With my Adventure Time t-shirt and my Gorillaz Chuck Taylors on*, I trekked my way into unknown territory last night. For the first time ever in all the years that I have been living in NY, I set foot in Williamsburg, NYC. I figured I needed to dress the part some because to infiltrate and understand the hipsters, you must become one like the hipsters. I don't think I'd ever fully be able to succeed in that regard and my War on the hipsters continues but the point of the evening was for something far more entertaining than made-up wars in my head. I went to play some classic, glorious video games on some glorious arcade machines and met up with some like-minded awesome people at the Brooklyn Barcade.
Yikes, sorry about the poor quality on the pictures this go.
Oh, how clever a name! The Brooklyn Barcade is exactly what you think it is: a place where you can not only get your gaming on but for getting your drank on as well. It's so much more than that though. It houses some great machines and waves of nostalgia to immerse yourself in. Even if you never had the opportunity to experience some of the games before, there's something undeniably charming about a lot of them in their routine simplicity. There's love in the way they are presented. My memories of Ms Pacman (though my sister and I preferred Pacman Jr.) were joystick related. Here though, there's magic in the feel of your hand on the arcade stick. It's all in the environment of an arcade that gives it so much feeling; it's in the immersion of you and the machine in front of you; and inserting quarters into the slot, hearing it drop in with that beautiful sound of 'acceptance' and bringing up that screen that tells you to press start to play.
Of course, a couple of the machines ate some of my quarters. $3.50 was all I had to my name to be shared among my friend B and fellow TAY'er UI 2.0 but I was pressed for time too and we made do. But you know, even the machine eating your quarters is somehow part of that experience. Sure you feel all mad and there's the moment of frantic tapping on the start button to see if you can get the game to start up, along with your cry of disbelief of "...this ?$@!#!$! ate my quarter!" (yep, you totally shout it out in Q*Bert style**. Of course! It's the only way to do these things).
I've only been to a few arcades - some really colourful ones in Japan with their sensory overload on colours, sounds and pigs; and the Chicken Arcade in Chinatown, NYC - and being in the Brooklyn Arcade felt a bit much like the arcade in Chinatown but less shady, less cramped and more relaxed. It's dark, with the glow from every machine helping to light the place while calling to you in an enticing manner. The machines sort of silently stand there and lure you in with their little demos jogging your memories while displaying exactly what sort of fun you're about to dive into.
I did not have a lot of time to spend at the arcade unfortunately and so choosing which games to play was a hard one. Being that there were three of us as well meant we tried to pick a game where we could all die together. And die together we did with our choice of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
B took Donatello, UI played as Michelangelo (mmhmm, no surprise) and I was Raphael (why would I be any other turtle?)
B and I had been eye-balling the Tapper machine since we stepped in because who does not want to play a game where you serve beer to angry customers in a video game bar while you're being an 'angry' customer with your beer in hand in a bar that houses video games? That's right. Think on that.
Ah, the memories of the Swan and her master like skills and her gracefulness at Tapper.
I don't know what it is with my like of swinging from vines in any of my games but the fact that the controls were "jump" and "knife" made me quite intrigued by Jungle Hunt. Unfortunately, my jungle jumping skills are not so skillful and I fell to my demise before I got to any knifing.
When I do swing though, it's all stylish like. Look at that. It's the fall you should be ignoring. That never happened regardless of what I just told you previously.
With my 3Ds in tow, I got quite the number of hits but this trip to the arcade was not just for the appreciation of the awesome gaming machines with their awesome siren song games but also to meet and greet with NYC-based video game critics and writers. I got my 3DS out because I saw our very own Jason Schreier from Kotaku at the bar. At some point I had my head down clearing my Streetpass Mii plaza, and when next I looked up there he was chatting away talking about all the 3DS Streetpass features and the clearing he needed to do as well to be able to tag UI and myself. I will forgive that he could not quite hear me or "know" who I was, while secretly shaking my fist, but I finally tagged (and met!) Jason after missing my opportunity to do so the first time at the Legend of Zelda concert.
He was quite fun from just the few minutes I got to spend with him and utmost respect to him for his Zelda 3DS edition too. High Five to you, Jason! And yes, a 3DS XL is so much more beautiful in screen size but hey, I'm just going to keep dreaming that a Majora's Mask edition will come out and only then will I be able to live a peaceful, happy life.
But no high five for the lack of pink pieces to share in the Puzzle Swap. In fact, this was the only one I could take from him. What the stuff, man?!
I also got to shake hands and chat a while with Tina. I think she realized I was milling about to make an introduction and I felt bad for that but I did not want to be rude and blast my way into her conversation. Tina was very sweet and it was great meeting her and just having a little bit of a chat. Unfortunately she gave me the bad news that Evan was going to be there a bit later and seeing as I had to go, I sadly missed meeting him and finally putting to rest and confirming that Zarnyx is indeed female (and maybe try to push secret shameless plugs for TAY... shhh, maybe next time on the TAY business TAY-folk. Only kidding! No one saw anything!).
It was quite the pleasant evening: I had laughs with UI and B, I got my @#$!?! handed to me by Rocksteady, I tossed some beers into the wall while taking a moment to watch the Can-Can girls dance, and left with new memories built on top of old memories from some of my favourite games. I intend to go back one day for a longer period to play more of those games, even if it means walking into enemy territory*** once more.
- Go to TAY Classic for discussions on life, the warm glow of arcade machines and Ms Pacman. Yup. Is she actually there? Yes. Yes, she is. Maybe. Just...look out for ghosts. And in a quest for knowledge on how to swing on the vines of TAY and TAY Classic and how that works, check out this TUTorial.
*Yes, I also wore pants before anyone says anything.
**For a Memorable Conversation in the language of Q*Bert, click here.
***No Hipsters were hurt in the making of this post.