles, but the most games costed 2
credits. I sent 500 roubles to the card and was given a bonus of
200 more roubles. Then I went to Denis to invite him to the
hall. We played the following games: OutRun, House Of The Dead
3, Dance Dance Revolution, aero-hockey, Tekken 3. We spent most
of money for HOTDЗ, because Denis was regularly killed, and I
paid for him to stay in the game. We quickly lost all money, and
I threw the card away. After that I never visited such game
zones.

                   Hippiman(Rostov-on-Don):

For the time I remember myself in Rostov, there was tough with
arcade machines, at least in that part of Rostov where I used to
be.

For the first time I met arcade machines in the late 80's. As
the grandson of a helicopter worker, I was sent to the
Rostvertol recreation centre for a New Year. And in the foyer of
this recreation center I met them. I couldn't get acquainted
with these machines then, because of a huge number of children
returning from a performance. I rode on the "rocket" or "boat",
and was taken home. I was 4 then, maybe 5. I went there every
year before the New Year and every time with almost the same
results.

Later, after the collapse of the USSR (maybe in 93 or 94), I
began to come there more often. I periodically pushed my parents
to take me there to play (that recreation center was 3 bus stops
from my house). About that time, I have more complete memories.

The centre had typical Soviet game machines. There were many,
they occupied a half of the foyer.

There were rocking chairs that you can find now in every
shopping centre. There were 3 types: a boat, a rocket, and a
fowl. Of course, they were meant for small kids.

There was also a power-meter "Repka" (a turnip) - a kind of
miracle design, from which a black handle protruded from the
floor diagonally. You must pull this handle, imitating the
extension of the turnip. This thing was terribly tight. I tried
it but I could not pull out more than "mouse" strength. But I
was proud that I was able to raise more than my weight :) I was
then 7 years old, and I weighed 27 kilograms (I remember it
clearly), and I raised 30 with something.

There was a snapping crane (well, like those that are now
standing on each corner), but it either did not work, or the
toys inside were not interesting, and I did not play I at all.

There was a well-designed machine "Virage". There was a true
chair in it, a steering wheel with a dashboard and pedals. Just
like in a real car, but instead of screen there was something
like a home game "Driving" (which I had and quickly fed up
with). It was a large disk with painted roads on it, glued
bridges and cars. When you throw a coin, then the machine lights
up, and on the road appears a projected silhouette of the
machine (yes, it was necessary to control the light spot, and
not a toy car). You press the pedal, the disk starts to spin (I
do not remember if the speed of rotation changed from the force
of pressing or not), and you can use the steering wheel to move
your spot. The machine somehow could determine whether I crashed
somewhere or not. Maybe there were some kind of photo sensors, I
do not know. And I still remember that it was very difficult not
to crash there. The machines were glued so closely that
sometimes almost all the space in the road was blocked.

There was also a mechanical machine with tanks, but it never
worked, as far as I remember.

In addition to mechanical and semi-mechanical machines, there
were also electronic ones in the hall.

Directly in the middle of the hall there was a table with two
steering wheels. It was a machine named "Autorally". The screen
in it did not look sideways, as usual, but upwards. So you
should look down. This machine was in demand, although it was
not interesting to play alone, because the goal of the game was
to collect more flags on the rough terrain for a certain time
than the opponent, and if you play alone, then the second car
just stands and does nothing. In fact, the very purpose of the
game was lost.

Still there was the progenitor of all virtual shooting galleries
- "Winter hunting". This machine had a huge "screen" - a picture
with a winter landscape and a rack with a gun attached to it,
strongly resembling an airgun. The machine ate coins, showed
that the game was started, and the lights were starting to
appear on the screen, highlighting the silhouettes of the
animals. However, even if I aimed correctly, no matter how many
times I shoot, I never managed to hit anything. Most likely, the
gun was malfunctioning.

But the main highlight of this gaming hall was two automatic
machines with fully electronic games "The Humpbacked Horse" and
"The Snow Queen". I clearly remember that one game costed not
one coin, but two. However even for twice the price, you should
wait for your turn in a long queue. I have absolutely no memory
of their appearance, but I remember the completely
incomprehensible instruction and terrible, unbearable
complexity. Also, I couldn't manage the Чth or Sth screen in the
Horse and the second level in the Queen, although I spent a lot
of coins on them.

