As much as we'd all like to think otherwise, keeping a garage full of arcade machines isn't practical for most people. The upkeep on older coin-op cabinets is a nightmare, they take up a lot of space and, OK, they can be a bit expensive.
But sometimes you just need to get it on like Donkey Kong, y'know? For moments like those, here are some of the best places in the Dallas area to quarter up.
For the old-school fans
Free Play Arcade
Recently opened in Richardson, Free Play took the arcade bar concept and made it more about the arcade than the beer. More than 60 arcade and pinball machines are all set to free play (that name makes even more sense now, huh?), so for a $10 entry fee you can play classics such as Joust, Smash TV, Pac-Man and more to your heart's content.
The National Videogame Museum
One of the main attractions of Frisco's National Videogame Museum is an arcade room with more than 40 games including Asteroids, Centipede and Donkey Kong. Your admission fee to the museum itself comes with four tokens for the games (each game costs one or two tokens per player), but additional tokens can be purchased for 25 cents each.
The website for Tornado Terry's alone is a blast from the past, complete with spinning GIFs and an eye-popping background. The place itself keeps that vibe with classic games, including Mortal Kombat and Galaga. It's only open on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, but the family-friendly establishment has been in business for more than 25 years and can be worth the drive out to Keller.
As it stands now, the arcade area of Versus Gameplay is very small (seven machines, though most of those machines contain more than one game), but it has a lot of heart. In it you'll find what one of the owners says is the only working Tempest machine in the area. It sits next to the likes of Asteroids, Donkey Kong and a Neo Geo cabinet that has the cult hit Windjammers. Versus Gameplay's owners have about 50 more games, though, and they say they hope to move soon to a larger location where they can have more on display. For now, Versus Gameplay is also a hot spot for more modern competitive games such as Super Smash Bros. and Mortal Kombat X, and the people behind it are working to foster a local eSports scene for die-hard players.
If you need a little Mortal Kombat with your night-life lifestyle, Barcadia is a pretty good spot. Neither the Dallas nor Fort Worth location boasts the largest collection of machines in the area, but the old-school selection is solid with games like Tron and Track & Field. If you want your '80s nostalgia with a side of beer and food, head to Barcadia and play some Frogger.
For the ticket hunters
This one's a popular birthday party destination for children, and all of NickelRama's games take nickels instead of quarters (after a small fee to get into the building). Unfortunately, a lot of the classic cabinets in recent years (R.I.P. NBA Jam) have been removed and replaced with newer games, most of which focus on tickets. Still, it's a fun place for families, and it feels good to play a game for 20 cents when it normally would have cost a dollar.
Dave & Buster's
The flagship Dave & Buster's location in Dallas got an overhaul in 2012, and that gave it a much more open feel than the D&Bs of yesteryear. It has a sports bar area now, but of note for this list is the midway. There are almost no old-school games (save one machine that has Donkey Kong and Mario Bros.), but there is a great selection of newer stuff including Mario Kart Arcade GP, Guitar Hero and the fun (and timely) Star Wars: Battle Pod. Like most of the "modern" arcades on this list, there are also a lot of mobile-games-turned-arcade-machines, such as Infinity Blade FX and Temple Run, which is a weird phenomenon to say the least. But when you have more than 100 games, I guess they can't all be winners.
While it goes for a similar all-around entertainment vibe, the arcade area at Pinstack isn't as big nor does it have as good a selection as Dave & Buster's. There's the multiplayer Pac-Man Battle Royale and a bunch of light gun games like Jurassic Park Arcade, but there's not a lot that sets the arcade alone apart. Pinstack's strength is that while you're there you can also bowl, play laser tag, do some rock climbing, go through a high ropes course (right over the arcade) or ride bumper cars.
The arcade at the recently-renovated Bowlmor in Addison may be near the center of the building, but it probably won't be the center of your attention. You'll go to Bowlmor to, well, bowl, and maybe to play a bit of bocce or billiards as well. Still, while you're there, you can try about 40 games, most of which are new machines, including Mario Kart Arcade GP and Jurassic Park. The ticket prizes aren't great, but as of this writing you could save up for some Star Wars temporary tattoos.