At the end of May 2018, I was on holiday on the island of Crete, Greece.
I had an amazing time overall, but there was one thing that stood out about it compared to other holidays I've been on- I saw just one arcade game.
Usually, I find some time to check out the nearby arcades whenever I'm staying in another place, but Greece was different. In 2002, all arcade games were banned entirely, after some machines were being illegally converted for gambling.
Everything fell under it- even racing, lightgun, and dance games. The arcade scene there died entirely, and even with a repealing of the law some years later after much criticism by the arcade and gaming industry, arcades in Greece never recovered.
So, I went into this holiday expecting to get away from everything- even one of my main interests in life. But to my surprise, I found one solitary arcade machine at the resort I was staying at- a broken and battered twin Sega Touring Car Championship.
Sega Touring Car, for those who don't know, is one of Sega's many arcade racers from the 90's. It ran on the Model 2 hardware, like Daytona USA and Sega Rally before it- but unlike those two games, it never received a sequel on the Model 3.
Because of this, it isn't quite as well remembered- and the people who do know of it usually associate Touring Car with it's Saturn port, which is pretty infamous for it's poor quality graphics and terrible handling compared to Sega Rally.
In fact, it could be argued that even the arcade version is a poorer game compared to Sega's other arcade racers- despite a cheesy Eurobeat soundtrack that predates Initial D Arcade Stage's use of one, there just isn't much character in it, and the gameplay feels nowhere near as tight as Daytona.
But, anyway- the machine was located in a very small games room next to the bar, with it being the only reminder of anything resembling a video game there, sandwiched between claw machines and a whack-a-mole game.
It was clear from when I first saw it, that the machine had been subject to a lot of use. The marquee lights had blown, the screens were converted to LCD, seat decals were torn, no sound seemed to be coming out, and the right side didn't appear to be working at all.
This wasn't a good indication that the game would even be playable at all- but still, I paid the 50 cent price a few times to have a few shots at it. Of course. I didn't get far.
Once playing the game, I soon realised something was clearly wrong with the gas pedal. Even with putting my foot down on it hard, it wouldn't go as fast as it could. The force feedback was either ridiculously strong, or not even working. The gear shifter wasn't even safe, as it turned out to be a game of chance finding out if you'd changed gears or not after moving it.
The furthest I ended up getting was the second course, and while I'm not the best at this game, I have done much better on it than that on a machine in Skegness. With the cab in terrible condition, I didn't play it much afterwards, but I would always pass it on my way to the bar, or to the restaurant.
Every time I saw Touring Car afterwards, I couldn't believe how just sad the machine looked. No-one was playing it, only kids climbing on the seats and pretending to drive. Only one attempt was made to fix the right side- and nothing appeared to have changed afterwards.
The machine will likely never even be bought and restored by someone back to it's former glory, with very little interest in arcades in Greece, and of course the overall opinion on Touring Car too. I couldn't help but feel kind of sorry for it- yes, really, feeling sorry for an arcade machine!
To me, this twin racing machine embodies the complete decline arcade games had during the 2000's. They may as well have been banned here too- more arcades than ever have no games to speak of, just redemption and claw machines.
I'm going off on a depressing tangent here to be honest, but that's what it did actually feel like in a few arcades I visited in Skegness, where there weren't even any racing or shooting games.
The final day of the holiday soon came, and I decided to have one last play on the game. It was still broken as ever, but I tried to enjoy it a bit more by listening to the game's Eurobeat soundtrack on my phone- because as I mentioned before, the sound wasn't working.
Leaving the island, I was half expecting to find a similarly broken arcade machine at the Crete airport- but there wasn't even one there.
Why I cared so much about this old, broken arcade game in a hotel, I don't know- but as one of the last of an already very dead breed in the country of Greece, I thought I should give it some service it deserved- even if the game wasn't a particularly good one.
My opinion hasn't changed on Sega Touring Car- I still think it's inferior to Sega's other arcade racers, but this game means a little more to me after this holiday, which I definitely wasn't expecting to happen going into it.
So, that brings me to the end of this blog post. I wasn't planning to do this originally, but I just wanted to let out everything about this machine- I had already spoke about it on my Twitter, but I felt it deserved a whole write-up of it's own. Anyway, thanks for reading, I hope you enjoyed it.