Darren Waters

Hands on with vintage gaming

  • Darren Waters
  • 15 Jul 08, 14:10 GMT

If you want to find some of the best video games during E3 then I would advise driving away from the convention centre north east to the suburb of Glendale.

Streetfighter gameHidden away in a work shed is the Vintage Arcade Superstore, a treasure trove of some of the greatest jewels in video game history. Retro-loving gamers can pick up a piece of history for as little as $1,500 (£750).

An original Williams' Defender machine, Ms Pacman, Battezone, Gauntlet, a classic Asteroids cabinet, Star Wars, Pinball Machines and hundreds of other gems fill the room.

There are dusty circuit boards, old cathode ray tube monitors, the empty housings of classic arcade games and row upon row of some of the greatest games ever made.

Video arcade gamesThe store is the property of Gene Lewin, who started the arcade superstore 31 years ago after falling in love with Pinball as a teenager.

"They are imaginative, creative, a lot of fun," he said of arcade machines.

But why arcade machines when you can play games in high definition on a game console for as little as $400 (£200)?

He said: "It's the real arcade experience; the original games, the original cabinets, the original artwork. You can get a piece of your childhood, a piece of history."

Video arcade gamesGene and his team both sell and restore arcade games, from the monitors to the boards and cabinets.

And his most prized possession?

"I have the very first Asteroids Deluxe machine, serial number 001.

"It's one of a kind and the first off the assembly line."

So if you want this piece of history you can pick it up for only $2,495 (£1,500).


  • Comment number 1.

    Can you imagine, bringing your mates round and having 'Street Fighter II' in your living room (I'm sure people of a certain age will all agree with me) would be a) a surefire way to make your friends come and see you all the time b) one of the coolest people around! Seeing that photo certainly brings back memories!


  • Comment number 2.

    We were having a discussion at work the other day, the old chestnut about what we would all do if we each won the lottery.

    My desire to have a classic arcade/museum/shop, somewhat like this one, drew some funny looks from my strait-laced colleagues, most of whom would have trouble determining a PS1 from a 2600 from an Xbox 360.

    I would run it as a not-for-profit enterprise to give kids of all ages the chance to play games like I used to, for 10 or 20p. Oh, happy, summer days....

  • Comment number 3.

    I'll never forget the first time I ever played Star Wars in the arcades. Excellent!
    And the first thing I did when I got home (having spent all my money in Southend) was look the game up for the C64 home computer! I had a bit of a wait!
    When it did get released, it was no where near the same as the arcade version playability wise...but I thought it was cool. The Amiga version had improvements, but still, not as good as the original arcade machine, eh?!
    Arcade games and even 8 bit Computer games to an extent are the 'toys' of my generation, as Pinball probably was to my fathers!
    I wouldn't mind an arcade machine at home. It would be fun!

  • Comment number 4.

    Cool! What do I have to do to get a free advert for my business on this blog - it's nothing more than that?

  • Comment number 5.

    Talk about inflation. I can remember playing electro-mechanical pinball machines and getting 9,000 was a big score - now it's in the millions.

    Several years ago, when changing careers, I interviewed for a job fixing arcade machines and ended up getting hired by a telcom instead. I'm still not sure that was the better job...

  • Comment number 6.

    Definitely a treasure trove. Makes me all the more eager to attend this weekend's California Extreme Arcade Expo in San Jose, California. Hundreds of arcade games and pinball machines all available to play for free (after the price of admission).

    The arcade experience is an indelible aspect of my childhood, and one that evokes only great memories of excitement about the future of computers and computer entertainment. Both the social aspect of gathering around the machines and the hefty tactile nature of the controls are elements lost in modern living-room gaming (as much as I enjoy that as well).

  • Comment number 7.

    I was in Phnom Penn, Cambodia back in February and we stumbled on a shop full of all these old arcade machines. Myself and a few of the others in my group were in total heaven playing against the local kids, (and generally getting hammered by them!) on Street Fighter 2, Tekken 3, King of Fighters etc...

    The younger members of our group didn't get it at all though...

  • Comment number 8.

    I would have to buy an original Donkey Kong console. I spent a whole four week summer holiday in Ibiza playing it using 2p's instead of 25 pesatas and I left with my name proudly at the top of the honours board. Happy Days

  • Comment number 9.

    There's also a very healthy community dedicated to restoring old cabinets to pristine condition, or even creating your own 'MAME' cabinet from scratch.

    My project is at:

    Or check out:
    Build Your Own Arcade Controls:

  • Comment number 10.

    I'm not sure how arcade machine pricing is in England, but in the U.S. you can get into vintage gaming for quite a bit less than $1,500. Prices vary by demand, but it's not a difficult feat to pick up a classic like Punch Out! for $50 at auction.


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