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Video Game Showdown: Wii '07 vs. Arcade '92


At this year's E3 conference, the major game publishers unveiled breath-operated controllers and the newest re-hashed sequels of the games they put out 10 years ago. Much drool was unleashed at the sight of an Xbox 360 that looks like Master Chief's dong and a PlayStation Portable that might actually not suck (don't bank on it).

However, one thing conspicuously missing from this year's conference was something we've been hoping would return for years now: the old-school arcade.

And, just to prove how awesome that smelly, dark haven at the local mall really was, we're putting it up against the biggest thing in gaming today: the Nintendo Wii.

ROUND 1: THE COMPETITION

ARCADE

Without fail, there was always that one kid, usually tiny, probably Asian and unquestionably surgical with a joystick when it came to Street Fighter II, at the arcade. He kept one quarter on top of the machine to mock the line of competitors as they tried, and invariable failed, to beat him. He never said a word and was conspicuously missing from any of the nearby schools, leading many of his fallen competitors to conclude that he either lived in the arcade or was a fucking ghost the whole time.

Wii

With Wii, your competition is whoever lives in and around your house, which really takes away a lot of the mystique found in playing total strangers at an arcade. In your home, if someone beats you in Wii Bowling, it's not because he's a silent (and possibly undead) Asian video-game prodigy; it's because he's your dad, and he's a terrific bowler.

Winner: Arcade

ROUND 2: THE GAMES

Wii

Simulations of air hockey, pool and shooting galleries. Sports simulators. Lots of old NES games for download at anywhere between five and 10 bucks a pop. Oh, and a new Zelda game, probably.

ARCADE

Real air hockey, pool and shooting galleries (and if you lived in the right town, real shootings). Actual sports games that used actual basketballs. Skee-Ball. The Simpsons. Golden Axe. Motherfucking Double Dragon. There's the Ninja Gaiden arcade game you could beat using the same throw attack over and over. Then there was the original arcade Punch-Out!! featuring Italian boxer Pizza Pasta and Russian boxer Vodka Drunkenski, who were both scrapped--the Russian randomly turned into Soda Popinski--for the more "family-friendlly," less "blatantly racist" NES version. And, you always had Pac-Man and Ms. Pac-Man if all the good games were taken and you didn't mind being pummeled by the older kids who were insecure about their sexuality.

Winner: Arcade

ROUND 3: THE ATMOSPHERE

ARCADE

It's dark. It's stuffy. It smells like feet and the constant sound of tokens clanging four or 20 at a time is near-maddening. The employees all smell like patchouli. Some kid is probably jumping around yelling "FINISH HIM!" after several non-stop hours of Mortal Kombat. Lights are blinking. Someone's probably even having a seizure. Everyone's just as awkward and nerdy as you are, and they're all wearing shorts, even though it's February. It's basically like heaven, but here all the virgins are male.

Wii

Well, it's your home, which, while very nice, we can probably agree doesn't really compare. Sure, you can set up a strobe light to mirror the constantly blinking lights found in every arcade. And you can urinate all over your family room to simulate that distinct arcade smell. But no amount of urine can recreate the feeling you get when you beat the high score, kill the terrorists or save the princess in front of a room full of your cheering, nerdy peers. Also, does your home have any signs posted asking you not to sit your baby on the joypad? We didn't think so.

Winner: Arcade



ROUND 4: THE IN-GAME INSTRUCTIONS

Wii

"Please point the Wii Remote at the screen."

"The Wii Remote has become disconnected. Please press A to reconnect."

ARCADE

"Winners don't do drugs."

"The President has been kidnapped by ninjas. Are you a bad enough dude to save the President?"

The Wii just doesn't believe in you quite like the arcades did. The arcade is already fairly confident that you're both a winner and a pretty bad dude. All that remains to be seen is whether or not you're bad enough to rescue the president from ninjas, and even that question seems pretty rhetorical. (Of course you are, motherfucker!)

The Wii, meanwhile, doesn't even trust us enough to point the damn controller at the screen, as if we'd be aiming at toasters and house pets without the helpful incite.

Winner: Arcade

ROUND 5: THE REWARD SYSTEM

ARCADE

With enough moles whacked, players would receive tickets-one hopes enough to score that 3,500-ticket harmonica we all had our eyes on. Or, you can use 50 and get a Chinese finger trap that breaks the first time you use it. Either way, it's a nice haul and totally worth the $25-$600 you fed into the machine trying to win it.

Wii

If you beat your little sister in Wii Tennis, you get "skill points." If you get up to 500, you become a "pro." "Pro" is a nice distinction and certainly puts your smug sister in her place. But, you can't get your finger temporarily trapped in "Pro," and you definitely can't play the blues on it. (And you can only do one of those two things with your sister.)

Winner: Arcade

ROUND 6: THE HOURS

Wii

Available 24 hours a day, all day, every day, so you will most likely play it 24 hours a day, all day, every day.

ARCADE

Usually closed at about 9 p.m.

Another example of the arcade working for us is by closing at a reasonable hour, the arcade ensures that, every once and awhile, we'll have to be outside walking, eating, interacting with real human beings and avoiding drugs-all things inherent to being a winner.

By making itself constantly available to us right in our own homes, the Wii, conversely, enslaves us and happily accommodates an isolated, miserable life spent bowling away the competition, as well as the better years of our life.

Winner: Draw

VERDICT
It's the arcade in a 5-0-1 rout. And no, we're not just stodgy old men who think everything was better in our day. We wore overalls with one strap down for God's sake. We'd kill to have grown up in a time of low-cut jeans and teachers who have sex with their students. But in the gaming category, we assure you, we've got you beat. Now, get off our lawn.

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