Ten Favorite Arcades in Metro Phoenix
Photos by Benjamin Leatherman
How's that new-fangled Wii U that you found waiting underneath the Christmas tree? Maybe a tad disappointing perhaps, especially when it comes to game selection? We're willing to bet that after giving launch titles like ZombiU and Assassin's Creed III a try and ultimately busting out a rage quit in frustration, you're likely to head down Castles and Coasters, Golfland-Sunsplash, or another local arcade for a far more fulfilling gaming experience.
Despite all the attention that's heaped upon the latest high-tech systems and peripherals, there's something to be said for the thrill of heaping the pwnage on friends and your fellow gamers in public at an arcade. Plus, you can play old school titles on bonafide arcade cabinets instead of downloading ROMs into the latest version of MAME on your PC.
In another lifetime (read: The 1980s), the Valley landscape used to be dotted with arcades aplenty -- including such bygone spots as Video Roundup in Scottsdale or the Wonderland Nickel Palace in Mesa (where you could actually get your game on for only a five cents per play) - as well as practically every nearby convenience store, laundromat, or pizza joint. Times have changed, however, and while the number of video game hangouts has dwindled, there are still several dedicated arcades and a few other businesses stocked with games where you can show off your talents as a joystick Jedi.
10. Burger Mania
Weston Henry, the local gaming fiend and proprietor of now-defunct Cade Gallery, recommended we check out this kitschy, North Phoenix grease factory for its selection of games and it didn't disappoint. Amongst the ten games available for play in the dining area are such retro gems as Data East's old school beat 'em up Bad Dudes, along with fellow '80s favorites Galaga and the rarely-seen shooter XX Mission. Sadly, they didn't have the quarter-pumping classic Burger Time, which would've been pretty fitting. Although, oddly enough, if you're skilled enough to rescue the president at the end of Bad Dudes, the pixeled version of the Commander-in-Chief states "Let's go get a burger," which creates something of a meta experience.
Courtesy of Cracker Jax
9. Cracker Jax
There's no shortage of entertaining distractions at this amusement emporium and family fun center, which boasts everything from batting cages and driving ranges to volleyball courts and bungee jumps. But if driving a go-kart or bumper boat leaves you filled with an overwhelming desire to pilot something a bit more thrilling (or a bit swifter), head for Cyber City inside Cracker Jax's main building, where a 5,500 square foot arcade offering dozens of driving, fighting, and shooting games. Satisfy your itchy trigger finger on the latest edition of the Time Crisis series or put the pedal to the medal on Fast and Furious: Super Cars. Despite the fact you're in Scottsdale (where the fuzz dish out tickets for even the most minor of infractions), you needn't worry about any potential reckless driving citations after thrashing the RPMs in your high-end hoopty, since its an entirely virtual experience.
9445 N. Metro Parkway E., Phoenix, AZ
21001 N. Tatum Blvd., Ste. 44-1400, Phoenix, AZ
2000 E. Rio Salado Parkway, Tempe, AZ
155 W. Hampton Ave., Mesa, AZ
5000 S. Arizona Mills Circle, Tempe, AZ
16000 S. Maricopa Road, Maricopa, AZ
50 W. Jefferson St., Phoenix, AZ
1329 E. Main St., Mesa, AZ
2710 W. Bell Road, Phoenix, AZ