Around this time last year, I discussed what it was like working in a gaming arcade in the modern era. Though I highly recommend you read it in full (then follow that up by reading every single article I’ve ever written, please and thank you), the short version is that it kinda sucks.
One of the primary reasons, of course, is that arcade games are often fickle, contrary beasts, built to sell without necessarily being built to last. So now, from an insider’s point of view, I would like to reveal five of the most heinous devices I have ever had to deal with.
They’re not in any particular order, though if you pay close enough attention, you can probably work out which of them I detest the most.
Dragon Punch (Andamiro)
The game: Easily the most famous culprit you’ll see on this list, punching machines are a hit across the world, and yes I do mean that literally.
They can be found in arcades, bars, amusement parks, bathrooms of eccentric billionaires, you name it! And though there are a few variations doing the rounds, Dragon Punch is particularly popular for a couple of reasons — it’s cheap, and it pulls in revenue like nobody’s business. Well, except for your business, ideally.
The premise is straightforward enough. You pull the punching bag down, you hit the punching bag. Your result is registered depending on how hard it hits the panel behind it. If anyone ever scores 1,230, feel free to laugh at them, because that’s the lowest possible number they can receive.
The issue: Many of the punching machines (including old Dragon Punch here) rely on a degree of cooperation from the user, which is an issue since the target demographic of such an apparatus is not exactly made up of the world’s great thinkers.
‘Pull down the punch ball!’ it crows.
Already, you’re asking for trouble, Dragon Punch. This is the part where one of the solenoids will deactivate, loosening its grip on the rope connected to the punching bag. If you’re unclear as to what a solenoid is, don’t worry, I am too, and I had to deal with the damn things for nine years. It’s basically a magical magnet that pulls or holds things.
If someone pulls the punching bag down far enough to trip the microswitch that tells the game it’s ready, but fails to bring it down all the way to lock it in place, that ball will yank right back up, like a vampire gopher retreating to its lair. Of course, the solenoid doesn’t know this, so it’ll assume it’s still down. The result: the game tells you to hit the punch ball, which is still resting in its place partially within the cabinet.
Sound like a minor issue? It sure is, except for the fact that it happens all the time. Literally, you’ll deal with this twenty times a night.
“It’s broken!” they’ll protest.
“You’re broken!” I’ll snarl in response. I probably should have been fired years ago.
The next problem is the nature of the game itself. Punching machines bring out the worst in people, and Dragon Punch will quickly devolve into Dragon Kick, Dragon Headbutt, Dragon Swing off the Bag Like Miley Cyrus on a Wrecking Ball, or my personal favorite, Dragon Run Into It and Fall Over, Dislocating Your Shoulder and Requiring First Aid.
All of the internal components are held in tenuously by tiny little c-clips, and with every wallop it receives, the whole cabinet rattles around, shaking everything loose. It requires constant maintenance, and during its downtime, you basically have to rope off the entire area, because people will still try to hit it while you are in the process of fixing it.
Severed cables, busted microswitches, destroyed punching bags, warped LED displays, faulty solenoids, whatever is in there is basically going to break before too long. Alas, the instruction manual, translated hastily from its original Korean, is distinctly unclear. My friend describes it as 안좋아, which either means ‘not good’, ‘useless’, or ‘stop asking me how to say things in Korean, you idiot’.
Just remember, however, that if the machine is damaged drug transportation, do not install, accident or problem.