I found "The Humpbacked Horse" only this year in an emulator
with endless lives, completely stuck a couple of times, and lost
maybe 50 or 60 lives. I do not know what the developers thought
and why they did not feel sorry for Soviet children when they
made such a curve. I studied MAME ROM set, but I never saw
Western developers to allow themselves something like that.

But we did not have the famous "Sea Battle". I got to know about
the existence of that machine only in the Internet age. (A
web-site about the Soviet game machines
http://morskoy-boy.1Skop.ru/ - you can play the flash version
there.)

And, frankly speaking, Soviet arcade machines were not very
interesting. They did not persuade you to throw more coins. Play
once and go. The people really crowded only two games, about
which I spoke just before.

A few words about the hall. After the collapse of the USSR and
the appearance of new money, the machines remained the same.
They continued to demand old 15-kopeck coins. But an old woman
on the counter had a proud plate "exchange of coins" with some
crazy exchange rate. But no one was banned from coming with
their coins, and there still were many in pockets, corners, and
just on the street. As a result, I used the services of the old
woman only a couple of times.

Unfortunately, the state of automatic devices was either watched
very poorly or not at all. They worn out, broke down, and there
were fewer and fewer working machines in the hall. As a result,
in the year 1995 all of them were taken somewhere, and in their
place appeared tables with TV sets and game consoles. And the
place of the exchanger was taken by an administrator woman, who
accepted money, watched the time and ran the ordered games.

But in 1996 (or 1995, my memory fails me, but it's not so
important), not only the consoles appeared in the foyer, but
also something better. It was a true imported arcade cabinet
"Operation Wolf"!

Oh, how cool it was. This intro with a fitting soldier a la
Schwarzenegger in Commando. This machine, looking like a real
Israeli UZI (the controller was an iron machine gun, which was
attached to the cabinet by a metal rod. You should aim by moving
this machine as a joystick). These juicy sounds of gunshots and
explosions. And the picture could not be compared to that old,
wretched Soviet games. It was even cooler than my brand new
Sega, a picture on which was almost like a cartoon. The machine
appeared in 1987, when we considered the "Humpbacked Horse" and
"Sea Battle" to be the height of perfection.

However it was played very little. All because of the price. It
was unrealistic and equaled about an hour of playing on a Sega
in the hall next door. Naturally, the choice often did not go in
favor of the machine. But when someone did start playing
"Operation Wolf", the idlers gathered around at the third space
speed.

And then they removed it. Most likely, for non-profitability.

By the way, in '91 or '92, near the Rostvertol recreation
centre, there was a gaming hall in the hotel "Tourist", entirely
consisting of Spectrums and some other computers. Probably
Yamaha and Atari. Joysticks on all computers there were
mechanical sticks with one button. I was there only once and
played a game with two submarines (black and blue) floating at
the bottom of the screen at different depths, competing in
firing on ships and planes. I couldn't found it at Speccy,
although I shoveled all the WOS.

And from the late '96 to the '99 I had no sight of arcade
machines. There were only different game clubs of different
sizes, ranging from a pair of consoles with cartridges on tray
to a large hall. And that club that I mentioned, it was
developing. First PS1 appeared, then a pair of N64, and then the
PC was delivered. The club moved a couple of times around the
building, but that's another story.

And in the year 1999, near the famous hotel "Yakor", which
stands on the embankment, an arcade hall was opened.

And it was serious. The whole room consisted of Sega machines,
and they just ripped off the roof, even after a close
acquaintance with the PlayStation. There were not many machines,
but what games they were! Virtua Cop (a shooter for two bandits
- just a fairy tale), House of the Dead, Daytona USA (6 cabinets
stood in a row and were connected to each other. You could sit
down next to each other and compete with each other, kick,
prune, etc.). And the climax of all this chic was a huge Desert
Tank. This cabinet simulated the place of the pilot of a tank.
There was a steering wheel, pedals, a traction knob and a huge
plasma as a screen. The player seemed to be in a real tank.
Needless to say, with shots and movement, all this splendor
trembled and staggered.

By the way, the payment in these machines was not coins or
tokens, but cards. Like a bank card with a magnetic strip, only
those were cardboard.
Now the halls have about the same scheme, only the cards are now
plastic and they cost around 100 roubles before you could put
money on them.
The cardboard was given free of charge, but you still could put
money on them.

I want now to elaborate on the game room, which replaced
arcades.

Near 1996, my younger sister began to study dancing in the same
recreation centre, and I went there to visit about once a week -
first just for chatting and fooling around with my friends (the
sisters of some of my classmates were also studying there), and
then play on consoles.

