My Arcade Narrative

In 2011, I was contacted by a friend, PJ, that the arcade auction was in town (at the Maryland State Fair). He asked if I wanted a cabinet to use MAME, which he had finished building years earlier. He bought the cabinet for $50 without my consent, and then I helped him load it, and put it in my basement. We didn’t use a hand cart, and Dan Naylor and Ryan Stiffler helped get it into my basement. The monitor worked well, but I don’t really like Tekken Tag (the game included). I worked to gut it, and PJ said he would recreate the control panel. The machine sat in my basement for 3 years, and he finally got the control panel built. I sold the Tekken Tag board, and the JAMMA harness, and it was just an isolation transformer and monitor left in the cab. It sat for another 6 months, until I decided to just figure out what I was doing wrong. I learned about JAMMA harnesses, since I threw out the WG 10 pin connector, I had to get another one of those. On or around July 23, 2015, I got DDR working on that machine. I gave it away to Matt Bowen on November 28, 2015, who now uses it as a mame machine, last I knew.

On October 10, 2015, I was working at another side hustle, catering for Mission BBQ, and I got a text message from Eric Holniker that there was a Pump it Up machine at Funland, in the South Park mall, in the Richmond, VA area for $700. I was working until 1 AM that day (well, the next day, really), and we had to get it that Sunday, so I just stayed up all night, and met him in DC, hopped in the Humvee that he drove, and we went to get the machine. I met Spencer Franklin that day at the Sheetz nearby. I sold that machine to Anthony Capobianco as part of a trade deal for a Jubeat Cabinet, during Raj of the Garage 4, on October 8, 2016.

I got a truck on June 11, 2016, and that allowed me to go get my own games! Its a 1995 GMC C1500 Sierra, navy blue.

On July 27th, I contacted a guy named Stan on KLOV and purchased a Golden Tee in a Konami cab for $150. Stiffler and I took the truck, went to Philadelphia to play DDR A, and then went to northern New Jersey to pick up the cabinet. Everything went smoothly, until we missed our exit and it took us several hours more than usual to get home. I later sold that cabinet (for $350) to a man who had stairs to his basement that had two 90 degree turns. It was that day that I redefined “delivery” in my own vernacular… My arms were destroyed!

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On July 29, 2016, Coin Op Warehouse posted a Japanese DDR cabinet for sale for $800. I purchased this, picked it up in Hagerstown, MD on August 20. It stayed at home for a while, and got the pads re-finished. That machine helped me learn an awful lot! It also helped me foster a relationship with Ryan, as he showed up to help me replace the RTC on my 573. The monitor was fine, but a bit burnt, so I asked Ryan to help me with a cap kit. He did that, and then the monitor didn’t work. I shipped it off to PNL Video, and they returned it, and it had been set to medium resolution, but I didn’t know enough to identify it, back then. I sent it off again, and it was dead on arrival. They also repaired my D9400 chassis, which had blown up earlier (in the middle of Kotoricon 2017). The machine sat dead for a long time, until I attempted to sell an In the Groove dedicated cabinet, and Jack Russo bought it.

On August 30th, 2016, Nick and I drove to Columbus, OH, to drive a truck full of games to San Antonio for Tokyo Attack.

On October 2, 2016, Nick and I went to southern MD to meet with Jason Smawley, who sold me a working Combatribes in a Xenophobe cabinet for $150. I rewired the control panel with light-up buttons, and took it to Kotoricon 2017, and sold it to Adam Price in Point of Rocks, MD for $350 on February 14, 2017. Every time I see a Xenophobe Combatribes with light-up buttons, I wonder if its mine! My mom let me use her old office as storage while the lease ran out, and this was the first game to go in there.

On October 8, I dropped off my Pump it Up GXv2 machine at Raj of the Garage 4 in Sandusky, Ohio, and picked up my Jubeat machine. I later took that machine to Kotoricon 2017, and then sold it to Joshua Wilson for $2100 on February 9, 2017.

On October 16, I went back to Richmond, VA, to meet up with an operator named Levi, who runs “Game it Up” in the area. Spencer had responded to some letgo or craigslist add, and put me on the trail, so I got Nick and a 26’ truck and headed down there. At some point, I’d scouted it out (though, I’m not sure when that was). That day I picked up a DDR Japanese cab with Supernova 2 (1250), a Silent Scope with 11p error (later sold for $350), an Area 51: Site 4 that i couldn’t give away, a Rush the Rock that I took to coin op warehouse for export to Europe (took PJ’s too), a Virtua Fighter 2 that I traded for a Mortal Kombat cab later, an empty Korean DDR machine (but a working 573!), 2 Outrun 2 machines, and a Gaelco Tokyo Cop. I also got 6 DDR pads that were left outside for an undetermined amount of time (sold for $300).

