INTERACTIVE 80’S EXHIBIT NOW OPEN DOWNTOWN
Okay, not really. But Coin-Op’s new arcade bar downtown celebrates the 80s with so much retro flair that it’s practically a museum exhibit.
Truly, no relic of the 80s better embodies that wayward age than the arcade. While the 60s had flower power, and the 70s had disco, the 80s mostly endures as the golden age of kitsch. The decade left behind a pop culture residue draped in garish colors, neon lights, bad hair, and cheap plastic toys. These bodacious times deserve nothing but the best campy remembrance, and Coin-Op provides it.
Rainbow colored lines inspired by the Atari logo welcome players at the entrance, columns throughout the space feature color-coded cutouts of Tetris shapes, neon light tubes cut geometric patterns on the ceiling. Behind the bar, there’s a glassed-in diorama like you might find in one of the historic adobe structures of Old Town.
Except instead of depicting what daily life was like in the 18th century, it’s set up like a 80s teen’s bedroom. Instead of frontier-time cooking utensils and furniture, there’s a bunk bed and a collection of 80s posters, toys, and technologies. It’s an eclectic, nostalgic collection, referencing boom boxes, Lite Brite, Simon Says, Bo Jackson, Hulk Hogan, Gordon Shumway, Castle Grayskull, Nintendo consoles, and VHS tapes.
Of course, like the original North Park location, this Coin-Op is really about providing a place to eat, drink, and play old school video games.
This Coin-Op’s got three times the space, and more than twice the number of games. Its 48 stand-up game cabinets include ten pinball machines, four Super Shot basketball games, five Skeeball lanes, and the animatronic fortune teller Zoltar, made famous by the movie Big.
There are also four tabletop modules at the front that you may drink and dine on, each with a menu of 64 classic games. In the back corner, another tabletop game — multiplayer Pac Man — lets up to four Pac people compete for pellets and ghosts.
If that’s not OG enough for you, there’s also a Ms. Pac Man cabinet in there somewhere, plus plenty of old school games to rekindle memories: think Ikari Warriors, Off Road, Punch Out, and Dig Dug. Millennials might not feel the same twinge of nostalgia, but I’m sure a couple of cocktails will help them enjoy this ancient technology from an anthropological perspective. For example, the game Paper Boy might answer the question: What was a paper route? Even if it leads to further questions, like: Why would anyone turn the job of delivering newspapers into a videogame? And: What is a newspaper, anyway?
The first Sunday of the month is free play day at Coin-Op. That might not feel as special as it did when I was a broke-ass teen with a lousy paying paper route, but at least now I can use all the quarters I save to tip my bartender.