Video games in the 80s were completely different than they are now. Now we can all play our games on the go, but in the 80s you had to go to a specific building if you wanted to enjoy some kind of electronic fun. As time went on and home units became the norm, these magical buildings we all knew and loved started to fade away.
We didn't need the arcades anymore, we could play our games on our own TVs, but there was never the same community feeling. We used to all gather around the machine because someone was finally about to beat that Pac-Man high score, or because their Pinball streak was getting absolutely crazy, but now the majority of gaming is done alone.
But one company has decided that arcades need to make a comeback. Neon Retro Arcade will transport you back in time, making you feel like you never left the 80s. It's filled with dozens of games that you thought you would never see again, played exactly the way they were originally intended, with all your friends around you.
Mark and Mia Guenther opened Neon Retro Arcade three years ago, after collecting machines for several years. Mark had been collecting the machines for his own personal use since college, but he knew he wasn't the only one who loved them. "We knew that there was a large appetite out there to play these classics. It was really a way for us to preserve them as well. We really felt like ... there wasn't a whole lot of effort being made to make sure that they kind of stayed alive."
They brought back everything you missed...
There are several machines to chose between in the arcade. They've got all of the classics, including Ms. Pac-Man, Galaga, and Pinball, and haven't stopped collecting new machines.
"When people call the arcade to see if we have specific games, they always want to know if we have Centipede. They always want to know if we have Street Fighter II. They always want to know if we have Mortal Kombat," Mia says.
They started to expand their collection to include some of the classic 90s titles after realizing it's not just the 80s kids who are nostalgic for the old arcades.
"One of the trends in terms of bringing new games in -- we're seeing a lot of interest in some of the '90s games," Mark says. "Some of the early '80s games appeal to maybe a more narrow demographic. And so, we're seeing certain titles from the '90s really becoming popular again. So, if we announce a '90s game, it's gonna have a lot more impact than if we announce an early '80s game."
They are also seeing a whole new generation learn about these classic games. "I think a lot of the secret sauce to our success is really just people's desire to connect with other people. With gaming, I think it's really interesting to see young kids and teenagers come in with their families and do something together, which nowadays can be a little more difficult with all the competing forms of entertainment," Mia says. "We've seen kids come in and start playing some games with other kids that they don't even know. They come back the following week and meetup and play again. I just think that is something that is inherently special about it."
If you go, the only difference you'll see from an old arcade is that you won't need a roll of quarters. Every machine is set to free play and customers instead just play a flat fee of $10/hour or $25/day to play. They switch the games out regularly, but they list them on their website so you can watch for your favorite.