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Game On

Level Up Arcade Celebrates Its Grand Opening

Remember when everyone’s game console was the original Nintendo and the control pad only had two buttons? When “Duck Hunt” was the only shooter and you sometimes had to blow into the cartridges to make them work? 

In those days, when the home console wasn’t enough to satiate our videogame cravings, we went to the arcade. Hell, we went just to play games with cooler graphics and more buttons, to escape ourselves and become fantastical characters in surreal worlds — if only for a quarter’s worth of time.

Remember that one game you’d wait in line to play, because you loved it that much? The one you’d politely place two quarters on the edge of the screen for, to indicate that you would get to play next? Remember? 

If you have memories like these you are about to receive flashbacks. Walk into downtown’s new Level Up Arcade, close your eyes for a moment and listen: The sounds will take you back, and the games will keep you there. 

“It’s incredible to see people of all ages walk in with that look of wide-eyed excitement,” says bar manager Kenny Wilson.

This place is exceptional, an old-school gamer’s paradise with a full bar, music, and food from next-door neighbor Cornucopia. Level Up Arcade’s official grand opening is 9 pm Friday, April 27, and will feature music by DJ Foodstamp.

In tribute to Level Up Arcade’s plethora of iconic arcade games, we’ve previewed a few classics in rare form, for the gamers ... get your game on.  

NFL Blitz

Midway, 1997

I hit the field, Superbowl Sunday ’97, prepared for the pains of football with rules cast aside. Play after play I’m wrestled down by the opposition — bloodied by late tackles and after-the-whistle piledrivers — but that won’t stop me. I give it my all and we come out a touchdown ahead. Who’s amateur grade now, coach?

Mortal Kombat II

Midway, 1993

Raiden vs Sub-Zero. Round 1. Fight. Uppercuts. High kicks. Lightning blast. Ice blast. Finish him. Bloody decapitation. Fatality.

King of the Monsters

SNK, 1991

I am Woo, a reflection of King Kong if ever there were one, and my adversaries are Geon, Beetle Mania and Rocky.

The brawl begins, meager blows striking epidermis of flesh and scale. Each contact causes minor damage to our mighty bodies, but as the metropolitan surroundings deteriorate at our feet we find solace in the possibility of makeshift blacksmithery.

Behind me Rocky reaches down and rips an L-train from its track, sparks flying as the wheels spin uselessly against thin air. The golem casts sluggish blows at Beetle — my only potential ally in this colossal urban death match — and as the carriage strikes Beetle’s head he falls as a warrior thwarted by grotesque, ten-ton nunchucks. It’s not long before I follow suit, beaten into submission by Geon’s goliath clubbed tail. Defeat.


Various, since the 1700s

Hey baby, pop my flippers once in a while — you won’t regret it. I’ll have your balls bouncing in no time. There’s no telling what kinds of hidden crevasses lie in between all of my flashing lights and loud noises. I might even let you have at me again if you make it to 100,000. Don’t get cocky though, I’m high class — it’s gonna cost you one quarter extra. I am Lady Pinball, and I own the night.

Operation Wolf

Taito, 1987

Parachuting behind enemy lines with an Israeli submachine gun that requires no reloading, I’m on mission to rescue hostages. Shot after shot I receive points for blasting everything on two legs, with the exception of some nurses carrying an empty stretcher across the battlefield, who I smoked by accident. Vehicles explode, paratroopers crash-land, guerillas narrowly escape disfigurement and helicopters fall from the sky. Rocket propelled grenades detonate and I am awarded money for demolishing buildings — gunfire and adequate compensation, every man’s dream. I am shot down by some burly communist, wielding his AK-47 with finesse. Game over.