When I was in High School, I’d go to the arcade every week while my brother went to music practice. It was a sort of home away from home for those that had a passion for video games. Fighting game secrets, pinball free games and co-op shooting made the minutes pass like seconds. Those good times vanished away though when arcades across the US closed, and left only Buck Hunting at bars, or a few family friendly titles surrounded by shitty pizza and toddlers. When I went to Tokyo the joy of the arcade revisited my life. Every subway exit led to a new arcade and often a few blocks away, even more arcades existed. I’m still envious of that sort of setup, but having a new arcade in NH certainly helps.
The Pinball Wizard Arcade opened January 12th in Pelham NH. To my friends and I, it was obvious that we had to go on opening week. I was excited, but I kept my expectations in check. Almost all of the arcades that I’d been to in recent years had a small selection, no games past the eighties, or saw nearly every machine broken. So more often than not, going to a modern arcade in the US was more a grim reminder of the state of arcade gaming in the US, then a happy reminder of how great an arcade truly can be.
That’s why I was pleasantly surprised by how good The Pinball Wizard is, even in it’s early days. As the name implies, they have tons of pinball machines under their roof ( over 70 in fact), but they also have hundreds of arcade machines. But all that is just numbers, what I liked about The Pinball Wizard was their range. They have units from every decade and even some imports. This is important to me, as US arcades never surprise in this era. The fact that I played a few machines that I’ve never seen before was seriously cool, and unexpected. I played a Korean mini-game cabinet that had you controlling babies, a moment later I was playing an excellent Sailor Moon brawler.
Don’t worry though if you’re a more casual arcade goer, The Pinball Wizard also has tons of classic games and at least one cabinet that represents every genre. This is good, since a good number of the crowd on the day I went were older customers that probably haven’t been to an arcade in decades. But there were also lots of kids, so it’s a smart move on the arcade owner’s part to include more recent releases as well.
The arcade owner told me that another room and more machines will be up and running soon, so this is only the beginning. That’s good news for me and real gamers, as the arcade is already a great gaming destination. I selfishly hope for more recent Japanese releases to be imported into the arcade and more brawlers and music games, but even if none of those desires come to pass, The Pinball Wizard will be a regular hang out for me and my friends, and I hope to see you there as well.