Review of the Arcade Classic Collection by Enrique Segura Alcalde. A return to the golden age of arcades with pages full of pixels and nostalgia
Reading Arcade Classic Collection: The Arcades of Your Childhood is like sitting in one of those pubs with oversized leather chairs with two friends, ordering three generous pints of pint while you wait for the fourth, and reminiscing about the heyday of arcades . That of Atari’s Star Wars, that of Street Fighter II that owned an entire generation, and that of Metal Slug that blew us away by elevating pixel art into the category of art.
Video games are the protagonists of our conversation as it should be. But what’s really special is the company we’re tackling our shared obsession with. On the one hand we have Pedro Vera himself doing his wonderful doodles on a napkin. They share their experiences and also the memories of the fauna that inhabited these wonderful sanctuaries. On the other hand, the one who lets his beer get hot because he wants to talk more: Enrique Segura Mayor. How not to let him expand as much as he wants?
And it’s relatively easy to stumble upon a book by Enrique Segura Alcalde while browsing video game book shelves. In fact, he is one of the most spoiled authors of the Dolmen Games label, the division of the Palma publishing house dedicated to immersion in the world of digital entertainment from all perspectives. The editor of Manual magazine and also the editor of the Homebrew Encyclopedia series.
Enrique, yes, has been dedicated for some time to the exploration of a field as specific as it is rich and fascinating: the retro video game. A field in which many of us like to get lost, either out of nostalgia for the great classics or to rediscover this game whose name has been lost over the years, although we dedicate entire afternoons to it. In both cases, treasures that shaped our passion for video games.
Arcade Classic Collection: Nostalgia printed on paper
After several published works, Arcade Classic Collection continues Enrique Segura’s journey that began with the golden decade of retro video games and tackles an aspect that is more than necessary for a whole generation of video game enthusiasts: arcade machines. More precisely, the arcades of our childhood. Those played in the arcades, bars and arcades of Spain.
These machines that swallowed the few coins we had in our pocket in exchange for a few minutes of fun directly proportional to our skill with the buttons. A sophisticated skill based on trial, error and 25 peseta coins. Of course, what sets the Arcade Classic Collection apart from all the lists and compilations dedicated to paying homage to the glory days of arcades is the perspective of the child who stepped onto these premises with fascination and a desire to turn all the buttons.
Arcade Classic Collection always manages to put us in context through several fairly successful resources. From a colorful layout with generous images, random or not of the period, to a pleasant and tight tone. That goes through just enough of the details or background of each game to focus on the time. In the character of this player who has to think very carefully about where to put his few coins.
There are details of the edition that perhaps deserve a little more care. Despite the fact that the book is very generous in terms of screenshots, illustrations and photos, in truth it gives the impression that most of the images and posters are screenshots adapted to the text without paying too much attention to the quality of the pixel to gift art or the image itself. Resolution. On the other hand, it must also be said that some of the visual resources spread across the different chapters are really unusual pieces and posters that evoke pure nostalgia.
Your own arcade in book form
Beyond the shapes and format, what really gives the Arcade Classic Collection value and a lot of reading is the content of its main part: once the prologue is completed and the first chapter is used as a stepping stone, Enrique Segura Alcalde unfolds a kind of arcade in the form of a book through a selection of 50 essential games of the time. A compendium of arcades ranging from Atari’s legendary Pong to Ghosts’n Goblins, through Windjammers, Pac-Man, Toki or Mortal Kombat.
As a book, Arcade Classic Collection isn’t that dreamy arcade that wants all the machines, but a generous selection with those that were particularly popular at the time, and especially among players in Spain. Including the arcade game The Simpsons or Gals Panic, the demo of which looked more than one and two askew against the Out Run cabinet. That yes, despite the layout of the time, especially in this last case we already assume that there are no mischievous shots of the Kaneko classic.
During the lyrics, Enrique Segura rightly answers the pertinent questions that he himself asks in each paragraph. Leave space between text and images for packs and tables with more specific data, character files in another very specific game like the arcade game Ninja Turtles, and even ask questions in the air asking for a crossover between the heroes of Marvel and DC crave conditions of video games. A dream that, by the way, came true during this crazy time through the comics of both publishers.
The 400 pages of the Arcade Classic Collection offer a lot of content and Enrique Segura makes good use of it. However, he is also fully aware that it is impossible to cover the entire history of arcade games on paper and in a single book, and is therefore right in narrowing down the themes and game choices in a very extraordinary 1996 and keeping everything that came after, which was no small, for his second volume: Arcade Classics Reloaded, which makes a staggered leap from pixels to polygons, changing the tone: they are no longer the arcade games of our childhood, but that of our youth.
The passion for arcades lives on
Enrique Segura signs almost all pages of the Arcade Classic Collection, but he is not the only author and what he brings to the reader is not carried solely on the basis of nostalgia for times gone by. Although Pedro Vera (historical cartoonist of El Jueves and creator of Ortega y Pacheco) begins the book with a sensational prologue in which he tells us about his experiences and sensations in arcades, the last section of the volume is entirely dedicated to those who love the spirit the leisure halls.
Now the tenth chapter of the Arcade Classic Collection is a real gem. Essentially, it is a series of interviews with proper nouns, collectors and aficionados of the golden age of arcades, exploring the extent of their ability and resources to restore and preserve original furniture, take it to events and exhibitions, or simply place it inside spread collectively through associations throughout Spain. Promote the heritage of the classics and keep alive the dream of the youth of yesteryear.
The epilogue and final pages of the Arcade Classic Collection are the responsibility of a fourth guest at our aforementioned beer table: José Manuel Fernández Spidey, another author spoiled by dolmens (author of The ATARI Story, PlayStation Encyclopedia or MSX First Generation, no less ) and at the end links the content and proper names of popular machines to the element that the book radiates: nostalgia at its best.
However, beyond the prologue, Pedro Vera conquers the reader once again with a final gift that rounds out the value of this first volume: a comic that details the colorful bestiary of the arcade regulars and patrons of yore. Or, as Vera calls it, the Quinqui Jungle. A pleasant reminder of a time that sets the tone and perspective of the Arcade Classic Collection as panel after panel it draws that smile of nostalgia and complicity in the reader.
Dolmen Games provided us with a copy of Arcade Classic Collection: The Arcades of Your Childhood and refusal was not an option. From the prologue, I saw myself reflected in the same passion shared by Enrique Segura, Pedro Vera and everyone involved in this literary journey towards a leisure space made of ink and paper. Something that more than justifies its recommendation for readers aged 30+, as can be seen in the Amazon file.
Well, I’ve always been proud to belong to the generation that lived and grew up with the aforementioned Jungle Quinqui, which Vera masterfully portrays, but I have to admit that few books of my arcade game culture can match so many have approached nuances. Not the Japan that surrendered to the Space Invaders, or the idealized United States of the time, but the Spain of the 1980s and early 1990s.
This essence and that of the magazines I read again and again during those wonderful years, with their colorful aesthetic, their unsubtle layout and the notes in the margins, whose …
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