(Original story at Retro Roadmap)
Established in 1988, Village Arcade in St. Peters Village, PA is a wonderland for vintage game enthusiasts. Proprietor Robert Mauger has been collecting / rebuilding arcade equipment for over 20 years. The arcade features over 40 vintage arcade games and pinball machines manufactured in the 60s, 70s, and 80s, some of which are very rare and hard to find.
According to Mauger, the game Haunted House (Midway 1972), was the premiere release for that year and is very sought after by collectors today. It’s a gun game with two cats, a witch, and a grave robbing monster. The highlight feature of this game is the special 4-channel 8-track player (one track is used for background “spooky” sounds, and three other tracks have sound effects for specific targets – the monster, the cats and the witch). This detailed video illustrates the game play and mechanics of Haunted House.
Williams was often crafty in their approach to game construction, as evidenced by Flotilla (Williams 1970). In this game, the player is on a night bombing mission over a three dimensional landscape of lighted sea and land targets. In this video, Mauger explains the advanced conveyor belt and mirrors construction of the game (click HERE).
Invaders from Outer Space (Midway 1970) is similar to Flotilla in that it’s gun uses a red light feature (kind of looks like a laser pointer) to show where it’s being aimed. The player shoots alien invaders using a joystick control, and the game incorporates electronic sound and motorized score reels. The aliens pop up and down across the back and when hit, a red light bulb flashes. Here’s video footage of the game in action (click HERE).
Village Arcade is also home to a number of vintage pinball machines… Actually, it all started with one: Triple Strike (Williams 1975). Mauger explains, “In 1980, I bought Triple Strike because in ’76 everything went digital and people started junking the old mechanical relay machines… They were cheap.” Mauger went on to explain that this relay circuit technology was the same technology used to put a man on the moon… An intriguing comparison for sure.
Wild Kingdom (Midway 1971) is another game in Mauger’s arcade that features the 8-track sound player. Here only one channel of the 8-tracks is used (for background sounds) though four channels are recorded, but all with the same sound track. Wild Kingdom is a very challenging gun game because the player is shooting against “Jungle Charlie”, a 3″ high moving mechanical marksman on the game’s playfield. Unlike say Haunted House where the player can take their time and shoot as slow as they want, Wild Kingdom forces the player to shoot fast.
The oldest “gun game” in Village Arcade may also have the most interesting story. Arctic Gun (Williams 1967) is a bit like Wild Kingdom but set in the arctic, not a jungle, and there is no “Jungle Charlie”. It makes use of an actual serialized Remington rifle…
In the 60s and 70s, they used actual guns for these games to save money, so they went to Remington and bought rifles. The ATF audited Remington and wondered where the other hundred thousand or so rifles were. Remington had sold them to Williams, but had no record of it, and it almost bankrupted the company because of it.
Aside from pinball and gun games, there’s classic arcade games like Dozer (Americoin 197?). In this game, the player must operate a minature bulldozer and collect as much “ore” as possible. This video illustrates how this is done (click HERE).
Another one of these electronic games is Whirly Bird (Midway 1969) that feature a helicopter attached to a rod that pivots on top of a center pylon and a counter weight helps lift the helicopter. The player controls the helicopter’s pitch and speed and the object make contact with one of seven stationary pins.
There is much fun to be had at Village Arcade… Aside from playing the games, the art on the machines is wonderfully nostalgic. The vibe of the place evokes a magical timeless feeling. It should not be missed by anyone even remotely interested in the history of arcade games.
St. Peters PA
Open year round, Sat and Sun 12 – 5