On November 7, 2016, Dave and I drove to downtown New York City (directly adjacent to Times Square) to pick up a DDR X from Dave and Busters. I later sold this to Anthony Capobianco.

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On November 8, I had to take aforementioned San Francisco Rush cabinets to Hagerstown to Coin Op for their eventual export to Europe. On the way back from Raj of the Garage 4 (in October, in Sandusky, OH), Laura and I stopped at a truck stop in Breezewood, PA called Gateway. They had a Naomi Universal cabinet there, running Virtua Tennis, and I thought I could buy it. I made contact with the guy, John, who was the manager there, and agreed on a price. I went up to Breezewood, after stopping at Coin Op, and picked it up. I think I met Lance for dinner afterwards. I later sold the machine to Kat for her store in White Marsh Mall, Re:gen. This was the first Virtua Tennis that I owned.

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DDR was out of commission, and I’d been working on all sorts of things, and I realized that I needed a monitor that worked, pronto. I collected Dave and we went to Coin Op Warehouse on November 27, and picked up a Global VR America’s Army. I put the monitor in a DDR machine, and it later died and I now hate Wells Gardner D9400s thanks to that machine. Turns out the tube went bad, but not before I spent a couple undo to figure that out. Sold the USB2GUN IO board, and game the cabinet away to Josh Lindsey. Later traded the monitor chassis to Frasca as part of a trade towards a neo geo (more on that later).

On December 31, I went to pick up a Mortal Kombat from a guy named Tim. It was just a monitor and cabinet, but it was in decent shape. I traded him my broken Virtua Fighter 2 for it. I tried like hell to make this into something other than a full restore of an MK, but ended up getting full art, buttons, and everything and making it into MK2. I sold it later for 675, which was an early bellwether of the crashing MK market. Blah!

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On January 6, 2017, Dave and I did a small rental event called Kotoricon. It went well, except DDR’s monitor blew up.

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On January 21, 2017, Dave and I loaded both Outrun 2 machines in my truck and drove just past Columbus, OH overnight. We left at midnight and got there sometime around 9 AM. A guy named RD was driving in from Indianapolis to get it, and I believe it currently resides at Rupert’s Kids Arcade. We met at someone’s house (who’s name is lost to history at this point). I was picking up a Virtua Tennis cabinet from him. Dave and I stopped at Black Hog for dinner on the way home, and met Nick out there. That was the second Virtua Tennis I’ve had in the parking lot of Black Hog. I later refinished that Virtua Tennis into a really nice Marvel Vs. Capcom 2, and sold it to Kevin G. Laura and I delivered it late as hell one night north of Philadelphia. I forgot to screw the chassis down, but it survived the trip anyhow!

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This was the second Virtua Tennis I owned, and the second one I left in the Black Hog BBQ parking lot while we ate.

On February 9, 2017, I drove to Owings, MD to Chris Mitchell’s house to pick up a very cheap, very shitty Mortal Kombat 2. It was in a gross poker cab, but the board was worth it. Once I had the MK2 board (to be put in that machine previously mentioned), i sold the cabinet for $100 to a guy named Bill Benton, who put an LCD in it and tried to sell it for $750. I have no idea if he ever managed to do that, but I guess that’d be nice if he could.

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On March 1, 2017, I responded to a craiglist ad for an 18 wheeler for $250. I hadn’t learned my lesson yet, that people don’t buy racing games, or really anything big. I took my truck to this random house (that was clearly a foreclosure being flipped by a developer). I got it back and tried to flip it, and ended up taking a loss to get it out of my shop. I sold it for $175 to Chet, who I also gave a ratchet strap to, as he showed up with a short-bed truck and a rope to secure it.

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On March 18, I found myself back to Coin Op to pick up a broken Korean DDR cab. I later stripped this of its parts, sold one pad to Steve Rowley, the other to Randall Bush, and pushed the cabinet into the landfill.

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There is a movie theater at the mall in Columbia, MD, and while I’m sure that people tried to buy the In The Groove 2 dedicated cabinet there, no one had managed to do it. I found out that its a Namco arcade, and started calling around, and turns out that Speedy’s One-Stop Repair (who had my Tokyo Cop board) was basically the same entity as Namco arcades in the US. I tracked them down, and bought the machine for $4000 even. Met the technician / operator at the movie theater on a Tuesday (March 21, 2017), and loaded it up. Important to note that this was my biggest arcade purchase to date, and was terrifying. All my prior profits went directly to this machine, and all my eggs were in one basket. The monitor needed work, so I asked Ryan to help me with a cap kit, which left it with vertical collapse. I bought another chassis, and asked friends to help me shop the pads, and eventually sold it for $5000 to Max Jones, who drove from Indianapolis in a Uhaul to get it.

