Bar + Arcade = Barcade!

Yeah I live in Lawn Guyland now, but that doesn’t mean I can’t still write about the place I lived for 29 years, right?

Well I was back in my home state last weekend after making the trip to the Paris of the Armpit of America, AKA, Jersey City.  What I didn’t count on was this journey including an extra 45 minutes of driving around looking for parking. Anyway, the trip was well worth the effort, as the plan was to head to a bar I’d never heard of until that night: Barcade.

Barcade is exactly what it sounds like – a bar with an arcade in it, or, if you see the glass half full, an arcade with a bar in it. But this isn’t just any bar – they have a bunch of obscure and local beers on tap, and even barley wine. Barley wine!? Who even knew such a thing existed? And it is more than just an arcade – there are like 30 classic consoles that are lovingly cared for and maintained – no need to worry about putting in a quarter and the stupid machine not playing.

My three companions and I played the vintage Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles game, which brought back so many memories of my youth, like the years I spent in a Saturday morning bowling league, waiting for those two hours of shitty bowling to be over with so I could go to the arcade and waste a bunch of quarters playing the TMNT game. Though we all knew Donatello and his bo staff were most effective at killing the foot clan soldiers, Rafael was always my favorite and of course I had to play as him that night.  And just like in my youth, we all died, or as the game’s lingo presents it – became shell-shocked – during the epic battle with Bebop and Rocksteady.

But this walk down memory lane didn’t end there; Barcade also had the classic Simpsons arcade game. Once again, just seeing it brought back so many memories: back in ’94 or so, a friend and I spent an entire afternoon at the previously mentioned bowling alley trying to beat it. With pockets full of quarters, a dream in our hearts, and not a care in the world, us two nerdy, awkward 6th graders finally beat the game – an achievement I have yet to follow up with anything so meaningful. Anyway, the Simpsons game was one of the more popular ones that night, so I never got the chance to see if I could still win it.  Instead, we played this weird little game called “Gauntlet,” some kind of fantasy game where you go around killing monsters and looking for giant drumsticks.

I could go on and on about this place and all the nostalgia it brings – every single console in the place has to be at least 20 years old.  And there is not a single first-person shooter or bulky racing game in sight. Barcade just delivers the classics: your Donkey Kongs, your Pac-Men, your Tetri, and the like. And the fact that you can drink alcohol while playing these games, instead of the Crystal Pepsi that accompanied my early 90s arcade experiences, makes it all the better.  So the next time you can’t make up your mind whether to spend the night at a bar or an arcade, go to Barcade and do both. Yeah, I know you could do the same at Dave and Busters, but that place just sucks compared to this one.

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