Arcade History

I've been collecting arcade games ever since I graduated college and moved into my first apartment. My collection mainly centers around Konami's BEMANI series of rhythm games, but I also branch out into classics and modern games, mostly from America. Born from a long-held dream to own a DDR cabinet that I realized in 2011, I started collecting when I got my Neo Geo and never looked back.


Neo Geo and Centipede cabinetsNeo Geo cabinet

After I graduated from college, I started thinking about owning an arcade game or two. I did a fair bit of research and realized that games didn't actually cost all that much if you were careful and looked around. My first cab was a Neo Geo and I timed the purchase with the move into my first apartment out of my dad's house in 2010. I had moved back to San Diego at the time and I bought it from a guy who had owned it since he was a kid. It was home use only so it was in pretty decent condition. I spent quite a few nights after work playing through Metal Slug and Puzzle Bobble, absolutely in disbelief that I had an actual arcade game in my house. A few months after the Neo Geo came home I started looking for a Centipede cabinet on craigslist. I'd grown up playing a clone of Centipede on a Tandy 1000 computer, taking turns with my mother when one of us died in-game. A few weeks later, I found a Centipede in pretty good condition and met with the buyer to purchase it. I called it quits until I moved out of my apartment because I really couldn't fit more games in the limited layout.


Crazy Taxi and Others

Mid-year 2011 saw me moving from my apartment to a cheaper condo. Along with this move came a few hundred more square feet and a detached garage! After picking up a DDR cabinet for the garage I started going to a local auction called Captain's Auctions. The auction has since grown to be massive and prices have gone way up along with it, but at the time absolute steals could be had. I showed up to every auction, hanging out with other collectors and networking, and set my eye on a Crazy Taxi cabinet. I was able to win one and take it home that year and put it in the garage. The rest of the year revolved around working way too hard at work and looking for BEMANI games to purchase, so I didn't end up grabbing any more games.


I spent 2012 mostly hanging out at Captain's Auctions and playing the games that I owned. Through some lucky searches on CraigsList, I connected with somebody who was parting out a Hawaiian collector's massive collection. Inside that collection were three separate Warlords Cocktails. I was able to nab one for a decent price and arranged to pick it up at the next Captain's Auction (this was quickly becoming the go-to spot for side deals and local pick-ups). Since I didn't want to rent a truck, I had my friend drive with me and we put it in the back of his convertible while the top was down. So many people wanted to see the cabinet that we ended up running the battery flat putting the top down and up repeatedly and ended up needing a jump to get home.


This was the year that I moved from San Diego to the Bay Area. As a result, I didn't do much cabinet purchasing this year at all, and got absolutely zero non-BEMANI games added to my collection. Instead, I did a lot of yard work to make my place presentable and integrated into a new city and job.


I started back on the hunt in 2014, looking for unique games to add to my collection. At this point, I was focused on two areas, BEMANI games and games that had unique play styles on the arcade. That could mean drivers, gun games, unique input methods, or games that just weren't ported to home consoles. In the summer I went down to Los Angeles to pick up a ParaParaParadise cabinet that a friend bought, and attented another Captain's Auction. On a whim, I bid on a CarnEvil that was there and ended up winning it for cheap! I brought that home in a decent road trip and tuned it to get it working. The same friend bought a Panic Park cabinet from somebody in Sacramento and stored it at my house. I did a bunch of restore work on it and got it running, and then bought it off of him when he decided he didn't really want to own it. By the end of the year, I had decided to move to South Bay, so most of December was spent packing up hundreds of marquees, console games and arcade games to move them.


2015 was much like 2013 for non-BEMANI games. I spent most of the year getting my house organized after the move and didn't end up acquiring any new games.


Quantum and Others

After attenting SC3 in SoCal early in the year and being dismayed to find out Steve's Quantum was broken, I decided that it was a game that I had to add to my collection. A reproduction cabinet showed up on CraigsList for way too much money and I ended up letting it pass, continuing to watch online sales like a hawk. The cabinet got relisted for several grand less and I went to talk to the seller. I ended up buying it in non-working condition and taking it home to repair. Almost a month and tons of parts later, I had the game up and running perfectly! Aside from the cabinet body which is a reproduction, the entire affair is original, working parts and completely tuned up! The dream of owning a holy grail was now complete, and I could play the game whenever I wanted! I ended up taking it to CAX that year because the organizers wanted to have a side-by-side comparison against an original.


Taiko and BishBashi in GarageRhythm Heaven and OthersNintendo Vs. Restoration

When 2017 rolled around, I was dealing with a botched import that an ex-friend was supposed to be handling. That ended up going through when another friend took over the container, and the Taiko no Tatsujin cabinet that I'd ordered back in summer of 2016 finally arrived at my house in May! In between that order, another order that I was part of came in and I received shipment on a Rhythm Heaven and The*BishiBashi cabinets. Ever since playing both of these in arcades, I'd wanted them to play at home! Rhythm Heaven is actually a port of the GBA release but the game is so fun I had to get it in arcade form. After a few more BEMANI games came in I ran completely out of space at home, so my friends and I looked into and eventually rented a warehouse for extra space. Later in the year, I bought a gray Nintendo Versus cabinet in rough shape in order to restore it with a friend. As of 2018 we're still working on the cabinet, but its come back to life and only needs cosmetic work. I also started collecting JAMMA boards this year, with the plan of eventually purchasing a candy cabinet or two to run them in. For the time being, I had a Neo Geo to JAMMA adapter, so I was able to play the games that I did find.


The Grid

Since I have plenty of space again thanks to the group warehouse, I started to try to recreate an amazing experience I'd had for several years at CAX. I always loved playing The Grid with my friends, and having a complete 6-player setup at CAX was icing on the cake. I started trying to track down cabinets in order to set up my own 6-player Grid experience. I continued working on the Nintendo Vs. restoration, and tracked down a single The Grid cabinet at Captain's Auction. I ended up road-tripping the cabinet back along with spare parts for my Beatmania Mini that I was restoring. Along the way, I helped another friend in Los Angeles move a Beatmania IIDX cabinet and got to check out a bunch of spare parts in Captain's warehouse. I also tracked down an In The Groove Dedicab through a friend, which I brought to the warehouse and restored.

The Present

Including all of my BEMANI games, I am sitting on 28 unique arcade games. I have my classic holy grails (aside from maybe upgrading the reproduction shell of my Quantum to an original some year) and am currently hunting down enough cabinets to put together a 6-cabinet The Grid setup to play with friends. I'm not exactly sure what cabinet 29 and 30 will be, but I feel like I'm going to start going back to classics. Maybe I'll end up with a Tempest sometime soon? I've also gotten into collecting JAMMA boards and have started with Puzzle Figher 2 Turbo, Battle Garegga, Hexion, Karate Tournament and Mr. Driller boards.