Getting Life Force - I live in Phoenix, the arcade game Life Force showed up in San Diego. I rented the van you see in that picture to drive six hours to get this dumb thing, and it needs some work. (Anyone got expertise in shaky, twitchy monitors?) It’s playable and sharp, with one joystick needing some more work and is largely totally what I was hoping for.
This machine came from a guy who’s in the Navy, and has a small collection of his own - his focus is on Nintendo cabinets, and he buys other machines to flip to raise a few bucks for those. It turns out they generally came from auctions, and he had two very nice cabs in his house - a swell wide body Mario Bros. (not Super) plus an in-repair Donkey Kong. Also some Neo-Geos were living in his garage, which I can tell you isn’t good for the board that makes up the cabinets in a moist environ like San Diego. The actual wood case part (which isn’t actually wood) flaked apart in spots en route, so it seems the key here is to not kick it. And I guess I may have to put the guts in a new JAMMA cabinet some day, hopefully decades from now. Unless I’m dead, which if you see how I live is also a distinct possibility.
The trip was largely uneventful - get a van, drive through stupid windy and oddly freezing mountains en route to Mira Mesa and a hotel. Wake up, do some stuff, check out of the hotel, go to Birch Aquarium (wheee!), and then go get the game - there were some timing issues, so we had to kill a few minutes at the touristy Seaport Village which is quite close to San Diego Convention Center. It’s my go-to spot for lunch during SDCC, mostly because people aren’t there. If we meet up in San Diego and I invite you to Seaport Village, that’s my way of saying I respect you - and if I tell you about the fudge shop? We’re best buds.
The drive home was long an uneventful, which is notable given that you have to deal with border cops and surprise patrols when going from Phoenix to San Diego - there are people pulled over, for various reasons, and given that this is Arizona I can only assume what some of them may be. I will say it was surprising that a large, closed van was able to pass through with what appeared to be a man-sized box in the back with no questions - the second photo above is what the officers saw when peering in our front windows while we passed into Arizona. Obviously I’m not a trained member of law enforcement, but I think I’d be suspect of a large, black, six-foot slab of wood at first glance - I don’t want to engage on social comment in an arcade post, but you can probably get where this is going.
My wife and I managed to get the cabinet out of the van with few problems - getting it in the house proved impossible, which I won’t recount here for reasons that could result in my eventual exile - I thought I was going insane while trying to push this thing around on a dolly. In short, we got it in the garage and not the house. I hired movers who came in a hurry on Monday, and they helped me drag it and two other full-size arcade games into my basement for a small (not small) fee.
As of my typing this, there’s a small arcade just out of sight from my home office - on one side of the staircase is where I pound out thousands of articles and do my job all day, on the other is a small three-game arcade that looks like it came out of a upper-middle-tier small pizza joint ca. 1989. I’m pretty sure due to cost, space, manpower, and the general hassle of it all, this will likely be my fourth and final cabinet purchase. I want Puzzle Fighter like nobody’s business but I don’t think I have the ability to make that happen without shoveling a lot of money into movers.
I have been squirreling away money and selling stuff off for years just in case this opportunity came up - I’m not kidding, if you’ve heard me speak of what kinds of crap I sold off to raise the cash to be ready, you know that this was more than a little bit of a Big Deal. The vast majority of toys and games I’ve picked up since the late 1990s have been in stores or online, this is the first time an actual 2-day trip was necessary to get something that, as far as I can tell, would not be otherwise possible.
Since moving back to Arizona I’ve been slowly checking off a list of things I’ve always wanted to be able to own - you’ll see some of this coming up in all the crap I write - and I’m generally less interested in new stuff than old stuff as of late. Hasbro’s Star Wars selection has been rather weak since 2013, G.I. Joe may as well be dead and buried, He-Man and Transformers are still fun. There are a lot of amazing things to enjoy out there, and as my generation grows up and people may find themselves with a couple of Benjamins to blow once in a while, I figure things like this game will be in increasingly short supply. Much like the potential market for them.
Bringing home a crown jewel is always something of an anti-climax, mostly because there’s no real victory in this kind of a kill. Collectors generally have a next purchase lined up, but for me, this is probably the end of the arcade road, and with toy stores having little to nothing new to hunt until Cosmos/Swerve hit in (seemingly) June, I’ve got a lot of time to enjoy my new game and hopefully clean up my slothful hole in the ground.