Monday, 29 August 2011

Chasing Ghosts: Beyond The Arcade


For video gamers in the early 1980s, the place to hang out and play the latest video game was not necessarily on a console in their own homes, but rather, at their local arcade. Soon enough a frenzy of people competed to gain the highest score on a machine. Chasing Ghosts: Beyond The Arcade focuses on a group of arcade goers who became record breakers on their favourite arcade machines.


This documentary is largely a platform for a lot of reminiscing. Viewers are taken back to the birth of the video game culture, back at the end of the 1970s. Arcades became not only a source of recreation, but a serious competition to most. The man at the centre of it all is Walter Day, owner of his own arcade, Twin Galaxies, who intends to beat the records to some of the most popular games of this period. Walter soon gained some sort of celebrity status, and paved the way for many more record breakers.
As well as introducing each record breaker in great detail, and including plenty of interesting (and nostalgic) footage of the guys in action on their chosen arcade machine, Chasing Ghosts: Beyond The Arcade also comments on the decline of the arcade culture as home console gaming became more prominent. With this decline came a decrease in the majority of these competitors celebrity, and this documentary allows viewers to find out exactly what these men are up to now their time in the limelight has lessened. 

The film focuses largely on the golden days of their record breaking days, including tales of attracting groupies, featuring on televised gaming tournaments, signing autographs for fellow arcade fans, and much more. I found this to be the most interesting part of the film. The most ridiculous person award goes to a record breaker by the name of "Mr. Awesome." The film presents him as an egotistical, laughable and somewhat pathetic individual-but it works to add in some humour in between the serious musings. 

Mr. Awesome promoting his "porno".


An unfortunate part of the documentary is that a large proportion of it focuses on Donkey Kong champion (and still practising record breaker) Billy Mitchell. While his excerpts are interesting,and do show him in a hugely egotistical light rather than glorifying him, it would have been nice if it was a little more balanced between each of the men featured.

Sadly Chasing Ghosts: Beyond The Arcade does drag a little in the middle, but the  beginning and end sections are compelling. The film allows a glimpse into retro gaming, the glory days of arcade stores and the element of celebrity associated with these record breakers at this time. For the most part, viewing is interesting, enjoyable and sometimes amusing, and I would recommend it. 

3 comments:

  1. Ah it makes me feel sad that the majority of the UK doesn't even use games in arcades any more, they are more like fruit machine graveyards. The few machines that are about still are either badly looked after or dated DDR machines :/ Would love to see some classic arcade machines back in action.

    RIP Trocadero arcade.

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  2. Yeah I would love to go to a proper decked out arcade! Unfortunately there doesn't seem to be one near where I live.

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  3. Having arcade machines is such a nice way to incorporate fun and profit into your business. With many to choose from, there is one that will be able to fit into your business to add fun and money for you.

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