The game club consisted of two rows of non-slaughtering tables
made of thick sheets of wood mounted on steel frames. On the
tables stood colour TV sets of medium size. There were 6 in one
row, and 8 in the other. We sat on grave wooden benches (you
could completely sit out your ass on such a bench after an hour
of playing!). At first it was possible to play on Sega (there
were a lot of them) and on Dendy (there were 4). At that time I
played only once, because there was no sense - I had the same at
home. By the way, they were not brand Segas, but clones called
Bitman Super. I remember exactly that, because I had Bitman
Turbo and with it was a booklet showing images of all the
consoles made by that firm.

Behind the counter of the former exchanger it was the control
point of this club. There was a woman with a thick work log and
several watches. In this log, she entered the number of the
console and the time of the game. And she accepted the money, of
course. And behind her, a stand hung on the wall. Similar stands
could be seen near any bus stop - tapes were sold there. It was
a sheet of plywood with narrow horizontal slats nailed to it.
But instead of cassettes, there were cartons from cartridges.

People waiting for their turn could pass the time looking at the
boxes and chosing what to play.

In late '97 or early '98 there was an update of machines. PS1
appeared. Initially only one row was equipped with them, and
then they drove out all other consoles and became the sole owner
of the minds of the players. The game selection stand also
changed. The shelves were gone. Now it was filled with
horizontal rubber bands that held disk covers.

Since that period, the club was blossoming. People began to
crowd there, even on weekdays during school hours.

There were regulars - guys who seemed to live in the club all
the time. I remember one small kid called "Bacillus". He was the
youngest among the regulars, seldomly played (probably he had no
money), but he knew everything about all the popular (and not so
popular) games. You need Fatality for some Shinnok in MKЧ - OK.
Or you need to play for Dominion in Twisted Metal 2 - no
problem. In short - a walking book with codes and secrets.

There was another contingent. I called them "Hints". These guys
sat down near you and began to itch over the ear and give all
sorts of clues about how to play properly, periodically trying
to get your gamepad to "show how it should be." And this could
not be done because you couldn't get it back. In response, you
could hear all sorts of excuses starting from "I have not shown"
and ending with "well, are you greedy?". You must stop these
guys with words like, "if you want to watch - look, but
silently, or get out of here."

Of course, there also appeared hooligans that flocked at the
entrance to the schools. But somehow I was lucky with them. They
never managed to get money from me.

The running games in the club were those that did not require a
long walkthrough. It was all sorts of fighting games: First
Mortal Kombat 4, and then TekkenЗ. We played different racing
games, the most popular of which were Twisted Metal 2 and
Vigilante 8. Another very popular game was Red Alert. And played
it often in multiplayer. This is when the two consoles standing
next to each other are connected by a special cable, and you
play the same way as now through the Internet. We also played
everything else. Many games allowed to save your position using
a password. For some other games, you could come with your
memory card or rent a few blocks on a public club card for a
fee.

For a long time this club existed unchanged, and then moved
first to the central part of the foyer, and then to a separate
room in the far wing. The number of consoles at the move was
reduced, but there appeared two N64 and as many as 4 computers
connected to the network.

The PS1 played the same as before, and N64 mostly played 007
Golden Eye - mostly with four players at one console in
deathmatch. This way it was cheaper. The club had such prices
that the first player paid the full price, and the remaining
players at the same console paid half of that.

On computers there were mostly HOMM2, Dungeon Keeper, and some
kind of network shooter (maybe Half-life deathmatch, or maybe
some modification of Quake2).

It was very difficult to get to N64 or PC. The waiting time
could be up to an hour and a half, especially because the game
time could be extended. The room in which the club moved was
narrow and long, and it was already difficult to sit and stare
at someone playing, there just was no place.

In this form, the club existed until the early 2000's. I did not
appear there for a while. I bought my own computer, and I had no
time. When I was back in those lands, the club was no longer
there. It was the year 2002. Probably, the club could not stand
the onslaught of cheap home PCs, and the consoles became much
more affordable than in the late 90's.

Nowadays, the situation with arcades is twofold. They are
standing in almost every shopping centre, but mostly it's
aero-hockey or something childlike like "throw balls into the
mouth of a hippopotamus" and "knock on moles." More serious
types of racing, fighting games, virtual shooting galleries, or
dance dance revolution - should be looked for. Although once I
happened to play a shooting gallery based on Silent Hill. The
same, sensational, which the fans of the original game watered
with slops. And the shooting gallery, I will say, was
interesting. Together with a friend, we practically mastered it
from the first coin. We only lost at the last level.

