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Episode 24: The Indoor Kids
The Death of Arcades (with…
The Indoor KidsThe Indoor Kids

The Indoor Kids #24: The Death of Arcades (with Al Madrigal)

Al Madrigal (Free Agents, The Daily Show) drops in to take us back to the days when cigarette burns adorned Street Fighter 2 cabinets and the possibility of an actual street fight was all too real. Yep: We talk about video game arcades, how they were scary, how they were awesome, and how barely any of them exist anymore. Al and Kumail also describe some of their favorite stand-up heckling moments.

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Special thanks to Carvin for supplying us with the equipment we need to record this podcast! Check out for more information on recording equipment, guitars, amps and more!

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  1. Ivi says:

    I’m still listening to the podcast, but I wanted to note one thing about kids reacting to old games – when I was little, my dad would give me and my brothers both old emulated games and new ones. I’d play mario brothers without realizing how old it was, and the only thing I’d notice was the lack of save slots. I just thought it was another genre of games or something…

  2. Stephen says:

    is it just me or does al madrigal sound a lot like alan alda? no?

  3. robx46 says:

    While I haven’t caught every ep of this show yet, it does seem to be the 1st time that arcades games have been talked about.
    I have lots of interest in that, though its kinda sad. I’m 32 & yet even I didn’t get to enjoy the peak of arcades, home gaming consoles were around as far back as my memory goes.

    Pinball was mentioned! Though Al’s love for pinball was shot down by Kumail right away, I was stoked that Al gave a shout out to “pins” like Twilight Zone & Earthshaker. These games were awesome for their time & still hold up. Think there is no love for pinball? Check online to see what you need to pay to own a nice TZ.

    There was talk about the few types of games that continue to be social & out in the public. Pinball is one of them. While they make decent virtual pinball for consoles & PC, it is impossible to accurately recreate pinball physics or just the feel & look of a real machine. & I know in my city, video games are gone, but many pinball’s remain from the 80’s & 90’s that I can pump quarters into. & I even own 4 machines myself.

    Kumail obviously doesn’t understand the allure of pinball. Saying each game is the same simply because each game uses the same ball. Well every console game uses the same controller, but each game has different graphics & strategy. Just as each pinball has different art/toys & layout & strategy. Lots of brilliant ideas have been put into pinball to make each one unique.

    When my kid relatives visit, they could care less about my consoles or my high powered PC. Its all about my pinball machines because they are like big toys to them, & something they don’t get to see or play anywhere else. & pinball is usually simple & deep at the same time. Any kid or adult understands the basics. See ball, flip ball, try to hit shots.

    Pinball from the 90’s or today is far more deep & complex, yet I own a couple games that are about as old as I am that still hold up. I don’t even have a nostalgia for them, to me they are new. In fact many of the older pins require even more skill yet easier to understand the objectives. & the art on many older pins is just amazing.

    Everybody should give some of these games a shot if they can. Twilight Zone, Indiana Jones (90’s version), & Addams Family. All from the same period in the early 90’s, yet each are very different games that are pretty mind blowing.
    How about the game Funhouse where you literally shoot balls down the throat of a dummy head when he opens his mouth? Genious! Eat my balls, Rudy!

    Unfortunately, with the death of arcades also game the death of the company that made most of the classics (Williams/Bally). Now only Stern continues to make new pinball, but at nowhere near the rate as in the 70’s or 90’s. & many of them are making their way into homes instead of arcades (since there isn’t any).

    With pinball being a tangible game that you need to actually visit to enjoy, I’m hoping it makes a comeback. There isn’t a ton of other games that can fill an arcade that people can’t enjoy at home. Kinda sad about pinball. At one time it made more money than the movie industry in like the 50’s to the 70’s. It is fun with real physics & yet still contains perks of video games with its display animations & sounds (some will even taunt you), & I don’t think ppl will ever stop having fun with that no matter how great video games get.

