California Extreme 2012!

The most hilarious FMV game I've played

I’ve known about CAX for a few years now but haven’t had a chance to go until this year. The experience I came away with was liberating. Being younger (22) and growing up in an area without any great arcades nearby means my knowledge of arcade games is lacking at best. This weekend was as educating as it was entertaining. I played games like Tempest, Tapper and Smash TV for the first time. Games I had never seen before, let alone played but have been hearing about on the Bombcast for years now. Having this arcade experience was incredibly enjoyable and I now have a great appreciation for the era of the arcade. The show itself was a perfect size; no machine had more than 2-3 people by it at any time, making it easy to play whatever you’re interested in. To have all of those classic sound effects going off as well gives the place a fantastic atmosphere.

The machines were running free play which made it much easier to try anything and everything. This was pivotal in the experience. I came into the show wanting to play a lot of pinball, despite being terrible at it. Thanks to the free play, you get to learn a table and actually see what makes each one unique. What the draw of each game was. I had my first exposure to great tables like Star Trek: TNG, Attack from Mars, Medieval Madness, X-Files and so much more. I came away not only having a context for popular pinball machines, but also what a few favorites are.

Warp~

On the drive to the show a friend and I were talking about our various arcade experiences, at least the few we did have growing up. I recalled my first experience at the Metreon in San Francisco when it opened. There was a particular machine that stuck with me, a multiplayer third person arena shooter which used a trackball to look left and right and a joystick for movement. It always stuck with me but I couldn’t think of the name at the time. While doing our initial walk around the show, we came across 4 cabinets, each with the same white trackball I remember from childhood. The game is The Grid by Midway and it is still as fantastic as I remembered. It’s those types of stories that encapsulate the event to me.

As a result I don’t see myself missing California Extreme hereafter. It’s something that the Penny Arcade Expo lacks and an experience you just can’t get many places anymore. If you ever get a chance I highly recommend going.

As a side note, one of the first things I did upon getting home was buying Pinball Arcade on my PS3 and getting one of the table packs with it. I have had the iOS 99 cent version since it released but I needed my fix until it arrives on PC!

36 Comments
37 Comments
Posted by KnifeySpoony
The most hilarious FMV game I've played

I’ve known about CAX for a few years now but haven’t had a chance to go until this year. The experience I came away with was liberating. Being younger (22) and growing up in an area without any great arcades nearby means my knowledge of arcade games is lacking at best. This weekend was as educating as it was entertaining. I played games like Tempest, Tapper and Smash TV for the first time. Games I had never seen before, let alone played but have been hearing about on the Bombcast for years now. Having this arcade experience was incredibly enjoyable and I now have a great appreciation for the era of the arcade. The show itself was a perfect size; no machine had more than 2-3 people by it at any time, making it easy to play whatever you’re interested in. To have all of those classic sound effects going off as well gives the place a fantastic atmosphere.

The machines were running free play which made it much easier to try anything and everything. This was pivotal in the experience. I came into the show wanting to play a lot of pinball, despite being terrible at it. Thanks to the free play, you get to learn a table and actually see what makes each one unique. What the draw of each game was. I had my first exposure to great tables like Star Trek: TNG, Attack from Mars, Medieval Madness, X-Files and so much more. I came away not only having a context for popular pinball machines, but also what a few favorites are.

Warp~

On the drive to the show a friend and I were talking about our various arcade experiences, at least the few we did have growing up. I recalled my first experience at the Metreon in San Francisco when it opened. There was a particular machine that stuck with me, a multiplayer third person arena shooter which used a trackball to look left and right and a joystick for movement. It always stuck with me but I couldn’t think of the name at the time. While doing our initial walk around the show, we came across 4 cabinets, each with the same white trackball I remember from childhood. The game is The Grid by Midway and it is still as fantastic as I remembered. It’s those types of stories that encapsulate the event to me.

As a result I don’t see myself missing California Extreme hereafter. It’s something that the Penny Arcade Expo lacks and an experience you just can’t get many places anymore. If you ever get a chance I highly recommend going.

As a side note, one of the first things I did upon getting home was buying Pinball Arcade on my PS3 and getting one of the table packs with it. I have had the iOS 99 cent version since it released but I needed my fix until it arrives on PC!

Posted by Sweep

Did you play any Pooyan?

Moderator
Posted by KnifeySpoony

I don't know that I saw it there actually!

Posted by KanyeEast

Nice meeting you there.

