Though accounts differ on the "golden age of video games," most historical accounts place it roughly in the late 1970s with the appearance of "Space Invaders," "Asteroids" and "Pac-Man."


While these games were fine, my favorite arcade game to play was "Galaga." I spent countless hours and a small fortune in quarters playing this game at the various arcades in Topeka.


Though these arcades now exist only in my memory, I fondly recall walking, riding my bike and eventually driving to these places to spend money and time with my friends. Places like Showbiz Pizza, Little Italy, Golddiggers and Aladdin’s Castle provided an opportunity to see people and to be seen by others.


On other occasions, I might meet up with friends or jump into a car with some buddies as we made our way around town. The sights and sounds of the arcade provided endless stimulation while I tried my best to set new high scores on the games or to achieve a personal best on the different machines.


Recent films and television shows like Adam Sandler’s "Pixels" and "Stranger Things" have introduced younger generations to these games. Now with tablets and smartphones, I can download virtually any video game to my devices. While the graphics might be even better than the original and the game play free, it is still not the same as the arcade experience.


I enjoy playing "Galaga" on my iPad, but still not have found the same level of comfort or enjoyment as I did playing in the arcade.


Within the past 10 years, I have seen some arcades re-emerge in Topeka, Lawrence and Kansas City. Last year, I took my kids to one arcade where they had the chance to play some games they had normally only played on consoles like PlayStation. It whet my appetite for the "real thing."


A couple of weeks ago, the holiday catalog from Best Buy arrived in the mail. One of the items that caught my eye was the "Pacman" 40th Anniversary Edition Arcade Machine. Knowing my kids enjoyed "Pac-Man," I found myself more excited the game included "Galaga."


When the huge box arrived on my doorstep, I found the task of assembling the machine daunting. Even more challenging was how to hide the fact I had purchased this machine from my kids. Thankfully, the game arrived when I was alone in my apartment. I opened the box and hid the components from my family until I had the chance to spend a few evenings assembling it.


I nearly held my breath as I turned in the machine for the first time. Seeing the banner "Pac-Man" banner light up and hearing the familiar sounds of both "Pac-Man" and "Galaga" gave me chills.


It has been in nearly constant use in the last couple of weeks, though I have admirably resisted spending all my free time trying to achieve 200,000 points on the game. Hearing the various sounds of "Galaga" has proved quite nostalgic: the firing of bullets, the captured ship, the challenging stages, all bring me back to my adolescence.


If I need to shelter for the next few months, at least I have "Pac-Man" and "Galaga" to keep me company.


Nicolas Toledo Shump is a longtime educator and writer in northeast Kansas. He can be reached at nicshump@gmail.com.