Friday, April 01, 2016

2016 Pittsburgh Guest Blogger Event: Top 10 Arcades In Pittsburgh

Today’s post comes from Jenilee Dunson, a geek, otaku, and lover of all things kawaii (I have no idea what this means) who also writes about video games, anime, tech and toys at Geeky Sweetie. This is part of a special day of shenanigans from other Pittsburgh Bloggers. You can see my post over on Lunges, Long Runs and Lattes where I share my attempt to finally become fashionable.

Are you looking for something different to do in downtown Pittsburgh? How about a fun night of games for the whole family? Arcades are a dying art in the United States which makes them increasingly hard to find - especially to find a well maintained arcade without a lot of outdated or worse yet, out of order, games. And when you find a good one, it's like a step back in time to your childhood or for younger kids, a glimpse into a forgotten era.

The following list will examine 10 different arcades in the Pittsburgh area to try to help you decide which arcade is right for you. We'll start our list with number 10 and build anticipation for what we believe is the best Arcade in Pittsburgh.

10. Laser Storm Pittsburgh located at 7715 McKnight Rd, Pittsburgh, PA 15237. This is a great experience for the whole family. They have an awesome rock climbing simulator that is a must try one of a kind experience. They also have numerous arcade games and as their name suggests - a huge, award winning laser tag arena. All of their units are well maintained and the building is clean and well lit. They also offer the ability to rent the entire arena for $300 and offer many "team building" exercises and events. However, for casual play, it is a bit expensive at $7 a game.

09. Replay FX located at 1000 Fort Duquesne Blvd, Pittsburgh, PA 15222 Downtown for one week only July 28th - 31st (2016). This is an annual "Pop up arcade" convention that features over 2,500 arcade machines - with guests bringing their own units as well. Not only that but it also has cosplay, table top gaming, and console gaming. It's held every year in Pittsburgh and attracts thousands of gamers from all around the world. Since it's only there for a few days - it is not to be missed. Ticket prices vary - you can do a day pass for under $30 or stay all 4 days for under $100. You can also participate in tournaments and earn real cash prizes. The location is great especially for those not from the area as the convention center is close to hotels, shopping, and dining.

08. Ace's Breakaway and Play located at 417 Smithfield St Pittsburgh, PA 15222 Downtown - This is a tiny little arcade with about 20 different games. The games are well maintained and in good working order. The location is good if you live downtown but probably not so good if you're coming in from outside the city due to traffic and lack of parking space. However, the staff is very friendly and the prices are great - you will need to bring change or small bills to use in the change machine.

07. Pinball Perfection located at 231 Perry Hwy Westview, PA 15229 West View. This is a really neat Pinball "Museum" - they also sell and repair pinball machines as well. It's funny then, that so many of their own dang machines are always out of order and in need of bad repair. However, there are hundreds of machines and they are really old - dating back to the 1940s and onwards. This place has pinball machines that you just will not see anywhere else in the world. Hours of operation and prices also beat many of these other arcades on our list.

06. Steel City Gamerz located at YOUR HOUSE (or local Business) - This one just HAD to go on our list because it's so unique! This is an "Arcade on wheels" that you can rent for your party or event - How cool would this puppy be at a wedding reception? Especially if the bride and groom are both gamers - Of course, it'd be equally as awesome at a children's birthday party or any other special event. My only complaint - they have no Playstation 4 - only one Playstation 3 - meanwhile they have like 6 Xbox 360s and 2 Xbox Ones and 4 Wii U's - What gives?! Where's the love for Playstation?! Not even ONE PS4? - It has theater style seating inside and multiple huge flat screen tv's for your gaming needs. It also comes equipped with over 100 different games - and if you don't see a game you'd like, you can make a special request to have it included. - They are VERY pricey though - $325 for 2 hours - you can go out and buy an Xbox One or Wii U or PS4 etc for about that price and have it forever - therefore this is really only something to do for the "experience" and "novelty" of the idea.

05. Bradish Street Pinball Palor located at 1111 Bradish St Pittsburgh, PA 15203 South Side. This is a really great place to play pinball. They have some of the best maintained machines in Pittsburgh as well as a great selection. The only reason I can't score it higher on our list is because of the ungodly hours they keep. They don't open until 5pm (7pm on the weekends) making this a no-go for families as you're likely to be preparing dinner for the kids or not wanting to stay out late. Like many other arcades on the list, this one is BYOB which shows that they want to appeal to adults. If you are kid free and enjoy the "night life" and staying out til 2am in the morning, Bradish Street Pinball Palor is pretty awesome. They even have pinball tournaments making it more exciting and competitive. When tournaments are not going on, you can pay $15 to play all day, making it an excellent and cheap night on the town.

