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Arcade Fun at California Extreme

We fell into an electronic entertainment time-warp known as California Extreme this past weekend. Here's a glimpse of what we saw.


Where else are you gonna find a Gallagher arcade machine? 
Where else are you gonna find a Gallagher arcade machine? 
This past weekend Jeff, Dave, and myself took the drive down to the Hyatt Regency in sunny Santa Clara to check out California Extreme 2009. Put simply, California Extreme is an event where collectors of classic arcade games and pinball machines can put their goods on display for an audience of classic arcade appreciators. There's a $35 admission fee, but once you're in, you can play all the games you can handle for free, until you either collapse or they kick you out.

I've been aware of CAX's existence for a few years, but I don't think I was prepared for how giddily I'd respond to the actual event. We originally went with the intentions of shooting a bunch of material--interviews and such--though the second we walked through the double doors and laid our eyes on the literal hundreds of machines, it became immediately apparent that we could not resist the siren calls of all those games, demanding to be played. So, my apologies in advance for both the quantity and the quality of our CAX video coverage, particularly since I'm having a hard time articulating just how much fun it was having access to all those games.

It was, basically, the best arcade I had ever been to, stocked with obvious classics, obscure gems, prototype and bootleg machines, and a bunch of stuff I'd simply never heard of. Most of the arcade machines were from that late-70s/early-80s golden age of the American arcade, though the pinball tables on display went much further back. For the most part, there was an underlying logic to how the floor was laid out, whether it be by vintage, technology, or theme, making it easy for me to go from playing Punch-Out!!, to Super Punch-Out!!, to Arm Wrestling. You can see a long list of what was on display on the CAX website, though that list isn't 100% definitive, as there were a few no-shows, as well as a few surprises.

These guys were playing Warlords for money. No words for how awesome that is.
These guys were playing Warlords for money. No words for how awesome that is.
The show wasn't without some minor disappointments. Jeff was bummed that the Cloak & Dagger machine was in as poor condition as it was; I was bummed that the Beavis & Butthead prototype cabinet on display was actually set up to play Die Alien Scum!!; and I think we were both pretty thoroughly disappointed with the crummy gameplay in Marble Man: Marble Madness II. I now understand why that game never went into production.

For all the free-wheeling fun there is to be had, there's a dangerous edge to CAX, as some of the machines being shown are actually for sale. I came incredibly close to buying a Missile Command cocktail cabinet--going so far as to hitting an ATM, emptying my checking account, and making an offer--and Jeff was vocally playing with the idea of buying the Black Hole pinball machine on display. To paraphrase Dave's description of the event, we basically spent six hours walking around in circles in the dark, and it couldn't have been more of a blast. This is just a brief glimpse of what we saw, you can expect to hear more about it on this week's Bombcast. One thing's for certain, though; I'll definitely be back in 2010.


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Avatar image for ryan
Posted By Ryan

Where else are you gonna find a Gallagher arcade machine? 
Where else are you gonna find a Gallagher arcade machine? 
This past weekend Jeff, Dave, and myself took the drive down to the Hyatt Regency in sunny Santa Clara to check out California Extreme 2009. Put simply, California Extreme is an event where collectors of classic arcade games and pinball machines can put their goods on display for an audience of classic arcade appreciators. There's a $35 admission fee, but once you're in, you can play all the games you can handle for free, until you either collapse or they kick you out.

I've been aware of CAX's existence for a few years, but I don't think I was prepared for how giddily I'd respond to the actual event. We originally went with the intentions of shooting a bunch of material--interviews and such--though the second we walked through the double doors and laid our eyes on the literal hundreds of machines, it became immediately apparent that we could not resist the siren calls of all those games, demanding to be played. So, my apologies in advance for both the quantity and the quality of our CAX video coverage, particularly since I'm having a hard time articulating just how much fun it was having access to all those games.

It was, basically, the best arcade I had ever been to, stocked with obvious classics, obscure gems, prototype and bootleg machines, and a bunch of stuff I'd simply never heard of. Most of the arcade machines were from that late-70s/early-80s golden age of the American arcade, though the pinball tables on display went much further back. For the most part, there was an underlying logic to how the floor was laid out, whether it be by vintage, technology, or theme, making it easy for me to go from playing Punch-Out!!, to Super Punch-Out!!, to Arm Wrestling. You can see a long list of what was on display on the CAX website, though that list isn't 100% definitive, as there were a few no-shows, as well as a few surprises.

These guys were playing Warlords for money. No words for how awesome that is.
These guys were playing Warlords for money. No words for how awesome that is.
The show wasn't without some minor disappointments. Jeff was bummed that the Cloak & Dagger machine was in as poor condition as it was; I was bummed that the Beavis & Butthead prototype cabinet on display was actually set up to play Die Alien Scum!!; and I think we were both pretty thoroughly disappointed with the crummy gameplay in Marble Man: Marble Madness II. I now understand why that game never went into production.

For all the free-wheeling fun there is to be had, there's a dangerous edge to CAX, as some of the machines being shown are actually for sale. I came incredibly close to buying a Missile Command cocktail cabinet--going so far as to hitting an ATM, emptying my checking account, and making an offer--and Jeff was vocally playing with the idea of buying the Black Hole pinball machine on display. To paraphrase Dave's description of the event, we basically spent six hours walking around in circles in the dark, and it couldn't have been more of a blast. This is just a brief glimpse of what we saw, you can expect to hear more about it on this week's Bombcast. One thing's for certain, though; I'll definitely be back in 2010.


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Avatar image for dbz1995
Posted By dbz1995

Wow, this is awesome.

Avatar image for fr0br0
Posted By Fr0Br0

Jesus, the end of that first video scared the shit out of me. I guess that's what I get for lowering my guard against Screamers...

Avatar image for finaldasa
Posted By FinalDasa

Where did you find a Bennigans? 

Moderator
Avatar image for jambones
Posted By Jambones

I cannot express how jealous I am of you guys.

 Ass Cam, maybe, but thank you so much for this.

Avatar image for royalewifcheese
Posted By RoyaleWifCheese

Ass Cam, indeed. Lots of ass in that first one.

Avatar image for claude
Posted By Claude

So, that's what a Nerd Upskirt camera looks like.

Avatar image for macgyver
Posted By MacGyver

that looks so awesome, i want to go!!!

Avatar image for out_on_bail
Posted By Out_On_Bail

Lol, you guys are awesome. The ass cam? Never expected that one.  Great videos, although I don't think I will ever be sold on the drink flavored pound cakes.

Avatar image for drrandle
Posted By DrRandle

Mmm. Bennigans sounds soo good.

Avatar image for snide
Posted By snide

One other thing about the event. It was HELLA LOUD. I went home with a pretty blistering headache.

Avatar image for trilogy
Posted By Trilogy

What's the name of that game at the very end of the video? I've definitely played it before. Or at least something VERY similar.

Avatar image for jjor64
Posted By JJOR64

Kick ass.  I wish I could have went.  :-(

Avatar image for flipperdesert
Edited By FlipperDesert

The picture of Jeff and Dave outside of a Bennigan's is freaking me out. Look at their eyes.

And I don't mind the lack of coverage, I'd have gotten even more sidetracked in your shoes there by the looks of it.

Avatar image for bzchan
Posted By bzchan

Awesome coverage guys. I was planing on going but didn't make it. Now I'm hungry for a banana foster's and a guiness burger.

Avatar image for zigx
Posted By zigx

I was so tempted to go to this last weekend, but as my job is a bit shaky at the moment I decided to hold off. It's too bad because by the looks of it, I would have been happy just spending hours playing pinball games. Don't know what it is about pinball, I don't consider myself good by any means, but it's just so damn addicting.

Avatar image for supercubedude
Posted By supercubedude

Jeff is going to do terrible things to food in that Bennigan's.

Avatar image for snide
Posted By snide
Avatar image for noxious
Posted By NoXious

Wrong event for an ass cam - that's all I'm saying. Thank you for the mental scars, my psychiatrist loves you guys.

I love all these testing videos though, it makes sure I don't eat the wrong stuff!

Avatar image for phlegms
Posted By phlegms

The dudes playing Warlords look hard-freaking-core.

Avatar image for alphazero
Posted By Alphazero

Nice Flynn's T-shirt.

I always wanted to own an arcade like Flynn's in Tron.

Avatar image for mosdl
Edited By mosdl

Bennigans is dead, just some well doing Bennigans (the one shown seems to be the one in Santa Clara next to Mission College, was one of them) bought the name and run a very different menu (much smaller last I was there).

Avatar image for zabant
Posted By Zabant

aww wish i was there, and i'm sure they would of let you film guys, ive never heard of the event so they need all the coverage they can get!

Avatar image for kajaah117
Posted By Kajaah117

Impressive that they had theater of Magic but where's the damn EARTHSHAKER machine?!

Avatar image for jsd
Posted By jsd

I am so bummed I missed this, somehow I didn't even hear about it until late Sunday.

Oh well, next year for sure.  And I will definitely be at the Pacific Pinball Expo in October!

Avatar image for killamasta
Posted By KillaMaStA

Awesome, im sad that this kind of stuff never happens where I live

Avatar image for flappyhands
Posted By FlappyHands

What's the deal with the dude with the Warr Guitar?

Avatar image for erinfizz
Posted By erinfizz

I can't imagine having that much pinball in one place. And cocktail cabinets! I love those for some reason.

Glad y'all had a good time.

Avatar image for reverseface
Posted By Reverseface

Lol jeff looks so retarded in that photo. Also too many MAN ASS SHOTS.

Avatar image for osphere
Posted By Osphere

I want to try that pound cake lol

Avatar image for davidsnakes
Posted By DavidSnakes

Those dudes playing Warlords looked pretty intense.

Avatar image for rhcpfan24
Posted By RHCPfan24

Jeff is happy about breakfast!

Avatar image for bureksasutlijom
Posted By Bureksasutlijom

Road Trip!So this is this famous GaLAGher  gAme! >_>

Avatar image for buzz_killington
Posted By buzz_killington

I still can't get over the GALLAGHER game...

Avatar image for death_unicorn
Posted By Death_Unicorn

I want an ass-cam...

Avatar image for auron570
Posted By AURON570

filming ghetto style. giantbomb bringing you all the goods.

Avatar image for endrzgame
Edited By EndrzGame

My People!!! I've found my lost tribe!!!!
OMG that brought back memories from back in the day. The rec center at my college had a fantastic arcade back in '92. I would love to see something like this in the mid-west. I would drive 100+ miles to play S.T.U.N.  Runner

edit: fyi that video is choppy. The game ran silky smooth in the arcade.

PS: I want a review of Marble Madness II. Why didn't they release that? It's.....just.....MADNESS!!

Avatar image for flstyle
Posted By FLStyle

Fuck me that loud music at the end made me jump, cool taste test otherwise.

Avatar image for tekmojo
Posted By tekmojo

Quite the grin there.

Avatar image for sledgehammering
Posted By Sledgehammering

I guess I've gotta wait for Tuesday night to see how the other pop-cakes taste?  Mmmmm...pop-cakes.

Avatar image for media_master
Posted By Media_Master

taking a trip through time...

Avatar image for vance_helsing
Edited By Vance_Helsing

Oh CAX was so much fun!

I wish they had a couple more games from the 90s (Golden Axe, The Simpsons or even a Mortal Kombat game would've been nice) but overall it was a blast.

I actually got to meet Jeff and Dave to boot! (Saw Ryan walking around aimlessly too, but I didn't want to disturb him- I caught Jeff & Dave after a game of Blitz so it didn't seem like too big a deal to approach them) I doubt they remember, because I was being super noobish and nervous, but that was definitely one of many highlights of the experience!

Can't wait for next year.

Edit: Oh I just saw the vid, and my friend is in it! If you pause @  1:52, he's the guy in all black w/ a black jacket. I'm sure that's interesting to no one, but it made me excited!

Avatar image for snide
Posted By snide

I remember ya danterandal19. Nice meeting you duder. I was specifically hanging out behind Jeff playing Blitz because I could see how earnestly he wanted someone to walk up to that machine so that he could humilate them :)

Avatar image for crapdragoon
Posted By crapdragoon

jean baudin!! (the guy holding that 9 string bass)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D7oKT6xz-k8

i guess he is always there!! lmao

Avatar image for bucketdeth
Posted By Bucketdeth

Thats really frigging awesome, great stuff guys!

Avatar image for jediautobot
Posted By JediAutobot

Thanks to the clip at the end, "Draw!" is going to go through my head all day.  I was wondering if they had that game there.

Avatar image for astonish
Posted By astonish

Oh man that hologram game from Sega! I remember that! What is the name of that game?

Avatar image for yit
Posted By Yit

Jeff loves him some Benigans.

Avatar image for duketogo
Posted By DukeTogo

That dude is wearing a FLYNN'S t-shirt while playing a Journey cabinet.

Cloak and Dagger seriously needs to be ported to something, it's a damn fun game that nobody got to enjoy.

Black Hole is arguably the best pinball machine ever, although Haunted House and Fireball are right up there.

I wonder if the elusive Empire Strikes Back vector game was there, I only ever saw it once - and it was broken.

Avatar image for tigerthecat5
Posted By tigerthecat5

that adams family pinbal is my favorite

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