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The only arcade in southern New Hampshire with a singles night and ridiculously awesome T-shirts for sale, the Pinball Wizard Arcade is a strange smorgasbord of things that all around just come off as fantastic. Maybe it’s the retro gamer in me, who could idle away hours (ok, days) playing classic Tron or Galaxa or Mrs. Pac Man. Maybe it’s the boy who used to pass the time in his youth behind the bright lights and sharp sounds of a pinball machine, trying to win that high score. Maybe it’s the desire to win tickets and cash them in for prizes in a place that is not also home to a giant animatronic mouse. Whatever it is, this place felt right from the moment I walked in the door.
Arcades are a dying industry. Since the invention of at home gaming, the arcade and general arcade scene has been languishing, and many people believe it to be on its death bed. You would never believe that if you came to The Pinball Wizard. There are lots of people, of varying ages and genders, all huddled around games old and new like it was a Friday night in 1979. The owners are friendly people who also run a repair shop for classic games, and are more than willing to give their advice on any of their numerous games finer points of strategy. Perhaps the crown jewel in their treasure trove of gaming delight is the state of the art four person Pacman game, in which not only must you compete against inky, pinky, blinkey and Clyde (the ghosts who hunt Pacman) but you also must compete against three of your friends in a who-can-eat-who battle to the end. To top it all off, the game is projected up onto the wall for the entire arcade to watch. Pressures on, Pac-men and ladies.
While I love classic games, I don’t claim to be a master of them. However, there was one game that I pretty much dominated, and I feel the need to do a little bragging on here. There is an arm wrestling game where humans must compete against a mechanical arm. Depending on the character the game throws at you, you can have a relatively easy match against a virtual trucker or an insane, vein exploding oh-my-god-end-it-now type of battle against Specks, the arm wrestling robot. At Pinball Wizard, only 4 people had ever defeated Specks.
That was until last Saturday, when a cocksure and slightly wide eyed boy from Massachusetts slid three tokens into the machine and waged war against the lower arm of a terminator. Body builder character-Down! Sumo wrestler Character-Down! Specks the arm wrestling robot…After a bit of hesitation….Down! And then I set the record for the mightiest arm wrestle in the game’s history.
Yeah, that’s right. My name sits atop the high score list in the Arm Wrestling game at Pinball Wizard. You got a problem with that? Take the drive, get some tokens, and challenge my score, newbs. All I have to say is this - Come at me, bro.
But just to reiterate, dear readers, this place is awesome. Take you back to your youth type awesome. Forget about your crushing student loans, strangling kudzu style homework or stagnant social life for a few hours type of awesome. Come on down, plug in, and tune out for a while. The real world will be there when you come back. Until then, my friends - Game on!
Note: The above is not me.
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