  4. Eric Klein says:

    Ground Kontrol Classic Arcade in downtown Portland! (it was mentioned in a comment above, but deserves repeating). Free Admission. Most games still cost a Quarter.

    My favorite games there are Q*Bert and Smash T.V. I have a soft spot in my heart for Rampage (but I don’t like the newer version as much as the original).

    List of games there:

  5. All comedy podcasts should book Al Madrigal in 2012. I recall watching him at open mics in SF in the early 2000s. There was NO DOUBT that he was gonna be famous.

  6. Matt10 says:

    @Kumail and Emily, you should do one or two shows about games based on movies since you did one on movies based on games (which didn’t mention the movies based on King of Fighters, Tekken, and Onechanbara: Samurai Bikini Squad.

  7. GimpyDingo says:

    S.T.U.N. Runner is pretty awesome. One of the first 3D games, reminds me of iRobot style graphics. Funny thing is there is a S.T.U.N. machine here at work and just played it a few weeks back. I remember how hard it was when I little trying to control the “ship” through the tubes and over the stars to increase speed. The Lynx version is pretty close to the arcade.

    There are soooo many great arcade games – TMNT, 720, WWF Wrestelfest, NBA Jam, Street Fighter, PIT FIGHTER (of course), Double Dragon 1 & 2, Black Tiger, Final Fight, Simpsons Bowling, Boogie Wings, Puzzle Bobble/Bust a Move…too many to list.

    Best pinball machine of all time is Fun House.

    @Matt10 That’s funny you mention Galaxian. I actually worked at the Launch Pad Arcade in Capitola (Santa Cruz) and both were owned by Yogi; Elwood ran Galaxian as the manager and there was this punk kid Tyler (who was waaaay too good at Tekken 3/Tag) that hung out at the Launch Pad who would go to Galaxian every once in a while to play SF Rush on wavenet. Good time, I miss arcades!

    @ Ben Z – the site is great informative site.

    WWF Wrestlefest was the sequel to WWF Superstars, both great games, but Wrestlefest had the royal rumble. I remember seeing Superstars in an arcade when I was very young and there were a lot of older kids playing, I put my quarter up, but they just kept bumping me out of the way. Didn’t get to play it until several months later 🙁

    @Kumail @Emily you should either find an arcade cabinet and do a MAME conversion or you can find premade MAME cabinets. There is nothing like playing fighting games on a cabinet.

  8. onReload says:

    Great episode guys, it’s nice to see you rounding out the whole spectrum of videogames. Speaking of retro games and portable games, if anyone here likes the two, I just finally bought Retro Game Challenge, and it has fictional old school arcade-style games, and Famitsu/GamePro-esque magazines for secrets etc…It’s based on an awesome Japanese TV show about 80s/90s games (

    Also the heckler stories are great; I like hearing what different comics think is the im/proper way to deal with that kind of thing.

    ^ Yes, Barcade is great, there’s also one in Philly, and Jersey City (if you happen to be close enough to JC without being in NYC). High Scoreboards and mid/early 80s arcade games. Oh, and places to put your beer.

    Surprised Marvel Super Heroes is so well known, I think it’s one of the worst games of the whole Capcom/Marvel crossover series, but it does have its charms:

    I’ve heard of people getting in fights over fighting games, but Golden Tee? That is just sad. How could those properly-coordinated gentlemen live with themselves after getting physical over such a lame game?

    Vincent S: Don’t be offended, as someone who is not Filipino, yet has had “real” Filipino food, I can tell that this mall just seems to be another example of fast food being terrible, no matter where/what it is.

    It’s really sad that arcades have all but vanished; there’s still a few dedicated places (which have their share of scumminess, for sure), but so many times you’ll just find a few Galaga/Ms. Pacman machines in a bowling alley/pool hall/whatever. I randomly found a great-condition X-Men: Children of the Atom (MSH’s predecessor) on a New Jersey Turnpike (maybe GSP?) rest stop. Anyway, it’s definitely a different time for gaming, and for some of the genres that really thrived on those places, like DDR, light-gun games, fighting games, it’s been quite a loss. The internet is great for meeting people who play, but there’s nothing that forces/allows “INDOOR KID” types to get out and meet people anymore. Even if they punch you in the face eventually.

