For years, I have enjoyed responsibly drinking alcohol. Certainly since the legal age of 21, and not before. I’ve gone to plenty of bars, and been amused by the occasional pinball machine left over from a bygone era, a pool table, a dart board, or even the occasional arcade (unless it’s a sports arcade – sadly the most common of arcades I seem to find). Sure, I’ve been to Dave & Busters – hyper modern arcade games that are little better then, or worse, just ports of phone games, along with a few fun team arcades, with some good generic drinks. Never had I thought that a small establishment that served not only craft beers and tasty food would open down the street from me (especially since my home city has quite a few of those places) – but one that was an arcade as well was beyond my comprehension.
The BitBar is run by some really awesome arcade enthusiasts. I met one of the owners and chatted for a bit, and the guy knew his stuff – way more than I will likely ever learn about arcades. They have an enormous selection of games, including a lot of enjoyable gems that I hadn’t seen in a long time. This includes Altered Beast, one of my childhood favorites, along with arcades like Killer Instinct 2 and Marvel vs. Capcom.
From what he was telling me, the game selection in the bar at the time I first went – one of the nights of the soft opening when my wife and I were talking to him – is about quadruple what they had on display. Though he didn’t get into details about what other games they had, he did say they had many more machines that included a few rare arcades.
Sure, some of the games were Konami beat’em’ups (including The Simpsons Arcade and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles), definite draws for folks everywhere. I may or may not currently hold the high scores on both of those machines, to be perfectly honest. Still, games that have been draws since they were released, like Tempest were present. Tempest also happens to be a game I’ve spent far too much time on recently. I swear, I started to get the tetris effect from it recently.
The arcades themselves are great, but it’s also got that special other aspect that sets it apart from that aging whore of Salem, the Willows – it’s a bar. Salem’s got a growing community of young hip people, who like craft beers and liquors. We’ve gotten a distillery and a cider brewery over the last couple of years, along with less alcohol related craft shops. You can only imagine that the types of alcohol they have to serve to a community like that.
Honestly, the most awkward downside to the place was the fact that families were bringing there kids around. Not that I have any real prejudice against children, but bringing them around to a bar, even one with an arcade in it, seems horribly irresponsible. And when I say that there seemed to be a good number of families there, the clientele consisted of my wife and I, a myriad of young nerdy looking business men, and a slew of young couples with children.
A barcade opening up down the street from me has pretty much ensured that much of my free time has been spent in there, spending my ill gotten gain from work and wasting months worth of laundry quarters to play a few rounds of various games, grabbing delicious drinks and socializing like normal people do at bars. I will write up a proper game review next week, but I thought it only fair to write up one on my current obsession.