No matter your age, arcades are happy places. They're a welcome alternative to the standard night at the bar or the typical dinner and a movie date, and they allow us to feel like a carefree kid again. Hell, the chaotic sounds of an arcade alone can put you in a good mood — you know, that mix of catchy J-Pop and clanking air hockey pucks with a hint of "
South Florida is home to a solid selection of these gaming playgrounds, with another, Punch Bowl Social, on the way.
Some of the area's arcades are famous. One over in Kendall is infamous. So which of the many arcades are most worthy of your quarters? Press start to
1. Arcade Odyssey. Located in a Kendall strip mall between a salon and pizza joint, Arcade Odyssey is the closest thing South Florida has to the arcades of yesteryear. And not just because it's home to early '90s side-scrolling staples X-Men, The Simpsons, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Turtles in Time. The place has a vintage setup, with covered-up windows to prevent light from sneaking in and over 130 games stacked side by side. There are no ticket redemption games like at a mega-arcade and, unlike at a
But don’t think of Arcade Odyssey as outdated.
2. Dave & Buster's. This 60,000-square-foot Dolphin Mall mega-arcade isn’t where you go to beat games. It’s where you go to get wowed by them. Dave & Buster's — more than half of which is made up of bars, pool tables, and dining areas — is loaded with tricked-out simulators that lure you in with bright lights and over-the-top displays. These simulators also come with seating, because God forbid you
You'll find many classic franchises here, just not the way you remember them. Pacman has been supersized and now comes with an epilepsy warning. The Rock-Em Sock-Em Robots toy has been converted into life-size robots. Remember Space Invaders, the bare bones arcade you’d find at a laundromat? It now comes with laser guns, seating for two, and a 108-inch LED screen. Some might consider that blasphemy, but those bells and whistles sure are effective. 11:30 a.m. to midnight Sunday through Thursday, 11:30 a.m. Friday and Saturday at 11481 NW 12th St. #E622, Miami; 305-468-1555; daveandbusters.com.
3. Glitch Bar. When it comes strictly to arcade decor, this Fort Lauderdale
But Glitch is more than just good looks. There's a decent selection of classic arcade cabinets to choose from, such as Ms. Pac-Man, Donkey Kong 3, Galaga, and Street Fighter II. If you're into video game consoles, just park yourself on the leather couches in front of the TV and pick up a controller. The consoles, like the arcades, are free to play. The hope is you'll buy drinks while playing free games. It's like the opposite of a casino. 5 p.m. to 2 a.m. Sunday through Thursday and 5 p.m. to 3 a.m. Friday and Saturday at 905 NE Fifth Ave., Fort Lauderdale; 954-616-5762; glitchbar.com.
4. GameTime. One of the few remaining reasons to visit the Shops at Sunset Place, GameTime offers the modern arcade experience: two floors, nearly 160 games, a separate pool table room, and a bar and renovated restaurant with 60-plus HDTVs. The 36,000-square-foot arcade is heavy on simulators, which allow you to get behind the wheel and race your friends in the six-player Indy 500 or step inside the Jurassic Park, Walking Dead, and Transformers Human Alliance shooter games and fire at will. On UFC fight nights, GameTime has been known to get crowded with mixed martial arts fans. Plan accordingly. 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Monday through Wednesday, 11 a.m. to midnight Thursday, 11 to 2 a.m. Friday, 10 to 2 a.m. Saturday, and 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. Sunday at 5701 Sunset Dr. Suite 330, Miami; 305-667-4263; gametimeplayers.com.
5. Tenth Level Tavern. For the widest selection of video game consoles, from Atari and Nintendo to
Serious gamers will dig the frequent tournaments, which come with cash or beer prizes. Casual gamers will like the escape from the typical bar scene, in addition to the walk down memory lane. Everyone will like that games at Tenth Level Tavern — which decks out its walls with video game-inspired art — are all free. Just try not to hog the GoldenEye, OK? 5 p.m. to midnight Monday and Wednesday, 5 p.m. to 1 a.m. Tuesday, 5 p.m. to 2 a.m. Thursday and Friday, noon to 2 a.m. Saturday, and noon to midnight Sunday at 1242 NE 38th St., Oakland Park; 954-559-1414; facebook.com/tenthleveltavern.
6. Miami Arcade. Pinball, anyone? Former patrons of the now-closed Miami Pinball in North Miami will be happy to know some of those machines found a new home nearby in this Dezerland Park arcade. Pinball wizards can come here to play Game of Thrones, Avatar, Metallica, Batman '66, and X-Files pinball machines, among others.
There are also several games of the non-silver ball variety, from old skool Pacman and Popeye arcade cabinets to new-school stock car simulators and the six-lane, neon-lit mini bowling alley. 2 to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 2 to 11 p.m. Friday, 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. Saturday, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday at 14401 NE 19th Ave., North Miami; 786-590-5002; dezerlandpark.com.
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7. Xtreme Action Park. There are plenty of reasons to visit this multipurpose Fort Lauderdale entertainment venue, one of which is its spacious arcade with over 100 games. Play well-known classics such as Ghostbusters and Mario Kart Racing and discover games that have yet to hit the market, thanks to Xtreme's partnership with arcade sellers PrimeTime Amusements.
One game sure to stand out is the XD Dark Ride Theater with motion seating for eight. Put on those 3D glasses David Caruso-style and use your laser shooter to fire away at zombies or whatever else is breathing down your neck. Afterward, head over to the Hershey's Shake Shoppe inside the arcade and choose from over 30 ice cream flavors. Ice cream goes great with arcades, and just about everything else. 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 11 a.m. to midnight Friday and Saturday at 5300 Powerline Rd., Fort Lauderdale; 954-491-6265; xtremeactionpark.com.
8. In the Game. Formerly known as Game Room, this arcade in Sawgrass Mills mall has undergone a bit of a makeover in the past six months. In the Game has added VR games such as alien bug shooter Total Recoil and an elaborate Game of Thrones-themed escape room, Game of Stones. Also new: the karaoke game Star Show Xperience, which lets you immediately send your karaoke video to social media. This could be your big break! 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 11 to 1 a.m. Friday and Saturday at 2608 Sawgrass Mills Cir., Sunrise, 954-845-8740; gameroomsawgrass.com.