The Death and Rebirth of Arcades
Once upon a time in an age of VCRs and bad hair, there were these spaces inside of malls which housed strange, large upright machines that had an appetite for quarters. In return for a handful of shiny coins you were suppose to be saving, these stand-alone gaming devices would entertain much better than whichever dinky console you had at home. In these places – “arcades” for you kiddies – you could find the newest and best looking 2D shooters, fixed screen big hitters like Pac-man, sidescrolling beat ’em ups and of course, fighting games. If you wanted to play an “perfect” version of any of these game genres, you had to go to the arcade, period.
Now its twenty years later and things are much, much different. Today’s consoles are powerful enough to make gamers forget all about cigarette-burned cabinets and burning through several dollars only to get your ass handed to you by some random stranger you just met at the arcade. With the advent of online gaming,that random stranger is no longer in the same arcade as you – he’s on the other side of the world. Online console gaming has killed off the arcades. How did this happen? To understand we must look at the roots of console vs arcade experiences.
During the late 80s. 8-bit home consoles like the NES were barely capable of running even the most basic of arcade games and with their limited two button setups, the NES and Master System were also impractical for most multi-button arcade games.
By the 16-bit era, consoles slowly began to see ports of arcade fighting games as well as special arcade sticks designed for home use. Still, consoles still had a mere fraction of the power behind the arcade machines and the home console fighting sticks really sucked in comparison to real, high quality controls found only after making a trip to the arcade.
This was the case all the way up to the dawn of the 128-bit era around the turn of the century. With consoles finally catching up to what arcades could do, it was time for third party companies to start to deign higher quality arcade sticks for the home market. One of the first that I can think of is the fantastic Dreamcast Arcade stick.
Now that even the 128-bit generation is behind us, the arcades are dead everywhere but in Japan, the land of their origin. Now with a few exceptions, the PS3 and Xbox 360 have become the new primary source for all the oldschool arcade genres, fighting especially.
Indeed in many ways the new console powerhouses have become the new arcade. the PS3 and Xbox 360 both have the graphics and online capabilities to make an experience like the old arcade days new again. With lots of fighting games ending in 4 (Soul Calibur 4, Dead or Alive 4, Street Fighter 4) Blazblue and oldies on Live Arcade, it should go without saying that you should own a quality arcade stick if you want to play fighting games on the PS3 or 360.
So then which fighting stick should you choose? I don’t know about PS3, but there are now several on the market for 360.
Hori EX2 ~$40
Madkatz SF4 Arcade stick ~$60
Madcatz SF4 Arcade stick SE ~$150
Hori Real Arcade Pro 360 ~$170
High end sticks are much more expensive because now they are made with the same quality parts as you used to find in real arcade cabinets.
But what happens if you want to go with the cheap EX2? Well you’re in luck! Turns out you can mod it to include the same high end parts as its big brothers but at a fraction of the price!
Stay tuned to learn more.