One of the things that always disappointed me about humanity is how long it took for us to invent the arcade bar.
It’s booze and video games, how did those two things not always go hand in hand? The Arcade Bar is one of few things that humanity can unanimously agree upon, the other being the Squatty Potty (I think we all cheered in our hearts when we saw the commercial for that one). Columbus is a city that very much loves its brews and its video games and, because we’re so awesome and progressive, we like to have our cake and eat it too. That’s why we have more than a few arcade bars, each with their own merits and specialities. So we’ve made a list of each game bar and what they really excel at. Looking to get your game on this weekend? Hopefully these arcade bar superlatives will help you decide where you want to throw down on the sticks and pads.
The Best Patio: Pins Mechanical Company
Pins has a nice open interior design, that gives a spacious feel no matter how packed they get. They’ve got two huge patios with multiple food trucks ready to help soak up all that booze in between duckpin bowling sessions. They also have pinball, foosball, and ping pong. Their motto? “When life gives you balls, play with them.” A little heavy handed, sure, still kinda funny in a 5th grader giggling to himself on the bus kind of way.
Where: 141 N 4th St, Columbus, OH 43215
The Brainiest Arcade Bar In Town: King Makers
By far the brainiest gaming bar in town. Don’t come in here carrying on about playing Settler’s Of Catan either. Unless, of course, you want to get clowned on by a bunch of nerds that take board gaming way too seriously… Okay, so it was the only game I knew alright? If I’m being truthful, it really hurt my feelings you guys. There were tears. Real human tears. Come in for a craft beer and play one of the dozens of games they have in their inventory. Except, you know, Settlers Of Catan I guess… I’m not crying! Shut up!
Where: 17 Buttles Ave, Columbus, OH 43215
The Biggest Diehard Following: Arcade Super Awesome
Super Awesome has a decent collection of games and pinballs but, by far, the thing it has going for it the most is “Killer Queen”. A highly competitive multi-player, real time strategy, platform video game. If that description doesn’t make any sense that’s only because it’s really as ridiculous as it sounds. Players of up to 10 face off in order to “bring the giant snail god home, fill their hive with Logan Berries, or execute a triple assassination of the enemy Queen”. Yeah. That. This game garners a huge following though, and anyone that’s ever played it gets all large-pupilled and glassy eyed whenever someone mentions it. These folks go all out for KQ and the only place to get their fix is at Arcade Super Awesome.
Where: 892 Oak St, Columbus, OH 43205
The Most Competitive: Level One Bar + Arcade
Every arcade bar hosts their own tournaments and competitions, but Level One takes it to the max. They hold regular contests for pinball, Mario Kart, and a whole bunch of fighting games. They’re one of a few arcades that have Burst League nights, which allows players to accumulate points in the national anime fighting game circuit, which is apparently a thing that actually exists. If that doesn’t peak your nerd interests they even have their own women only pinball league. Yeah, these guys take gaming seriously and they’re on a mission to find the best players in the city. You game? Heh. That’s a multi-layered pun there, I’ll wait for you to get it.
Where: 130 Hutchinson Ave, Columbus, OH 43212
Best Beer Selection: Brewcadia
Let us not forget the other half of the equation of what makes a arcade bar awesome- the actual bar. Not only do they have a bunch of video games and board games, they also have close to 40 different beers on tap. And the best part? Only 20 percent of them are IPAs (not even a made up statistic, I am so done with your obsession with IPAs Columbus, mine will be a good and just war). Not in the mood for a brew? Try out their super nerdy but cleverly named cocktails. Drinks like the Princess Peach Manhattan, Link’s Libation, or DK’s Delight. Whether it’s a drink or a game, you’re going to find something right up your alley.
Where: 467 N High St, Columbus, OH 43215
The Hippest Of Hips: 16-Bit Bar + Arcade
By far the hippest barcade in the city, I dare you to try and count the amount of pixelated video game tattoos walking in and out of this joint. They have this super cool and kitschy vibe going with all the pop culture references too. All their coasters have sweet movie quotes on them, which is great for anyone whose conversations are usually 75 percent movie references that no one else gets (me, talking about me again). What can I say, a well timed Lebowski quote is literally all it takes to find a place in my heart.
Where: 254 S 4th St, Columbus, OH 43215
Best Overall Gaming Selection: Old North Arcade
Before Old North Arcade opened up the adjacent building, it already had a lot going for it. A butt load of the arcade classics and retro gaming systems like the Atari and the original NES made it one of the best barcades in the city. Now that the other side is open, it’s hard not to be impressed by their selection. They’ve doubled their stock of old arcade games with some 90s and early 2000s classics. Stuff like Time Crisis, DDR, and Tekken. But then they took it a step even further, adding modern consoles up in the mix. You can rock the sticks on a PS4, an XBOX, or, everyone’s cult favorite, the Dreamcast. The patio in the back sports life sized Jenga, Cornhole, and plays host to “40s Bird & Brew”, a food truck that actually sells chicken & waffles and 40 oz beers. So if you’ve ever wanted to whoop some butt in Mario Kart while pounding a 40 of O.E. (and you should if you have a pulse) all of your dreams have come true in one convenient location.
Where: 2591 N High St, Columbus, OH 43202