Bustin’ Ghosts at Dave & Busters

GHOST3About a month and a half ago for my birthday, my family and I went to Dave & Busters.  The best way to describe Dave & Busters is it’s like a Chuck E. Cheese for adults.  They have a restaurant and bar, billiards, and other things.  They’ve also always had big arcades.  I think Dave & Busters started out in Georgia, but when they expanded, one of the first places they went to was Dallas, so we’ve had them nearby for a long time.  I think they’re all over the place now, though.  Anyway, we mainly spent our time in the arcade, and it was the first time in a long while that I had a lot of fun in a newer, modern arcade.  So I thought I’d share with you some of the stuff we played.

Normally I would save the best for last, but not this time!  One of the reasons why I wanted to go to Dave & Busters was I heard they had Luigi’s Mansion Arcade there.  Yeah, you heard right.  There is an arcade version of Luigi’s Mansion!  Here’s a picture of the outside of the arcade cabinet.  It’s a sit-down style cabinet for two players, similar to something like, say, SEGA’s Jurassic Park game.  The outside is also very well lit, with creative artwork and lighting.  That’s one of the things we’ll be talking about a lot in this article is how arcade machines still use artwork and lighting to attract you to their machines.  This has been done nearly since arcades were around, as even older machines had lighted marquees and side art to pull you in.  This kind of stuff just fascinates me.


When you climb into the sit-down cabinet, you have to lift up a flap to get in.  So when you are in the machine, you don’t see much of the outside, so you are fully immersed.  They even make it look like you’re inside the mansion, as the inside and the flaps have framed pictures on them.  I tried to take a picture of the inside, but it didn’t turn out as well because of the glare from the screen.  But you can still get a good idea of what it was like, so here’s a picture of the inside as well.


So how does the game play?  Well it’s like a cross between an on-rails shooter like House of the Dead mixed with…a fishing game?  If you’ve played Luigi’s Mansion, you already know that sucking ghosts into the vacuum cleaner is like a cleverly disguised fishing game anyway.  You can start off with a tutorial by Professor E. Gadd, or go straight to either the Easy, Medium, or Hard mansions.  Two players can go at the same time, and player two is also Luigi, just with a blue hat.  Which is weird, but since the game is all first person, you don’t see the second Luigi anyway, even in the cutscenes.  So you automatically walk along, and when ghosts appear, you can press the button on the vacuum nozzle to shine a light on the ghosts and stun them.  Then you can suck them in (use the same button if you have it set to Simple Controls).  This is where it’s like a fishing game.  As you suck in the ghost, it’ll try and run away in a certain direction.  Pull the nozzle in the opposite direction to keep the ghost from escaping.  Similar to Dark Moon, there is also a dark light that you can shine on objects to reveal secrets, but I only remember using it twice in the arcade game, so it didn’t seem very necessary.  You can also suck up coins and cash to increase your score.  If you get hit three times and lose all your hearts, it’s Game Over, but you can continue.  Sometimes you can suck in hearts to refill your energy, but it doesn’t happen as often as I’d like.  This is an arcade game after all.

One thing I liked about this game was that you get a lot of playtime for your money.  It costs around three quarters to play, and we continued a couple of times, but we were in there for a good 15 to 20 minutes.  Way longer than any of the other arcade games we played.  We probably could’ve beat the game, too, but halfway through the hard mansion I noticed a little kid was waiting to play, so after my brother and I lost, we stepped out so the kid could play.  We didn’t want to hog the machine.  Maybe someday I can go back and beat it!

The other great part about Luigi’s Mansion Arcade were the vacuum controllers.  They were big and chunky and cartoony, and felt just like the one Luigi holds.  The force feedback was also great, and you could feel the ghosts go all the way through the nozzle and tube as you sucked them up.  Everything feels different that you suck up, too.  My favorite was when you sucked in coins, you could hear and feel a satisfying “THUNK” as they went through.

