Aww time spent competitive gaming trying to get the highest score.

My girlfriend and I are huge Dave and Busters fans.  Food, drinks, and arcade games are a perfect combination.  We play traditional arcade co-op from over the shoulder game watching to two player shooters, usually an iteration of Time Crisis, to two player turn based gaming, notably hunting games, to a head to head competition, one day I will beat her at that basketball shootout.  Sure, tokens are replaced by a swipe of credits off of a preloaded card but tickets still pop out of the game machines.  We have gamed together for about 6 years and have amassed roughly 20,000+ tickets on a shared card.  With our ticket riches we can afford an Xbox 360 video game, most are about 13,000 tickets.  I ask her if we can get a game each time but we keep looking for an expensive ticket item that we both want, I vetoed the collection of mini NFL helmets of all 32 teams.      

Mobile to the very large HD screen is a new trend.  

With the summer come new arcade games.  Mobile games are now big arcade hits.  This summer alone the new games included big HD screens for Doodle Jump, Temple Run, and Cut The Rope.  Doodle Jump is quite fun as a one life platformer compelling an aspiration to greater heights by not missing a single platform for a higher ticket reward.  Temple Run has the same limited fun for me in the arcade as it does on my smartphone with its repeated turn, jump, and slide in our hero's never ending escape from the temple's none too pleased denizens.  Cut The Rope provides a couple of rotating puzzles and tickets are earned based on both time spent solving the puzzle and stars collected. 

My girlfriend enjoys games but she is not an avid gamer.  She tinkers with her Nintendo DS Lite, occasionally she tries for the achievements in Sonic 2 that I downloaded on my Xbox 360 for her, she watched me play the entirety of Telltale Game's The Walking Dead, we popped games in the Sega Genesis trading the controller between turns and we passed an iPad back and forth playing The Little Inferno.  The dual analog sticks of the modern consoles remain intimidating for her.  At our latest Dave and Buster's adventures we noticed a slew of new co-op games available or new to us at least.  While she may not entirely grasp why I sink hours into gaming from inventory management (looking at you Skyrim) to dying multiple times on a boss only to look up internet tips and try again (I am on my fourth attempt of the Grand Staff boss in Lost Odyssey) at Dave and Buster's we get to play together.       

The shark head atop the game is what actually convinced us to try the game out. 

We found a reboot or due to the updated arcade cabinet, a redesign of ICE's Harpoon Lagoon, an under the sea scene set up like a table top board game with 4 sets of controls for simultaneous play by four people.  Each player has a set number of harpoons and spears fish aiming for the highest weight amount total.  The bigger the fish, the larger the weight but the large fish such as sharks are surrounded by other teeny tiny fish.  My gaming savvy zeroed me in on a florescent jellyfish swimming in the screen's center around an open treasure chest and surrounded by various fishes.  With no instructions, only the gaming knowledge to aim for glowing items in games, I nabbed the jellyfish and won a 1,000 ticket payout.  My girlfriend kept asking how "I knew" to aim for the jellyfish.  Gamer "pro" tip: Items glowing as if infused with radiation are always important.   

Large fish are guarded by schools of small fish but the jellyfish (not pictured here) was no match for my "superior" harpooning. 

Two other people joined the game as the lights flashed advertising my victory on the two remaining controls and one hooked the hard to get shark for a 60 ticket payout.  We congratulated complete strangers because we are momentary friends while gaming.

Despite the grandiose arcade cabinet the interior is simply a booth with guns but the experience is fun time looking for buried treasure. 

However, a new co-op type is slowly earning our attention, the couple co-op game.  These games can be played with friends or family but are marketed towards a couple's teamwork.  This started with a pirate game, Namco's Deadstorm Pirates, a booth that provided machine guns (that the game characters used as pistols), a bench for sitting, and a wheel in between the two gamers.  Plus, the two on screen avatars are a man and a woman with corresponding gamer reticle colors as blue and pink respectively but I will not diverge onto societal stereotypes regarding gender.  We have played Deadstorm Pirates previously to completion but felt ready for another playthrough.  We set a shared card loaded with credits on the arcade dash so that we both had equal access upon a death and settled in.    

The pink and blue health bars and reticles are matched with the "appropriate" gender character, gender stereotypes live on. 

With much talk nowadays about the Oculus Rift much is said imagining a true virtual reality experience.  Huddled in a booth with my girlfriend, we were in the experience together, we shouted encouragement and calls for help, laughed and high fived after a successful boss battle that required coordination and teamwork.  We were not connected via online avatars but physically able to pat each other on the back for a successful level completion.  The wheel required that we either work together or designate one of us to navigate our ship, raft, or mine cart but required that we turn the wheel in unison due to the strength required to avoid crashing the ship.  We compared our gunfire accuracy scores and played to the end despite a typical throwaway arcade story to keep the experience going until the very end.    

A new booth game sat in the middle of the floor constantly with a couple either inside and another couple waiting that we always wandered to another game while we waited.  My curiosity about a new arcade game that was not a mobile game port was piqued and finally we parked ourselves as second in line.  The booth's curtain hung so low that we could not see even a glimpse of the screen; all we could view was the calves of the two gamers.    

We spent the entire evening trying to peek into the booth like a pair of weirdos. 

The game was Namco's, Dark Escape 4D.  We were unsure what we would experience once we sat down.  The game was advertised as 4D.  Sitting in the booth, we put on 3D glasses, picked up a gun peripheral that measured our heartbeats to assess our state of panic, bursts of air hit us both in the face and in the back of the neck as the undead horde attacked, the seat vibrated, and the booth had surround sound for both players.  The experience was definitely fun.     

Co-op play requires trash talking the person who got the most panic attacks.  

We spent most of our credits on our replay of the Pirate game but we played through an entire sequence of Dark Escape 4D.  The four levels are based on different fears Necrophobia, fear of the dead, Achluophobia, fear of the dark, Agoraphobia, fear of pursuit, and Entomophobia, fear of vermin.  We chose fear of pursuit.  Now and then, usually corresponding to jump scares, our panic levels were measured and displayed on the screen with a large exclamation of "PANICKED" as your heartbeat challenged your corresponding exclamation, "I was not scared!." 

This is a screen from the fear of the dark level.  If those creatures are in the dark then yes, I am very scared of the dark. 

The most memorable moment was a zombie appearing from above and vomiting on our heads with an accompanying blast of air that felt truly gross.  Again, teamwork shooting skills are required and each level end shows a count of how many times each player panicked.  A bit of online research reveals that the game even has multiple endings, a good and bad ending, depending on how "well" you play the game.  We left laughing and dedicated to a complete playthrough on our next visit.  Even wearing 3D glasses we were in the experience together commenting on each other's panicked moments and laughing as the other one shrieked. 

Not only home consoles and mobile devices are experiencing a reinvention, the arcade is competing as well.  With most of the new arcade games mobile ports I had made my peace with the game types populating the arcade and still enjoyed roaming the arcade floor with my girlfriend.  Apparently, some arcade titles will aggressively court the more "serious" gamer to put down their controller at home and grab a significant other, friend, or family member for that in-person arcade experience.  For my girlfriend and I we will be back at the arcade this summer, the only question is when and what ending will we get in Dark Escape 4D.

Also, sometimes my schedule prevents me from reading and commenting on GIO as much as I would like but here is a quick shout out to those reviving the 31/31 challenge.  Your blogs have been great, keep it up and the end of the month will be here all too soon.

Thanks for reading all. 

Do you visit the arcade nowadays?  Who do you go with?

What is your favorite game now when you visit the arcade?

Do you still collect tickets for wildly overpriced prizes?