    Ben Z.: = the KLOV

    sorry for hijacking the comments section! youguysaregreat

  9. NJREFUGEE says:

    Go to Barcade in Brooklyn. I hit up everytime I’m in New York. Great games and great beers.

  10. btribble says:

    S.T.U.N. Runner was great (yes STUN is an acronym), I was really blown away by the graphics and the cool cabinet at the time. Kind of like a bobsled mixed with Roadblasters. There is a surprisingly good version for the Atari Lynx – I don’t think it ever came out on another home system!

    But yeah, outside of Japan arcades are pretty much dead, and when you do find arcade machines they’re often broken! Much better if you can attend a show that local collectors put together – in LA there’s SC3 and up by me in the SF Bay Area there’s CA Extreme and a variety of pinball shows like Pacific Pinball Expo that are definitely worth checking out.

  11. Matt10 says:

    WHen I was growing up in San Jose, CA there was an arcade near my high school called Galaxian II and one day I went in there and someone had just left a rolled up marijuana cigar (a bunch of marijuana rolled up in a folded paper) on the Joust 2 machine. I had been going there for years and this apparently was what shut it down. All the games were gone and over the years there was just a growing pile of junk mail piled up inside under the mail slot.

    Now I live in Las Vegas, NV and there are arcades in most of the casinos so there can be a place for parents to dump their kids while they gamble away their college funds. There is also a club called Insert Coin(s) (which has it’s own website) where you can go to drink and play a few arcade machines and some consoles on big screens in private booths. The problem with having arcade cabinets is that you need to keep fixing them and replacing them with new ones if you want a unique arcade that people will keep going to. Hopefully they get some new machines soon.

  12. Ben Clarkson says:

    This one made me realize I’d rather play Skyrim than have children.

  13. Vincent S says:

    X_X I’m Pilipino and I don’t know if I should be offended or just laugh, hysterically, at the shoddy work those people do there. I know you’re criticizing the store and not everyone from my country… even then I think I’ll just laugh (because it’s funny). Fuck, I haven’t been there since 2008 or 9… I probably shouldn’t laugh but yeah, that place wasn’t a clean or safe place (but I like the people so meh).

    It’s weird that arcades (atleast 3 year ago) was still “packed” in my country. I think they just died out in America (and other developed countries) because people wanted to play in their house instead of going outside and playing arcade games (which lasted for a few minutes anyway). It was dirt cheap to play in my country and people probably couldn’t afford consoles so the kids just went to arcades or play outside. :/ netcafes were all over the place back then.

  14. Danny says:

    I’m so glad that someone else remembers stunrunner! I was beginning to think it was just a hallucinatory memory from my youth.

  15. dirk M. says:

    Portland Or has a great arcade called Ground Control which even serves beer after 5.

  16. Daniel A says:

    Al has such a great radio voice (podvoice?), I hope he becomes a regular guest.

    I have to disagree with him on Tiny Wings though. The controls are so simple it doesn’t feel like there’s much skill involved. At least with Angry Birds there’s real strategy and the physics apply nicely to real world artillery trajectories without feeling ‘realistically’ violent:

    Tiny Wings is just one big button; an addictive big button, but a button nonetheless. (See Doodlejump)

    Great episode!

  17. Ben Z says:

    What was the website with the cabinets that Al thinks is awesome?

  18. Joe says:

    “Mr. Perfect, PERFECT-PLEX!!!”

  19. Emily says:

    Please pardon me!
    Local 506 is actually in Chapel Hill, ONE BLOCK AWAY from the Carrboro border. The turf wars are intense there.

    Also, tickets for our live show are now up!

    Thanks for listening! We love you!

  20. WrestleFest! I played the hell out of that game whenever I had quarters, to the point where more than once I gave myself gigantic blisters. For some reason, this is a positive memory for me.