Haven't been to a real arcade in a long time.
We’ve gone to a dozen kids parties that featured an arcade section or seen a few cabinets in the corner of a theater, most either have a cash slot or run on the new card reader systems. Don’t get me wrong, the new card system is great for keeping track of tickets earned and keeping track of all your tokens/coins. However, it’s just not the same as having a handful of tokens and a fistful of paper tickets at the end of the trip.
Tonight we took the kids to a place called Pinballz in Austin. This is their northern location which features a bar/restaurant as well as an entire other side with a mini go-kart track. Cody had gone to a work event at this place and thought the kids would enjoy going to an arcade similar to the ones we grew up with. The key figure of this place is their working section of vintage games and pinball machines. Our boys had never played a pinball machine before and it was fun watching them try to figure out the concept of the flippers and keeping an eye on where the ball was. Most of the pinball games were about a dollar to play, some of the simpler ones were less.
There is also a section of gaming cabinets, whose games my kids have played just not with joysticks and buttons. Most of them only cost fifty cents to play which was also nice considering how the modern games, here and at other places, run a couple dollars per play easy. The boys are used to playing games where there is an ending or a final boss to defeat, these old games were all designed to eat quarters while you attempted to beat somebody else’s high score. I find it funny that these old quarter eaters work on the same system as modern “pay to play” mobile games.
Besides the fact that this place had a real restaurant in the back who served proper pizza (not that you know what pizza from you know where) and alcohol, most of the modern games gave out real live tickets for the prize booth. New games with card readers simply flash a number of tickets won which you scan at the counter to pick out your candy and bouncy ball. This place used an RFID card you could reload to pay for your games (including purchasing the physical tokens for the older games) but spat out the glorious roll of paper tickets. These were then loaded into a counting machine which gave you a Las Vegas-style voucher to cash in at the prize booth later. Completely worth the extra work to watch your nearly 3-year-old scream with glee as the fishing game unrolled the paper tickets that she held onto for half an hour.
When we were kids arcades were loud, smelly, and where the mall rats hung out while their parents were out shopping. There was always a wait and a row of tokens on the dash of the Tekken and DDR cabinets. I like that this place was relatively quiet and the lights weren’t down so far you couldn’t see the floor. We once went to an arcade in downtown Austin a billion years ago called Einstein’s Arcade I think, which was a couple of rows of cabinets from the doors to the back wall, and so crowded you couldn’t really get in or play anything.
Anyway, this place was really nice and the kids had fun playing videogames that required standing up and keeping up with a cup full of tokens. Oh and you can see from this skee ball pic there are cupholder stands ever so many feet around all the games so you can drink and play at the same time. If you have a local arcade nearby I encourage you to go once in a while. Those cabinet games and pinball cabinets will just end up in the trash otherwise.