It's finally time for me to announce the death of the big arcade at Galeries de la Capitale.
Galeries de la Capitale is a mall in Quebec City, well-known for its indoor amusement park, featuring a rollercoaster, a dozen or so rides, a full-size skating rink, an IMAX theater, and two arcades.
It's increasingly clear that over the past few years, the biggest of the two arcades has been moving towards optimizing profit per square foot instead of pleasing arcade gaming enthusiasts. Little by little, machines vanished: first, the top-down shooters, the music games, and then the fighting games. All that's really left now is DDR X, ITG2, two pinball machines, and a shitton of racing and lightgun games. Pricing has also gone up to a ridiculous degree. Credits are now priced somewhere between $1.25 and $1.60 depending on the game, and to play anything, you need to load credits onto a card that costs 50 cents. A fiver used to be able to get you five credits in any machine, now you need careful planning to get three credits out of a $5 bill.
What you end up with is a wide array of mediocre or outdated games that will satisfy snot-nosed five-year-olds' desire to play but not much of anyone else's. That makes perfect sense from a business point of view, as they run rampant in the arcade every single weekend. They probably ran the math and noticed that parents were only letting their kids play X number of credits, so they bumped up the pricing as high as they possibly could to maximize profits. Good for them, but that sucks.
There is another arcade at Galeries de la Capitale, but it is so tiny it might as well not be considered an arcade, and it is so hidden that many people don't even know it exists.
The Centre d'amusements pour enfants (Kids' Amusement Center) is located one floor down. The reason it gets missed is because it's surrounded with rides and attractions that target children under five. You probably couldn't even fit a five-year-old into some of those rides. It's not new either, it's been hidden away there for years.
The kids' arcade is literally three arcade cabinets. Currently, the line-up is:
- Mario Kart Arcade GP, which sadly does not have card readers.
- Road Burners, a 1999 Atari motorcycle race game with horrendous graphics.
- Dance Dance Revolution USA, in the most pristine looking cabinet I have ever seen.
So what's special about this arcade compared to the big one?
- You still have to use a credit-holding card, but all credits are $1.00. There are no card dispensers or charge stations on that floor; you should go to the big arcade first to get credits, then go downstairs to use them up.
- There is no waiting. No one knows these machines are there, so they are yours. Occasionally, there will be a kid playing around on a cabinet in attract mode, but parents who see you want to play for real will generally move their kids out of the way.
- Mario Kart Arcade GP is far from being the best arcade racer on the planet, but it is better than 90% of racing games in the big arcade, which cost more per credit anyway.
- DDR USA is ancient and has something like 12 songs, but at least it isn't a laggy piece of shit with horrible pads like DDR X, which never should have been allowed to be released.
- Road Burners is shit. Ignore it, just like you should ignore anything else with Atari on it that came out after the 2600.
If you are looking for serious arcade gaming, do not bother with Galeries de la Capitale at all anymore. You are no longer their audience.
If you happen to be at the mall and need to kill some time, grab ten dollars of credits and spend an uninterrupted half-hour driving around in Mario Kart Arcade GP's time trial mode. Maybe play a game of DDR USA or two for nostalgia's sake. Then, spend the rest of the day weeping at the pathetic state of arcade gaming out here.