Posted by KnifeySpoony

You too! (Though I don't know you by this name) haha

Posted by Portis

It was my first time there as well, and I told my girlfriend "we aren't allowed to miss this again. Ever." And she agreed. Just the whole atmosphere of the show was something to behold. Here are some of my experiences from the show (pasted from my own blog about this, I figure they're pretty relevent yours to :p)

  • The Grid. How come no one ever told me how fun The Grid is? They had 4 linked machines there and I must have spent 3 hours total playing matches against random people. It's so...manic and the weapons are goofy as hell. Aiming with the rollerball works so well too, I was surprised. The second to last match I played I was tied for 1st with some dude with 10 kills and 3 seconds left on the clock -- I picked him up and threw him (instant kill) as the clock went to 0 and pulled out a win. A loud "NOOOO" came billowing from him as I did a victory dance in front of the cabinet. So good.
  • I got to meet Jeff and chatted with him for a few minutes. Such a nice guy. I later watched him destroy people in NFL Blitz 99.
  • My girlfriend played Tapper with Ryan. She was super happy to have been able to meet him. I saw him earlier in the show myself but didn't get the chance to say hi.
  • Playing a bunch of different Street Fighter matches against random people was really fun. They had a couple of sitdown Street Fighter III cabinets there. Those were really neat.
  • The Ferrari F355 Challenge sitdown cabinet with 3 big-ass screens left me in awe.
  • People were lining up to play "The Irritating Maze" game. It was fun! When you lose there is an extremely bright flash and it shoots a jet of strong wind into your face. it's pretty crazy.
  • I also spotted Drew and Jared Rea moseying about, didn't get the chance to say hi to them.

I had more, but I could on forever. Were you wearing a Giant Bomb shirt when you were there, Knifey?

Posted by mtcantor

@KnifeySpoony said:

The most hilarious FMV game I've played

I’ve known about CAX for a few years now but haven’t had a chance to go until this year. The experience I came away with was liberating. Being younger (22) and growing up in an area without any great arcades nearby means my knowledge of arcade games is lacking at best. This weekend was as educating as it was entertaining. I played games like Tempest, Tapper and Smash TV for the first time. Games I had never seen before, let alone played but have been hearing about on the Bombcast for years now. Having this arcade experience was incredibly enjoyable and I now have a great appreciation for the era of the arcade. The show itself was a perfect size; no machine had more than 2-3 people by it at any time, making it easy to play whatever you’re interested in. To have all of those classic sound effects going off as well gives the place a fantastic atmosphere.

The machines were running free play which made it much easier to try anything and everything. This was pivotal in the experience. I came into the show wanting to play a lot of pinball, despite being terrible at it. Thanks to the free play, you get to learn a table and actually see what makes each one unique. What the draw of each game was. I had my first exposure to great tables like Star Trek: TNG, Attack from Mars, Medieval Madness, X-Files and so much more. I came away not only having a context for popular pinball machines, but also what a few favorites are.

Man, you got to play some real pinball gems. TNG is the game that hooked me. Every few months I visit my friend in Boston, and we go to New Hampshire to visit this arcade called The Pinball Wizard. They have a ton of great machines in perfect condition. Never thought I would get into pinball over arcade games, but once I started getting good enough to consistently earn replays I really got addicted. Would love to go to CAX eventually. Traveling from the East Coast is just not an option for now though.

Posted by KnifeySpoony

Ha man I feel like you may have posted in the GAF thread as well then! The Grid is incredibly fun, I was happy to see it there getting the love it deserves. I too saw Jeff destroy someone at Blitz, think at one point it was 49-0. His signature Lions play is just nuts.

That's really cool your GF got to play with him. I know he was hanging around those cocktail machines for a while I just never saw him or got a chance to say hi either. I did talk with Drew for a bit, still a superb guy.

That Ferrari machine, I never went back and went with the full difficulty/clutch/h-gate shifter. That's probably my one regret from the weekend.

I was the short guy wearing a bright blue Boards of Canada shirt Saturday. Was cool to see so many GB shirts there though, I didn't even think to bring one of mine.

Posted by ShaggE

Oh man, that Time Traveler machine... the game was awful, but that cabinet design has always been one of my favorites.

Posted by Marino

@Sweep said:

Did you play any Pooyan?

I fuckin' love that this is the first reply to his blog.

@KnifeySpoony:

I went ahead and bumped this on up to a front page promo.

Staff
Posted by KnifeySpoony

@mtcantor: That place sounds great! It's why CAX was such a wonderful experience for me, because I never got the chance as a kid. Have you played World Cup Soccer? That ended up being my favorite of the lot. There were 3 or 4 at the show, and the one for sale played the best. I've never wished for space and money more than at that point in time. It was only $1895!

@ShaggE: The look is exactly what caught my eye! I loved the puppet show display it had. There was some wizard that popped up at a certain section when you'd die that was cracking me up.

Posted by ShaggE

@KnifeySpoony said:

@ShaggE: The look is exactly what caught my eye! I loved the puppet show display it had. There was some wizard that popped up at a certain section when you'd die that was cracking me up.

