Maker House Hosts Massive Arcade Showdown Event This Thursday!

February 24, 2014

Maker House is awash in terrific retro treasures, such as this crazy-obscure 1982 Vectrex console, the only video game machine ever released with a built-in vector screen, and the first system to ever offer a 3D peripheral. It's even better with a Mexican Coke. (And a smile.)

Maker House is awash in terrific retro treasures, such as this crazy-obscure working 1982 Vectrex console, the only video game machine ever released with a built-in vector screen, and the first system to ever offer a 3D peripheral. It’s even better when enjoyed with a Mexican Coke (available at the snack bar). Then again, everything is better with Mexican Coke.

by James J. Jefferies

In an age of high-definition technological majesty, in which hyper-realistic visuals are almost indistinguishable from the best special-effects work from Hollywood blockbuster films, and gamers spend millions of hours yearly plugged into online networks that offer limitless hours of anonymous multiplayer matches (with countless potty-mouthed twelve-year olds quoting Lil’ Wayne into their headsets), there exist sworn luddites. These are gamers for whom the latest exquisitely rendered, motion-captured offerings of bullet-riddled mayhem on the XBox One or PlayStation 4 simply offer no charms. Retro gaming still holds an incredibly strong appeal for many, and not just older gamers swayed by nostalgia, either. Many young people also find the tight gameplay and simple, clean, cartoonish art styles of classic platformers like Super Mario Bros. and fighting games such as Street Fighter II to have enduring appeal.

A major portion of the retro-gaming phenomenon is the tradition of hands-on project-making that many gamers take on as part of expressing their love for the classics. When you consider the spate of potential hobbyist video gaming adventures one can have, from restoring old, battered arcade machines badly in need of a repair or a paint job, to building a tidy miniature PC setup just to run emulated classic video game consoles, it’s no accident that the fine folks at Tucson’s own Maker House would host a large-scale homage to such pixelated passion plays with their upcoming Arcade Showdown.

An inside look at the restored 1978 Space Invaders cocktail machine, which is the grand prize for the Arcade Shodwown. Yes, that's colored plastic affixed to the screen to simulate color. The game was actually responsible for a shortage of 100-yen coins in Japan the year it came out.

An inside look at the restored 1978 Space Invaders cocktail machine, which is the grand prize for the Arcade Showdown. Yes, that’s colored plastic affixed to the screen to simulate color. The game was actually responsible for a shortage of 100-yen coins in Japan the year it came out.

Maker House is already home to a regular Retro Gaming Night on Thursdays, and this is just the beginning for a relatively recent Downtown arrival that has already proven to be a terrific place for craft-minded people to meet and exchange expertise relating to an eclectic spate of do-it-yourself projects, or simply to relax for a bit and enjoy a pint of local beer or cup of coffee.

Operating out of the historic Bates Mansion at 283 N. Stone, they’ve been making happy DIY noise since last fall, with their tremendous array of tools, toys, and friendly people committed to making this collaborative arts and tech scene as fun and welcoming as it can possibly be.

Arcade Showdown is actually several events in one. First and foremost is the tournament, which will consist of twenty contestants going head-to-head in five minute scored rounds on the following TEN arcade classics: Marvel VS. Capcom, SmashTV, Dr. Mario, Bionic Commando, Bust-A-Move, Frogger, Mortal Kombat 3, Raiden II, Centipede, and Robotron.

These robust wood, glass, and steel titans of yore await the sweaty palms of twenty contestants eager to take home the title of Arcade Showdown Champion. They're heavier than your Grandma and almost as noisy.

These robust wood, glass, and steel titans of yore await the sweaty palms of twenty contestants eager to take home the title of Arcade Showdown Champion. They’re heavier than your Grandma and almost as noisy.

The grand prize for this titanic contest of skills is a lovingly restored 1978 Space Invaders cocktail machine, the kind with a glass top perfect for resting your elbows and/or frothy pint of craft beer upon. There will also be other prizes for contestants, including gift certificates and other sure-to-be-sweet bits of gamer schwag.

If that isn’t enough of a reason to get your bad self down there, yes, there’s more. There will also be Maker House’s Gamer Super Swap Meet, beginning at 4pm that day. According to Maker House’s own Matt Rios, there will be many vendors and fine folks arriving with boxes and boxes of ridiculous retro treasures and comic books to get your calloused mitts upon, including what may be several unopened boxes of vintage Atari cartridges.

There will also be a Wii Hacking Workshop, which will teach participants how to hack their Nintendo Wii game systems for use as media centers capable of playing digital video files or emulating classic video game consoles. If that’s not enough, there will also be a Video Game Art Show, with people already hard at work on their pieces for a contest to be judged that day.

Food trucks and in-house drink specials? Oh yeah. It’s shaping up to be an incredibly fun and memorable evening for gamers at Maker House this Thursday, February 27th, and it all jumps off beginning at 4pm with the Gamers Super Swap Meet! Maker House is at 283 N. Stone Avenue, and can be found on the web here.

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