"Take a look to the sky just before you die, it's the last time you will." Metallica/For Whom the Bell Tolls

The single most frustrating part of collecting arcade games has been the amount of maintenance it takes to keep them running. As a kid I had no idea how much time and effort was spent in keeping these machines running — then again back then when these machines were new, I suspect they weren’t quite so fragile.

Sometimes it’s the cold of winter that does them in; sometimes, the heat of summer. Moving them always makes me nervous. I can’t tell you how many machines I’ve bought in working condition in other states, only to have them arrive in Oklahoma, non-working. Sometimes it’s simply the aging process that does them in. That seems to have been Shinobi’s fate.

I paid somewhere around $200 for this machine, maybe 10 years ago. This is the third Shinobi machine I have owned. Shinobi boards have what is known as a suicide battery on them. You can read more about them here if you want, but all you really need to know is that when the battery dies, the game dies. With the first Shinobi machine I owned, the battery had leaked battery acid all over the PCB, killing the sound. The second (and nicest) of the three machines I own still works find, but I was so nervous about it dying that while at an auction, I picked up this machine. I’ve always referred to this one as my “spare” Shinobi.

Collectors are weird, I get it.

Because we moved and I don’t have the space, recently I put all of my games up for sale, including both Shinobi machines. I’m trying to get $250 for the nicer one and $200 for this one. Last night I went over to check on the machine and, wouldn’t you know it … it’s dead. Death by suicide battery, I think.

The drop dead date to be out of my storage unit is February 14th. With no time left for troubleshooting or working on machines, Shinobi had a hand in its own fate. I removed the remaining working parts (the monitor, the power supply, the control panel, and the coin door) and then … this happened.

This is me, smashing $200 and throwing it away.

So anyway, a funny thing happened last night. Before I could move this machine into the garage overnight for storage, I had to clean out a spot. One of the things in that spot was an old laptop case. I was just about to throw it away when I decided to check all the pockets. Inside the pockets I found three birthday/anniversary cards from 2003. That was the year Susan and I went to Vegas for our anniversary. One of the cards had $160 in cash inside it. A second card had $20 inside. A third one had a Target gift card with another $20 on it.

$200, the same amount as the cabinet I destroyed.

I took this as a sign from the universe that everything’s going to be okay.

Universe, don’t let me down.

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8 Responses to “Universe, Don’t Let Me Down”

  1. Pat Loisel says:

    Happy Universe Day!

  2. Commodore Computer Club says:

    Watching you smash the cabinet was awesome but also sad at the same time. I’m wondering why you didn’t try to unload just the cabinet for like $50.00 – $100.00 to someone local? Could have made a nice JAMMA cabinet or MAME machine.

    As for Shinobi and the suicide battery, I know you can replace the battery on Shinobi PCB’s. I did it many years ago on my Shinobi machine. I checked out the Dead Battery Society and see they confirm it can be done on all variations of the Shinobi PCB as well.

    Like you said, finding cash and gift cards around the same value you wanted for the machine is probably a sign that the universe is going to make things right.

  3. PapaStu says:

    Shoulda made it the most hideous MAME cabinet in the history of mankind….

  4. eduard says:

    Batteries on Amiga 4000 PCB’s had the same problem: leaks leading to malfunctions. I have replaced a couple of those batteries. I suppose you can do likewise on your arcade box.

  5. Rob says:

    @CCC: I have several working games that I haven’t been able to sell for $100, so getting that for an empty, non-working cab would be quite the feat. Living in an area where arcade games are next to worthless is both a blessing and a curse, depending on whether you’re a buyer or a seller.

    I have a working Shinobi, a working Rampart, and a working Road Blasters that I’m trying to get $100-$200 each for. I started them all around $250, dropped them to $200 (about what I paid for each of them), and am now down in the $100-$150 range. MAME and Multicades have killed the market for everyone but devout collectors.

  6. Dean says:

    Rob, may I offer you some advice for next time?

    1. lay it in its side. swinging that sledge hammer around like that isn’t big or clever. Unless your name is Thor!

    2. don’t break up cabinets on your driveway. $200 is just enough to cover the cost of a.new tire.

    3. since i discovered the “free” section on craigslist people seem to.haul off.anything you wanna put the word “free” next to, including arcade cabinets.

  7. bigdaddychester says:

    “You know who you are?….. Even Steven” – Cosmo Kramer

  8. Commodore Computer Club says:

    @Rob: If we were local to each other, I would pick up your machines in a heart beat, especially Rampart. I would love to own a Rampart machine.

    Multicades are nice, but like you I’m a devout collector and prefer the original cabinets… but not everyone has the space… ah the double edge sword it seems.

    I hope you get your machines sold. This might be a dumb question, but have you tried listing them on Craigslist in your area or on the KLOV forums?