I remember when it first came out, I thought it was the coolest thing ever, but I had no idea how to play it. :P (I was only 5)

Posted by mtcantor

@KnifeySpoony said:

@mtcantor: That place sounds great! It's why CAX was such a wonderful experience for me, because I never got the chance as a kid. Have you played World Cup Soccer? That ended up being my favorite of the lot. There were 3 or 4 at the show, and the one for sale played the best. I've never wished for space and money more than at that point in time. It was only $1895!

@ShaggE: The look is exactly what caught my eye! I loved the puppet show display it had. There was some wizard that popped up at a certain section when you'd die that was cracking me up.

Nope, never tried that one. There are a ton of great tables. Some of my favorites are Star Trek TNG, The Addams Family, Black Knight 2000, Indiana Jones, Dr. Who, and Mary Shelly's Frankenstein. Everybody says they love Medieval Madness so much, but I find it really cheap, with the way the drains and outlanes are set up. Too easy to lose balls for no good reason.

This is a long dark rabbit hole. However, at the end of it, if you get good at pinball, you actually feel like you have developed a skill, and a pretty rare (albeit useless) one at that.

Posted by KnifeySpoony

@Marino: Thanks I appreciate it! :D

@ShaggE: You know, I screwed up a few times playing it now. I thought it was fairly neat all the same. The introductions to the different time periods and what enemy types you faced as a result in particular.

@mtcantor: Ah man I hope you get to at one point. I love the layout as nothing feels cheap to make you lose. I played Addams Family but it was hooked up to this bike where you had to keep pedaling to give the flippers strength. Got quite a workout on that. Also played Black Knight 2000 and Frankenstein. I wasn't good at Frankenstein at all but Black Knight 2000 was fun. Saw Dr. Who but didn't get around to playing it.

Apart from the left ramp being cheap if you don't make it up, I find Medieval Madness to be really fun. I've been playing Pinball Arcade on PS3 recently and it's actually way harder digitally than the one in person was. Something about the way the angles work digitally makes getting it to the castle difficult, whereas in person it was fairly easy to destroy castles.

I hope one day I'm able to get one, but it's such a high maintenance luxury. I need to get to this show any year I can now.

Posted by mtcantor

@KnifeySpoony said:

@mtcantor: Ah man I hope you get to at one point. I love the layout as nothing feels cheap to make you lose. I played Addams Family but it was hooked up to this bike where you had to keep pedaling to give the flippers strength. Got quite a workout on that. Also played Black Knight 2000 and Frankenstein. I wasn't good at Frankenstein at all but Black Knight 2000 was fun. Saw Dr. Who but didn't get around to playing it.

Apart from the left ramp being cheap if you don't make it up, I find Medieval Madness to be really fun. I've been playing Pinball Arcade on PS3 recently and it's actually way harder digitally than the one in person was. Something about the way the angles work digitally makes getting it to the castle difficult, whereas in person it was fairly easy to destroy castles.

I hope one day I'm able to get one, but it's such a high maintenance luxury. I need to get to this show any year I can now.

It's all about the feel of it. Playing digital pinball is fun (I really love Pinball FX 2), but the real thing is an entirely different animal.

Black Knight 2000 is amazing. not even so much for the playfield (tough as nails), but the music/sound effects are great.

Dr. Who is a bit like Pin-Bot, except with more interaction.

That Addams Family bike sounds like torture. Such a great table though. Every time Gomez says "SHOWTIME" I can't help but get a great big grin on my face.

Posted by DukesT3

I played the SHIT out of Time Traveler when I was a kid at one of those places that had like putt-putt, bumping boats and other crap for kids to do.. along with a big ass arcade and I thought that game was the coolest thing ever. IT WAS A DUDE WALKING AND HE LOOKED REAL! WHAT KID UNDER 10 WOULDN'T THINK THATS THE COOLEST THING EVER!

Posted by KnifeySpoony

@mtcantor: Absolutely. 2000 was pretty tough, I never fully grasped which lanes corresponded to what on the upper portion. There was only one of the trilogy of Pin-Bot tables I believe, but that was pretty fun as well! It's funny to think about now, but I accidentally set the Addams family to a 2p game so I was stuck playing 6 balls.

Incoming picture dump!

So many great tables lined up together, though I don't like Theatre of Magic, too cheap
Crazy prototype machine!
The crazy Addams Family game!
The first game I played at the show! First time seeing it, and very fun.

Posted by Napalm

Theatre Of Magic is truly magical.

Posted by KnifeySpoony

@LooseChange: It still looked fantastic!

@Napalm: To each their own. After playing it on Pinball Arcade more I think I get the Magic, but I don't possess it.

Posted by chilibean_3

This was my first trip out there this year also. I loved the Tomcat and Black Knight 2000 machines. Just an all around great time. Got to play some games I've never had a chance to and enjoy some old favorites. And everybody was pretty cool. I really want to keep going now.

