Arcade & Barcade Reviews

Because of the pandemic, Arcades and Barcades nationwide have been either temporarily or permanently closed, while some offer limited patronage. That is why this will be the definitive list of Arcade Reviews, before many of the hangers-on have disappeared fully.

_Los Angeles & Orange County_

  • -

    Round1 , varies 5-10/10
    I have been to over four different Round1 Locations on the west coast. Feel free to include your own Round1 Reviews.
    It's usually a well-maintained chain that has a wide selection of various imports and the newest arcade games, Bemani representation (latest DDR, latest Beatmania, at least one Pop'n cabinet), Very Spacious, Clean bathrooms, customer service will adjust cabinet volume levels if you ask them to. Unlimited hourly token rate is a good deal if you play music games or the same game over and over. Depending on location they will have different games and they will be placed differently. I don't want to play Pop'n Music right next to the Guitar Hero cabinet.... Also! Private Kareoke rooms! This arcade chain is Japanese-owned! The plushie machines sometimes have very rare and expensive plushes from overseas, from licensed video games to independant artists!

  • -

    Family Amusement Corporation 7.9/10
    Located in East Hollywood on Vermont Ave. One of the last standing old school arcades in the city. Has a varied selection of new and old rarities. Darius Burst is a sight to behold. They have Daytona USA 2 hydraulic arcade set up with 2 seats, hydraulics only work on one side. Konami's Police 911 is a fun rail shooter with duck and dodge controlled by your body movement. They have that SEGA skateboard game, the Namco Mario Kart game, Pac Man Championship Edition, and air hockey in the back in a different room. A couple of their classic fighting games aren't on CRTs, which is unfortunate. Has the most broken machines on this list, but that's okay :)

  • -

    Santa Monica Pier, 2.2/10
    When I went to this arcade as a kid, it was slammin', but still on its way out unfortunately. It was absolutely the place to be back in the day. The last real games I scoped there was Street Fighter Alpha 2 and a beautiful Outrun 2 cabinet. It's always been a tourist trap but back in the day you had epic DDR tournaments happening. The last time I went, there was nothing of any interest, we ended up playing the Halo 4 player arcade game because it was big and stupid and comfy. They had Luigi's Mansion Arcade as well but only Shigeru Miyamoto and babies enjoy that game. Packed with tourists.

  • -

    James Games Arcade, Upland CA, 9.6/10
    Cute little family run arcade that hasn't changed much since the golden years. Owner is a kind old man, my friend has helped supply parts / repair his cabinets for years. Last I was there, they had a Beatmania IIIrd Mix or maybe 2nd Mix cabinet that was very fun to see for the first time. They have a long row of about 8 cabinets of the same multiplayer racing game that is linked together. It's a good one but I forget what it is. Lots of hand-drawn art decorating the place, by the owner's daughter. They have many neat little surprises here, it's often empty, there are stools to sit on, go check it out if they are open because they need the business!

  • -

    Button Mash, LA, 8.9/10
    I can't say much about the ownership of this barcade, but my buddy did work in the kitchen for a few years. They've had lots of great and rare cabinets; Super Punch-Out! with two working CRTs, Space Harrier, CAPCOM's Willow, Smash TV, Tempest, FOOD FIGHT! (my dad's favorite arcade game) Ninja Turtles.... They circulate their cabinets so every time I've been there, there's been something new. I went for a b-day party and saw a dude playing doubles with himself on DDR for the first time in 5 years. The resturaunt/bar is somewhat connected to the arcade portion, but it's around a corner so noise pollution is just right. The music wasn't too loud but the staff is friendly enough you could ask. The owner has his retro boom box collection on display, lots of classic models. Resturaunt has delicious food, vegan options available! Would give a 9/10 but the arcade space is somewhat small even though they do make the most of the space, without any dud arcade cabinets. Also, there is a table in the center of arcade space where they will serve your food if you want! Has cupholders on the sides of cabinets for drinks.

