I was such a huge fan of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and I love playing Marvel Vs. Capcom 2 in the arcade, but my favorite arcade cabinet of all time would have to be The Simpsons arcade game.
I've easily spent over $100 in quarters in one of these machines, playing as Bart, Homer, Marge, or Lisa. A simple stick and two-button design had me beating Burns's goons into oblivion. I can't tell you how many times I've picked up potted plants and thrown them at generic enemies in suits, or thrown the bus stop sign at the jerks in the suits in the first level.
The Simpsons wasn't just an arcade game, it was THE arcade game at Dutchman's pizza. There was always someone to play with. With each partner, our chances of clearing the level without having to drop another quarter in the machine was doubled. Of course, my brother was always there to be my trusty side kick so long as there was a spot open at the machine.
I think really that was what made the game so awesome so long ago. Our teamwork enabled us to play connected characters and do special tandum moves that would clear screens of ball riding clowns and one eared bunnies.
One weekend evening, I sat down and played the game from start to finish. I pulled a stool away from a table and leveled myself at the game, deploying quarter after quarter through to the end. It was some sort of miraculous thing to see in my youth. My partners would come and go. By the second to last level the excitement was mounting but so was the challenge. The game was full and everyone checked to make sure they had enough quarters to get through to the end. Starting the last level, one of my fellow players had run out of quarters and ran to ask for more, but we didn't need him. We soldiered on and beat final boss, getting Maggie back from the clutches of evil.
How many times did I beat up the drunks at Moe's Tavern? How many times did I slap myself awake after Dream Land? Thousands.
Seeing this machine the other day at Hobby World made me think about the time I've spent playing The Simpsons. I can assuredly thank it for the love I have for video games today. I just wish this poor cabinet was in better condition. Some day I hope to have my own Simpsons cabinet at home, and I'll make sure to take good care of it.