January 16, 2017 | 4:00am
Even though we live in an age when powerful video games can be delivered to the TVs in living rooms or to smartphones in pockets, gamers still long for the noisy mess of a video game arcade. Cidercade, a pixelated transformation of the Bishop Cider Co. on Irving Boulevard that opened the first Thursday after Christmas, is the latest addition to the local arcade community.
Just like the current champion of local arcades, Free Play Arcade, which is expanding into Arlington, Cidercade transports gamers to the '80s. Speakers and video screen blast out songs from Tiffany, Michael Jackson, the Rolling Stones and Rick Astley. The noise from the game machines competes with the music for attention. The glow of the title cards assaults the senses with unapologetic colorfulness.
A group of gamers at Cidercade take on the Mario Kart arcade game in four player mode.
The space looks like an arcade was fused together with the cider-making side of the company. Gamers pass the bar as they enter to buy wristbands for unlimited play. The menu includes retro goodies like Fruit Roll Ups, Gushers and Push Pops and a few arcade-inspired brews.
The rest of the space is filled with cabinets on which you can play games you could otherwise access only through an illegally downloaded MAME file. The space features an impressive collection of '80s arcade games, from retro staples like Centipede and Space Invaders to a large handful of obscure titles including Cadillacs and Dinosaurs and War: Final Assault.
Unlike its competition, Cidercade has also added a few emulator cabinets that contain a long list of classic arcade games on one machine. There's even an emulator machine dedicated just to Neo-Geo titles.
The place is a little short on pinball machines but they've got two of the most popular modern titles on the floor, The Walking Dead and the new Ghostbusters pinball cabinet. They also have a Shrek pinball machine, but it's very hard for me to recommend anything that plays Smash Mouth's "All Star" every time you pull the plunger.
These games represent only a portion of their arcade game collection, and they've been swapping out games since they first opened, although time will tell if they can keep up with demand and the many maintenance problems that come with running a retro arcade in the modern age. They are off to a great start and anything that gets gamers out of the house and playing face-to-face instead of with disembodied, curse-word flinging strangers online is always a good thing.
Cidercade boasts a collection of 80 arcade games including some emulator cabinets that can store a long list of retro classics.