A Visit to the New York Barcade / 7th of November 2014
It's Retrogames and Alcohol upon entering Barcade’s Williamsburg, Brooklyn bar, as you're instantly transported back to a world now only seen in documentaries and retrospectives. Barcade, is a bar and arcade hybrid with a massive selection of classic video games and American craft beer. They have multiple establishments spread throughout the cities of New York, New Jersey and Philadelphia, all owned by four friends; Paul Kermizian and Pete Langway, along with brothers Kevin and Scott Beard.
The friends first Barcade was opened in 2004 in an old metal work shop on Union Avenue in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Kevin and Scott were graphic designers, Paul was in film and television, and Pete in advertising. Paul Kermizian directed the film “American Beer”, a road trip documentary showing its audience the American craft beer industry. All of the friends had two loves, drinking good beer and playing the very best of the 1980’s video games. This gave the group an idea to share their love with the rest of the world, this prompted the opening of Barcade. Thankfully, they kept the aesthetics of the rugged and worn warehouse and garage look that the space had been previously, I feel this is where the magic lies.
The first arcade machine I jumped on was Taito’s 1987, Jamma two player conversion of Double Dragon, and it was as good as I remembered. Its feel, smell and build was incredible, the 8-way joystick had had little or no play, so it was tight, whilst the three button (punch/kick/jump) layout felt positive and responsive. On first play I hadn’t forgotten how hard and unforgiving Double Dragon was, but I had forgotten how good playing with two people was. The stand-up arcade allowed two players to fluidly kick, punch and jump through ever increasingly difficult levels and not to forget, don’t hit the other player!! Moving on to Tapper, I had never played this in arcade format, it was a joy timing the beer pouring and glass collecting and noticing how much Budweiser was advertised throughout.
Then Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, from the 1989 Konami arcade machine, oozed many four player memories. The player one joystick was wobbly but that didn’t stop me and a few others popping a bunch of quarters in to see how far we could get.
Overall, Barcade is a place that any gamer who remembers how good and hard some of these classics were, must visit. Here in Scotland there is nowhere that offers this experience sadly, it’s not as engrained in our culture. If you do get the chance to visit the US and you are in New York, this is your first stop. Barcade is not on the tourist route, it is away from the madness of Manhattan and right in the mix of Brooklyn. If good Beer and Gaming are your thing, you don’t want to miss this little gem.