  • -

    Eighty Two 4.8/10
    If you look at a list of barcades in LA, this will always be at the top. However, it is far from the best. Located by the arts district and little tokyo, I have only ever had lukewarm experiences here. Let's start with the positives: Taco truck out back serves good, cheap food. There is a side room with a very nice selection of pinball that is immune to the noise pollution of the main space. It seems like pinball is the real attraction here. The games are regularly cycled, and they have pretty awesome selections at times. I've played Golden Axe II, and Outrun running inside a standup Outrunners cabinet. Unfortunately I could not enjoy the music in either, because around four o'clock, an annoyingly loud DJ starts playing bad music. You really can't hear a thing. This is a major problem in some barcades. It's hard to give this place a good score when my experience is wrecked every time by this. It's more of a crappy club that has arcade cabinets. there is a bouncer outside, 21+ only. I think the arcade games should be in the side room, and the pinball machines should be on the main floor. You don't need to hear the music in pinball machines as much. Standup driving cabinets like Outrun and Crazy Taxi hurts my knee so badly because I am tall, but that's not the arcade's fault I guess. They should have stools. The bar is cocktails only, always over $12 for a single drink that isn't very strong either.

  • -

    Two Bit Circus LA, 7.6/10
    Went to some kind of an indie showcase here, played Beat Saber and had a good time. Great food and beer on tap. Saw a weird show in a private exhibition hall. No classic games, just new ones. It had the weird Heavy Burger mashup by Data East.

  • _East Coast_

  • -

    Arcade Bar , 1/10
    Case example of the worst barcade experience I've had. All the arcade cabinets are bottom of the barrel/ standard stuff with one-and-a-half exceptions: working Smash TV cabinet, and a nonfunctioning Soul Caliber 1 cabinet (!!!??). Couldn't enjoy Smash TV though because this bar was PACKED shoulder to shoulder with college sorority students looking to "score" something besides points. No one plays games here. The arcade cabinets are merely furniture. It was quite literally shoulder to shoulder. Would have loved to play Soul Caliber 1 on an arcade setup for the first time, but it wasn't working. Did I wanna hang around to play Smash TV with uninterested students at my back? Heck no. Worst barcade, unless you can solo Smash TV and wanna come here to do it surrounded by unimpressed 20-somethings on coke.

  • -

    South of the Border Motor Inn, Dillon South Carolina, 6.5/10
    Stayed overnight at this picturesque abandoned amusement park with my dad and girlfriend back in 2012 on a road trip from Florida to Maine. Was pleasantly surprised to see a Taito minigame cabinet of 1994 vintage, as well as a beautifully preserved Tekken 2 arcade cabinet with a glorious CRT, graphics and sound were on point. The entire facility/ theme park was empty and trashy. This is the sort of stuff you only find in the middle of nowhere.

  • -

    East Towne Vape Lounge , 10/10
    While living in Knoxville for two years, I frequented this place. Located in the now closed East Towne Mall, the vape lounge was a cover, a facade for what lies within: a super epic arcade.
    The owners purchased what was once the Aladdin's Castle they both worked at. They set up a vape shop storefront and hosted smash tournaments regularly. I came to play Pop'n Music during smash tournaments every thursday. $10 all you can play all day! Alcohol served! Mall Food Court reasonably priced because Tennessee is a dang poor state!
    Cabinets they had were: Tetris Grand Master, Virtual-On sit down cabinet, Pop'n Music Omnimix, Pop'n Stage (?!?!), Drum Mania and Guitar Freaks III (linked up!), Dance Maniax 2nd (fully working!), Mirai Dagakki Future Tom Tom, and lots of PVM's, as well as home consoles with flash carts and HDD mods. I shant forget the epic DDR omnimix cabinet where many expert level doubles games were held as recently as 2017.

  • A Round1 opened up in a mall near where I live and it‘s pretty neat. They mostly have redemption games and lots of big, flashy racers or shooters. I mostly just went there to play Outrun 2, Daytona USA or this one pirate shooting game in an enclosed cockpit. Can’t remember the name but its pretty intense.

    I really liked the arcade at the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk. Recently they switched out a lot of their games for redemption machines as well which kind of sucks. But they still have a decent selection and even a "classic corner" with games like Mappy, Pac-Man and even Battlezone. They also have this drum machine that really just plays a selected song at an insane volume and let's you bang on the electronic kit that's hooked up to it. Hardly a game, but I would use to practice my drums haha.