The only thing I didn’t like about Luigi’s Mansion Arcade is all the assets are lifted straight from Dark Moon.  The Easy stage is the first mansion, the next is the Clockwork Mansion, and the final stage is the Museum Mansion.  Even the enemies and bosses are the same as in Dark Moon.  So if you’ve already played the 3DS game, you won’t find anything new here.  But the game still did a good job of giving you an experience you wouldn’t have on a home console, and I think that’s where new arcades can still shine.  What’s interesting is the game was made by Capcom.  Capcom made another Nintendo themed arcade game a while back, an arcade version of Donkey Konga.  I wish I could’ve played that one, but I don’t think it came to the US.  So I’m glad Luigi’s Mansion Arcade did and I got an opportunity to play it!

Right next to Luigi’s Mansion was another ghost busting arcade game, and it was, well, Ghostbusters!  The arcade cabinet was also lit up with cool artwork and such, so here’s a picture of the back part.


The side also had artwork and a big light up Ghostbusters logo.  I tried to take a picture of it but the light up logo was so bright that you can’t see the art, but the sign was still pretty neat so here’s a picture of that as well.


One creative thing about the back side of the cabinet was there were holes you could stick your head into, so it was also a photo opportunity.  Here is a shot of me and my brother Jeff as Ghostbusters.  Jeff is the one with the beard.  I think we make a couple of good Ghostbusters.  We should be in the next movie!  What do you think?


So the game isn’t really based on any of the movies per se.  You have generic footage of ghosts in the park and other locales, Slimer, the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man, and the Ecto-1, but that’s about it.  Some of it looks like it was even lifted from the Ghostbusters game on the PS3 and 360 that was released a few years ago.  You shoot ghosts with a gun controller, but what’s weird is that the gun shoots out actual balls, and they hit the screen and if you hit a ghost, it’ll capture it and you’ll get points.  Then the ball rolls down a slope and (assumingly), back into the gun controller.  I felt that was a very odd design choice and not very ‘Ghostbuster-y.’  Luigi’s Mansion felt more like a Ghostbusters game than this one.  I left the arcade machine rather confused by that.

Another console mainstay that now has an arcade version that I played was Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games.  I think it’s based on the most recent Olympics in Rio.  Here is a picture of that.


The arcade cabinet was so tall that I took another picture so you can see the jump pad on the floor.  I like how Amy and Peach are reminding you on one screen to don’t forget to take your belongings before you leave.


The game is quite similar to the console versions on the Wii and Wii U.  First you choose your character.  I think my joystick was stuck because it kept spinning around the selectable characters and I couldn’t stop it.  Time ran out and I was Metal Sonic.  I wanted to be Tails, but I guess Metal Sonic is kind of cool.  Then you choose your event.  I chose Trampoline.  You have to actually jump at the right time, and while you’re in the air, you must move the big honking joysticks in the prompted directions to do tricks in the air for points.  After that they tally up your score and give you a medal and compare your winnings with other players.  And then the game is over.  I wish they would’ve let you choose more events to play, but oh well.

Another one I was glad to play was Mario Kart Arcade GP DX, which is actually the third in the Mario Kart arcade series.  These games are actually made by Namco, so some of the racers are from their games.  In past entries, you could play as Pac-Man, Ms. Pac-Man, Blinky, and a Tamagotchi (for the Bandai side of things).   In this one, you could play as the cartoon Pac-Man, or Don the Taiko Drum from Taiko Drum Master.  That’s who I picked.  He even gets his own track, but it’s just a generic Japanese garden track.  The driving controls in this one are improved from past arcade entries, and they added a new feature where if you play co-op, you can fuse with another player for a short while.  One drives and the other one aims a turret all around to shoot at other racers.  It kind of reminds me of something you could do in one of the PS2 Crash Bandicoot racing games.  I kind of wish Nintendo would make a collection of the Mario Kart arcade games on a home console.  They’re not as good, but I think it would still be interesting to have them.


