Gamer's Piece: It's a bird... It's a plane... It's Barcade!
Published: Wednesday, September 19, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, September 19, 2012 00:09
One Friday night this past July, while I was living in New York City, I met some friends to catch up and grab a beer after our internships ended. As we caught up, we discussed different places we wanted to make sure we saw while we were in the city; landmarks, stores, bars. I decided to check Yelp! to see what bars we could potentially check out. And my phone displayed a location I knew I had to check out immediately.
It’s called Barcade. It’s not exactly one-of-a-kind; there are locations in Jersey City, Philadelphia and Brooklyn, which is where we headed that night after a long, complicated trip on the L train and two separate stops for chicken and waffles and quesadillas. Once we got there, we agreed that Barcade is a rad retro experience and a gamer’s dream, a Chuck E. Cheese for gamers and Brooklyn hipsters alike.
After a carding at the door, walking into Barcade reveals what looks like a small warehouse that’s been cleared out into a large hall, with a bar on your right, a few tables in the back left and a mother load of classic game arcade cabinets everywhere else, all requiring only a quarter per play.
Don’t think we’re talking stuff you’d find at Dave and Buster’s or a movie theater arcade. Barcade goes way back. None of the games were released before 2000. I don’t think any were released before 1990. The guys at Barcade are serious about their gaming.
These games are stone-cold classics. You know “Tetris”? The original Game Boy one that changed portable gaming forever? They’ve got it in a two-player arcade console. I happily sampled “Frogger,” “Outrun,” “Robotron 2084” and “Donkey Kong.” Sadly, no kill screens were coming up for me that night on that cabinet. Old games are hard, and they punish you by demanding quarter after quarter. Luckily, they have an ATM and a change machine.
I’ve touched on the “arcade” part of “Barcade,” but I can’t forget the “bar” section. Barcade has a very extensive, very popular and totally awesome selection of beer on tap, in case you forgot why they card at the door. I know next to nothing about beer, but my beer-genius buddy was impressed by the lineup, which changes daily and is posted on their website. I didn’t have too much, but I was impressed by what I had, and it definitely made the long trip back on the L and 1 trains to 116th and Broadway more tolerable.
For of-age gamers who want to visit more than just the Nintendo Store when they visit New York, Barcade is essential. It’s tucked out of the way off Grand Street, so it’s a bit of a trip from Grand Central, but the atmosphere is bright. The bar’s hip and always crowded, and to top it all off, old-school stuff like Talking Heads mixed with newer underground stuff like Tokyo Police Club fills the jukebox. If you ever find yourself bar-hopping in NYC, definitely check it out.