Arcade Memories: Unlimited Tokens
One of my very first jobs was working at Milpitas Golfland, an arcade in the Bay Area. Time to relive and record some memories…
One of the best things about working at an arcade was the (basically) unlimited tokens. Whether I got them by repairing machines (the rule was simple – if a token didn’t hit the coin box you could take it), trading in free token passes included with each bi-weekly paycheck or just scooping (think of it as borrowing!) out handfuls from behind the counter, it would be hard pressed to find me tokenless any given day of the week.
I beat a lot of games. It was rewarding to beat something designed to steal money. The Metal Slugs, the Street Fighters, the House of the Deads, the racing games and top-scrollers — all notches on my belt.
Have you ever been afraid to play a competitive arcade game because they guy currently on the machines kicks so much ass your turn would be over before you understood the buttons!? Not when you have unlimited coins! Even if your game is over in seconds you have 500,000 more tokens where that came from – even the worst player gets lucky sometimes.
As a kid I used to go to the arcade with my father and I would make my $10 worth of quarters last 3 hours – easy. I would walk around the arcade, surveying the games, deciding which of them looked cool enough to earn my money. If I died quick, that was it — next game. I couldn’t have a game swallowing my money that fast; I needed my arcade fun to last as long as I could.
But when you have nigh-unlimited tokens the economy of a single game gets completely blown away. Unlimited tokens meant that any game could be beat if you had the time. I could burn through the equivilent of $10 bucks in 10 minutes if properly motivated or if the game was super expensive (why must driving games cost so much?).
I’m forever spoiled. But damn, it was worth it.
I beat Simpsons the Arcade Game! I beat the six player X-Men brawler (and you bet I used the special attack button quite liberally!) I beat Area 51… as an alien!