Oh the love of the video game, Pacman, Donkey Kong, Popeye, Tron, Tempest, Tapper…… I could go on forever. The fact that you go up to these video games, put a quarter in and start to play with 3 lives and you are done was a very satisfying concept back then, But later in the 80’s, something started to appear that some people didn’t know what to do.
“Insert Coin to Continue.” That was a phrase that was starting to show up on the screen after you lose the last life. And for some people, it was a very tough choice to make. Do I continue or just walk away? For one thing, it became a difficult situation if someone had their quarter sitting on the machine clarifying “I got next game!” The other was a matter of, do I have that quarter to continue? Or, if I come back, can I get this far or even further on one quarter? Or even…. SEE WHAT I MEAN?!?!?!? Who is the marketing mastermind behind this concept? Where did it come from?
Well attempted to do the research and also asked video game experts, and some say they saw this as far back as Moon Patrol, Tron, Ridge Racer, Space Harrier, Time Soldiers, Sky Shark, Forgotten Realms, Kung Fu Master…. the list goes on. These are just a few of the games. I have not been able to track down the actual first video game to incorporate Insert Coin to Continue. But since this is just a blog of memories, I’ll get to the point of what I am talking about. (I’m sure someone can answer the question in a comment below).
Years later, newer and more difficult games started to appear and were attracting people to play and play more. Besides the average fighting games such as the Street Fighter and Mortal Kombat series, and pretty much anything that came from Neo Geo, companies such as Konami and Capcom were starting to catch on to the continue hype with creating adventure games that do have a start and ending. The biggest quarter sucker that I dealt with when I was a kid was the Simpsons and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
I remembered going into the arcade with $15 to $20 for the trip to the mall for food and whatever. But every quarter ended up going into those machines. Man, was I a sucker for the word continue. But after the game was finished, and I did finish them, I vowed to never play them again. And I have kept to my word on that. The fighting games are a completely different story.
But as time went on, new games came out and unfortunately some of them became more expensive to play. .50 a credit? Are you kidding me? Ok I’ll play. Wait a second, .75? Is there something wrong with the game to charge that much. Ok it’s got to be a good game at that….. $1.00 to continue?!?!?! What the hell? I get it! this is how the arcades make their money, but come on! $1.00 to continue? This is totally insane. The large lot of games that started to show this insanity were the more advanced shooter games, driving games and… dare I say, Dance Dance Revolution. Even if that game was only .05, I would not play it. You don’t want to see someone who has no rhythm with his feet!!
But that is the way it is with game these days. Also, most newer pinball machines were charging you $1.00 to play as well. The day that Star Wars Episode I pinball came out, I was excited but frustrated for the fact that it was a 3-D pinball concept based on a movie franchise that I have loved since a kid, even though the game and movie sort of flopped. But it was asking for $1.00 to play. I only played a handful of times until I saw the game at a nickel arcade. I guess there was less guilt there.
But the fact is, these type of video games prices are seen as driving, shooting, dancing, sports and pinball games and the concept of the adventure games are pretty much non-existant anymore. There are just a very small handful games that still ask you to continue.
But last week, I went to a local barcade called the Operating Room and they had a mega oversized Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles game that was licensed by Nickelodeon and created by Raw Thrills. It had the same look and feel of the original game from the 80’s as well as the Turtles in Time game, but it had better graphics, and man the sound was dynamic. I am not sure whose idea it was to create a new Turtles game, but it was awesome! But yes that problem kept coming up. “Insert Coin to Continue!” I had a total of $20 on my Operating Room card and was getting ready to play in a pinball tournament, But I had some time to waste, so I kept swiping my card over and over and….insufficient credit. CRAP!!!!!!!! I just used up my whole card. Back to the ATM to get more cash to reset my card.
That has to be at the same time the most frustrating yet exciting moment when playing video games. “I am playing this game that’s pretty cool! I just got this far for the first time! I don’t want to start over! I want to see the end.” It was my childhood all over again, except I had a bottle of beer sitting in my drink holder to take swigs between levels this time. That even made it more relaxing.
In the end, I didn’t finish the game. I didn’t have time to start over. It really sucked to the fact that I was the only one playing. It probably would have been even more fun and yet easier if I had 3 other players with me.
But I think this is where the idea of Keep Calm and Insert Coin really started. For the fact that you are playing and you get to the point of “Game Over”, but you have that chance to go on. It’s not an extra life, but as a push to get better and go further with something. Had I used this mantra when I got out of college, I would probably be in California still trying to get that acting job, or working to be a better video producer, or a better singer. (Yes, I sort of had a good voice back then. Not the best but I would keep trying).
So what did we learn in this recent installment of the blog? Had I not play so many video games as a kid, I would have had more money. Had I not played so many video games as an adult, I would have more money. This is a crappy lesson. I’m actually depressed. After I click submit, I think I am going to head out to the arcade and get a beer and just……
Keep Calm and Insert Coin!