A Visit to a Soviet-era Arcade
Connal Hughes and Anjel Van Slyke made their way to the Museum of Soviet Arcade Machines in Moscow, and documented their experience in great detail -- with photos and descriptions of every game (including some videos). The museum is located in a Stalin-era bomb shelter with a reinforced blast door, and is rarely open (the article says it's open two or three times a week, and not until 7:30pm). You pay $10 and are led into what is literally an underground game parlor, to witness amazing creations like this:
Here's what Hughes wrote about it:
We didn’t actually play this next game. It was really hard to figure out and seemed to somehow involving knowing and choosing correct traffic signs. After the fact we learned that “?????????” (viktorina) translates to “quiz” – in this case one involving traffic signs. Exactly what it looked like.
Many of the games are partially mechanical and partially electronic -- arcade games in the classic sense, though I didn't see any pinball machines. There are a few pure video games in the bunch (including a variant on Pong). But I enjoyed this baffling tank game apparently called Tankodrome (?????????). Hughes writes: "Either it wasn’t working right or we just couldn’t figure it out."
There's tons more to the story, and it's a well-written adventure. Check it out -- trust me, you'll enjoy this. You can also check out the museum's website (here's the English version). Don't miss the Flash version of "Sea Battle."