Are old-school arcades making a comeback? Jerry Colonna, owner of Deptford Township’s newly opened Colonial Soldier Arcade, hopes the answer is “yes.”
"Standing up and playing the original Mortal Kombat is worlds different than playing it through a smartphone,” he says. “It’s like the difference between going to Franklin Fountain for a scoop of ice cream versus going to ShopRite and getting a half-gallon.”
Colonna opened Colonial Soldier Arcade, the area’s newest gaming center, at the start of November. He sees arcades as a market that’s slowly returning to its prime, tapping into the trend of millennials seeking out nostalgic experiences.
“We saw all of the arcades closing back in the 2000s, but there seems to be a bit of a resurgence in interest," says Colonna. “Arcades preserve the original, authenticity of playing video games and make the overall experience more social, and in a sense, more meaningful.”
On a recent Friday afternoon, a diverse crowd — father-son duos, teenagers on their first date, college friends home for break— occupied more than half of Colonial Soldier’s cabinets, including Millipede, Pac-Man and other ’80s classics.
Colonial Soldier Arcade isn’t the only spot where you can try for the high score. From West Philly and Fishtown to Malvern and Morristown, N.J., arcade amusement is everywhere. Whether you’re looking to take the kids out over the holidays or meet up with friends, here’s where to go.
Tucked into a corner on the lower level of Deptford Mall, Colonial Soldier Arcade attracts all sorts, from college-age kids to families. While cozy in size, the arcade features a rotating selection of 30 to 40 games on its floor. Currently, these include popular classics like Rampage, Gauntlet, Mortal Kombat 3 and 4, and Ms. Pac-Man, along with racing and shooter games. Leave your quarters at home; Colonial Soldier offers unlimited gaming at a flat rate.
10 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday, 1750 Deptford Center Rd., Deptford , N.J. $10 day pass, $30 monthly pass. 856-905-6169. colonialsoldierarcade.com
Perhaps the hippest spot to play Donkey Kong, Tapper, Speed Racer and more is Fishtown’s Barcade. First established in Brooklyn, the bar was envisioned as a spot to combine craft beer and classic arcade games under one roof. The tap list boasts two dozen options, and the space often packs a loud, lively (and somewhat buzzed) crowd.
Noon. to 2 a.m. daily, 1114 Frankford Ave., $0.25 per token, 215-634-4400, barcadephiladelphia.com
If pinball is more your speed, head to Malvern’s Pinball Gallery. Newly renovated, the spacious spot holds over 50 machines, all set on free-play — so you can shoot balls and flip flippers all day. If you find one that captures your attention, consider taking it home — some machines are available for purchase. Ultraserious players should check out Pinball Gallery’s 10-week leagues or monthly knockout tournaments. Ladies-only and coed groups are formed seasonally.
Hours vary Wednesday through Sunday, 81 Lancaster Ave. #20, Malvern. $8 per hour, $20 day pass, $50 monthly and $250 yearly passes also available. 484-693-0693. pinballgallery.net
Home to over 100 games, Earlington’s Pinball Parlour calls itself part museum, part arcade, with a collection that spans over 60 years of arcade game history. Find everything from wooden pinball machines (its oldest machine dates to 1958) to more modern equipment like Fast and Furious Super Bikes and Bowl-O-Rama. Other classics include old-school shooting games, Asteroids, Tempest, Pac-Man, Joust, and Galaga.
7 p.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Saturday, 808 Allentown Rd., Earlington. $6 an hour or $15 for three hours. 215-723-5505. pinball-parlour.com
Steps away from Warrington’s movie theater, The Game Is Afoot Arcade — in the midst of a construction project to triple its space — hosts a sizable collection of games, including Centipede, Commando, Donkey Kong, and Rampage. Beyond retro cabinets, you’ll also find machines that can load over 5,000 games from a variety of classic gaming systems (think Mario Bros. or the Jurassic Park video game). High-tech pinball machines, with over 400 versions of pinball, are available for free play, too.
Hours vary Friday through Monday, 114 Easton Rd., Warrington. $3 per 15 minutes or $35 day pass. 267-400-5984. thegameisafootarcade.com
Like Chuck E. Cheese minus the creepy characters, the University City Family Fun Center is a kid-friendly paradise, complete with pinball options, air hockey, Skee-Ball, fighting and driving games, arcade basketball, and other hands-on games. Here, crowds of grade-schoolers flock to contemporary cabinets, like Game of Thrones-themed pinball, but a few classics are found, too, including Galaga and Ms. Pac-Man. All machines are token-operated, and some spit out tickets that are redeemable for a selection of 900+ prizes like candy, stuffed animals, nail polish, and Marvel superhero figures.
8 a.m. to midnight daily, 4006 Spruce St. Four tokens for $1; 20 tokens for $5; 44 tokens for $10; 100 tokens for $20. 215-387-2561. universityfamilyfuncenter.com
Head to Morristown Game Vault to play from a collection over 100 different games, including Ghostbusters, Iron Man, The Addams Family, and other pop culture-themed pinball options. Games like Space Invaders Mini, Lethal Weapon III, Dragon’s Lair, and BurgerTime invite casual competition. The South Jersey destination also hosts events like cosplay nights, holiday theme parties, knockout tournaments, and selfie pinball leagues.
Open daily, hours vary per day, 22 South St., Morristown, N.J. $7 for 30 minutes; $10 for an hour; $25 day pass. 973-944-8500. morristowngamevault.com
Want to rent out an entire arcade showroom? Opened in 1986, Bucks County’s 4,000-square-foot TNT Amusements is home to one of the largest arcade game showrooms in the world, featuring more than 80 machines for sale at any given time. Though its floor is primarily for shoppers, the supplier often books private parties (it has hosted more than 25,000 of them over the past 30 years). Inventory varies but currently includes oldies like Atari’s Asteroids and newbies like the 2013 Arcade Legends 3. The showroom also has shuffleboard bowling, Skee-Ball, air hockey, and an array of jukeboxes.