Speaking of Namco, I also played a sorta new Galaga game called Galaga Assault.  It had a big bright screen with graphics that were a mix of the original Galaga and Galaga ’88.  It was actually a ticket redemption game, so it didn’t last long, but you had to shoot as many Galaga bugs for points, which would transfer to tickets.  But all the rules of the game still applied.  It actually looks very similar to another Namco ticket redemption game that I haven’t played yet but would like to, and it’s called Pac-Man Ticket Mania.


While we’re on the subject of tickets, the way you get tickets at Dave & Busters is a bit different.  The tickets are stored on the same card that you get to scan into the arcade machines to play.  But you don’t have to rescan the card to claim your tickets.  They’re just automatically on there, like magic or something.  Sometimes technology amazes me.  Only problem I had was usually when I win tickets at arcades, I’ll give my tickets to a kid or their parents so they can use them to get prizes.  I couldn’t do that here.  Oh well.

Another ticket game I played was this Ice Age game.  I like the first three Ice Age movies pretty well, so I was curious to see what this was.  At first I thought it was air hockey, but then I saw the mallets, so was it whack a mole?  The flat part is actually a screen, and when you hammer a peg, it cracks the ice on the screen.  In the middle are rotating targets, and when you crack the screen enough, you’ll touch one of the targets and win tickets.  Jeff got his crack to land on Scrat, which gives you the most tickets.  I think he got like, 2,000 in one play!


One of my favorite board games as a kid was Connect 4, so it was neat to see an arcade version of it here.  It was actually pretty huge and took up a large portion of the wall!  The winner even gets to play a nifty little bonus stage.  It was kind of neat to see a simple game that just used lights to play.


I think I’ve played every Simpsons arcade game, even Simpsons Bowling, so I was glad to play this soccer game, too.  It’s your typical arcade kicking soccer ball game, except there is a statue of Homer that acts as the goalie.  He’ll move left and right, and if you hit him with the ball, he’ll say “D’oh” or other Homer-ish quips.


Back in the 70s and early 80s, arcades had a lot of physical entertainment games instead of them being all digital.  Some examples would be foosball, air hockey, Skee-Ball, shooting galleries, etc.  So it was interesting to see this modern remote controlled NASCAR racing game there at Dave & Busters.


Another trend I’ve noticed at these places are lots of arcade versions of games that were originally on cell phones and other mobile devices!  But as I said earlier, these arcade versions had big bright screens, interesting cabinets and neat artwork.  They even had an arcade Angry Birds!  Although this one was a little different.  You viewed the action from a first person perspective and used a slingshot controller to fire the birds.  It was a little hard to get the trajectory right, though, and you only got three chances, but at least it was a little different.


The Cut the Rope arcade cabinet was interesting looking, and right beside it was a new Frogger game.  I was disappointed in that one, though, because you just pushed one button for the frog to hop up as far as it could for tickets.  I wish it were more like the old Frogger game.


And yes they even had an arcade version of Candy Crush!


There were many arcade games that I played that I didn’t take pictures of.  Many were other cell phone arcade games like Doodle Jump, Crossy Road, and some piano game where you mashed on a giant keyboard to repeat what was on screen.  Speaking of Crossy Road, the same folks who made that game also made Pac-Man 256, which is a fun little game and I think would be a great arcade entry.  I also played Pac-Man Battle Royale, but I’ve talked about that in a previous blog and since it’s been out for more than five years, it’s a bit more commonplace now.

And that’s all I played at Dave & Busters!  My only problem is the lack of new content, since most of the cabinets were versions of cell phone games or console titles.  But I still enjoyed myself and it was the first time in a long while that I had fun at a modern arcade.  Let me know if you have any questions about what I played in the comments section!  Later!  –Cary

One Response to “Bustin’ Ghosts at Dave & Busters”

  1. Luigi’s Mansion arcade sounds great. I haven’t been to DnB in a while. I’m glad to see a lot of new stuff there. I may have to check it out again sometime soon.

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