THE GARCADE

  Photo Courtesy: jsonline.com

Photo Courtesy: jsonline.com

The history of the neighborhood video arcade goes back decades, a story that played an important role in kicking off the modern electronic gaming era and one which has been subject to countless books & documentaries, most notably 2007's The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters and Chasing Ghosts: Beyond the Arcade.  As immortalized in the latter, what was once a cultural phenomenon of the 1980s unfortunately faded into obscurity as time went by and the local arcade became a thing of the past, like most widespread trends tend to do.  I myself can still recall many a childhood trip to Aladdin's Castle, a now-defunct arcade chain with a location in Brookfield, Wisconsin, where countless quarters were poured into Data East's Real Ghostbusters or my brother found himself sitting within the cockpit of Race Drivin'.

In recent years, however, arcades have seen something of a resurgence, riding the wave of nostalgia fueled by the generation of that era, now older and in a position to financially capitalize on the things we fondly remember.  The current arcade model, as seen at such venues like Galloping Ghost in Illinois, features a fully stocked room full of games, but with one catch-an entry fee that, when paid up front, will allow the patron to play any game on the premises as many times as they want, for as long as they desire.  Gone are the days of token plugging-with every game in today's arcade set to free play, once you pay for admission, it's Arkanoid, San Francisco Rush or a few rounds of pinball from the moment you arrive to the moment you choose to leave.

One of the more recent additions to the family is The Garcade-located in the Milwaukee suburb of Menomonee Falls, The Garcade's library of games seemingly spans arcade history, the sheer volume of which ranges from early coin-ops to the latest shoot-'em-ups, all lovingly restored to pristine condition.  In most cases, LEDs have been retrofitted inside the displays, giving the games new life as this enhanced illumination helps to further show off the beautiful artwork gracing these classic machines.  Furthermore, if The Garcade's onslaught of electronic magic has you gasping for breath at the thought of another attempt at Donkey Kong, Galaga or RoadBlasters, fear not, as a comfortable sitting area where one can enjoy a cool beverage or snack sits off to the side, allowing customers a few moments respite before returning to the games we've never forgotten.

A Menomonee Falls resident myself, I'm not just biased towards The Garcade's convenient location-it's truly wonderful to see another arcade pop up, one with such care being shown toward its attractions and a focus on things to come-half of The Garcade is currently devoted towards game repair, with a wish to continue acquiring old games and bringing them back to the way they used to be when times were simpler.  It is for these reasons that I believe this place to have a strong future, as bright as the top of a scoreboard or an ancient monitor guiding a yellow creature away from four hungry ghosts.  Come for the games, but stay for the memories.

Game on!

The Garcade is located at N85W15920 Appleton Avenue in Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin.