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Land of Oz, 2500 Decker Boulevard (Decker Mall): 1986   21 comments

Posted at 1:27 am in Uncategorized

Actually, this might not be Land of Oz as I can't remember if that was at both Bush River & Decker Malls, or only at Bush River with this being another operation. Whatever the name, it was definitely the Decker Mall video arcade though.

In its current incarnation, it has had somewhat "regular" doors retrofitted into the distinctive flat-arch entranceway, but originally, I believe they just drew a sliding mesh curtain at nights.

The layout I most remember had Don Bluth's pioneering "Dragon's Lair" console dead center in the entranceway facing the hall. This game was a combination of traditional hand-drawn "cel" animation served up from a laser-disc (not a DVD!) and choose-your-adventure gameplay with the transition between the scenes being guided by the game-play lever. For instance, if a dragon was about to fry your knight, and you raised your shield, the disc would transition to a "flame bounces off shield" scene, if you didn't raise it, it would transition to an "the ashes of your character blow away scene" (those are just examples, I don't recall the actual specifics). Actually like many "pioneering" technologies, it wasn't that good because they were pushing the video scene changing tech further than it was really ready to go, and the transitions were really clunky.

If you turned left at "Dragon's Lair", there was a "Bezerk" somewhere in the left side of the store. This was the pushy game that would in "attract mode" declare "COIN DETECTED IN POCKET" from time to time. You had to either shoot the robots or run them into the electric walls. I liked it, but wasn't that good.

Somewhere against the back wall, I think was "Battlezone" a vector-graphics based POV tank game. You had two levers, one for each tank tread, and you could spin in place by running one tread fowards and the other tread backwards. I usually ended up fooling around with navigating the tank and getting shot.

I don't recall any more of the layout, but they definitely also had "Asteroids", "Space Invaders","Tempest", "Defender" (which I could not play at all -- too many things to keep track of), "Milipede", and "Missle Command". I suppose they must have had "Pac Man/Ms Pac Man", but I don't really recall it. I'm prettty sure they did not have some of my other favorites, "Star Castle", "Galaxian", "Phoenix", "Gorf", and "Joust", or my all-time favorite, "Galaga". Of course, it could just be that when I was in college, I went to Robos instead of here and thus missed the gradual turnover.

I'm not really sure when they closed. The mall underwent a long gradual decline that accelerated into death-spiral when Kroger and Target pulled out, but I think they were gone before that, probably late 80s I'm guessing.

UPDATE 18 June 2012: The last city directory listing Land of Oz is 1986, so I have updated the closing time in the post title from "1980s" to "1986".

Written by ted on July 22nd, 2009

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