And there was no Pooyan machine.

Posted by NathHaw

The Addams Family is the BEST!

Posted by buzz_clik

@Sweep said:

Did you play any Pooyan?

Man, every time you mention that game I instantly have the burbling tunes running through my head. But the Commodore 64 versions. Obviously.

Moderator
Posted by KnifeySpoony

@chilibean_3 said:

This was my first trip out there this year also. I loved the Tomcat and Black Knight 2000 machines. Just an all around great time. Got to play some games I've never had a chance to and enjoy some old favorites. And everybody was pretty cool. I really want to keep going now.

Aw man where was the Tomcat machine?! I didn't see it all weekend. :(

Edited by Brackynews

Is it ok to be seethingly jealous that my CAX2011 blog has 0 comments? lol (It did get Spotlighted, but not on the front page.) I write maybe 2 blogs a year, so it's not really how people find me. You've slowed down but you have the blogging pedigree. :)

Good stuff anyway. And excellent choice on Baby Pac. I remember playing that as a young'un. One arcade in town also got a Time Traveler. Man that was messed up. I remember reading magazine articles about how they made it.

Posted by mr_shoeless

@KnifeySpoony: My grandfather owns a Black Knight 2000 machine. I try to play it whenever I go over to visit. It's sooooo fun. I live pretty far away so it's been a while since I played but if you get all three lanes on the upper deck lit it results in the chance for a Hurry Up bonus and I think something else as well.

Posted by KnifeySpoony

@Brackynews: Absolutely, your blog deserves more attention, enjoyed reading it. How's your BurgerTime machine doing?

@mr_shoeless: Wow, I'm jealous! Was he a big collector or was it just Black Knight 2000? I only played a couple games at the event so I didn't have a complete understanding of it. I did get the Knights challenge fairly frequently. I can't remember the name specifically, but it was 2 balls on the table.

Posted by jakob187

One day, I will get to go. Glad you enjoyed your time there.

Also, is it just me, or does anyone else look at "CAX" and think it's just Bostonians mispronouncing cocks?

Posted by mr_shoeless

@KnifeySpoony: Not that big of a collector, he just has the BK2K machine and an old Evel Knievel machine from what must be the late 60s or early 70s that he restored. He says that he prefers Evel Knievel, but everyone else who visits clearly prefers Black Knight.

@jakob187: It's just you.

Edited by KnifeySpoony

@mr_shoeless: Is that one a pinball table as well? Awesome that he restored it. There were many pinball tables from every era and I found the earlier ones to be simpler, naturally, but also just slower paced. As a result I stuck to early 80's-00's for the most part.

Posted by Fallen189

Peter, when is 8 bit coming back? Can we make a kickstarter?!

Posted by mr_shoeless

@KnifeySpoony: Yes, and like all the tables from that era that I've seen, it's simple and slowly paced, as you said. Not very much fun, in my opinion.

BTW, If you like pinball and you're ever in Las Vegas you should check out the pinball museum there. Lots of machines from a lot of different eras. Surprisingly, they also have many arcade cabinets as well.

Posted by KnifeySpoony

@Fallen189: Ha, don't make fun. :( That's not coming back, but I've got some radio shows uploaded if you're interested in music.

@mr_shoeless: Shame it's in Vegas, it sounds great. We've got a pinball museum in Alameda http://pacificpinball.org, I believe they're one of the biggest suppliers of machines at CAX.

Posted by Fallen189
@KnifeySpoony said:

@Fallen189: Ha, don't make fun. :( That's not coming back, but I've got some radio shows uploaded if you're interested in music.

@mr_shoeless: Shame it's in Vegas, it sounds great. We've got a pinball museum in Alameda http://pacificpinball.org, I believe they're one of the biggest suppliers of machines at CAX.

Hook me up!
Posted by raddevon

I, too, recently got to go back in time to before my birth to experience gaming's past. The family and I went to Cedar Point in Sandusky, Ohio on the tail-end of a trip to my cousin's wedding. We were walking around the park when the sky opened up and god began to cry down on his creation. We ducked into an arcade for shelter where we found a massive collection of old electro-mechanical games from the times before video games ruled the roost—or even existed, for that matter! It was pretty incredible. I didn't play any of them, but it was really interesting just to see them.

So, thanks to all you GiantBombers and to you, Knifey for all that masturbating or whatever it was you were doing to make god so sad. Without that, I might have missed the Cedar Point arcade/museum!

Posted by KnifeySpoony

@raddevon: What sort of games were they? You're welcome, by the way.

Posted by raddevon

@KnifeySpoony: These!

Posted by KnifeySpoony

@raddevon: Ah right! There were a couple of those at CAX. Super Shifter looks really fun.