08 Sep CHASING GHOSTS: ARCADE GAMES GET NEW LIFE
I made it onto the high-score list of Ms. Pac Man at a little bar I frequented in the southern fried rock town of Athens, Georgia. It isn’t even much of a humble brag. I think I was the only one feeding it quarters on a Friday night. It was one of the table style games where you could look down on it as you play, and the velvet wall hanging of an Afro Princess would glance down on me as I sat there. I would play through two vodka tonics, chasing frantically after flashing ghosts and bananas being certain to not blast through any lives on the way through the first few levels.
Last year brought vintage gaming back to mainstream culture in a big way. 8Bit and pixels were a popular design aesthetic. Think back to the days of Sega Genesis and SNES and you start to get the idea. It snuck back into pop culture and we fondly remembered those long hours chasing mushrooms and trying to save the princess. People were digging in their parents’ attics to find old hardware.
There was another movement growing right alongside the resurgence of old video games. A rare breed, some kind of interesting hybridization of Arcade and Bar, began popping up in cities all over. The walls lined with sewer action of TMNT, and the finishing moves of Scorpion in Mortal Kombat, each one a wooden time capsule from the past. From fun fair food offerings of corn dogs and fried Oreos to Jenga and Magic 8 Balls, they offer a delightful quirkiness.
This is sure to be the hipster interpretation of Dave and Busters, minus the awful Vegas-esque style décor and overcooked chicken tenders. Those were fun after the little minions left for their ten o’clock curfew. Below are our top 5 favorite “Bar Arcades” from coast to coast. So pull up a seat, play some Battletoads, and order another Moscow Mule.
Our favorite Bar + Arcades
Barcade – NYC
Ground Control – Portland, OR
EightyTwo – Los Angeles
Joystick – Atlanta, GA
Atlas Arcade – Washington, DC
Get lost in a whirling trance of nostalgia, but make sure you bring a fat stack of quarters or some crisp ones for that finicky coin machine. While we’ve grown quite accustomed to our at home entertainment and gaming consoles, there’s something really special about getting out and enjoying those wooden cabinet games with friends. Time to back up that smack you’ve been talking.