Games not over
THE FLINT JOURNAL FIRST EDITIONSunday, September 17, 2006
By Bob Wheatonbwheaton@flintjournal.com • 810.766.6375
Did you know?
"Space Invaders," released in 1978, is considered by many to be the game that kicked off the video game popularity explosion.
"Pac Man," first released in the United States in 1980, was called Puck Man in Japan, but the U.S. title was changed because it sounded too much like, well, you know.
"Centipede," released in 1980, had a spinoff called Millipede that was released two years later, but the first version was a bigger hit.
"Frogger," released in 1981, was featured in an episode of the television show "Seinfeld" in which George Costanza tried (and failed) to save a Frogger arcade game on which his high score from years ago was still recorded.
"Donkey Kong," released in 1981, was originally set to be based on the Popeye characters, but a licensing deal fell through.
Mike Braekevelt's house is a dream come true for arcade addicts who came of age in the 1980s.
Braekevelt, 40, can play "Ms. Pac Man," "Asteroids," "Donkey Kong," "Centipede" and dozens of other video game favorites at his Tyrone Township home. If he's in the mood for pinball, his options are just as numerous.
And we're not talking about a retooled Atari 2600 or another multi-game system that hooks up to the TV.
Braekevelt's got the real enchilada: the same game consoles that used to be played by soda-slurping, hot pretzel-eating teens in dimly lit mall arcades in Anytown, U.S.A.
Popularity of classic arcade games in recent years has shot up as fast as a pinball wizard's score, said Mike Wiley, owner of Wiley's Amusements in Fenton, which sells and services arcade games.
"In 25 years of doing this, last year was my best year ever, and a big part of that was selling classic video games to people for their basements - both pinball machines and classic 'Pac Man,' 'Galaga'-type games," Wiley said.
"I hardly have to open the showroom. Things are already sold before they're finished (being refurbished).
Wiley, 41, is a former employee of East Lansing's legendary Pinball Pete's. As a child, he spent his lunch money on games at the old bowling alley in Fenton, which was just doors from where his business is now.
"I think it's mostly nostalgia," Wiley said of the current craze. "I think it's mainly (that) our age group that grew up with these games are in a position to be able to afford them."
It takes a lot of quarters