Do you remember going to dinner with your parents when you were a kid and waiting thirty minutes or an hour for a table? If you were as rambunctious as me, that was always bad news. Unless, of course, the restaurant had an arcade game. Then, you only had to harass your parents for quarters — which they gladly gave you — and the wait time just melted away.
Games like Galaga, Frogger, and Pac-Man fill so many memories of my childhood. I was never as good at them as my brother, but I even liked watching him play. No matter how frustrating watching my little frog go splat on the highway was, playing a game together was always bonding experience.
If you have memories like mine, you’ll love the Neville Public Museum’s newest exhibit, the Golden Age of Video Arcade Games. Arcade game enthusiast Bradley Czech has kindly loaned more than eighty of the games in his extensive collection to the museum until September 2.
That means that you can treat yourself to viewing over eighty video games. Czech’s diverse collection spans the late 70s and early 80s, and some of the games are extremely rare.
And if you’re anything like me, some of them will make you geek out, like this totally awesome Star Wars game. I’m pretty sure I could spend hours in that thing. And apparently it’s one of the fifteen rarest arcade games of all time.
But there’s more… This isn’t just a look but don’t touch situation – twelve of the games in the collection are actually playable. And you don’t even have to bring your quarters. Czech and the Neville have arranged to make one of my childhood fantasies true – you can play the games free of charge.
You’ll recognize some of the playable games, like Pac-Man, Frogger, Ms. Pac-Man, Space Invaders, and Dig Dug, from your childhood. Others I had never heard of before. Those include Vindicator, Kangaroo, Super Sprint, Night Driver, Xevious, Super Hang-On, and Cosmic Avenger.
Kangaroo was probably my favorite game. You play as a mother kangaroo who’s trying to make her way through a progression of trees and ladders to reach her joey at the top of the screen. The villains in the game are devious, apple-throwing monkeys. Your kangaroo can either duck to avoid those apples, or take the more direct route — punching the monkeys in the face. Needless to say, it’s pretty cool.
Even beyond the games themselves, the exhibit makes great viewing for the sake of the arcade game art. The graphics on the sides of the games are so bold and colorful, they’ll bring back memories of your childhood in no time. And if you have a budding artist in your family, the Neville has an education packet which encourages kids to create their own side-art and video game characters. Maybe your little ones will help bring arcade games back into style.
So next time you’re downtown Green Bay, make sure to stop at the Neville. Admission is $5 for adults, and $3 for kids ages 6-15. Kids five and under are free. You can find the Neville’s hours here.
If you’re on a budget, you can always head over to the museum on Wednesdays. The Neville opens its doors to Brown County residents for free from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. You can get into the museum for free and play the games for free – sounds like a great night to me! Just don’t forget to bring proof of residence with you.
So what about you? What arcade games do you remember playing as a kid?
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Slideshow – The Golden Age of Video Arcade Games