Arcade Hacks: How To Make The Most Of Your Arcade Experience
STORY: Janelle Yong
11 January 2020
Despite their waning popularity in the face of modern gaming, arcades are still a gaming haven in their own right. If you’re planning to take a trip down memory lane and visit the arcade, here are some tips to make the most of your experience.
1. Don’t go alone
While uncles and aunties often frequent arcades by themselves, doing so as a younger person tends to be a lot less fun. After all, arcades are best enjoyed with a group of friends. How else are you going to crush them in racing games, fight alongside them in shooting games or laugh at each other’s atrocious dancing?
2. Stick to your budget
It’s always tempting to go for just one more game. But one more game often turns into yet another, and soon you’ll have blown far more money than you originally intended to spend. Before you start playing, decide on your arcading budget, and make sure you stick to it. It may be painful running out of credits at the final boss of House of the Dead 4, but it’ll be even more painful to keep going and end up with an empty wallet afterwards.
3. Watch your surroundings
We don’t just mean the usual stuff about keeping an eye on your belongings while you play. There’s always an arcade patron or two who gets a bit too excited when playing, and with so many arcade machines in close proximity to each other, you might have to dodge flying basketballs/ice hockey pucks/other non-attached components from arcade games. Trust us, getting brained by a basketball while blasting zombies on a completely unrelated machine is the fastest way to kill an arcading session.
4. Keep an eye on machines you want to try
While there’s a wide variety of games available at the arcade, some machines tend to be more popular than others. If you’re hoping to try out one of the more popular arcade games, your best bet is to keep a close eye on it while playing something else. Sure, you could always stand next to whoever’s currently playing and wait for them to finish so you can go next, but that would be a waste of valuable arcading time. Besides, passive-aggressively waiting for a machine to free up tends to annoy the current players, and they might decide to go for another ten rounds just to spite you.
Instead, you should pick another machine nearby to play for the time being so that you can enjoy yourselves while waiting for the original machine to become available. Make sure you can see the machine you’re waiting for from wherever you are, or you might find that yet another group has taken over the machine while you weren’t paying attention.
If you’re playing with a group of friends, a good way to do this is to have someone keep a lookout for the machine and snag it as soon as it’s free. This way, your group can finish playing your current game without having to rush or abandon it with credits remaining just so that you can call dibs on the machine you wanted.
5. Consider sharing a machine with your squad and taking turns to play
Of course, wrecking your friends in Mario Kart and blasting zombies as a team is always fun. But if the arcade is crowded, machines are limited and that scary aunty with three kids has been glaring daggers at you for the last 20 minutes, you might want to consider playing together on the same machine instead. Simply let one person play first, with another friend taking over every time the current player needs to insert more credits to continue.
Aside from freeing up space for other arcade patrons and saving money, this has the added “benefit” of allowing your squad to engage in some friendly heckling of whichever friend is currently playing, like “you missed the item box, you idiot!” or “are you aiming at the zombies or the sky?”
6. Go for the hardest difficulty on dancing machines (and other rhythm games)
If you’re a dancing expert, you can show off your mad skills by nailing combo after combo with ease. Conversely, if you have two left feet, there’s nothing more embarrassing than failing a song while playing on super easy mode. At least picking the hardest difficulty level gives you a reasonable excuse for screwing up. Besides, half the fun of playing rhythm games is seeing how hilariously in over your heads you and your friends are while trying to keep up with the beat. Go big or go home, right?
7. Picking prizes: Cost-benefit analysis
The prize shop is usually your last stop before leaving the arcade. While it’s tempting to just splurge on whatever catches your eye, do you really want to waste your hard-earned tickets on mildly interesting trinkets that will end up abandoned at the back of your closet a few weeks later?
If there’s something in particular you were hoping to get, like a quirky card game or a Star Wars themed portable charger, always grab that first, then see if there’s anything you’re interested in that you can afford with your remaining tickets. This will prevent the dilemma of picking out a pile of interesting prizes, only to discover you don’t have enough tickets to cover everything, forcing you to decide which one to put back.
Don’t feel pressured to use up your leftover tickets just because they’re there; you can always save them as a nice bonus for your next arcading session. Of course, if you only have a handful of tickets left, you could always spend them on snacks to round off your arcading session on a sweet note.