• Cassie

Ch-Ch-Ch Changes

Updated: Mar 22, 2018

Collectors have dreams about finding that mint condition game of their youth, neatly tucked away in a forgotten storage unit all untouched and totally original. However, most of the classic arcade games we love and seek out as collectors have been altered and changed. This for people who may not know is called a "conversion". When a game stopped making money for an operator, many companies would sell conversion kits to turn that old unprofitable Dig Dug (or whatever) into something new that would hopefully make money for the owner of the game. Operators, arcade owners, and vending route people didn't care that your lusting over a dead mint Tac-Scan in the future would make you have nightmares when they turned the game into some crappy 80's fighter. The silver lining in all of this is sometimes these games, due to the talent and diligence of collectors, can be converted back to their original glory. For some games however it's just too late. I decided to take a quick poke around Craigslist and Ebay ads over the USA to find some of these converted games.

Let us start with a personal hell for me, with one of my favorite games of all time, and in my personal opinion one of the best looking cabinets in arcade history. What was once the classic Atari arcade game Crystal Castles, now a crappy pool game.

Formally a Xenophobe, a game that was often converted. I guess no one loved Xenophobe enough to keep it around.

I do love some Golden Axe action. With most of the original Xenophobe side art still there, this one could be restored if someone wanted to. This cabinet just looks very goofy when converted into anything.

Yeap another Xenophobe. At least Final Fight is a pretty good game.

Stargate. You can just see the original red paint peeking from under the black sides.

The dungeon crawling classic, Gauntlet. Now a terrible football game from the 90's.

I've seen a lot of Gauntlets converted to Crime Fighters in my time.

Former Gorf, with some of the original elements still there. Someone tried to redo the original side art but made it way too large.

Another former Gorf, this one still has the proper bezel and joystick.

Data East's classic Karate Champ, now a terrible conversion.

The unique cabinet for Atari/Namco's Xevious is hard to hide. That looks like fabric used to cover up the art above the monitor.

Sega's Pengo is I feel, a bit of an underrated classic. This Pengo has been turned into the 80's sub par wrestling game Mat Mania. OH YEAHHHH!! Nothing says hard core wrestling like that Pengo original baby blue paint.

Millipede, one of Atari's most beautiful cabinets has been turned into a very poorly done multi-cade. They didn't even bother to do a decent control panel layout.

The side art lives on for this former Centipede, so not all is lost.

Either a former Centipede, Dig Dug, or Kangaroo. These sturdy Atari early 80's cabinets were favorites for conversions. This Street Fighter looks like it has lived a very hard life.

Looks like a Track and Field or a Hyper Sports to me, or at least it was. Both button smashing classics. Hey it's another wrestling game now!

Former Stern Tazz Mania cabinet, a very rare game.

Hard to miss this shape, it's a former Atari Tempest. Looks like some of the original control panel is peeking out from under the generic one. I love Shinobi but I wish it was still a Tempest.

"I feel so empty inside", says former Zaxxon. Me too, buddy... me too.

Classic "Atari System 1" cabinet that would have housed either Marble Madness, Road Blasters, Road Runner, Temple of Doom, or Peter Pack-rat originally. The angle of that steering wheel looks very uncomfortable.

Pacific Novelties cabinet, probably either a Thief or a NATO Defense. Not exactly classics, but a pretty rare cabinet.

Former Domino Man, a cult classic and a much desired game by hard core collectors. This was the somewhat follow up to Tapper and Timber.

AH! The pain! A classic Nintendo Punch Out has been converted to a run of the mill Arch Rivals! I can't imagine a worse conversion for a classic Nintendo cabinet.

My eyes! They burn! Former Donkey Kong style Nintendo cabinet painted with about 45 layers of dark blue paint and turned into a Multi-cade. Love that all black marquee also, super E Ah! Kill it with fire! They even painted the freaking coin door blue. The goggles, they do nothing!


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