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The following night, March 22, I went to Crabtowne to pick up a Megatouch from Frasca. Tim Gunning has it now.

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Way back when, I purchased Tokyo Cop from Levi / Game it up, and it didn’t quite work right. I attempted to change out some fans and CMOS batteries and stuff, and it left it dead. Sent the board off to Speedy’s, and they sent it back, but the hard drive was still not working. Bought a new hard drive, and it was ready to get that thing out of my life. Sold it to Brad for $500.

On April 2, 2017, I responded to a craigslist add just 20 minutes up the road for a Golden Tee machine with vertical collapse. I got it for $100, and when we started messing with it, I blew up the board. I had a GT 2000 board that I put in it, and Brad fixed the monitor, and I think I traded it for $300 or so. Fun fact, that game had wheels that worked too well, so I couldn’t actually move it. It was too heavy for me!

On April 5th, 2017, Nick and I took two trucks of games to Tekko convention in Pittsburgh, PA, for Tokyo Attack.

On May 1, 2017, my son was born. It took a week to take this picture.

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On May 20, I was preparing to move out of my storage (as the lease was finally up), and Spencer bought my Pump it Up FX cabinet. I took it to him in Richmond.

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On May 27th, I officially moved into my glamorous shop at Stansbury Apartments.

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On May 26th, 2017, I bought a Tux Racer from Frasca. This was a giant mistake, as that game is worthless and terrible. I later traded it to Rob in Marydel, MD for gross big blue.

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On June 11, 2017, PJ decided that he’d had enough of his Virtua Tennis, so I bought it from him, and turned it into a Marvel Vs. Capcom 2, which I sold to Timeline Arcade, in York, PA, and delivered on 7/4/2017.

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On June 22, 2017, I paid Anthony for a Pump it up CX (Japanese Version).

On July 23, 2017, Dave and I were back in the truck, headed over to the eastern shore of Maryland to drop off Tux Racer and trade for a Surf Planet from Rob, and buy a Tekken 4 in a Blitz cab from Jeff.

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On October 24, 2017, I purchased a Neo Geo 4 slot, dedicated, from Mike Frasca. He brought it to my shop on a lunch break. He included Samurai Shodown, Samurai Shodown 2, Puzzle bobble, Art of Fighting, and Metal Slug. It needed a new power supply, which I got from Twisted Quarter, and I couldn’t get the stupid sound working on the board. I wound up buying another one, and I guess I’ll try to fix the 4 slot one of these days. Looks nice in its new home at Re:gen, though, delivered March 3, 2018.

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On November 1, 2017, I received a text message from a friend, Andrew Specht. He was buying some things from an operator in Allentown, PA, and that operator had a Betson Supernova 2 dedicated DDR machine, with a dead hard drive and no monitor. Interestingly, I made a lowball offer, and went to McDonalds to pick up dinner, and the control arm on my car broke, so I was waiting for a tow truck at McDonalds and after I low-balled, I forgot about it.

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I got a message 2 hours later and it was just this picture:

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And thats how I accidentally bought a Supernova 2 machine. This sold to Kevin G. in PA in February, 2018.

I was working with Frasca at a duckpin bowling alley in Silver Spring, MD, and he mentioned that he had a solid state pin coming in for cheap, so I offered to buy it. It was a Bally Speakeasy, and I got it home on March 8, 2018. I swapped out the bulbs for LEDs but ultimately gave up as I needed the space. Sold it to Chris, who picked it up early on May 19.

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On March 10, I saw a post on Facebook for a DDR Extreme machine in Fort Mill, SC for cheap. Since it was a japanese machine, and had a bad drive, I decided to cannonball from home to Fort Mill and back. It was about 19 hours, and it rained for about 6 of those hours, but it made it back! That machine now lives with Chris in Lovettsville, VA.

On June 21, I received a call from Hunter in Fort Mill, SC, who told me that he had another machine, if I wanted it. This time it was a Betson Supernova machine.

Weird update – September 10, 2019

I’m going to stop updating this (which is painfully obvious). I’ve got a lot more stories to tell, but most of them are boring, since the stuff above this update is me “learning how to do it”. We’re at almost 50 dance games, 3rd pin, and several million video cabinets, it seems.