Video game arcades
Wed Sep 7 2011
Photograph: Tina Zimmer
Next Level Arcade
When Chinatown Fair shut its doors in February, NYC was left without an arcade in the early-'90s mold: a video-game dungeon where practiced hands could battle via fighting games like Street Fighter and Mortal Kombat. Thankfully, a new venue has opened up to fill the void: Next Level Arcade. The Sunset Park space is equipped with nine cabinets that focus on head-to-head button-mashers such as Street Fighter IV and Marvel vs. Capcom 3. Consoles like Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 are set up to play contemporary titles, which can be selected from Next Level's extensive library. Tourneys for hard-core players are held Wednesday nights at 6pm. 4013 Eighth Ave between 40th and 41st Sts, Sunset Park, Brooklyn (347-618-8813, nycnextlevel.com). Mon--Thu, Sat, Sun noon--midnight; Fri noon--3am. First hour $3, subsequent hours $2.50; arcade machines 25 per play.
Indie-video-game collective Babycastles, which ran a pop-up arcade on East 42nd Street last winter, now houses its cabinets at 285 Kent Avenue, a warehouse that hosts concerts (Mount Eerie plays September 21) and boasts an experimental snack stand called Dynasty Cafeteria (dynastycafeteria.tumblr.com). The current batch, an exhibition of "highly physical video games" titled "F%!k the Screen," includes titles such as MEGA-GIRP—a climbing simulation that uses four dance pads arranged in tandem—and Johann Sebastian Joust, a music-based game played with wandlike PlayStation Move controllers. 285 Kent Ave between South 1st and 2nd Sts, Williamsburg, Brooklyn (facebook.com/babycastles). Mon--Sun 8pm--1am. Free.
This craft-beer destination's collection of arcade machines from the '70s, '80s and '90s is one of the city's best. Currently, there are 33 playable classics—including Tetris, Ms. Pac-Man and the newest addition, Cheyenne, a Wild West shooter with a light-gun rifle. High scores are kept on a chalkboard (and online) for all to admire. While it's unlikely you'll top the bar's high score for Donkey Kong (Hank Chien, the current world record holder, has held the top spot since 2009), it's not inconceivable you could claim victory at one of the bar's more obscure machines: The top score for Satan's Hollow, a Galaga-like shoot-'em-up, was earned only a few weeks ago. 388 Union Ave between Ainslie and Powers Sts, Williamsburg, Brooklyn (718-302-6464, barcadebrooklyn.com). Mon--Thu 5pm--4am, Fri--Sun 2pm--4am. 21and up. 25 per play.
Museum of the Moving Image
A section of "Behind the Screen," Moving Image's core exhibition, is dedicated to the history and evolution of video games, which means at any given time visitors can play ten machines from its extensive collection of games made between 1971 and 1993. Currently those include Gauntlet, Battlezone, Frogger and other classics. Expect to be digging through your parents' attic after getting your hands on the museum's vintage home consoles: NES and Sega Genesis boxes are set up with Super Mario Bros. and Sonic the Hedgehog, respectively. 36-01 35th Ave at 37th St, Astoria, Queens (718-777-6888, movingimage.us). Tue--Thu 10:30am--5pm; Fri 10:30am--8pm; Sat, Sun 10:30am--7pm. $12, seniors and students $9, children 3--18 $6, members and children under 3 free. Fri 4--8pm free. 25 per play; consoles free.
Dave & Buster's
Its Chuck E. Cheese--like atmosphere aside, this Times Square mega-arcade is one of the only places in Manhattan to find a large concentration of arcade games. About half of the approximately 100 machines are of the ticket-dispensing variety; the others are a combination of light-gun shooters (Terminator Salvation, for one), bucket-seat racing games like Daytona USA, and a few classic titles like Frogger and Pac-Man. Prices for machines vary from about a quarter to $2.75, but there are deals to be had on even the premium games: On Wednesdays, machines are half-off, and you can drop a Hamilton anytime to get an hour of unlimited play at any nonticket game. 234 W 42nd St between Seventh and Eighth Aves (646-495-2015, daveandbusters.com). Mon--Thu 11am--1am; Fri, Sat 11am--2am; Sun 11am--midnight. Minors must be accompanied by a guardian 25 or older. Price varies.