Upstate New York, Where Old Arcade Machines Go to Retire?

We saw a lot of interesting things during our road trip, but one of the more memorable ones for me personally were some old arcade machines at a couple of rest stops in upstate New York.

At one of the first stops we made on our way to Cortland, Sloatsburg Travel Plaza, there was an old Whirlwind pinball machine circa 1990. When I saw this machine I was amused enough to take a photo, but didn’t think too much of it.

Whirlwind Pinball Machine

Later, on our way to Niagara Falls from Cortland, we stopped at Ontario Travel Plaza and saw this:

Games at Ontario Travel Plaza

After seeing Whirlwind, I was wondering if this rest stop might have another pinball machine. What I didn’t expect to find was one of my favorite pinball machines ever, one that I have thought about a lot over the years, one whose soundtrack I still hum at random moments.

World Cup Soccer Pinball Machine

My first job as a teenager was at a video game company. In the break room, we had free, unlimited soda (which was a big deal to my teenage self), and this pinball machine: World Cup Soccer, by Bally. It was set on free play so whenever I had a chance, I’d go in there to play a round or two. I’ve never been very good at pinball, which meant that I would always play sparingly in order to save my quarters. With this machine on free play, however, it didn’t matter that I would always lose ball 3 too quickly. I could play over and over, and I did. I played it so much that even now, when I get excited about something, I might start humming the music that plays when you first start the game. It’s a really catchy and gets-you-up-and-going sort of tune:

After my job ended, I never saw another World Cup Soccer pinball machine. Imagine my excitement and glee when I saw it again, at a lonely rest stop of all places! I really could not contain myself. I was blabbering uncontrollably to JC, who couldn’t understand what the big fuss was about. I got to actually play it again after 16 years. Wow. Even now, it’s kind of unbelievable to me, being able to relive a page from adolescence. How appropriate that I would encounter this machine during our Adventure 2012.

After playing World Cup Soccer, playing the Neo Geo next to it seemed less exciting. It had almost been as long since I had last touched a Neo Geo machine, but I suppose there isn’t as significant a backstory to it as World Cup Soccer. Still, it did make me wonder: I don’t see any classic arcade machines for years, and when I do, they’re within miles of each other in the same state. Perhaps someone in the New York State Thruway Authority is an enthusiast of old arcade machines? If that’s true, then I want to say to that person, thank you very much!

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