My Life in Quarters: Cosmic Alien

The following is a work of fiction.

The Winter of 1980 was an especially painful one. After losing my grandmother to cancer just weeks before Christmas, there was an understandable cloud looming over the Holiday season.

I had also managed to fail both Chemistry and Geometry that semester. My folks, in their infinite collective parental wisdom felt the logical explanation for my sudden academic decline was the amount of time I was spending at Space Port. Of course the amount of quarters I had been spending didn’t help matters much either.

The real reason , unbeknownst to them, was the broken heart I had suffered at the hands of Maggie Sommers. She had come into my life after the whole Carmen Rosedale debacle, and for the better, I felt. That was of course until she decided that things weren’t going to work out and determined that the best way to express this to me was by kissing my nemesis Alvin Chalmers in the lunchroom.

My “Sommer” of love ended in a fall of disappointment and humiliation.

Something that I knew could be easily remedied by a good night of gaming. The only problem was that there hadn’t been any new cabinets to hit the scene in months. Space Port was proving unceremoniously underwhelming with a stock of cabs that had begun to grow stale.

Even GameHaven in the Harmondale mall the next town over was not sating my gaming appetite.

I needed a break from reality, even if only for a few fleeting quarters, with no respite in sight.

That is until the rumors began to circulate that some new flashy cabinet had managed to fly in under the radar and land at the Valley Vine Bowling Alley. It was all very hush hush and few had even seen the thing, let alone knew the name of the game.

I had heard that “Stoney” was already bragging that he had set the current high score. Knowing him, this was a bunch of baloney, but if it were true he was mid-level at best. With just a few minutes I should be able to overtake any score he managed to slot and enjoy some well-deserved kudos. Which was more than enough to get me out of this funk and feeling right as rain again.

So I decided to sneak out and check the scene.

Getting out of the house didn’t prove too difficult, and by the time I had made it off of my block I was already feeling better. I was festooned with excitement over the prospect of playing a new cab, especially one that was still untapped and practically begging to be mastered.

By the time I got to the double-V, the night was just beginning to kick, and there was a good deal of girls on the lanes. But there would be time for that later, for now I had a date of a grander kind.

The double-V was a convoluted mess as far as machine placement was concerned. But it was a no smoking establishment which made it an ideal spot for a young guy with asthma who planned on sticking for at least a couple hours. However finding one’s way through the labyrinthine corridors between cabinets was almost reason enough to write the place off completely.

It took me at least 25 minutes to finally locate the crowd I was sure encapsulated the new cabinet. “Stoney” was on hand as one of the onlookers, so was Carlos and his cousin Gordy. I managed to shimmy my way into position to get a look at what all of the hubbub was about. At first I couldn’t believe my eyes. I had to look around the semi-circle at all of the other faces just to be certain of what I was witnessing.

All of the effort it had taken to get there that night; all of the hopes I had for some alleviation of the pain and anguish and boredom and frustration and sorrow I was feeling; all of the murmurs and whispers around town about this new awesome cabinet only to find out that it was Cosmic Alien.

Just another in a long line of Space Invader clones; I had already played Cosmic Alien a month earlier when I was visiting my Uncle Chaz over in Clairmont. It wasn’t a bad game by any stretch of the imagination, perfectly serviceable in fact.

However considering Galaxian just hit earlier that year I was hoping for something new. And the fact that none of these chumps seemed to realize the similarities between Cosmic Alien and Galaxian, a cooling cab on the other side of town in Space Port I was all the more upset and let down.

What a waste of time.

space invaders arcade

But I decided not to let the night go to waste and instead found my way over to the old Space Invaders machine. It seemed like a relic now, relegated to the darkest recesses of an already cavernous room. But gosh darn if it wasn’t still a great game.

It felt good falling back into the groove of a well-worn and much-beloved game. Before I knew it I had forgotten all about what ailed me and even had a good laugh the couple of times I had heard Stoney, over the din of the crowd, exclaim that games would never be the same after Cosmic Alien.

I had a good mind to show him what for, but I decided I would let him and all the others have their time in the sun on a game that would no doubt fade quickly. For now, I was happy saving a world I felt infinitely more comfortable spending time in.

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