Not unlike Ferris Bueller, I spent my day off in Chicago having an unheard amount of fun with 2 of my friends (powet forum regulars TheOrange and Phil Bond). First up was GameWorks. Instead of tokens or quarters they use some weird card system that depending on the day will subtract either points or time after you swipe into your cabinet of choice. As advanced and cool as this sound, the system was DOWN when we arrived and so all we could do was stare at the Mario Kart arcade machine. A helpful attendant gave a free play while we waited for the card system to be fixed and we sat down to enjoy some MK action. The action was less than spectacular. We were not impressed and realized we were missing nothing by not having a machine closer to home. Then the card system was working again so we gave the game another go. Wow. What a difference. After adjusting to the controls and weapons system a little bit we were having a great time. We tried most of the tracks and the ultimate conclusion is if these tracks and weapons don't make it into the Revolution Mario Kart it'll be a shame. Elsewhere in GameWorks, my friends tried Guitar Freaks, a precursor to the PS2 hit Guitar Hero. This game actually did suck, as it lacked any licensed music and controlled a lot simpler. We had to hop out of there and head for another arcade, Nickel City, for the Soul Calibur III regional tournament. Powet forum regular Phil Bond has been in Soul Calibur tournaments for longer than the site has been around, and though Chicago hosts some of the best players in the world, this was to be a great learning experience. Nickel City charges $2 to get in and then after that none of the games take quarters or tokens, just nickels. Dropping 8 coins into the Mario Kart machine there felt like a lot but for only 40 cents a play it wasn't bad. In the back of the arcade there was 2 rows of Free-Play machines. Older games, but still some really good stuff. Mortal Kombat 1, Killer Instinct 2, a half dozen variations of Street Fighter, TMNT the arcade game, Ms. Pac-Man, Tetris... yeah it was really worth the $2 to get in there to play all these games until you got tired. I got a bag of nickels and ended up only really spending it on San Fransisco Rush 2049, which I've got on dreamcast in a closet somewhere. It was a real throwback to about 6 years ago. After a breif intermission at a Chinese Buffet and JToy (an import shop formerly located in the Japanese supermarket Mitsuwa), we retired to TheOrange's apartment. There we played some real Guitar Hero, Mario Kart and Meteos on DS, and I got to see what Halo 2 looks like on an xbox 360 (cleaner graphics, higher frame rate!). It was the most sunrise-to-sunset gaming I'd done a long, long while. Why haven't we done this before?