I'm not sure what it is about video games from the 80's. Why did I love them so much? They gobbled up my quarters with no remorse. I never had the money to get truly good at any game. In a sane world, I would have steered clear of all of them. But, we do not live in a sane world, nor is sanity a good friend of mine. Maybe it was the smell of 20 or 30 games. It could have been the loud music that would play like Foreigner or Journey. It could have been the lights turned out, the patterned glow in the dark rug on the floor only illuminated by the monitors of the games. It could have been that almost everyone in the arcade was my age. Or, it could have been a combination of all of that. Whatever magic it was, I'll never forget it. It put a stamp on me. A stamp that I will always wear, a stamp that is indelible.
Being an adult kind of sucks. Yeah, you get to go to bars (that gets old), you get to vote (go team), you don't have to go to school. All in all, being an adult usually means that the magic in the world is gone. You know how everything works (mostly). There really are no surprises anymore. The arcades are gone, and frankly, if they were still here, the magic would have been gone anyways.
It was a hot July, Saturday morning. I think it was around 1990. I was 22 or 23 years old. I was sitting up in bed, coffee by my side, newspaper in my lap. My girlfriend was still sleeping next to me, both of us hung over from the night before. I found an interesting ad in the classifieds. For Sale: Bump n' Jump full sized arcade game. It didn't really register with me at first. I read the ad a few times until it sunk in. 300 dollars for a full sized arcade game. It was about 20 miles from my house. My foggy brain started to realize that I had a truck, and I had gotten paid the day before. I could actually own an arcade game? No way, I thought. This add had to be wrong. My girlfriend started to stir beside me as I picked up the phone to call the guy who had placed the ad.
Yes, the ad was real. Yes, the game was still available. I told him I was on my way. I woke my girlfriend up and told her we were going to go buy something. No time for a shower I told her. This, of course, was before the internet or any type of navigation software. The guy on the phone had given me directions.
His small where house was in an unincorporated part of Santa Clara. A city that was booming with all kinds of tech companies. He had a few arcade games at his place. He owned a "route". I had played Bump N' Jump at the arcades. Never really played it too much. It was a simple game, so it had not eaten too many of my quarters. There it was. Real as could be. I paid the guy his money and he helped me load it into my truck. I had no idea that this moment would set a course in my life that would include buying, fixing, playing and selling hundreds of games. All I knew is that this bad boy was going to be in my room and I could play it any time I wanted to. And, I did.
I had some friends over who helped me get it into my room. We played it most of the day and into the night. Beer and video games. Wow.
I eventually sold that game and bought others. But, Bump N' Jump was my first. I know the music by heart and all of the sound effects. I truly did love that game, because it brought some of that old magic back into my life.
Now, today, 52 years old, I wait on one to be delivered. I bought it last week and it should be here by Friday. I'm excited. It will be so great to have it back. I am a pinball guy now, but I will always have room for a Bump N' Jump!
I eagerly await turning the lights down in my garage and watching the attract mode. Maybe it will bring back a little bit of that 1980's magic.