Are you tired of dad going on about how the old video games were the best, as you play the latest magnum opus on the Play Station 5?
Take pity on the old boy and get him down to Palace Arcade in Fremantle on Father’s Day, where he can indulge all his 8-bit dreams by playing a collection of classic arcade cabinets from the golden era of gaming.
Donkey Kong, Ms Pac-Man and Asteroids are all there, as well as some 90s cabs like Street Fighter and Time Crisis, and those quirky games you could only play in the arcade (there’s one with a plastic arm where you have to arm wrestle big hairy blokes).
Even better, dad can drink beer and eat pizza while reliving his youth as Palace Arcade is fully licensed. He’ll be living the dream, alright.
Retro gaming is big business these days: Palace Arcade has expanded with three outlets in Perth (Northbridge, Victoria Park and Fremantle) and worldwide the hobby is taking off.
Original arcade cabinets that once went for buttons (operators used to chuck them in the skip because they were bulky and worthless) are now going for thousands of dollars, especially in Australia where they were scarce to begin with and often imported from the US or the UK.
Sought after cabinets include the original sit-down Star Wars and OutRun, Tron, Asteroids Deluxe and Q*bert, with collectors going nuts for the original artwork, marquees and control panels.
A spin-off industry is the restoration of old arcade cabinets with many YouTube channels devoted to returning old cabinets found in barns and skips to their former glory, using reproduction artwork, painting and electronic fixes.
Then there are the purists who demand you use an original CRT monitor to get that authentic glow with scan lines and colour bleed, even if they are likely to breakdown and are getting harder and harder to find.
And of course you must have the original hardware board that came with the cabinet and not an emulation on a PC.
Home gaming is another big market with people wanting retro consoles like the Super Nintendo or Nintendo in pristine quality for their games room.
An original good quality Nintendo is getting quite hard to find in WA, especially one that hasn’t gone yellow (the cases of some models had a fire retardant chemical in them that turned jaundice over time).
And some crave the later Super Nintendo models that have the “1Chip”, providing the best video quality possible.
Palace Arcade in Freo isn’t just retro stuff, and at the back is a room with a lovely collection of new and slightly older pinball machines (Guns N’ Roses is lots of fun) as well as some old consoles.
There’s also a few gun games like Silent Scope and gimmicky cabinets you wouldn’t be able to play at home. So if your dad likes to furiously waggle his joystick and smash his fire button, then a retro gaming trip to Palace Arcade could be the ticket on Father’s Day (Sunday September 4).
96 High St, Fremantle
by STEPHEN POLLOCK