We trawl Scottish arcades for Sega games,
then film & write about them.

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

M&D's (Motherwell)

From the perspective of a blog seeking out Sega arcade games throughout Scotland, M&D's is frankly disappointing. Two Sega games in a complex as large as M&D's couldn't be anything but disappointing, especially considering that the main arcade area is mostly dominated by fruit machines. That's not to say it wasn't great to find and play good condition Scud Race and Daytona USA cabinets in the bowling area (indicating to me that increasingly, arcades perhaps aren't the best place to find arcade games), but it did mean that M&D's had a pretty flimsy roster of Sega games.

They did, however, have a reasonable number of Namco games, from Time Crisis sequels to PacMan themed gambling machines.

I doubt very much that there was any deliberate attempt on the part of M&D's to install Namco cabinets at the expense of Sega ones, but it did recall the position Sega found themselves in during the mid-1990s quite neatly.

I've tried to avoid talking about home consoles too much so far. Their story is certainly intertwined with that of arcades, but I think it's a little simplistic to blame home consoles for their decline. However, the early days of the Sega Saturn and Sony PlayStation were pretty closely tied to what was going on in the arcades.

Upon its launch, the Sega Saturn looked golden. A home console that was promised the Virtua Fighter series and Daytona USA seemed like it could do no wrong. Sega's arcade muscle being flexed on a home console was an enticing concept in the mid-nineties, especially taking into account the franchises Sega had built up in the previous generation, since Streets of Rage and Sonic sequels still felt feasible at this point.

Sony, on the other hand, didn't seem like the obvious bet. Panasonic and Philips had already embarrassed themselves; who did Sony think they were?

Of course, that was the perspective of my 12-year-old-Sega-fanboy self. Sony did a lot of things right with the PlayStation's launch, but getting Namco on board with exclusive titles did a lot to counteract Sega's established back catalogue. For every Daytona they had a Ridge Racer, for every Virtua Fighter a Tekken, for every Virtua Cop a Time Crisis. I don't recall them ever effectively answering Virtual-On, though. Who could?

I don't want to give the impression that I'm opposed to Namco in any way. I had a PlayStation in the early nineties and enjoyed Ridge Racer, Tekken, Soul Edge, Time Crisis and Air Combat amongst others. Even though we focus on Sega arcade games, we'd be remiss to ignore Namco completely, especially at the point where the Sega/Namco & Sony rivalry superseded the Sega/Nintendo rivalry.

If anything, it seemed to be this early 3D era that heralded the last great era of arcade gaming. Side scrolling shooters and platformers, scrolling beat'em ups (except for Die Hard Arcade, of course!) and shoot 'em ups fell away in favour of 3D racers, fighters and light gun games. Only two of these seem to have much arcade presence now, although rhythm games seem to have a fairly steady arcade presence. With the exception of a few notable games like House of the Dead or Virtual On, fantasy also gave way to simulation.

This isn't an inherently bad thing. For one, Sega can still make taxi driving or cross country trucking a visceral, colourful, pulse-pounding experience, but the chances of another Space Harrier, Alien Storm, Shinobi or Fantasy Zone in arcades seemed less and less likely as the new millennium approached. Perhaps it was because the fairly simple 3D graphics of the mid-nineties made representing abstract fantasy locations and characters more difficult, I can't say for certain. I love the sun drenched, primary coloured Sega aesthetic we got from Sega, but it's fascinating to think what could have been.

Of course, the unapologetically generic nature of Sega's early 3D output is fascinating in itself. Take away the 'Virtua' from these titles and you're left with 'Racing', 'Fighter', 'Cop' and 'Striker', all of which sound like the 8-bit titles released when gaming was finding its feet. It almost seemed to be enough that these games were 3D. Anything else was extraneous. However, the stylised, low detail look of a game like Virtua Fighter is quite appealing in retrospect, at least more so than the clumsy attempts at photorealism that occurred later in the decade.

In a decade that was (almost) bookended by The Lawnmower Man and The Matrix and where Virtual Reality seemed like viable technology, perhaps being 3D was enough. Some great games and franchises were born in this era, but arcades are perhaps slightly poorer for trading bona-fide games in for simulated experiences and spectacle.


One can earn a lot in Arcade business by providing loads of interactive games, computer games, video games and all kinds of electronic amusement amenities.
classic arcade games list

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