Yesterday's featured musings of a video game fan were centered around the nostalgia of sampler discs. Having the option to "try before buying" at a time before the digital era fully began felt like I was a part of some exclusive club. Of course, now that I'm older, the art of renting physical games from a store is lost in gaming history. It's one of those things where I'm not bummed out that it ended, but rather I'm happy my childhood was shaped around this for that to happen. That doesn't mean that all callbacks to the 80s and 90s have to be lost forever.
Barcades are a very cool concept on paper as booze and gaming are often a perfect pair. Both are social activities yet are things that can be enjoyed in the comfort of a single party. A dimly lit time capsule where loud music can be heard, the sound of pinballs ricocheting off the bumpers, and of course, an authentic version of Ms. Pac-Man, is what attendees can expect the moment they enter the building. While there's a bar counter for thirsty fans to pour a pint, the stars of the show are the video games of course.
I decided to visit one of the handful Barcade NYCs in the city, choosing the Brooklyn location for convenience's sake. One major benefit this location has over the others is that it's easy to get here by all modes of transportation. Bus, subway, or car are all valid options, including walking in my case. It's a bit of a long walk and I don't recommend it, but it was a nice day outside so I couldn't help myself. Each Barcade NYC has some games that are shared across other locations while some are unique.
Most BNYC's have the 1980s Namco classics but the one in Brooklyn to my knowledge is the only one that has Dariusburst EX not just among the other locations but in the city as a whole. Yes, that same Dariusburst EX from many years ago that I complained about the aspect ratio. It all makes sense now as the original machine is an ultrawide ratio that four players can join at any time. If I make a recommendation to try out any game, it would be this one. There is also an entire column dedicated to pinball machines, which were always filled with eager players.
While I'm clearly not a Pinball Wizard, for three credits it's not a bad way to relieve stress either. This perfectly segues to the "bar" part of "barcade," where the stars of the show are the various drafts on tap. Those who aren't fans of the hoppy substance may not understand, but drinking a beer that tastes like a "strawberry milkshake" was one of the most stimulating things to experience during any beer drinking. The beer pouring continued with games like Tapper, notorious for being censored in the 1980s as Root Beer Tapper. I suppose back then they didn't want kids serving beer even in a pixelated simulation. That needs no apply here, as guests have to be +21 to even enter.
Barcades are places I usually don't decide to go on a whim after work or during the weekend. It has to be something that happens to be in the area and I happen to want to play some games for a few minutes. They serve as a way for retro gamers to feel at home, as well as offering the younger generation a taste of how the culture was back then before they were born probably. If you happen to find a local barcade or even a gaming LAN center that happens to have a bar, be sure to visit, support, and tip your bartenders!