On Saturday night, I went to the Up Down arcade in Uptown Minneapolis. It’s a bar that’s been outfitted with a bunch of old-school video games, some N64 games on a projector screen, and some huge jenga games on the patio. You can also order pizza by the slice, and they have an enormous craft beer selection. Basically, it’s catered to millennials (and maybe the younger side of Gen X.)
I had many thoughts about this place before I went: Oh man this sounds so cool! I hope they have Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles; I loved those games. I’m going to spend so much money here. I rarely got the chance to spend a lot of money at arcades when I was a kid. Maybe it’s because I never had more than a couple bucks to blow at them. I’d go through a dollar or so and then that’d be it. My fun would be over in mere minutes. Lame.
At the Up Down, the tokens cost a quarter. Most of the games cost one token (smart idea.) During the time I went, they were running a special with two-for-one on all tokens. We decided to get 10 dollars worth. We thought that would satiate our cravings for pixel-fueled nostalgia. It did, and a whole lot more.
I’ll say this about video games. I like them. I don’t mind playing them, but somewhere after Nintendo 64, things got complicated. I don’t know what it was, but I got diminishing marginal returns out of playing them. I still enjoy party games like Guitar Hero or Mario Party, but they all just feel different. It requires too much commitment and effort to really get into them and get good at them. So I haven’t bought a gaming system in years. (Even though there is a part of me that really wants to purchase Fifa in order to feed my soccer addiction.)
There were a number of different games at Up Down: first person shooters with plastic guns, old school classics like Ms. Pac Man, random side scrollers like The Simpsons, pinball, and a few sports games. I liked the variety.
My favorite game was actually one made by Budweiser. It was an older one that was based around a bartender whose job it was to pour beers and throw them down the bar to thirsty customers. There were four bars that you had to navigate between. You had to pour and throw, and also catch empty glasses as they were flung back at you. It was fun. I didn’t feel like I was just smashing buttons.
At the end of the night, I was a little bit wired. Twenty dollars of tokens was a bit too much for me. I liked the place, but I don’t think I would make it a regular stop for me. Once in a while would be just fine. Although I did get to play the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles game again. It wasn’t as much fun as I remember.