I've always been a fan of arcades since I can remember. Mid 80s in Winnipeg I'd stare at the arcade in awe wishing I could go in. They always had a 12 or 14 and older rule and at 6 or 7 I was jealous of my older brother who could go play these giant life size games that I was playing at home on our Commodore 64, Atari and Colecovision. Whenever there was a arcade in a store without age limits I'd ask for a few quarters to play whatever game they had.
When we moved to Edmonton in 1987 I lived by a mall with a giant arcade. And no age restrictions! It was like heaven. Anytime my friends and me had any money we'd be at the aracde kicking bad guys asses on Double Dragon and blowing baddys in bubbles on Bubble Bobble. Just about every corner store or video rental place had a couple arcade games.
In 1989, the Red Rooster store by me brought in a Elvira and the Party Monsters the same week I was moving to a small town outside of Edmonton. I only got a couple games on it before moving. Boo. And the Burger Baron in the town I moved to that had 6 or 7 arcade games closed a week after i moved there. Double Boo. Back to Nintendo for my gaming fix. Someone opened a arcade in 1990 which was awesome. I remember Tetris being the game that everyone crammed around but the arcade soon closed and left again without arcades.
In 1991 the video store built a little game room and brought in two pinball machines. Fire and Pinbot. Oh my god my life changed the first time I walked in there and saw those 2 games sitting there. For some reason Fire always had a out of order sign on it. But Pinbot didn't. I remember putting in a couple quarters and my first two games I got a match and replay. I couldn't believe the I could win/earn a free game. Arcades never did that. Just took money and I was hooked. Within a couple weeks I had the grand champion score and could routinely build up three or four credits on a quarter to leave for my friends to play.
Summer of 1991 we moved back to Edmonton and by the same mall as before. My dad promised a pool table when we moved but they bought a condo that didnt have room for one. Bummer. So as a compromise we went to a vendor on Calgary Trail to buy a pinball machine! I tried out a bunch of games and really wanted the $600 game but dad said no and bought the $400 game instead. Solar Fire. It had a 3 ball multiball, sling magnets and multi level awesomness! I quickly mastered it and really only turned it on when friends would stop by. Dad sold it on me a few years later. Back to 1991.
I was in grade 9 and had freedom to explore the whole city and find new games to play. My favourite game was high speed that I found. I can remember the day I walked into the arcade at Southgate Mall and saw a huge crowd of kids around the new game. They brought in a T2. Holy crap there was a display and a video mode. Eventually they swapped high speed with a getaway and I was hooked. Dmds were in and solid states were a thing of the past.
The convenience store by my high school built a gameroom with a Sttng, Taf, TZ and a Neo Geo 3 in1 arcade. I was always there. Day and night. Sttng was by far my favorite game until i played FishTales for the first time. I was hooked! I knew of two locations and was always there. One was in a Red Robins restaurant and the other in a store by my jr high. I could not get enough of that game. The arcades at the malls were always changing games so I played every new game released between 1992 and 1997. The last game I played before the mall finally closed it's doors was Medieval Madness.
In 1998 I met my now wife and arcades and pinball took a back seat. We were always hanging out in bars and found the occasional game to play. There was a T2 in one bar with live music we'd frequent and a fishtales in the restaurant bar in Kingsway mall. In 2002 we bought our first house out in the country and stopped playing pinball altogether. I bought a couple of arcades and found my favorite game of all time Bubble Bobble.
I kind of forgot about pinball. In 2008 we were living in Saskatchewan and my wife had a appointment in Edmonton. I was killing time wandering around West Edmonton Mall when i went into the CircusCircus arcade. Grabbed a few tokens and took a strole around when i saw a Family Guy. Alright pinball. Let's give it a shot. Well that was it. I was blown away at how much fun and humor there was. Besides T2 and Fishtales I hadn't played a pin since 2002 and it seemed light years ahead of what I remember pinball being. I was hooked. Anytime we went to Edmonton I was searching around for games to play. I never thought of owning one but always wanted to play them.
In 2014 I was searching kijiji and saw a ad for a South Park. It was way overpriced but the guy led me to something I could afford. A $800 Black Knight. I ran to the bank, went and got my truck and couldn't hand the cash to the lady fast enough. Her husband and son helped me load it up and I've been hooked buying and selling them since.
In 2015 I discovered pinside and couldn't believe the amount of guys into pinball. I also was blown away at the generosity of the community. Complete strangers inviting me over to play their games. I've met many lifelong friends here and expect to meet many more.
Thank you Robin and pinside for everything you've done for me!