Buttons and Brews

Remember when the arcade was the spot?
Remember for all the years after where it was a weird graveyard of Bally and Konami titles with sticky buttons and jammed coin slots?

Well, we’re in a new era, where arcade is hot
again with more of an adult feel, now—props to Dave & Buster’s and Chucky Cheese for holding
it down in the meantime—kind of like when
Vegas family-friendly and then back again. There are quite a few joints around town where you can get your game, and here’s a little taste:

16-Bit Bar+Arcade

254 S Fourth St. | 16-bitbar.com

Hours: 4 p.m.–2:30 a.m. weekdays; noon–2:30 a.m. weekends

You’re looking at the OG of Columbus’s nostalgic gaming wave. It’s game selection is a who’s who of classics, which is a must if you’re legit. But they poured just as much effort into the bar side of the business, which is what created the magic formula. Taps galore flow with craft beer, the cocktails have all been given cheeky ’80s throw back monikers, and retractable doors open the place up to the patio section—which seems to be crawling with eager customers no matter the season. Be sure to bring your I.D., because they always ask. Always.

Drink: The Burt Reynolds (Because yes)

Game: Bad Dudes (if you’re bad enough to rescue…The President!)

Old North Arcade

2591 North High St. | oldnortharcade.com

4 p.m.–2:30 a.m. weekdays; noon–2:30 a.m. weekends

Two groups of people look fondly upon the ’80s and ’90s: there are the ones who lived it (yours truly included), and there are those who are now discovering it, in all its resplendent, neon. If 16-Bit is populated largely by the former, it could be said that Old North Arcade is in prime position to attract the latter. A stone’s throw from campus and adjacent to several music venues, Old North is a favorite haunt of showgoers and musicians in the area looking to destroy a few pixelated space craft while they wait for the night’s bands to take the stage. It’s almost always rocking some console games on big screens to supplement the cabinets, and according to owner Ben Morgan, competition can get pretty heated. Old North also features an extensive selection of craft beer and, again, cocktails with throwback names.

Drink: Ocarina of Lime (If you make it through the Water Temple)

Game: Super Smash Brothers (and Goldeneye)


130 Hutchinson Ave. | level1bar.com

4 p.m.–2:30 a.m. weekdays; noon–2:30 a.m. weekends

You know the modern barcade trend is on full-throttle when demand reaches the ’burbs. Located at Crosswoods, Level One has a larger footprint that its downtown counterparts, giving them room to accommodate some more games, which will periodically rotate in and out from their warehouse. In addition to the video game selection, Level One features 15 pinball machines, courtesy of owner/collector Paul Burkhart. Do they have a selection of fine craft beer? Yes. Do they also have nostalgia-educing titles for their libations?  Indeed.

Drink: Tron (Yeah, it’s blue)

Game: Two Tigers (Quite rare…plus airplane fights)

Arcade Super Awesome

892 Oak St. | arcadesuperawesome.com

4 p.m.–midnight Wednesday

4 p.m.–2:30 a.m. Thursday-Friday; 11–2:30 a.m.

Arcade Super Awesome identifies as a pinball parlor, impeccably designed to mimic the rainbow, mirrored aesthetic of an old corner joint. If it wasn’t on the second floor, you could mistake it for a ’70s/’80s roller rink. Nestled in Olde Towne East, this locale has one advantage that cannot be understated: It’s above a pizza joint. Is there anything more magnificently perfect than that? Yes. The pizza joint it’s above is Yellow Brick Pizza, which brings it to a grand total of magnificent, squared. It, too, brandishes a refined beer selection, rife with craft-tastic offerings. ASA also houses a dementedly addictive cabinet game called Killer Queen, which while a recent development, features not only simultaneous 10-player action, but authentic 8-bit graphics. Have fun—just don’t get any sauce on the machines.

Drink: All the beer (and pizza)

Game: Wizard of Oz (Get it? Yellow Brick?)

Coming Soon: With a targeted opening date of December 5, Barley’s Brewing will enter the latest entertainment phenomenon with their Brewcadia concept above the downtown brewery, meaning even the convention crowds gets to dip their toes in nostalgic waters. For more, search Brewcadia on Facebook.