San Angelo never had a real arcade, per se, but it had something infinitely cooler: Shakey's Pizza
. My knowledge of the history of San Angelo Shakey's is limited. I think ours was probably a knockoff (the real Shakey's franchises served MoJo potatoes, ours had RoJos...), and apparently it was a popular high school hang out during my parent's day. Whatever. All I know for sure is that they had badass pizza, even badder-ass RoJos, they used to show Looney Tunes and Three Stooges non-stop, and they had the sweeeeeeetest game room of all time.
Sure you had your standard token-ticket games, but that was kid stuff. The real bread and butter were the arcade games. Since I probably ate there no less 10,000 times in my life, I played them all. They always had the newest ones out front, but there were several old standards that my friends and I played countless times. Games like...G.I. Joe
- A forward scrolling classic where you control side to side movement and a crosshair. I always used to get the same "oh fuck" feeling whenever the giant air base would launch out of the water for the final level. Gotta go with two players. "Go Joe!"Captain America and the Avengers
- "Okayyyy Gooooooooo!" "Thank you, Wonderman!" "Fine. Fine. Fine." To this very day, I still say these things to myself, sometimes even out loud, in the hopes that someone else hears and remembers the greatness that was this game. No one ever does. Four player goodness prevails.X-Men
- Yet another four player job, this one was hella-fun. Not only were the mutant powers fooking sweet to use (I was ALWAYS Colossus or Nightcrawler), you could beat the Sentinels up after you had knocked them down, so there was always something to do. Add in a slew of memorable bosses, and you had yourself a great time. "Nothing moves the BLOB!!!" "X-Men, welcome to die!"The Simpsons
- Goooooo. I would probably pay good money to have this one in my house. It was that excellent. From brilliant locales to insane bosses to bonus stages where you blew up a balloon of your own head to the multiplayer attacks, flawless from start to finish. In all honesty, I only made it all the way to Mr. Burns a couple times out of the thousands I played this game - it was really hard - but the times I beat him were highlights of my childhood existence.Pit Fighter
- This one was really interesting. It used digitized actors, and even if they were pixellated as hell, they looked really cool fighting each other. If my memory serves me correctly, the violence was also pretty realistic. You were a fighter in some illegal fighting tournament, trying to make it to the big boss, an executioner looking dude who is a foot taller than you. At least you got weapons. Sometimes.Knights of the Round
- I played this one A LOT. Side scrolling action similar to Golden Axe, only it is Arthurian. You pick up loot along the way, ride a horse, use some sort of unspecified magic, kick ass and rescue babes, and your character gets to level up. What more do you want? It was three player, and you could pick from Arthur, Lancelot, or Percival. I was always Percival if I could be - he was the slow, strong one. Just like me in real life.NBA Jam
- Ahhhhhh, where is JORDAN?!?!? Fuck, I guess I'll be Stockton/Malone. What's that? Ewing/Starks wants a pice? Fool, you just got full-court-triple-somersault DUNKED on. Yeah, Stockton's lightin' up the threes. "He's on FIRE!" Boo ya. Gotta give props to its predecessor Arch Rivals, too. Classic.Street Fighter II
- I fucking sucked at fighting games. Still do. My strategy amounts to button mashing and Back-Back-B combos. No matter - I still pumped countless tokens into this machine. "Sonic Boom!" "Yoga fire" Chun Li's "Yapyapyapyapyap" "Shoryuken!" I could never time the jump over that one... Vastly superior to the second, and the original of a thousand series spawns, this one was always classic.Super Off Road
- Babes and truck racing, hell yeah. I used to love burning all my nitros right off the bat. Eat dirt, Ironman Stewart! The little trucks looked and drove like Micro Machines, but that was half the fun. A nearly forgotten favorite.M.E.R.C.s
- I saved the best for last. I have no earthly idea what MERC stands for, but it may as well be "The Fucking Coolest Game Ever Made." Or something. Three Arnold-Schwarzenneger-in-Predator-like players. Power ups beyond your wildest imagination. Loads of enemies to bomb, burn, shoot, impale, defecate on, whatever. Weaponed vehicles to drive/shoot from. This one also prominently featured the "Say No to Drugs" screen that so many games of its era displayed between playings. I ALWAYS made sure to get one of the flame throwers early on, and would proceed with my little buddies to decimate everything in site. This was a 10 year old's wet dream: pizza, cartoons, and coop arcade domination.
Shakey's closed down when I was in junior high, I think. Now it's a World Buffet. Fuck that.
Oh yeah, I also forgot Turtles in Time. I think that one was kind of a given, though.