04. Games n' At located at 2010 Josephine St Pittsburgh, PA 15203 South Side Slopes. If you love retro games, Games n' At should be your first stop. They have a multitude of different retro gaming consoles as well as old school arcade systems from the 80s and early 90s. Adults will also appreciate the BYOB policy which helps keep costs low. A local favorite - many people rave about the "Duckpin Bowling" which Games n' At is particularly known for. They also have several pool tables and air hockey machines. However, Games n' At is in a somewhat dangerous location, making it not ideal for families or for visitors from outside the city. The building itself is also not as well kept as some of the other arcades on the list - and to make matters worse, many of the games are also in bad need of repair - this is however a common problem for many arcades. Overall, Games n' At is a local hidden treasure and a true step back in time for fans of retro video games. Be sure to call before you visit or check on google to see if they are open. They keep weird hours and only open about 3 or 4 days out of the week.

03. Victory Pointe located at 1113 E Carson St Pittsburgh, PA 15203 South Side. Victory Pointe is a clear winner for selection and variety of games. They have literally everything from DDR to fighting to shooting to racing games. Many popular games too such as Mario Kart and Battletoads to name a few - Like Games n' At, this is another BYOB establishment which helps them attract adults who are on a budget by allowing them to bring their own alcohol. This place is much better maintained, cleaner, and less "Seedy" feeling than Games n' At. Not only are the grounds themselves neatly maintained, but the games inside as well. This gives it a clear edge over other Arcades in the area who allow their games to slip into disrepair. The staff here is also really great. I also like that they have seats at the machines which makes for a more comfortable gaming experience. The only thing I would improve is getting some larger monitors for the console games. Their food is comparable to Dave & Busters - but much more reasonably priced. You can also get a "play all day" pass which will give you access to unlimited gaming for your stay - making this a great place for families or large groups.

02. Dave & Busters located at The Waterfront 180 E Waterfront Dr, Homestead, PA 15120 - Okay, I know this is not "distinctively" Pittsburgh. And it may not be as "hipster" or "indie" as the other Arcades on our list - but I love Dave & Busters. It's like a "Grown Up Chuck E Cheese" - Since they are a national chain they have money in their pockets to get all the latest games and keep them well maintained. Their food is delicious though quite expensive. I like that you can preload your gamecard online at home or via the kiosks in the restaurant and that you can save your card and reuse it again and again. They have some amazing prizes that you can win if you frequent the place often enough such as gaming consoles and electronics. And these gamecards can be used at any Dave n Busters which makes it great for those who travel or visitors from out of town. Not only that, but this particular Dave N Busters is at an excellent location. The waterfront is a beautiful, newer, shopping complex with lots to offer, in a great neighborhood with ample parking. After you dine and play your games you and your friends can spend time browsing the shops and other areas. For those who are traveling from out of town or entertaining out of town guests, there's also many hotels at the Waterfront as well.

01. Kickback Pinball Cafe located at 4326 Butler St Pittsburgh, PA 15201 Lawrenceville takes our spot for the best arcade in Pittsburgh - although it only has Pinball machines and doesn't offer the variety of some of the other arcades on our list - the service, prices, location, and "Pittsburgh-ness" of this arcade, secure it in our number 1 spot. Kickback Pinball Cafe is like "Panera Bread with Pinball Machines" The food is very similar to Panera Bread and is priced very reasonably with meals under $10. It's healthy, with salads, sandwiches, smoothies, teas, etc. And it's pretty tasty too. This is where all the "hipster" kids want to be, and for good reason. It's a relaxing and trendy atmosphere with a lot of games and just a great place to hang out. It's clean and well maintained and they add new games to their lineup regularly which keeps people coming back to see what's new. Also, like Games n' At this one is BYOB, which the adults love!

Regardless of which gaming experience you choose, you're sure to create a memorable outing that will have friends and family members talking about this trip for a long time to come. Pittsburgh has a lot of great things to offer - and their selection of arcades is no exception.

Sean's Note: I had no idea there were so many arcades in Pittsburgh. I want to go to there! In the meantime, please make sure to visit all of the great bloggers participating in this annual Pittsburgh Guest Blogger Event!

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