I have been back to The Last Arcade on the Planet twice from when this original story was written and Juan has done a great job of fixing the minor issues that I had with some of the machines and he has added a few new games to the mix. There was some controversy about my review and my intention was to be honest about my experience the first time I went. I’ve talked to both Juan and Satu about the story and everyone is fine. They have an awesome place and they are super nice people who have the same passion for classic video games as myself. I have not edited the original story below from when it was published on November 20th 2013.
Last Saturday night I went to The Last Arcade on the Planet after I had heard about it from some people at the SC3 get together the week before. Juan Sanchez and Satu Vuorenmaa have a warehouse of over 50 arcade machine that they own and every few months they host a “public” party that you can RSVP to and for five bucks you get to play as many game as you want because they are free to play. Being that this was the first time that I had attended I made sure that I got there early so I could find the place to park. It’s in an industrial area right off of Grand Ave just south of Edinger in Santa Ana. By getting there a little early I was able to take some great pictures of a lot of the machines with the lights still on. They have a good selection of games from the late 1970’s through the 1990’s and they even had a few pinball machines. They have so pretty rare game there. The Discs of Tron non enclosed version is the less produced version. Jungle King is not often seen because the estate of Edgar Rice Burroughs sued Taito because it was too much like Tarzan so they had to change it. Lunar Lander is another unusual game because it didn’t sell that well for Atari. The Mr. Do! is unusual because it’s in a Universal cabinet and most of the Mr. Do! were kits put in other machines. He also had a Donkey Kong 3 that bombed and so there are not a lot of them out there. He also has a very rare I, Robot from Atari that was the first 32 bit arcade game and cost about $8000 at the time it was released. The joystick was a Hall Effect Joystick that was unusual at the time. It was a nice cross section of games available to play and I’m sure that there are games that you know and some that you have never seen before.
The machines were in pretty good shape for their age but there were some problems with some of the machines that I noticed. A number of the vector games had some monitor distortion in the corners that needed to be adjusted. The control panels were loose on a couple of machines (Rastin and Tron). Battle Zone screen was too dark and needed to be set a bit higher. The F-14 Tomcat pinball ball got stuck in a kicker and the kicker died. A number of the games difficulty levels were set to hard and needed to be adjusted. The 720 joystick ring was missing. While there were some issues a lot of the machines were in very good shape and I don’t want you to think that there a lot of problems with the machines. The vast majority were in good shape considering their age. It just seemed that some of them needed a little more TLC to get them to tip-top shape. So the theme of the party was Thundarr the Barbarian and some people dressed up for it. They had catered food for sale outside and you could bring your own drinks but they were only allowed inside if they were covered. Some people brought liquor but everyone was super calm and I did not see that there were any problems with it. In fact everyone was very calm out front. They had a DJ playing 80’s tunes that seemed like a good idea. That was until he started to play the music. It was WAY TOO LOUD. Look I’m a huge fan of 80’s music but when you can’t even hear the games you are playing and after I left my ears were ringing for an hour or so and that was not good. I noticed that one guy had put cotton in his ears and now I know why. The DJ was quite good but just too loud and kind of ruined the mood of playing the games which is what it should be about. If I go again I will definitely put in some ear plugs but will be bummed that I can’t actually hear the game I am playing but it’s better than getting ear damage.
Overall I had a good time but there is definitely room for improvement. There was more good than bad and the chance to play some great classic games is so rare today that makes this a must go to for any classic gamer. At $5.00 admission is an amazing deal and Satu and Juan were super nice host. There were over 100 people who came down and while it got a little crowded at times and hard to walk between the machines at times. I got bumped into a lot when it was at the peak and while people didn’t do it on purpose there was a few that did not excuse themselves. While no one was rude I just think that you should still be courteous to other people. The age range was from young to old and there were a lot of women that was nice to see because usually its guys who go to these type of events. I did notice that a lot of people would start a game and then just leave it and that was a little strange. It’s so rare to get to play any arcade games now that it’s great that Juan and Satu have graciously open there collection to let other people enjoy them. While I had some minor quibbles the overall night was great.
Here are the pictures that I took of the machines and the party.
Here are some picture of the layout of the games in the warehouse.
And finally after the light went down and the party started.