A few quickies for 2020 March

Since the bars and arcades are temporarily shuttered, I’ve been stuck at home playing some old classics. This is a small sampling of my recent bests, in order:

  • Atari Video Cube, 1:57.3 (variation 12)
  • Atari 2600 Frostbite, 26340
  • Atari 2600 Midnight Magic, 483990
  • Atari 2600 Stampede, 3212 (I think this was variation 1)
  • Atari 2600 Super Football, 24-14 win versus computer
  • Atari Lynx California Games BMX, 626

Speedy’s Fast Track: Plastic is fantastic?

[Note: This post describes two visits from the latter half of February, well before the business closures and most event cancellations due to the COVID-19 pandemic began in the Houston area. For a variety of reasons, It took until now to actually get this post completed and ready to upload.]

Way, way back in the day, I checked out Speedy’s Fast Track (possibly operating under a different name at the time, but there was an arcade in the area) after hearing about it from a friend I had met at Exhilarama (during its downfall as an indoor amusement park, which would soon become just another Tilt arcade, but that’s another story). It had been easily 20 years since I had set foot in the place. A lot has changed since then. As I remember it, there was no miniature golf course and there was definitely no laser tag.

There was pinball alongside the video games, though, both then and now. And that’s the main reason for this relatively brief visit. The lineup: Batman ’66, Star Wars (2017), The Munsters, Iron Maiden, Deadpool, and Jurassic Park (2019). The nominal price per game was $1.75 for everything but Batman ’66, which was $1.60. Speedy’s uses swipe cards, which honestly, I’m not that big of a fan of, but apparently this is the wave of the future. The swipe card system does allow a generous discount such that buying, say, $10 or more of play at a time reduces the effective price to something a bit more reasonable ($1.35/$1.23 or less, slightly higher the first time you load less than $50 on a card because of the $1 card fee). The advantage to the arcade operator is that it’s more difficult to share the discounted rate among a group of friends (versus using tokens).

I began with one title I had only played a few times: The Munsters. I last played this when I was a regular league player, but didn’t really get the opportunity to relax and actually enjoy the experience of playing. In particular, I didn’t get to hear the sounds.

I moved on to Jurassic Park. I put up a couple of respectable games, including the 89.6M+ photographed below. I didn’t know what to expect from this game, but it turned out to be a surprisingly enjoyable and refreshing experience.

On to Iron Maiden, another rather familiar game from league play. The 118.3M+ I was able to post on this title is certainly competition-quality. This is another game I could just sit back and play for an hour or so after getting a rhythm going.

Next up was Batman ’66, which I was no stranger to. This one didn’t disappoint either; I would play for quite a while on my paid credit, topping out at 293.5M+ (on this visit). A quick game of Crazy Taxi and I would call it a wrap for the afternoon.

I would return a few days later to check out the rest of the games I didn’t get a chance to play the first time through. An unremarkable 12.7M+ on Deadpool and a modest 79.0M+ on Star Wars would begin the evening, but the real story is what I would do the second time through on Batman ’66: a personal record and grand champion score of 870.2M+ as well as a bonus champion of 329M+ (from an earlier game than the grand champion score).

To be fair about it, there is an issue with Batman ’66 that could be termed a beneficial malfunction: the autoplunger does not fire as it should. However during my grand champion run I did everything I could to play it as if it was a tournament game and not leave balls in the plunger lane longer than necessary.

Other than that, there were relatively few issues with the games at Speedy’s and I look forward to making this one of my regular destinations.