A Weekend to Relive a Childhood Defined by the Arcade

Remember back in the days when you would spend an entire weekend at the arcade with a few good friends? For those of us who had such a childhood, California Extreme 2023 was an emotional reunion. It was another weekend to replay the games that defined our youth while taking a trip back in time.

California Extreme 2023 brought together retro gamers along with fans of the arcade for a nostalgic weekend. Guests could enjoy their favorite games and also purchase any of the arcade cabinets on the floor (if they were for sale). For me and my friends, it was all about spending the weekend playing arcade games like in the good ole days.

A Nostalgic Arcade

My weekend at California Extreme was all about reconnecting with some of our favorite arcade games. It was also a chance to play some classics that launched successful franchises or paved the way for others to follow. Thus, it makes sense to talk about some of the arcade games we got to play during my time at the event.

Arcade Games

Star Wars (Atari Version) –  One of the most iconic arcade cabinets and the first Star Wars game. This rail shooter has players relive the iconic attack on the Death Star (via the Battle of Yavin). For me, playing this at least a few times has become a tradition at California Extrem. Once again I fought waves of Tie Fighters before navigating the trenches to deliver the final blow (while fighting Darth Vader). 

WWF Superstars – A classic arcade game that takes players back to the Golden Era when legends like Hulk Hogan and Macho Man Randy Savage dominated the ring. I stepped into the shoes of Macho Man Randy Savage while the other player selected Honky Tonk Man. It was an intense battle but my opponent was the better player. 

The Grid – This game was released back when arena shooters were at the peak of popularity. This was an arena-style arcade shooter that has up to 6 players (all on separate cabinets) battling to the death. Playing it has been a tradition for me since California Extreme 2018. This time, there were only three cabinets set up. No matter as I still had a good time playing a few rounds with other players. 

N.A.R.C. – This was a lightning rod of controversy back in the day and it was present at California Extreme for everyone to enjoy. Players take on the role of either Max Force or Hit Man as they battle waves of drug dealers. I jumped into a game with another player and we battled our way all the way to the battle against Mr. Big’s head. 

Lethal Enforcers – I remember this light gun classic being a staple in a number of arcades along with movie theaters. Players take on the role of an elite cop who must battle a criminal organization that is trying to take over the city. Besides shooting waves of criminals, players must avoid innocent people. Me and another player started from the beginning and fought our way to the end. 

Silent Scope EX – One of my favorite arcade series and if I see it at California Extreme, I’m gonna be playing it for some time. Silent Scope EX was the third game in the series and has players take on the role of a special forces sniper who is deployed to resolve a variety of terrorist situations. Since I’ve been playing this series for a long time, I was a natural pro. This year, I decided to complete the entire game.

Street Fighter II Turbo – There were several versions of this classic setup in the main hall. I decided to hop on the first one that became available and started practicing my moves. After a while, I started going up against other players. I did well during some moments and not so much during other moments. 

Pinball Machines

Godzilla – This is a pinball machine that pays homage to the King of the Monsters of the Shōwa era. A new machine that came out in 2021, it has grown to become very popular. Once again there was a massive lines but I got lucky and played a few rounds.

Terminator 2: Judgment Day – A classic pinball based on the iconic movie. It was also a pinball machine made during a time when they were transitioning away from analog. It had all the defining elements of the movie but in a pinball machine. 

Final Thoughts

California Extreme has always been an opportunity to relive my childhood and the 2023 event was no different. At the same time, it has been a lesson on the history of video games while also giving me the chance to play other titles that I missed out on. That is why it’s the perfect weekend for gamers of all generations to gather and have some fun. Be it those who were raised at the arcade or those fascinated by history. 

If you had a chance to check out California Extreme 2023, share your story in the comment section below.

Disclaimer: I bought my pass for California Extreme.

8Bit/Digi is an independent media outlet that provides insight into the gamer community of the San Francisco Bay Area.

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