10 Video Games You Need to Play On Your Next Visit to Funspot in New Hampshire
If you've ever been to Funspot in Laconia, New Hampshire, you know that it is probably one of the best arcades in New England. It was officially named the "Largest Arcade in the World" by Guinness World Records in 2008.
On the first floor you'll find the more modern video and ticket redemption games, but walk up the stairs to the third floor and you'll feel like you were transported back to the 80s.
The third floor at Funspot is mostly dedicated to the American Classic Arcade Museum. The museum is a non-profit organization that restores classic arcade games and pinball machines from the 1960s through the 1980s and offers them to the public to play for the price of a quarter, just like back in the day.
They have all the well-known games that were the hottest things during the video arcade boom in the 80s like Pac-Man, Donkey Kong, Space Invaders, Asteroids, Frogger and Dig Dug. But there are some other games you'll find here that are just as good, but never got the attention that the blockbusters did.
I visit the American Classic Arcade Museum at Funspot at least a couple times of a year, so I've played just about everything there. These are my 10 picks for games that you must play when visiting the museum you may have overlooked.
Bank Panic - 1984 - Bally-Midway
In Bank Panic, you play a Sherrif in the Old West whose job is to protect a bank and its customers from masked robbers who appear behind 12 different doors. Doors will open and it will either be a customer or a robber. Your job is to shoot the robbers before they shoot you, but don't shoot the customers. When customers have made a deposit at all 12 doors, you move on to the next level. It's a lot of fun because the game does a very good job of trying to trick you and you'll kick yourself when you pull that trigger on a customer.
Gyruss - 1983 - Centuri
Gyruss is best described as a mix of the classic shooter Galaga and Atari's Tempest. Like Galaga you are shooting enemies that are flying toward you but like in Tempest they come at you from the center of the screen off in the distance as if traveling through a tube. You can spin 360 degrees around the tube to destroy enemies and pick up power-ups as you make yourself to checkpoints at each of the planets in our solar system with an eventual goal of making it to Earth. It also plays an electronic version of Johann Sebastian Bach's Toccata and Fugue in D minor during the game, which you will instantly recognize and sets the mood perfectly.
Marble Madness - 1984 - Atari Games
Roll your marble along a path to get to the goal. Seems simple enough right? Not so much when narrow paths, steep ledges and enemies who are looking to crush or even swallow your marble stand in your way. Marble Madness got ported to over a dozen different computers and video game consoles including the Nintendo Entertainment System and Sega Genesis, but you haven't experienced the game in its best form unless you've played the original arcade version. Using a trackball to control your marble instead of a controller makes it that much more fun.
S.T.U.N. Runner - 1989 - Atari Games
The S.T.U.N. Runner is a futuristic racing game. You pilot the Spread Tunnel Underground Network Runner which reaches speeds of 900 mph traveling through underground tunnels. That kind of speed allows you to travel on all surfaces of the runner, including upside down as long as you go full throttle and don't hit any enemies. Destroy those enemies using the equipped laser cannons and smart bombs which can take out every enemy within your sight. It's super fast, super fun and you sit on what feels like a motorcycle with a driving yoke.
Star Wars - 1983 - Atari Games
I dumped a ton of quarters into this game when it showed up at LaVerdiere's in South Paris back in 1983. It had the music, the voices and the ships from the iconic Battle of Yavin where the Rebel Alliance attacked the Empire's dreaded Death Star using the plans stolen, as we learned over 30 years later, by Rouge One. For its time, it was a masterpiece. Finally, we were able to pilot an X-Wing Fighter and make the run down the trench, firing torpedoes and escaping to safety to see the Death Star blow up. Once you do that the first time, you make the run again, only things get even harder. Hint: If you do as Obi-Wan tells you and "use The Force" by not firing any shots, evading the shots coming toward you and using one shot to fire your torpedoes into the exhaust port, you'll get big bonus points. The museum at Funspot has two versions of Star Wars, a stand-up unit and a more rare cockpit version that you sit down in.
Tron - 1982 - Bally/Midway
Tron the arcade game was released in conjunction with the Disney movie where Jeff Bridges gets sucked into a computer. The movie was a little crazy, but it was still fun to watch and the game is a blast to play too. There are four games you have to play and win to progress: Battle Tanks, Light Cycles, I/O Tower and MCP Cone. Each has its own objective. Once you complete the four games, you repeat them with hard difficulty. It's very challenging, but also very fun. Not quite as fun as its sequel, Discs of Tron, but sadly the museum doesn't have that game.
Major Havoc - 1983 - Atari Games
You play as Major Rex Havoc trying to destroy the Vaxxian robots. You begin in your spaceship destroying attacking robot ships that are defending a reactor that it is your job to destroy. Once you destroy the robot ships, you land your ship and then make your way through a maze to find the reactor, avoiding enemies and collecting oxygen to keep you alive as you go. Once you find the reactor and touch it, a clock starts counting down and you have to make your escape from the maze, get back to your ship and take off before the reactor blows. I always play Major Havoc when I go to Funspot because the tension that builds trying to escape is so much fun.
Circus Charlie - 1984 - Konami
You are in control of the circus clown Charlie and tasked with completing his performances. You'll ride on a lion and jump through rings of fire, tightrope walk while jumping over monkeys, jump between trampolines avoiding the knife throwers and fire breathers, jump across a series of balls, ride a horse and jump over trampolines and walls and swing from one trapeze to the next. You get to choose which performance you want to do and if you finish them all, pat yourself on the back and do it all over again on a higher difficulty.I love this game because it can be super hard yet super addicting. I've never finished all six performances, but I came close to getting five of them done.
Mario Bros. - 1983 - Nintendo
Before there was Super Maro Bros., there was just Mario Bros. Mario was just known as the carpenter Jumpman in the massively successful Donkey Kong, but got the name Mario and became a plumber with his brother Luigi in this 1983 arcade game. This is where the Mario we know today got his start, knocking over turtles and crabs that are coming out of the pipes by hitting them from underneath and then kicking them away to clear the level. Sound familiar? Play his game the next time you're at Funspot for the Mario history lesson.
Star Trek: Strategic Operations Simulator - 1983 - Sega
Even if you aren't a big Star Trek fan, like me, this game is a rarity that I think you'll like. Star Trek: Strategic Operations Simulator puts you in command of the starship Enterprise armed with shields, phasers and photon torpedoes to destroy Klingon vessels and other enemies, but it's all a simulation, much like the Kobayashi Maru test seen in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. What makes this one rare at the museum is that they have the sit-down cockpit version with a captain's chair that has controls on the arms. It was pretty immersive back in 1983 and pretty cool to play today.