    I went to this barcade in San Jose called Miniboss that was tons of fun. All classic games. they had a 6 player X-Men, Smash TV, and even a Punch Out. It was a blast until the Friday night crowd came in. Nothing against them, but the night life/club life really isn't my scene.

    And right before the pandemic hit this pinball bar opened up right around the corner from my house called Lynn's Arcade. It was destined to be my new hang out spot and I was ready to become a pinball wizard... Then boom. Global pandemic. The building is still there with all the signage so I hope they are able to open back up.

    @milo#16395 I have not played Daytona USA or Outrun 2 in an enclosed cabinet yet! (or Outrun 1, or Crazy Taxi, for that matter) Closest I‘ve come is sit-down-Pole Position. Sounds like a top tier Round 1 to me!! I also went to a Round 1 in the Mall in San Jose last winter, played Pop’n Music a bit, it was the busiest I‘ve ever seen a Round 1 before!

    I had lots of fun in SC as a teen, but after witnessing first hand the police brutality towards the unhoused communities and the original creator of Food Not Bombs in Santa Cruz and San Jose during my trip last year, I can say I’m not a fan of those areas anymore and they won't get a dime of my tourist dollars! Yikes! They came after me in both places, and I almost lost everything, twice!

    hmm ok.

    1) Round 1 - Southcenter - Seattle/Renton WA
    The place where for $4 you could get a very tall glass of Kirin Ichiban and wander around the many crane games. There was a DDR group that played the dance games, a fighting game group set up around the Street Fighter machines, and then there were the Maximum Tune 5 racer groups. The group was so regular that they had a facebook group and I would see the same people a few times. I probably sunk $100 into Maximum Tune 5 for games. Foolishly, I chose for my first car to be the secret FWD Corolla, and then proceeded to spend months upgrading it to max spec. Also has incomprehensible photobooths, several japanese rythm/music games, and other stuff. This is the only arcade where I won something from a crane game (A Sonic the hedgehog Tails plush) and redeemed tickets for something (a small patch that says "Cute" in Japanese, which is now on my biker jacket). 10/10. We didn't know what we had!

    2) Add - A - Ball - Seattle WA
    One of the few places that acquired an Initial D machine (series 2), as well as a rotation of eclectic pinball machines. The last place in Seattle where you could get a beer for $1. The only place I've been that sold MD2020 in shot glasses (or the whole bottle, if you felt generous). There was a taxidermy diorama replica of the bar, with mice replacing patrons, in the men's restroom. The immaculately clean upstairs restroom where everyone else did cocaine. Pinball leagues with people way more Into It than I could ever be. And, eventually, Seattle's second Killer Queen machine. WARNING: This review is biased as I personally know most of the staff and owners. (11/10)

    3) Jupiter Lounge - Seattle WA
    WARNING: This review is biased as I personally know some of the staff and owners. (11/10)
    The owner, seeking to reclaim a portion of the belltown neighborhood from the SF-ication of Seattle, established a massive complex complete with a full kitchen, 2 full service bars, and a room filled with arcade and pinball machines. The space features a rotating collection of art on the walls from local artists, and eventually a raised stage for bands to play shows. To my knowledge the first Killer Queen arcade cabinet in Seattle. During the pandemic the owner had put on painting and pinball streams, and pivoted to food service to stay afloat. Desperately want to go back.

    4) Gameworks - Seattle WA
    Have you ever wanted to be VERY DISAPPOINTED? Have you wanted to not just fall out of love of arcades, but games themselves? Do you want to see the **filthiest bathroom** in Seattle? It's all here, at Gameworks. A shell of a shell of it's former self, all the machines are in some form of disrepair. The wonderful Sega F355 machine is worn to shit. The Initial D machines have busted screens, busted wheels, and busted everything else. The Crazy Taxi machine is similarly in disrepair. There's a huge 8 person Daytona USA machine, but all the screens suffer from burn-in, and the mechanics are equally in disrepair. There is a tilting full cockpit Initial D machine you can clamber into, but only one was in operation last I checked several years ago. The food sucks. the beer is overpriced. Everything is covered in a layer of grease. It's so far away from anything interesting in Seattle. Don't go even if Pax comes back to the Seattle convention center. (-100/10)

    >

    @treefroggy#16392 Santa Monica Pier, 2.2/10

    I think I went to this one? It was really crummy, disappointingly so, along with all the other tourist stuff in that area.

