Saturday, September 12, 2015

CAX, Crazy Otto and Me

The first game I played at CAX, 2015.
If it looks like I'm hunched over a bit to play this game, it's because I am.  This cabaret cabinet, featuring the absolutely rare, Crazy Otto, a Ms. PacMan prototype that never really much saw the light of day, should not even exist.  Thanks to a clever and creative teenager, who goes by the moniker 'Jr Pac', it does!  Are you wondering who or what Crazy Otto is?  There's not a ton of information out there, but a bit of it is here.

After an eight year gap, I returned to the annual Northern California arcade and pinball two-day game fest, California Extreme.  Not only has the venue changed in the interim, but the visitors are more numerous, the entry fee relatively steep (forty bucks for the day), and the games a bit less varied.  I'd imagine maintaining 30-plus-year-old arcade games is a challenge and those games that have the broadest appeal are mostly to be found in at Cal Extreme.  I think I saw 10 Defender cabinets and one Burgertime.  Two Popeye games and no Kangaroo.  Crazy Climber, not good nick, was on hand as was an old fave, Phoenix.  A few Ms. Pac Man cabinets, whose forerunner, Crazy Otto, I had the good fortune of playing, were on hand, if, however, either in a hacked format or set to 'fast mode' in order to keep game play per person to a minimum.  -not cool.  A few Centipede cabinets and a couple Millipedes were also there.  Bubbles, an early arcade game and personal fave, was tucked away in a corner.  Pole Position, Asteroids, Dig Dug, and Q-Bert were in house, too.  As far as pins, I saw two of the greats, Medieval Madness and Attack From Mars.  The queues to play them were, of course, long.

Don't go over the razor blades and avoid the spiders!
I really wanted to play an old fave, Super Pacman, but, having seen it at CAX of years past, it was no longer included in the mix.  To be fair, the game play is pretty repetitive, so I'd imagine it's not a huge hit with the CAX crowd, middle-aged ladies like me excluded.

Thank god for the millennials who long for a time before they were sentient and the Gen-Xers who long for their early years to have figured out the hit that is the 'arcade-pub'.  What could be better than playing vids, drinking pints and jamming to classic tunes from the 70s and 80s?  Bar owners: if you want throngs of game-happy adults coming to your joint, then don't set the games to fast mode, don't charge more than 50 cents per play and you'll have a recipe for success. 


  1. Man, I was terrible at anything Pac Man. Most arcade games really, to be honest. We had this place in the town when I was a kid, they put it right next to a theater, of course. WE had a lot of fun in there. A while back my friends had their daughters birthday party at an arcade, a lot of those old games. I think my daughter had a good time. I'm just too old I think ;)

    1. -never to old to eat a few ghosts! :D


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