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 2022 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 2022 brought together arcade and pinball fans for a nostalgic weekend at the Santa Clara Convention Center and Hyatt Hotel. 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.

N.A.R.C. - A lightning rod of controversy back in the day, it was present at California Extreme for everyone to enjoy.

A Nostalgic Arcade

Our 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

Here are some of the most notable games I got to play during the event.

Area 51 – A must-play game for me as it was one of my favorites back in the day. Players take on the role of a Special Tactical Advanced Alien Response (STAAR) operative deployed to stop aliens from trying to take over Area 51. Players must shoot aliens while protecting their fellow STAAR operatives.

Terminator Salvation – Based on the movie, this is a rail-shooter that has players fight the machine army. Unlike other shooters, this was more intense and fast-paced while throwing obstacles in your way. It was also fun as it made you act fast while blasting away. A perfect game for fans of the series. 

N.A.R.C. – A lightning rod of controversy back in the day, 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 started from the beginning and blasted my way all the way to the end. I still get a chuckle when fighting Mr. Big’s head. 

A prototype version of Far Cry: Instincts Paradise Lost.

Star Wars (Atari Version) – : One of the most iconic arcade cabinets and Star Wars games. This rail shooter has players relive the iconic attack on the Death Star (via the Battle of Yavin). Players will fight waves of Tie Fighters before having to take on Darth Vader. The game ends with you navigating the trenches to deliver the final blow. I first played this during California Extreme 2017 and have made it a habit to play it any chance I get. 

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 put in a good 45min before I died and moved on to the next game.

Far Cry: Instincts Paradise Lost – Guests at California Extreme 2022 got the chance to play the prototype version of the game. It was an arcade adaptation of the console remake of Far Cry. While the original had two players, the prototype was built for a single player. I got to blast my way through the entire campaign like I was playing Far Cry all over again. 

Godzilla - This is a pinball machine that pays homage to the King of the Monsters of the Shōwa era.

Pinball Machines

Here are some of the most notable pinball machines I got to play during the weekend.

Guns N’ Roses – A pinball machine based on the iconic band, this was a game that took you back to days of rock. It had its fair share of challenges while including music and references to the band. During my playthrough, my highest score was 105,392 (yeah I’m not that good at this game). The one featured at the event is the 2020 version created by Jersey Jack Pinball. 

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. At last year’s event, there were massive lines. I got lucky at California Extreme 2022 as got to play few rounds.

Final Thoughts

California Extreme has always been an opportunity to relive my childhood. At the same time, it has been a lesson on the history of video games. 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 2022, share your story in the comment section below.

Disclaimer: We bought our passes for California Extreme.

Special Thanks to Joe Manio of Fatboy’s Toys and Collectibles for taking the photos of me.

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

1 Comment »

  1. Thanks Stan for the fun article about our show. FYI, I’m one of the co-organizers and it’s always such a treat to read reviews such as yours and to know that our efforts in putting the show on each year are appreciated. It’s a TON of work each year to make it all happen, but also very much a labor of love for all of us involved. I brought down 19 of my own games (including one of the 2 upright Atari Star Wars that were there). Other staffers bring down even more, and of course so many more are brought by others from around the area who so generously also contribute.

    And you probably don’t want to know just how much pre- and post-show work takes place each year, both months in advance and afterwards 🙂 .

    Thanks again, and hopefully we’ll see you at next year’s event!

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