By Nick Dekker
Posted On: Apr 23, 2020
I love that the kids of yesteryear who once spent hours pumping quarters into arcade games can re-capture the fun of their youth at the bar/arcades that have sprung up around the country. So many of these games have never lost their magic, and the fact that we can now enjoy them with friends and family, with a cocktail or pint of Ohio beer in hand, makes it all the better.
Coming up is National Videodame Arcade Day, and in preparation we rounded up some Columbus’ finest video game establishments.
16-Bit Bar + Arcade
16-Bit was one of the first modern arcades in Columbus. It fits perfectly into its neighborhood, in the South Fourth Street hotspot for great eats and entertainment downtown. Like many arcades, the rules at 16-Bit are simple: if you drink, you play for free. They’ve got a solid selection of craft beer on tap plus cocktails named after stars like the Burt Reynolds, the Carrie Fisher, and the David Haselhoff. They’ve got a rotating list of 40 classic games on the floor, from Donkey Kong to Off Road to Centipede. (Pro-tip: watch the website for an updated list.) One Sunday a month is “Bring Your Shorty” day, where kids are allowed when accompanied by an adult (it’s usually 21 and up). 16-Bit even serves special kids’ mocktails!
Old North Arcade
The Old North Arcade spans two small storefronts in the Old North neighborhood. One section has a large bar at the back, while the other features a patio – you need to walk through the patio to get from one part to another. They have a rotating selection of arcade games (The Simpsons, Area 51, Marvel vs. Capcom, you name it) alongside skee ball, pinball, an air hockey table, Dance Dance Revolution, and more.
They even feature nearly every gaming console ever, all plugged into giant screens: NES, SNES, Sega Genesis, N64, Play Stations. On the back patio, they have a giant Jenga set and cornhole; the bar features a selection of cocktails plus 20 craft beers on tap, and it’s family friendly every Saturday and Sunday from Noon to 8PM!
Level One Bar + Arcade
A visit to Level One brings me right back to my childhood, reminding me of the hours I spent in arcades with friends. You can find Level One in the Crosswoods Center in Worthington. The 80’s-themed bar and arcade features a great selection of vintage arcade games, loads of pinball machines, a full bar with cocktails and 24 craft beers on tap. They host a lot of fun events like pinball tournaments and trivia nights, and they’re family friendly Saturdays and Sundays from Noon to 6PM!
Arcade Super Awesome
Arcade Super Awesome is another arcade inside a brewery, with this one inside Sideswipe Brewing. Their games all hail from the 80’s and 90’s, with a big feature on pinball. There’s even a pinball league that meets Thursday nights!
Brewcadia arcade and taproom is located on the second floor above Barley’s Brewing Company, one of Columbus’ older breweries. It’s a perfect haven for beer drinkers and arcade aficionados. They’re open in the evenings and are 21+ all the time, with a complete bar that highlights craft beer, to the tune of 40 taps of Barley’s brews and guest beers. There’s a skee ball lane in the corner and classic games lining the walls. Mortal Kombat, anyone?
PINS Mechanical Co.
Okay, so they don’t feature video games exclusively, but I just couldn’t leave PINS off the list. PINS is owned by the same folks as 16-Bit, and has locations in Dublin, Easton and Downtown (or venture south for their spot in Cincinnati). They feature a full bar, a rotating selection of food trucks (including their house truck Por’Ketta), multiple patios with firepits, and a huge lineup of pinball games.
One of the big features is duckpin bowling. I had never done it before PINS came along, but I was instantly hooked. It’s similar to traditional bowling, but with a shorter lane, smaller pins, and a softball-sized wooden ball. It’s seriously addictive.
Where will you be celebrating National Videogame Arcade Day?