Kids Playing Spy Hunter


spyhunteratsidecar.jpg

Sidecar is the restaurant and bar closest to my apartment. Last night I was there with my friend Jason Vaughn enjoying a burger—one of Sidecar’s only two reasonably priced entrees along with the Club sandwich; fortunately the two are my favorite items there—and we heard a commotion towards the back. A group of about half-a-dozen kids of varying ages crowded around an old Spy Hunter arcade machine, each jockeying for a turn. It’s a scene I haven’t seen in ages, especially since the invention of portable gaming consoles like the Game Boy. These kids were in a rare social zone that made playing their games at the dinner table inappropriate, but being sequestered in the back of the restaurant around an arcade stand-up perfectly acceptable.

Spy Hunter itself has special memories for me. One of the towns where I grew up—Buffalo, Missouri, where my grandparents lived—had pretty much nothing to do. We’d walk around the town during summer days, maybe traipse down to my great-grandparents’ farm to look for arrowheads in the scrub grass and clay, or hang out in the town square peering through the windows of businesses long since closed.

They opened up a Wal-Mart one year and stuck a Spy Hunter machine in the vestibule. My cousin Greg and I rifled through my grandfather’s change jar in his bedroom, extracting probably ten dollars in quarters, then walked down the highway to Wal-Mart with our pockets heavy. We spent several hours trading off plays, mine always considerably shorter than Greg’s, who could get to the boat section nearly every play. A few months later I sifted through Grandpa’s change jar again looking for any strays, but came away with just a few from the nickels and German coins—souvenirs from a trip to Europe they’d taken in the ’70s. Grandpa Lemons had been laid up in the hospital with cancer for a few months, his time for breaking bills into change soon over for good.

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9 Responses to Kids Playing Spy Hunter

  1. Anonymous says:

    @ username:

    Do they they employ locals as busboys? with full benefits?
    Or, maybe the immi’s can chew the new locals food, a la “Chop’t”..

    I’d be curious to know what they have done for the neighborhood..maybe I’ll stop by and ask them tonight. It would have to be a lot to make up for the posh downwardly mobile new “old” salvaged tin aesthetic they have.

    but, i know things change i know i know i know, I’ll go back to my cave and finish up my dumpstered bagels from the atrocity further down 5th.

    ¡¡¡3VERYTHINGS FINE!!!

    (again thanks, i is done now).

  2. Anonymous says:

    @ username:

    Do they they employ locals as busboys? with full benefits?
    Or, maybe the immi’s can chew the new locals food, a la “Chop’t”..

    I’d be curious to know what they have done for the neighborhood..maybe I’ll stop by and ask them tonight. It would have to be a lot to make up for the posh downwardly mobile new “old” salvaged tin aesthetic they have.

    but, i know things change i know i know i know, I’ll go back to my cave and finish up my dumpstered bagels from the atrocity further down 5th.

    ¡¡¡3VERYTHINGS FINE!!!

    (again thanks, i is done now).

  3. Anonymous says:

    I appreciate the oil slick clamoring and youthful smoke screens, but, when i saw that place was opening up, it seemed like a little part of the neighborhood was being stomped into the forgiving sod of a sunken greenwood plot.
    &/Or, it felt like something was being replaced by vintage t-shirt patrons and central perk hopefuls.

    $14 veggie tacos, pfffff.

    -bow down to the superiority of green condos

    thx for letting me vent.

  4. sparkdale says:

    Joel, this isn’t Sidecar in Toronto by any chance, is it?

  5. cha0tic says:

    Ahhh. They had that in the Student Union, I don’t know how much of my grant I fed into that machine. It made me go out and buy a second hand Dwayne Eddie album, just for the music (Peter Gunn)
    They also had Gauntlet (“The Elf is about to Die” “Wizard, your life force is running low”) Those were probably the last time I shovelled money into Video games. Why would I do that, once I’d bought a Spectrum :)

  6. Anonymous says:

    I would drive miles to play one of these games again – how I miss the green balls, the missle upgrades…next to G-Loc, Spyhunter was my all-time favorite.

  7. username says:

    @11:15am — just so you know, the guys who opened that place contributed a lot over the years to the neighborhood that you feel they were replacing. I understand the need to vent about all the new condos, etc, but I don’t see how those two are part of the problem.

  8. Anonymous says:

    My memory of Spy Hunter is playing one at the arcade that was in AUTO WORLD.

    For those of you don’t know AUTO WORLD, It is featured in the Michael Moore Movie ROGER AND ME.

    It was the only “amusement park” I have been to where the only exciting thing WAS Spy Hunter. AUTO WORLD sucked out loud and was eventually demolished.

    Hope them got the video games out first.

    Also a note: Spy Hunter is one of the few old style video games that doesn’t really work on a MAME emulator without making a lot of custom controllers. That also may be a factor in its continued popularity.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Word. Local pizza place, Spyhunter, oh, 1986 or so. Rarely broke 100K, then one day dropped into a zone and got 398K, still my all-time best. A couple of games later, the steering wheel fell off in my hands. I looked around, realized I was alone in the arcade room, and slunk out the front door.

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