I returned to my roots this past weekend in Denver with a pocket full of quarters, capping off a Friday night with a trip to a bar/arcade combo called 2UP. The lights and sounds of the old-school games were all familiar, the only differences between the decades being the size of my hands and the potency of my drink. The Simpsons, Ninja Turtles, Mario, Mortal Kombat, NBA Jam, and Pacman were all there.
2UP is Denver’s second throwback-gaming watering hole, recently opened in June in Capitol Hill after the success of their first location, 1UP in LoDo (Lower Downtown), which features over 45 classic arcade games, 15 pinball machines, three lanes of classic Skee-Ball, and multiple sets of giant Jenga. Now that the children of the 80s and 90s have grown up and become bar owners and entrepreneurs, we have seen a bunch of adult arcades pop up across the nation over the past few years.
While the concept itself is unique to Denver, the first were born in Portland (Ground Kontrol) and Brooklyn (Barcade) in the early 2000s. Establishments like Dave and Buster’s have been around for much longer (1982), however the new era of gaming destinations makes no attempt to be family friendly or corporate – they are all about the nostaliga for twenty or thirty-something gamers.
Another big difference is that games cost a quarter at 1Up and 2Up – just like back in the day – as compared to dollar-plus prices at Dave and Buster’s. Check around your home city to find the nearest adult arcade and enjoy a cold one as you head down memory lane.