    @marlfuchs2#16419 Ah, yes, I remember Gameworks from back in 2008 when I had online friends in the Bemani scene who would go there all the time!

    I live in the LA area and frequent a couple of the places that‘ve already been named. I actually lived down the block from Family Amusement for a few years. I’ll shout out Wedgehead in Portland and Arcade UFO in Austin as fine establishments but will focus on arcades local to me. I‘d also agree that EIghty-Two is pretty dang weak. I’m not a fan of that spot either.

    Button Mash- Echo Park, Los Angeles, CA
    This is my go to spot. What's been said captures the place well. I'd add that the owner is a swell guy that takes pride in the bar and restaurant side. The drink selection is great ranging from the hopped up stuff to some really interesting ciders. They even hosted food pop ups for a project my wife worked on. They're trying hard to reopen in any capacity once guidelines allow.

    Along with the arcade games mentioned, they do also carry 6-8 pinball machines at a time. The machines vary from Medieval Madness, Banzai Run, and Twilight Zone to the newer superhero licensed ones. They had a Power Smash cab in rotation for a while. I wish people played that more than NBA Jam. They occasionally host independent arcade and pinball cabinets too which is super cool.

    Walt's Bar- Eagle Rock, LA, CA
    This place is a little cramped, but I like the vibe. They're all about pinball here with a focus on older machines. I'm not the most knowledgeable, but I've had a good time every time I've gone and the regulars are happy to give pointers and help you out. They host regular tournaments too. The beers on tap are generally from local breweries, and they have a small wine selection. Food is the usual bar affair with hot dogs and pretzels. I don't think I'll ever get too into pinball, but I really hope they make it through this mess. The patio area is dog friendly!

    Barcade- Highland Park, LA, CA
    This is a new joint that opened like a year before the pandemic hit. From what I understand, it's a brand from New York that is expanding out here. It's an ok place I guess. The space isn't Round 1 big, but it's extremely large for a spot in the city. It makes sense though since it kinda feels like they're going for a suburby, bring the whole family vibe. They have a full 4 player Daytona setup and a variety of belt scroller cabs like Golden Axe, TMNT, and Dynamite Deka 2. They have a row of pinball machines with stuff like Demolition Man, Alice Cooper's, and Twilight Zone. There's also a classic section with Donkey Kong, Rampage, and Qbert which wasn't seeing much play the handful of times I went. They have misc type stuff too like 4 player Pacman and a light gun ticket game without the tickets. Food was fine and the drink selection is wide. Oh, they also have a full Lucky and Wild cab which is neat.

    @marlfuchs2#16419 this is primo content for me as im in seattle…… thank u

    I was thinking of making a thread like this!!

    Colorado:

    **Denver**:

    1up -> 2 locations, Colfax, and LoDo:

    Kind of the quintessential barcade. On a weekend, it's going to be packed full of young drunk people. Some are there for the arcade machines, some are there for the drinking. The LoDo location tends to be too crowded to actually be enjoyable. I suppose if you go earlier in the evening you can play whatever you want, hear your friends and have a nice drink. The arcade selection is actually pretty varied and the machines tend to be in good working order and taken care of. 1up has been open for quite a long time, and are very well known in Denver. The Colfax location had a brief stint in 2014-2016 where they had a music venue attached to the arcade. It was possibly one of the best venues in Denver during it's brief run. I think Red Bull had something to do with it. I miss it dearly.

    Honorary Denver mention: Hyperspace!!

    Hyperspace was this HUGE warehouse that was filled with arcade machines from probably the late 60's all the way up until today. I went a handful of times over the years, and usually spent 4+ hours just exploring. It was a fascinating place, and a treasure. Unfortunately it closed a year or so before COVID.

    **Westminster**

    Akihabara Arcade: This IS the place. It's filled with fixed and updated Japanese arcade cabinets. Actually uses quarters for all the machines. They have tons of fighting games, rhythm games, shmups, and everything else you can imagine. It's a relatively large space, so even when it is kind of busy, you can still find a chill spot and enjoy playing something. This place has a bar, but serves way more than just alcohol. They host Smash and fighting tournaments on a regular basis, or at least did Pre-COVID. Truly a spectacular place, worth a visit. I think they're open currently on an appointment based system.