What is always missing - it's pinball. For all my life I've
played only on two pinball tables. A couple of times at seashore
on "Gilligan's Island" (even took the prize-winning line) and
once in the "Rostov" cinema (which is now closed) on pinball
based on "Star Trek". I do not know why the game so popular in
the US does not take root here at all.

                          Alone Coder:

One Tula dweller wrote:
In the late 80's, when I was 6-7 years old, I played in all 
sorts of electromechanic machines: Sea Battle, Highway (race), 
Interceptor (air battles), Sniper (shooting at targets), and 
Bowling :) 
It was all worth it in the Kosogorets recreation centre (in the 
Kosaya Gora, Tula region - now part of the Privokzalny district 
of Tula) 
Then we had a club "Arsenalets" - in the Zarechesky district of 
Tula. There were rows of computers - presumably Agat (coloured), 
or BK-0010. I can not remember the names of the games. 
One time in the Children's Department Store there was a guy that 
tried to download games from a Spectrum, but he constantly 
failed. Around him was a crowd of onlookers, apparently not at 
all understanding what was going on, but very hungry to play 
something)) 
I had a Speccy since the 2nd grade, so it was of no interest to 
me)) 
Pink/mHm was playing somewhere in the park (all sorts of 
battletoads and other double dragons) 
Fyrex/mHm, in my opinion, also liked to play in the park, but 
this is not certain. 
I was engaged in setting up slot machines when I was around 
20-23. There also was so-called "children's equipment", which we 
exported during the holiday season to the south, and the rest of 
the time we played it ourselves... there were games of the 90's: 
racing, shooting (a la "Operation Wolf"), fighting... Children's 
equipment were mostly Atari, but not only. There was also a huge 
casino device - I pulled a couple of AY chips from there, 
because it still did not work))) 

I(Alone Coder) have not seen the "Sea Battle" and other famous
machine guns live in Ryazan. I remember only some kind of
"Target" game in the Municipal Cultural Centre, but no one
played it in my presence.
In Soviet times there was a game hall in the park, possibly near
the stadium "Locomotive", but there I remember only one game,
because I played it myself - it was a race on a light beam. That
is, without a screen, just a beam and a machine driving along
it.
In 1998 I saw two NeoGeo gaming machines in the "Burevestnik"
pool, but the games there were just fightings, nobody played
them either. I do not even know how to pay for them. At the same
time, I saw a machine with games for Radio-8бRK ("Treasure" and
"Labyrinth") in DK Neftyanikov (now Дворец Молодёжи).
All games were for 15 kopecks. I still have such coins, although
the anniversary 20-kopeck coins all disappeared somehow :)

Roma Borisov (Ryazan) remembers:
He lived in Kanishchevo district when it was still being built
up. The village was ridden by gangs on horseback and with
chains. The time was severe, and rarely anyone could walk in
other districts (and it was also horrible in your own).
Therefore, he remembers mostly only the local cinema "Cosmos"
and maybe some other one. There were slot machines, first of
"Target" type (very old and indestructible - I saw one before in
the Municipal Cultural Centre), then there were "Sea Battle" (as
in the cartoon "Velikolepny Gosha" - 2nd episode) and "Hunting"
(where manic players memorized the moments of the appearance of
all animals.) Who made these machines? In fact, they were like
simulators for the military. There were several vendors, because
the machines differed significantly in systems. And the most
popular was mechanical "Basketball" - where you pressed Button
to throw the ball into the desired hole.
There was a pavilion in the Central Park of Culture and Sports,
probably with 20 game machines. Roma does not remember the light
race. But he remembers a unique machine with toy tanks, which
was surrounded by idlers (also mechanical, you must fire
somewhere, and it used stock toy tanks costing a ruble and a
half - with 10 kopecks for school breakfast, you could only
dream of one).
Apparently, Roma remembers the legendary game "Humpbacked
Horse". Anoher colour electronic game was some race (probably,
"Magistral" - Hippiman has found its prototype on Atari 2600
under the name "Night Racer").
He says that in Moscow there is even a museum of Soviet arcade
machines, where they are restored and working. I later found it
on YouTube:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ЧIsXzLutgYI

Louisa (she also studied dancing in late '90's) only remembers
pinball and hockey, and she has played pinball only once. I
haven't seen either one.
She also showed me tokens for arcade cabinets, that she won at
some competition around 2000.



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