How Arcades Are Making A Comeback

By Luis Lucero

One of the most recent nightly hangouts to quickly gain popularity is without a doubt, Barcade. The combination of a wide variety of craft beer and classic arcade games resulted in a concept that word of mouth quickly caught onto. And the massive crowds that both locations in Williamsburg and Astor Place draw in are very indicative of this. Still, don’t feel too perturbed about not being able to get into Barcade. Because there are still a few similar options to try out if the crowds are a little too hectic for you.

Two-Bit’s Retro Arcade

The concept here is not unlike Barcade, but its execution (not to mention its location in the Lower East Side) is a lot more lowkey. And as such, its lighter crowds make it so that you can finally play and drink without feeling cramped in. In addition to the usual menagerie of arcade games, they also include several pinball machines available, something that Barcade always seemed to lack despite priding themselves on having an arcade experience. And as the name implies, they all cost only a quarter to play. In lieu of a craft beer exclusive menu, Two-Bit’s features a wider selection of drinks, including wine, cocktails, and even sake. If Williamsburg or Astor Place is too packed, Two-Bits is very much a good alternative for Barcade.


Action Burger

Unlike Barcade and Two-Bits, whose atmospheres felt more like regular bars with video games, this place in Brooklyn is a massive celebration of geek culture. Everything from the decor to the menu selections pays homage to comic books and video games. Even the healthy and regular options are separated in the menus under the sections “heroes” and “villains”  While they do provide arcade games, Action Burger strangely doesn’t offer original machines. Instead, they have four custom arcade cabinets running MAME arcade emulation software that enable them to run upwards of 600 arcade games per cabinet. And unlike Barcade and Two-Bit, they are free to play. But unlike both Barcade and Two-Bit, this place also offers game play on home consoles, from the current Nintendo Switch to classic consoles like the Super Nintendo and the original Xbox. They even have small computers called Raspberry Pi, also running emulation software. Unlike the arcade games, these are only available with reservations, ranging from a single table to even the entire restaurant. While Barcade has a specific niche in mind for their demographic, Action Burger aims for a slightly wider audience with its larger variety of games and overall tribute to the culture that made these games famous in the first place.


Full Circle Bar

This is an interesting place. Everything up to this point has strictly been about bars with arcade games. Full Circle on the other hand, doesn’t have video games per se. But it does include something that is very much a mainstay at any arcade: skee-ball. In fact, this bar created the country’s first ever skee ball league For only a dollar, visitors can play games on one of seven skee ball lane provided. In addition, they also offer a couple of games revolved around dreidels like Spinagogue (who can spin the dreidel the longest) and Target Tops (a dreidel, skee-ball and cornhole hybrid). And of course, 30 choices of beer are available on their menu. It’s not exactly what one expects in an arcade bar, but the idea of skee-ball bar is unique enough to check out at least once.


The Uncommons

This might be cheating a little, since its main focus is on board games instead of video games. But the idea of a board game bar was too unique to pass. And besides, the idea of a game of Monopoly over a round of drinks with friends is a set up to either a fun night or absolute mayhem (or maybe even a mix of both). Boasting over 400 plus board games in their collection, they selection range from all time classics to rare and obscure games. And $10 per person ($5 for NYU students) will give players a three hour time frame to get their (board) game on. Though the one game that Uncommons has really settled into is Magic: The Gathering, with four events each week. Similar to Barcade, their main drink selection is made up of craft beer, but coffee, tea, and wine are also available. Board games may not be as fast paced as video games, but they could still be an intense yet fun way of having a good time, and The Uncommons brings that experience with a drink on the side.
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