Editor's Choice

Editor's Choice
Albert's Arcade

Pat Miller | 24 Feb 2009 13:18
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Enter Keystone II, also known as "Albert's Arcade," an exclusive spot secreted in the suburban depths of Mountain View where all the top players come to play. Get your name on the guest list - you have to know somebody who knows somebody - and you can bump shoulders with the best on a set of authentic homemade arcade cabinets, drink cheap beer and play Street Fighter late into the night. Your host is one Albert Carmona, a big man with a smile that's just waiting to hustle you out of a couple bucks in some late-night money matches.

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"When I first moved to where Keystone II is currently located, I saw the garage and thought this would be a really cool place to put a few arcade machines," Albert says. "So I did just that. I went down to San Jose Golfland, which is just down the street, and bought two U.S. cabs from them. Keep in mind, I had no intention of having a ton of people playing at my house or even the Keystone name at that time. I just wanted to drink beer and have a couple of friends over to play Street Fighter. I guess word of mouth got around when I started posting on SRK and KS2 took off. More and more people starting coming over and I bought more equipment to accommodate them."

Keystone II is located in a separate garage that is part of Albert's backyard. While it looks fairly cramped from the outside - not much more than a slightly oversized tool shed, really - it's surprisingly roomy. There are about twelve people milling about inside, some playing Street Fighter III: Third Strike, others on Capcom vs. SNK 2 and still others on Marvel vs. Capcom 2. Albert is watching the now-legendary "Iron Mic" viral video on the PC in the corner, and someone tells me that it's been playing on repeat for weeks. Outside, a few more players are smoking cigarettes and sucking on drinks from the pile of liquor on a picnic table. Surrounded by the alcohol is a tip jar where people contribute to help out with Albert's utilities - unless you're a top player, you come bringing cash or booze.

Carmona built all the hardware at Keystone II himself with very high quality parts - if he had purchased that kind of equipment it would have run him a small fortune. "People are often surprised to find out that everything in KS2 is consolized," Albert says. "The advantage over actual arcade hardware is that you can easily switch games and it's a lot less expensive. I gotta give myself props for figuring out how to do all that stuff by my lonesome. People usually can't tell it's not arcade hardware unless I tell them."

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