Wednesday, April 17, 2013

O is for Off The Wall

My first encounter with Off The Wall was actually the 1979 Michael Jackson album (Don't Stop Til You Get Enough!).  My second encounter with Off The Wall was the early 1990's Breakout clone.  The interesting part of the story this time around actually has less to do with the game itself and more about the circumstances under which I encountered said game.

In the fall of 1991 I was just a freshman at UC Davis, and having no car, I spent a good deal of time getting acquainted with my new city of residence riding my bike.  As it so happened, I was riding through downtown on G Street when a sign caught my eye.  "The Library" was painted on it in fairly plain letters, and the location seemed a bit plain and frankly, un-library-like.  Naturally my curiosity got the best of me, so I parked and locked my bike and went in.

Lo and behold, I found that The Library wasn't a library at all, but was a reasonably sized video game arcade occupying two large rooms worth of real estate!  After getting over the wonderment of having found this random video game arcade in my new town, I naturally got some change and went to play some games.  The first game I ended up playing that day was Off The Wall.

Off The Wall was an okay game in and of itself, and added various widgets onto the Breakout theme.  It also had a multiplayer option which was a change from, say, Arkanoid.  However, having played Arkanoid quite a bit, I wasn't as wowed by Off The Wall as I otherwise might have been.  Not to mention the fact that the game behind Off The Wall, Mortal Kombat, was the one getting all of the attention from avid gamers.  I actually spent a good deal of time watching folks squaring off and seeing fatalities for the first time was a trip.

I still laugh to this day when I think about the genius of naming an arcade "The Library".  I just imagine the conversations kids would have with their parents:  "Hey Jimmy, where are you going?"  "I'm going to The Library!"  "Ok, that sounds nice." lolz

The Library has long since closed down, and I can't even remember what business took over the space now.  I spent quite a few dollars playing various classic and current video games at The Library, and it was a nice place to have a study break in between the rigors of an engineering major and band events and practice.

What's the most interesting name for an arcade you recall?

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