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Play Your Favorite Video Games at These Dallas Arcades

Where to binge play in Dallas.
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From vintage vibes to sleek and modern, North Texas is home to a host of arcades. iStock

Video games may be more compact, powerful, and mobile than ever before, but they still haven’t killed the classic arcade. If anything, the competition has made these humble gaming rooms stronger. The retro arcade has grown to the point where Dallas now has chains with fanbases that keep them bleeping and blooping all year long. 

Some prefer to recreate the 80s arcade aesthetic with authentic, stand-up arcade machines and an ambient soundtrack of Van Halen and Heart. Other offerings include sleek newer machines. Chances are you’re never far away from a place if you get the sudden urge to play “Space Invaders” without sitting in front of your TV or pulling out your smartphone.

Grab the sticks at these arcades across Dallas-Fort Worth. 

Free Play Arcade

Free Play is the OG chain of retro throwback arcades that pretty much started the trend. It has exploded since opening its Richardson location in 2015. Free Play now has five locations across the region and a few years ago, they opened their first Dallas-proper arcade just on the other side of the Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge. Free Play’s collection of classic and new arcade game titles must be as big as that warehouse at the end of Raiders of the Lost Ark.

They are always stocked with at least a handful of games that Gen Xers remember from their childhood and they pride themselves on offering original arcade and pinball machines that run just the way they did in their heyday. They even have a curfew for kids so grown-up guests can play in peace after hours. (There’s also a full bar.) There are no emulators and clones here. They even have rarities like a working Sega Time Traveler machine from the 90s that used holograms as the screen. 3015 Gulden Ln.; 1730 E. Belt Line Rd., Richardson; 400 E. South St., Arlington; 101 W. Hickory St., Denton, 1311 Lipscomb St., Fort Worth

Cidercade

Bishop Cider’s arcade concept has also expanded across Dallas-Fort Worth and to Austin and Houston. They pack a lot of great games into each location, from old school titles to a couple of those big, multiplayer racing games. The Dallas location has one of the biggest and best collections of pinball machines. There’s also a good collection of physical games like Skee-Ball, a baseball pitching game, an NFL theme football toss, and that carnival style ball throwing game where you have to knock down clown toys that look like Larry David. They also have a kiddie curfew so adults can have a turn at the wheel. Couple that with some of the tastiest cider in the city and they may have to ask you to leave come closing time. 2777 Irving Blvd., Ste. 200; 1813 West Bowie St., Fort Worth; 500 E. Division St., Arlington

The National Videogame Museum

Cleveland, Ohio and Cooperstown, New York may have the Rock ‘n Roll Hall of Fame and the Baseball Hall of Fame respectively, but we’ve got something infinitely cooler. The National Videogame Museum in Frisco has the greatest collection of retro games, hardware, and collectibles anywhere in the country. It’s not just a museum. You can actually play most of them, from the original Atari 2600 to the original Microsoft Xbox. There are also rare pieces that chronicle the history of the gaming industry, a big part of which started in Dallas through flagship titles like id Software’s Doom and Gearbox Software’s Borderlands franchise. (The latter is about to get its first movie treatment this summer.) Every trip ends through the gift shop, but you first walk through an authentic replica of a working 80s arcade complete with a running scoreboard in which new players’ high scores are updated daily. 8004 Dallas Pkwy., Frisco

Nickelrama           

Another Dallas arcade staple is this new and retro gaming space tucked away in Garland where you can play just about any game in the place for (wait for it) a nickel. These two huge spaces are more focused on modern arcade titles that have exploded since the arcade started making a comeback over the last decade. There’s a ton of huge driving, sports, and shooting games as well as lot of ticket redemption games so you can take home a prize. You can still play classics like Space Invaders and Pac-Man, except they are on huge LED screens that almost reach the ceiling. They are even located right next to a pizza place because arcades and pizza go together better than any other food and service industry combo in existence. 1238 Belt Line Rd. Ste. 300, Garland and 3046 Lavon Dr., Garland

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Cidercade even hosts New Year's Eve parties. Bret Redman

Adventure Landing

Without Adventure Landing, entertainment concepts like batting cages, bumper boats, and go-karts could become as antiquated as stickball and jacks. The campus also offers an impressive arcade with over 100 games. After you’ve played every game on the floor, you can venture to other parts to compete in a game of Laser Tag with your friends. If the weather’s good, take a spin on a go-kart or try to soak your friends in the Bumper Boats. There’s also a chance to dominate your opponents in a round of mini-golf. 17717 Coit Rd.

