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April 2019

DZ Deathrays’ guide to video game arcades

Check out drummer Simon's guide ahead of this year's DZ Deathrays Arcade Challenge.
Published: 11:20 am, August 10, 2018Words: Sam Taylor.
DZ Deathrays’ guide to video game arcades

Summer is usually known for festival shenanigans, right? Well, move over Reading & Leeds - August has a new event that’s going to top our ‘cool shit we’re doing’ list. Upset is teaming up with indie label Alcopop!, London bar Four Quarters and top brewery Signature Brew for DZ Deathrays’ Bloody Lovely Bar Takeover. Taking place on 21st August, it’ll be a mega night out consisting of the DZ Deathrays Arcade Challenge, an album playback, free merch, a still to-be-announced live band and loads more. To celebrate, DZ drummer Simon has put together a guide to video game arcades.

Welcome to my first ever arcade guide! I'm not entirely sure how to handle such a broad subject even though its one I have personally wasted plenty of hours and money on over the years. So get ready for a lot of inconsistencies, ignorance, pointless knowledge, and I'll most likely forget to mention all of your favourites.  Now that the bar is set nice and low, the only way I think I can break this down well is to group each game into its genre and list some of my favourites. So here we go!

When I think about racing games in arcade parlours, the first thing I can think of is Daytona USA. One of the first arcade machines to have a full sit in build complete with gearbox, surround sound, and you can link like up to six I think? I played this bad boy so much as a kid, there was one in the local bowling complex when I was growing up, and every visit my friends and I would drop stacks (probably like $20 so I guess not that much in hindsight) on it. And we sure did suck at it pretty much because the best bit in the game was cutting your friends off and making them flip after they crash into the walls. 

Other notable mentions would be Sega Rally (to this day if I'm sitting shotgun I can't help but think about yelling "Easy Left" or "Hard Right" at whoever is driving) and also Cruising USA which is also rad. Crazy Taxi is also of notable mention however that game, rather like the drunkenly ordered McDonald's you forgot about a week ago and left in the fridge; it has not aged well... Still doable, but not nearly as enjoyable as it once was. 


One of the easiest ways to judge if a FPS game was gonna be rad is if it has the little curtain around it to protect kids from seeing the screen. The developers/marketing teams must have known this would have the opposite effect as its probably the first things to look for when you arrive at the arcade. Anyway, House of the Dead was one of these games, and it was totally worth teaming up with a friend for cause that shit was hard. The first level or two was easy then all of a sudden it just starts taking money from you like a pissed off debt collector you've been trying to dodge. 

However, there are a few exceptions to the curtain rule. One is Time Crisis, which has a cool foot pedal mechanism that would allow you to take shelter while you reloaded. The other was Terminator 2: Judgement Day. This game is basically just two Uzi's setup in front of a screen, and you just pay to spray. If you're rolling in coins, I recommend doubling down and holding both of those Uzis for max carnage. 


Beat em ups are like beers: There are many different types, they all do the same shit in the end, but there are a few which you'll always wanna come back to. For me, those are X Men, Double Dragon, Metal Slug and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. All of these games are definitely worth having some back up on, however. So if you're alone, or your friends are chumps then it might be worthwhile befriending that other weird kid alone in the arcade who looks like he might have Aspergers cause you're gonna need all the help/coins you can get! All these games have the same thing in common, a joystick, four buttons and basically, the overall objective is just walk to the right of the screen and lay the hurt down on anyone in the way. Also, a little button mashing on these never hurt anyone.


This is about the games that are the classics and usually get overlooked these days. Like Pac Man, Donkey Kong (the barrel throwing Kong), Galaga, Frogger, Space Invaders etc. The classics stay around for good reason: they're simple and usually hard as fuck after a few levels/beers. My favourite by far is Galaga. The best advice I can give is let your ship get captured by the enemy then shoot that shit free in the next round, and now you got double the ships, double the firepower and if anyone was watching double the high fives flying your way.


I was going to try and tackle this, but there is just way too many to start on so fuck it, let's go to the next section... 


What's the good without the bad? So here are some of my least favourite arcade machines.

BOWLING: You know the one I'm talking about, the spinning ball stuck in the control panel that just takes your money and in return gives you very little enjoyment. Kinda sounds like how some of my friends describe having kids.
Also, why do people play this? Most arcades are either standalone, attached to a movie cinema or attached to a bowling alley. If you find yourself in an arcade attached to a bowling alley maybe just go bowling IRL, its way more fun. Although the Wii Bowling was alright, but I guess not really applicable to this article.

I just don't get it. Even if you're just doing it for tickets so you can trade them for some crappy pencil eraser, just go buy a sweet eraser and with the money and time you just saved I want you to swallow that eraser whole, without a chaser, so the next time you even think of Ski Ball you'll be reminded of having a shit time. 

Typically found among a group of young guys who are all a few beers deep trying to literally out muscle each other. I can't help but find it kinda ironic that the stereotypical gamer is usually depicted as anything but masculine yet these games always find their way into an arcade. We've all played one at one point, and once you've given it a crack, there's not really a lot of replay-ability, unless you're that really competitive person in your group of friends who has to win at everything in which case you're also most likely to be the asshole in the group. 


Well by now you've probably stopped reading or are surprised that I totally missed the entire Fighting genre (psych its here: Street Fighter or really any Mortal Kombat is worth your shitty loose change. Killer Instinct can be a good time if you know the moves, if not then its a bit 'meh' along with Tekken). So I guess on that final note, good luck out there, may all the high scores be yours and may you find all the unclaimed coins in the refund/change slots or on the arcade ground!

Also one last thing, I remember hearing if you switched the power to some machines off and on again at the wall they can give you free games. Can't say I've done it, nor that you should either but... you know.

DZ Deathrays’ Bloody Lovely Bar Takeover will take place at Four Quarters in London on 21st August. It’s free entry, so we’ll see you there, yeah?

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