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Heather Steeves

Heather Steeves tries to do things that are fun -- and only things that are fun. So far that's included stilt walking, roller derby and cross-country road trips in her Saturn.

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Posted: November 21, 2014

The Portland Arcade is cheap, nostalgic fun: $5 unlimited play on an Atari, pinball, video games or at the pool table

Written by: Heather Steeves

It’s hidden in an odd apartment-like space and there’s not much for food or drink, but if you want a place to hang out and play video games for hours, Portland Arcade (a misnomer because it’s in South Portland) is a great deal. The arcade has air hockey, pinball, foosball, pachinko, a Nintendo and an Atari plus some stand-up arcade games.

This is the ying to Arcadia National Bar’s yang. Arcadia is frequently crowded on the weekend and has $5 cans of beer. Portland Arcade is usually quiet and has a free soda with your $5 admission. Two very different vibes. You might go to Arcadia after work for a beer and an hour of pinball, but Portland Arcade might be the place where you and a friend hunker down high-school-style with a Mountain Dew and play Super Mario Brothers on an original Nintendo for hours and hours — and it’s unlikely anyone will be in line behind you to push you out of your warm seat.

There’s more to this story after this slideshow:

The [South] Portland Arcade is directly across from the post office on Cottage Road. Still, it’s easy to miss. It’s in a white house that has a real estate office in it too. The arcade has no sign. The only way you’ll know you’re at the right place (and not about to walk into someone’s home), is the mailbox by the door says “arcade.” When you walk in, there is a room of six or more stand-up arcade machines to the right. These games change constantly. I went twice in about three weeks and the first time they had Arkanoid, the second time it was replaced with a rare game, Mars. I’ve heard good things from other people too about how frequently they rotate the arcade games.

The rest of the arcade is up a flight of stairs. Customers are asked to ring a cowbell for service, at which point you’ll pay $5 for an hour of play — no quarters (you get a free soda and snack with your admission). From there you can pick a vinyl record off the shelf before heading to one of five rooms full of games. And they’re not all arcade games. There are the consoles, including one dedicated only to pong, a foosball table, ping pong, air hockey, an old-timey carnival game that has a rifle attached to a stand-up machine, pinball and tons of small games like dominos, cards, board games and rubrics cubes. The place is big, roomy, pretty comfortable and has enough games to entertain any adult (or kid) for hours.

The main room with the pool table (which is also a ping pong and air hockey table) and another large room with a pachinko game (no, you won’t win money with the Japanese slot machine) are florecent-lit and white-walled, but the side-rooms that have the Atari, Nintendo and foosball are super cozy places where you could sit down, crank the wood-paneled TV set to the right channel and lose track of hours in a fantasy world.

Taco Trio is a couple hundred feet away if you want to turn an evening at the arcade into a legit date night.

Portland Arcade

The Portland Arcade is open 3-8 p.m. Mondays and Thursdays; 3-10 p.m. Fridays; 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Saturdays and 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Sundays. It’s at 22 Cottage Road in South Portland (map). It costs $5 for the first hour and $2 for each additional hour of unlimited playing (comes with a free soda and snack). More info:

If you go:

-Go with a friend. Otherwise it can be really quiet.
-No quarters needed.

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