Frogger, Marble Madness: Video game enthusiasts take over Gallery Nucleus

Normally, the Southern California Classic Collectors host parties in a member’s backyard, running power lines all about the yard to their personal arcade cabinets. But last weekend the video game enthusiasts chose an Alhambra art gallery. 

Classic arcade cabinets — with games like Frogger, Marble Madness and Dragon’s Lair — crammed Main Street’s Gallery Nucleus on March 5. Attendees arrived from throughout Southern California and beyond: Some of the sellers came from Barstow; a fan drove from San Diego, a console modder from the Central Valley. For one day the art gallery brought back a time when a quarter could buy a few minutes of digital fun.

It was a sensory overload in the dark room, the only light sources coming from the cabinets and crazy noises echoed through the room. Nobody made eye contact.

“Hi, I’m from the Alhambra Source.”“Uh huh,” they would murmur.

There were enthusiasts, hobbyists, and console modders (who tweak with the hardware on old gaming consoles). Robert Bernardo, who came from Visalia, was sitting behind a tower of consoles and had in front of him a Commodore 64, an eight-bit computer. The technology is 30 years old, but it did not seem to faze him one bit. Bernardo, a reading teacher in a public school, works on video arcades as a hobby. He was attempting to get a mod of Guitar Hero, a relatively new game, to run on the old console. He began to type out commands on the keyboard of the Commodore 64 and finally he got it going.

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