    **Northglenn**

    Boss Stage Arcade & Anime: Personally haven't been here yet. A group of my close friends were going here a lot Pre-COVID for all the DDR and Rhythm game machines this place has. Plus it's got a little anime/manga store in the front of it. IIRC you pay for a wristband and just play as much as you want. I wish I could say more.

    **Fort Collins**

    Pinball Jones: 2 locations

    The second location, located close to the CSU campus opened in 2018 I think. Both locations were this dingy basement establishments that were filled to the brim with pinball machines, and a random selection of arcade machines. Mostly the kind of games you'd expect to see in the lobby of a movie theater back in the 90's. The location in downtown Fort Collins is in a building that's easily over 100 years old, and featured some really really early machines from Bally. Very interesting, and it seemed they rotated the machines out pretty frequently. Often never too busy to actually enjoy the games. The downtown location would get extremely hot at night in the summer.

    **Longmont**

    Quarters Bar+Arcade

    This place opened up shortly before COVID. It was a very small, modern establishment. You pay using a RFID wristband at the machines instead of using quarters. They also have a serve your self bar system that charges your wristband too. The game selection is small, lots of pinball machines, a couple off beat fighting games, and nostalgia laden stuff that elder millennials are drawn too. It's a great little spot, but it's often so busy on a Friday night, that I'd turn around and leave when I got to the door.

    **Loveland**

    The Flipside

    This place uses a similar system to Quarters, except I don't think they serve alcohol. Larger selection of games than Quarters, but a similar vibe. I think they're open more during the day too. Only went here once Pre-Covid.

    I know I'm forgetting a few places along the front range. I also need to research a little as there's a place up in Cheyenne that I've been to a few times and cannot remember what it's called.

    Uhhh funny that you made this thread. I have a unfinished document I was working on where I've reviewed every pinball establishment I can remember visiting (I was up to like 20 when I left off), and an update about their current COVID status. But I dont want to share it yet because I was also kind of using it as a vehicle to tell the broad strokes story of my life over the past decade. Keep your eyes peeled for “LOVE, DEATH, & PINBALL: A GUIDE TO PLACES YOU (MOSTLY) CANT GO BACK TO”, coming to The Insert Credit Forums sometime in 2021, or possibly never.

    @Moon#16842 I will read the heck out of that thread.

    Brooklyn barcades/arcades I miss

  • 1.

    Wonderville 10/10 - Lots of indie games and unique cabs. They got that Killer Queen and Black Emperor. They got that Powerboat Italia '88. They even have that Vollygon.

  • 2.

    Barcade 7/10 - Vanilla Ice Cream. They're a huge chain at this point. They have Super Turbo and Q Bert and Donkey Kong. Remember arcade games? Here's beer. Hope you like chocolate or grapefruit or both in your beer.

  • 3.

    Tiltz 0/10, 10/10 - Like a Dave and Busters for hipster tourists. They had MAME cabinets up for a while, which I found hilarious. They were featured in a very angry gothamist article whose entire premise was wrong but they kept up anyway https://gothamist.com/food/update-beloved-bushwick-dive-wreck-room-will-be-replaced-with-a-terrible-sports-bar-called-tiltz They are closed for good now as far as I can tell. Shame because they had passable tater tots and an atmosphere of a much more rural, much less fun kind of arcade that actually did remind me of the arcades I went to in the 90s. It was something. They had that Episode 1 pinball machine with the goofy holograms. They had that Terminatior game with the ridiculous space marine rifle controller. They probably even had that Buck Hunter with Danny McBride in it. I'll miss it begrudgingly.

  • 4.

    Next Level 10/10 - I've never gotten the courage to actually head down here and get my ass handed to me, but this is the East Coast hub of the FGC, and for that it gets at least some brownie points.

  • 5.

    That laundromat next to the 2nd Tony's Pizzaria on Knickerbocker if you're coming from Myrtle 3/10 - They had Marvel vs Capcom 2. The Light Punch button was sticky. The sun came in at the exact wrong angle at noon, when I would usually be there, such that the right half of the screen was invisible from glare. I think I have the 3rd highest score on the machine, but I doubt it's still there.

