Welcome to Location Watch, a post that looks at tracking the opening of new arcade locations around the globe. Since you the reader might be anywhere around the planet, hopefully one of these is near you but if not, search Location Watch here on the site to look fir more. Quite a few arcades exist out there, many more than are commonly believed to have survived the years, and as you’ll see here, new ones are opening up all the time.
Apologies for the delay on this one; This was supposed to be the February Location Watch but it just got away from me and now it’s April this week. Better late than never, as always.
Normally I’d put Japan in with other parts of Asia & Oceania but I’m making an exception this time due to the amount of news.
Sega Arcades Change Over To GiGO In Japan
It was no secret that the Sega name would be removed from most arcade buildings in Japan, being replaced with the new GiGO logo (which stands for Get into the Gaming Oasis). The news caused quite a bit of consternation when it blanketed the internet, many stories getting their facts skewed in the process. Well, the transformation has begun and the new logo is up, it uses a similar blue & white color scheme, just with a different font. In some cases changes have been made to the insides to when it comes to the game mix, but that’s always a part of the process of operating a major arcade – it’s never going to have the exact same setup years later.
Not content to just rebrand though, GENDA (the company that owns all of these locations) is continuing to expand their operations with new locations. They just opened an arcade in Takadanobaba (Tokyo) next to a pachinko parlor and train station and they’ve got a big new location under construction in Ikebukuro that’s opening this April.
Also having opened in Japan recently was the Game Panic Akihabara (Game Panic being another chain of arcades in Japan; It’s “mostly cranes and music games” though); the Miyanishi Stadium II spot in Matsuyama City; The chain called 3rd Planet has been opening new stores around Japan lately under the “Palette” brand name; and there’s a place called NICOPA that just opened in Kichioji. There is much more in store for the arcade scene in Japan this summer, although the tweets where AM-Net mentioned some specific locations were deleted by the owner, who doesn’t like to keep up tweets on certain things until there’s a news story to accompany them.
It’s entirely possible I’ve missed one or a few openings but either way, this should indicate that all of the reports of the death of the Japanese arcade scene were greatly exaggerated. 😉
Dezerland Park (Orlando, FL) -H/T to Michael Louie on this one. For as many theme parks there are in Orlando, we haven’t heard of too many FECs or arcades opening up there. That said, Florida in general has been exploding with these big developments in recent times, where we have two to discuss today; We’ll start with the bigger one first.
Dezerland Orlando marks the second location for the company (the other being in Miami) and it boasts “Over 800,000 sq. feet of Thrills & Fun” which easily takes the cake for the largest indoor attraction center in the state. It is setup in what used to be a mall – one that I visited at IAAPA a few years back when a different prospective owner was taking a look at it after the mall had just closed most of it’s operations. It’s an absolutely massive space, although it had a brand new trampoline business setup inside that was just starting to collect dust (I imagine they didn’t have to update it much for this new project).
An arcade is included in the mix of attractions, where the site states that it is home to “over 300 Redemption, Skill, Rhythm, Nostalgia, Classic Pinball, Toddler Riding Games and Video Games.” They mostly seem to focus on the redemption/videmption parts for the kids, but putting that mall space to use, there’s plenty there to see and do:
Route 7 Adrenaline Warehouse (Rockledge, FL) – If you head East from Orlando to the region known as “Space Coast,” they also just got a big new FEC, although it’s not nearly as massive as Dezerland. There is still more than plenty to do, so I don’t think that anyone will complain. Route 7 Adrenaline Warehouse has a bevy of available attractions, from go-karts, to bowling to laser tag to a ninja course and more, with the arcade being at the bottom of the attractions list. Still, it’s an arcade with 80 games around, although most appear to be redemption pieces. Check them out here.
GameOn bar+arcade (Annapolis, MD) – This new bar/arcade just opened their doors in downtown Annapolis, although I’m not entirely sure what the full game selection is. There are a couple of photos showing some games including basketball, Iceball and a Time Crisis 4; The site itself mentions Midway’s Tapper and pinball so if you’re nearby you’ll just have to venture over there and see what they’ve got. You can find them online, here.
DraftCade #3 (Richmond, VA) – Also in bar/arcades is the third location for DraftCade, which also has a place in Ohio and Missouri. The VA location features over 75 classic arcade games including Asteroids, BurgerTime, Donkey Kong, Galaga, Joust, NBA Jam, Pac-Man and plenty more (which includes pinball, as seen in the pic below). Find them here.
Galactix (Astoria, OR) – Down on the lower level of the South Bay Wild Fish house is this new space themed taphouse & arcade, featuring a “rotating collection of classic arcade games” as well as pinball. Some of the current titles on hand include Altered Beast, Caveman Ninja, Deathstalker (one of the few other locations I’ve heard get one, apart from myself and Galloping Ghost), HydroThunder, a Nintendo Vs. Red Tent cab, Silent Scope and more. They make great use of their theme too. Most info about them can be found on their Yelp page.