 Corky’s Gaming Bistro

There’s a lot more to do at Corky’s than playing some classic arcade games. The concept has received a big injection of fun by way of more trendy and competitive entertainment experiences. Corky’s offers axe throwing booths where you can play eight different types of games with digital tracking and interfaces, four puzzling escape rooms—including a Jack the Ripper theme room that sports a solve rate of just over 20 percent—and a new digital experience called Krazy Darts that operates 12 different games on a digital dartboard. 3520 Grapevine Mills Blvd., Grapevine

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A selection at Free Play Arcade's flagship in Richardson. Jeremy Sharp

Barcadia

Sometimes you don’t want a place that offers nine different types of bowling and video game screens as tall as your house. You just want to order a beer and kick back with a game of Mortal Kombat or Ms. Pac-Man. Henderson Avenue’s Barcadia is one of the first and oldest barcade concepts in the country and it hasn’t changed much. The place has some open air so you’re not constantly bombarded by a wall of noise and a good selection of classic quarter munchers that you can play in between rounds. 1917 N. Henderson Ave.

EVO Entertainment

This happens in just about every friend group. You get off work and meet up but none of you can agree on something fun to do. One person wants to see the new Godzilla movie. Someone else wants to go bowling. Another person just wants to play arcade games. Evo Entertainment offers all three of those experiences in locations in Dallas and Southlake. The arcade is fully stocked with the latest video games. Ticket redemption challenges include a Fast & The Furious driving game with a massive screen. There are several lanes of ten-pin bowling. Then on the other side of each location, you’ll find a row of movie theaters showing the latest big screen features with access to a full dining menu. They also offer special deals with $5 movies on Tuesdays and half-price games on Wednesdays. 5409 Belt Line Rd. and 1450 Plaza Pl., Southlake

Round 1

Arcades are a way of life for some Japanese gamers who fill up buildings with unique titles and machines that almost never find their ways to the States. Round 1 Bowling and Arcade is one of the few places in town where you can play some of those games alongside old classics and new favorites. There are over 150 crane machines that dispense adorable plush teddies, Hello Kitties, and other familiar characters. Prizes include exclusive My Hero Academia figures and Rilakkuma cups for the collector in the group. There’s also a huge bowling alley, darts, ping pong and billiard tables, and karaoke rooms if you feel like breaking out in song. 3000 Grapevine Mills Pky., Grapevine and 3811 S. Cooper St., Arlington

Arcade 92

One of the newer retro arcade concepts is this growing arcade chain that recently popped up on McKinney’s downtown square. Both locations are filled with just about every game from your childhood to Arkanoid to Zaxxon along with a few modern consoles where you can compete in a round of the latest Madden NFL (assuming it’s still playable by then, sigh). It also has the look and feel of a classic arcade with its brick wall aesthetic and the classic tunes. Most importantly, the whole joint is packed from wall to wall with games of all kind. 801 International Pky. Ste. 580, Flower Mound and 305 E. Virginia St. Ste. 103, McKinney

Black Dog Retro Arcade

The Arlington Improv comedy club did something unique in 2018. It decided to turn its Black Dog pizza place into an old school video game arcade. This Arlington arcade has a good selection of games from classic titles like Q*Bert and the four-player Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles beat ‘em up. There’s more modern fare, too, like the Guitar Hero arcade machine and the Sound Voltex rhythm game. You’ll also find consoles from the original NES to the Xbox Series X. 309 Curtis Mathes Way Ste. 147

Retrocade

This Rowlett retro arcade is another newer entry, but it packs a lot of fun in one place. There are over 80 new and classic arcade games and pinball machines that they keep in tip-top shape. You’ll find a more rare titles like the original Choplifter and a Heat Wave pinball machine from 1964. Then you can belly up to the bar and replenish your energy with a cool drink or something to eat before you head back into the digitized fray. Like other arcades, this one offers free play for a flat price. You can also purchase a monthly pass. 6320 Dalrock Rd., Ste. 100, Rowlett

Author

Danny Gallagher

Danny Gallagher

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