  • 6.

    Old Stanley's, Mary Shelley's Frankenstein/10 - This is the only Mary Shelley's Frankenstein in Brooklyn to my knowledge. Last time I was there was the Stanley Cup in 2019. The Blues beat the Bruins and the bar erupted into a "Boston Sucks!" chant. I don't think anyone at the bar watched hockey. They just wanted to see the Bruins lose. I can respect that.

  • 7.

    Starliner, Banzai Run/10 - Maybe this is Bootleg Bar. They're right next to each other and I often confuse them, and their bouncers as I briefly walk in and out looking for Banzai Run. I like Banzai Run. I don't like the bar.

  • 8.

    Carmelo's, House of the Dead 2/10 - A bar out of time and space. A hallowed out church houses a two story Twin Peaks set with $2 Bud Lights on tap. The only bar I've ever been to which is louder when there isn't a DJ. Everything is bright red. You can get your bike fixed next door. House of the Dead 2 is a hell of a game.

  • I forgot one

    Knoxville, Tn, Old City

    Curious Dogs (I forget the name so I looked up hot dogs in old city. it‘s a counter service bar/ resturaunt)

    8.0/10

    While this isn’t the best or most extravagant venue, it has good food, a huge selection of drinks, and a large portion of the space is dedicated to arcade cabinets that were all clean and functioning beautifully. They had an NES playchoice cabinet with castlevania, asteroids with the buttons for controls, another vector graphics game that was impressive but I forgot the name, and, most importantly to me, it is the only place I'd ever played R-TYPE on an original arcade cabinet. I love R-TYPE very much. Everything was 1-quarter-per-play. This experience cannot be beat. The stools they had were perfect height and I was very comfortable sitting at the cabinet. The audio on the original R-TYPE arcade board was coming out from the cabinet beautifully. Something I hope to experience again some day.

    Hard to rate out of 10. I want to dock points for skimpy selection of cabinets, but this place was so comfy and one R-TYPE cabinet is all I need for a couple hours of fun.

    >

    @treefroggy#16392 Los Angeles & Orange County

    whaaaaaat?!?! you forgot my arcade!

    Mission Control! In Downtown Santa Ana! It's great! 10 out of 10!!

    actually I only go there to play Pinball... we had weekly tournaments before Covid and the machines were always taken care of... it's great!

    They have a few multicade machines there too with like every game on them so I can always play Elevator Action Returns or Pu Li Ru La before the tournament begins lol. But the sticks on those are so bad, if I try to play a game like Esp Ra De or Progear I can't even beat the first stage without dying lol

    @marlfuchs2#16419 i‘m up in bellingham and my post-vaccine reward to myself is, i’m gonna spend the weekend in Seattle, see a movie at a theater (i‘ll take suggestions on those too if you have ’em!), eat at a restaurant, and play arcade games as long as possible. thanks for writing this up!!



    FAC by LACC

    The owner of Button Mash is a good dude and ally of the little people. He‘s letting me and my partner use his kitchen space for our pop-up at a very reasonable rate. I’m going to dig up my bag of tokens and ask if I can play a couple rounds of Medieval Madness.

    @vegetables#23445 whaaaaat? and how can I attend this pop up?? lol

    Can confirm James Games is permanently closed…. Covid took out another great historical arcade. Also, Retro Game Camp, the import-only games shop in Little Tokyo, Los Angeles has permanently closed as a result of covid. I was there on their opening day, did freelance repairs for the shop, had multiple friends working there, hung out with staff etc. more than somewhat emotional about this now…

    I went to James Games once like 20 years ago. Dang, that was a real long time ago >_<

    and oh no about Retro Game Camp!!! I've only been there once, but got to take my dog with me!!

    I have all of next week off (first time taking considerable time off in 2 years). One of the things I wanted to do was finally check out Hachioji Ramen, and I figured I could visit RGC while I was there too. I guess not :(

    @p3ters#23465

    Ah, man. It's a order online pickup situation, so the arcade won't be open! Sorry about that. Jordan (owner) did say he plans on reopening as soon as 100% capacity is allowed, though.

    --

    Sucks about retro game camp. I swear that opened just before covid?