Downtown Flavortown (Pigeon Forge, TN) – This won’t bring arcade games to mind at first, but this Guy Fieri restaurant teamed up with a company called FACE Amusements to create a high-profile eatertainment venue, combining one of Fieri’s restaurants with a big FEC. In total it’s 43,000 sq. ft. in size with 10,000 of that being the arcade. The game mix entails a typical modern FEC, although it’s one of the few venues that I’ve seen to feature the new Playbox. Find out more here.
Subpar (San Francisco, CA) – While not a new-new opening, Subpar in SF has undergone a major space expansion, which means many more games to enjoy. This includes many of Raw Thrills’ recent releases (including the prototype of Cruis’n Blast called Cruis’n Adventure), Beat Saber Arcade, StepManiaX and so much more. As I promised in the last Location Watch post, here are some pics (click to enlarge; thanks to TJ Beyer for sending me these pics):
XLanes #3 (Fresno, CA) – Since we’re in California with Subpar, let’s jump back to FECs with the opening of a new bowling-focused FEC in Fresno that also boasts an arcade among it’s 50,000 sq. ft. of attractions. I’m not sure what games they have as there is no arcade section on their site but it certainly covers a modern selection of titles. Visit their website here.
Strikers (Jefferson City, MO) – Also in bowling but not in California, here’s one that opened with a “42-game arcade” in addition to their other attractions. Some of those games include Halo: Fireteam Raven, Jurassic Park Arcade, King Kong of Skull Island, Ultra Moto VR and lots of redemption pieces. They also have a multi-sport “HD simulator” (I can’t remember the name of one company who specialized in these – it might be the same one, but the brand name isn’t mentioned on their games page) where you can play a number of sports in a more realistic way than with a joystick or VR headset, as it involves throwing, kicking or hitting real balls at the screen. You can find them online here.
Europe & UK
NQ64 #7 (Glasgow, UK) – Bar/arcade business NQ64 also continues their growth in the UK with their seventh location, now open in Glasgow. The selection sounds similar to their other locations, with a stronger focus on titles from the 80s (Bubble Bobble, Donkey Kong, Double Dragon, Galaga, Space Invaders, etc.) & 90s (Crazy Taxi, Mortal Kombat II, Street Fighter II, Time Crisis, etc.) than new stuff. That said, they do have some new pinball machines and Guitar Hero Arcade, among other things. Here’s some video from the Edinburgh location:
The Arcade Warehouse #3 (North Shields, UK) – Also growing in size is The Arcade Warehouse, having opened their 3rd location a little over a week ago. This chain is a free play arcade, charging by time to access the wide selection of games. There are 65 games on-site (and from the photos, looks like they have space to expand), which is a mixture of some old but a lot more newer/newish stuff than one typically sees in a freeplay arcade, such as Big Buck Safari, Dead Heat Street Racing, The Fast & The Furious, The House of the Dead 4, Sharpshooter, Tank! Tank! Tank!, Terminator Salvation and more. Find the site for location #3 here.
The Beach Bar Aberdeen (Aberdeen, Scotland) – This one isn’t a video arcade but more of a traditional beach bar that has some bar staples, including darts, ping pong, shuffleboard, skee-ball and a billiards variation called Crazy Pool. It does look like they could easily integrate some bar focused video arcade games though, like Retro Raccoons, Golden Tee and the upcoming Ice Cold Beer remake. Find them here.
Wonderland: Adult Soft Play (London, UK) – Here’s a very temporary one, only popping up on a few select days in North London through May. It’s main thrust is offering up a soft playground for adults to enjoy, serving drinks and such, but there will also be a small freeplay arcade around (one photo only shows a Space Invaders and a Dancing Stage; not sure if there’s more than that). Kudos to Kieran May for the tip on this story.
Back To The Arcade (Goulburn, Australia) – This FEC in Australia offers laser tag, mini-bowling, karaoke, a café and of course, an arcade. One unusual thing about it is that they have two deluxe Star Wars Battle Pods – many forget this but they could link, which in turn would actually use the camera that was built into the game. Beyond that they also have titles like GHOST Squad & Operation GHOST, Golly Ghost, Lost Land Adventure, Mario Kart Arcade GP2, Razing Storm, Sega Rally, Time Crisis II, and more. Check them out here.
Timezone (Northland Shopping Centre, Melbourne, Australia & Westfield Shopping Centre, Mr. Druitt, Australia) – There are at least a couple of new Timezones that have opened up in Australia, further expanding the chain’s operations in that region of the world. If you are familiar with a Timezone then you’ll know to expect many of the latest titles in both video and redemption fun to enjoy, regardless of the location. Here’s a pic from the Melbourne site.
1-Up Orlando Arcade Opening Up This May – Revival of the closed Joysticks Arcade
The Light Redhill Bringing FEC Fun (And A Retro Arcade) To Redhill, UK Easter 2023 – Yes, about a year from now.