The Video Game Vault
After months of trying to get myself to the Video game Vault in Morristown New Jersey I have finally made it there and boy it does not disappoint
After a beautiful conversion of a bank the Game Vault is a nostalgia fulled paradise with over 100 arcade and pinball cabinets stuffed into every nook and cranny of this beautiful building. Almost every game you can possibly remember from your childhood is in this place and all are set to free play. I didn't spend too much time there but i was floored by how much i found. Around every corner i found a piece of my childhood as well as games I've only ever heard about but never seen in person. Each cabinet is clean and kept beautifully and you can really there is a lot of love put into this place.
The space itself is also used excellently with no empty spaces. There is a super high ceiling giving the space a ton of breathing room since games are literally jam packed in in every corner. Whats even more amazing is that the arcade is in building that used to be a bank so there is even arcade cabinets in the actual bank vault as well.
As I wrote earlier all games are set to free play and visitors are charged a very modest $10 an hour and $5 each additional so that means you can very well finally beat a game that has kicked your ass as a kid. But what's beautiful about this place is also discovering obscure games.
My time there was short but i happen to run into a cabinet for a game called Journey, named and themed after the band. Released in 1983 Journey the Game was such a strange game but fascinating all the same. You play as the members of the famous rock and roll band as they travel the galaxy trying to re collect there lost instruments trough simple one screen minigames. What really made this game stand out, other than it being a game based on Journey, was the hysterical character animation. Each avatar's head is literally just a black and white cut out of each band members face on top a pixelated body and they even emote a little bit. It's awesome and something that was definitely lost to obscurity if not for this place. Also another amazing feature is the games soundtrack. It uses chip tune renditions of the bands most famous songs and they sound so awesome.
I also had the chance to try Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom from 1985. Like many of you this game came to my attention when The angry Video Game Nerd talked about it briefly in one of his videos but i never thought I would actually play it in its intended form. Players take control of Indy as he navigates this cave saving children prisoners by Mola Ram. Its a pretty straight forward game but very fun nonetheless, but what really elevated it for me was the hysterical sound design and excellent music. Enemies yell and grunt in some made up language and sometimes hear Mola Ram start doing his creepy chants. There is also some really nice and fun variety thrown in with the excellent and challenging mine cart transition level.
The last game I want to talk about was another one I have been dying to play, Michael Jackson Moonwalker from 1989. This game is bonkers. The concept is simple, you control Michael Jackson who now has super electric jazz hands and its your job to save a bunch of kids from cyborg mafiosos. The game was essentially a 2d beat em' up but the camera angle was a little tilted giving it a cool 3d effect. The sprites are huge and look beautiful enemy design quickly becomes insane with excellent sci fi looking robots and the likes. Its absurd but totally works. The best feature in this game though is Michael's special, causing all enemies on screen to join you in some sick dance moves only to explode when finished.
Unfortunately i only got to spend about an hour at The Video Game Vault and about half that time i found myself wondering through the aisles staring in wonder at the beautifully kept cabinets and the lights and sounds beaming out of them, it truly felt like I went back in time. Video Game Vault not only helps you relive some of your fondness memories as a kid but also helps you discover and play games you never thought possible.
As physical media slowly dies out and the idea of a dedicated video game arcade are all but gone, it's comforting to know that someone somewhere is keeping the dream alive and accessible.