Galoping Ghost gives the arcade game extra life

The arcades occupy a unique place in the history of video games. In the late 1970s and 1980s, a series of hits like Space Invaders, Pac-Man, and donkey kong introduces new gameplay mechanics and bright, crisp pixel graphics. The 1990s saw the boom in fighting games with Street Fighter II Mortal Kombat, and virtual fighter demonstrating cutting-edge graphics and gameplay.

It was the place to be, a time when the cutting edge of video games, from texture-mapped polygon graphics to peripheral control inputs (including steering wheels, light guns, and dance pads), couldn’t be found only crammed into perfectly designed cabinets. , with their showy spectacles and capitals. Arcades dodged hardware limitations largely through their ability to optimize hardware specifically for playing a single game. Home consoles and computers had yet to catch up.

But as technology progressed, the cutting edge found its way to a new generation of console hardware, most notably in the late 1990s with the launch of the sixth generation of consoles including the PlayStation 2, Microsoft Xbox and Sega Dreamcast. Then online gaming took off, further fueling the demise of arcades. These days, you’ll still find arcade cabinets in Dave and Busters and Chuck E. Cheese. Of course the real the archways were often dark, cramped, and clammy, with the smell of overheated circuitry. Trying to find one these days proves to be a difficult task, but there is hope!

Photography: Daniel Hull

In the quiet suburb outside of Chicago, Galloping Ghost Arcade aims to preserve this unique period in gaming history by bringing together an impressive array of cabinets. It makes sense that Galloping Ghost Arcade found its home in Brookfield, Illinois. It’s right in the middle of a booming arcade game scene, with retro game enthusiasts. Chicago had once been home to arcade heavyweights Gottlieb, Bally, Midway, and other top 90s arcade publishers. As of this release, the arcade has over 851 games (and counting). !).

Humble beginnings

Galloping Ghost began in 1994 when owner and founder Doc Mack had a chance encounter with mortal combat co-creator Ed Boon. A lifelong gamer at heart, Mack wanted to become a game developer. “[Boon] told me how hard it would be to get into the industry,” Mack says. “So I went and did my own thing.” That same do-it-yourself attitude would prove to be the essential fuel that drives his business. He was only 18 when he founded Galloping Ghost with the intention of developing his own fighting game, dark presence. Although the title has yet to be released, Mack’s company has never slowed down, contributing to several projects including Galloping Ghost Arcade.

The arcade’s origin story began on an arcade location tracking website called Aurcade. Mack thought joining Chicago’s local arcade culture would be a worthwhile endeavor. “We thought we would bring in a bunch of data, which would help our own production in finding out where we would sell our arcade games.”

Mack scoured bars, restaurants, and various other businesses for arcade cabinets. In his research, he made a sobering discovery. “A lot of the machines weren’t playable: the buttons and joysticks didn’t work, the CRT monitors were all discolored,” Mack explains. Most of the cabinetry was in a state of disrepair, once prized technology left abandoned in the corner of a laundromat or shoved near the restroom of a family restaurant. But, says Mack, “It led me to write the business model for what would become Galloping Ghost Arcade.”

Mack found a Craigslist ad selling 114 machines, all stored and neglected in a warehouse in Dennison, Iowa. “We went over there, talked to the guy, and found out he had another warehouse full of games in Tennessee.” Mack added 87 more machines to Galloping Ghost’s collection; these cabinets formed the basis for the arcade’s grand opening on August 13, 2010. “We opened with 130 machines, and it hasn’t stopped since then, constantly expanding the arcade.”

One of a kind

Among Mack’s 851 acquisitions (and counting) there are bound to be rarities and unique machines, including prototypes of previously unreleased titles. Primal Rage was a dinosaur-themed one-on-one battle game developed by Atari Games in 1994 to directly compete with Mortal Kombat 2 and other fighting games from that era. Its success led Atari Games to quickly embark on the development of a sequel. This game would have been Primal Rage II, but it was discontinued after Midway bought Atari Games. Halfway developed mortal combat, and the Primal Rage IIThe cancellation of was likely a decision to crush all competition with the company’s pride and joy franchise.

Photography: Daniel Hull

Galoping Ghost gives the arcade game extra life

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