Before the advent of video game consoles, arcades were the place to be.
Where else could curious gamers get their hands on the latest games or challenge their smack-talking buddies to a round of Marvel versus Capcom? Although arcades have become a rarer sight throughout the years, these five keep the games alive in South Florida.
A trio tries their luck at the Big Bass Wheel (Rafael Hernandez/Caplin News)
Dave & Buster’s
11481 NW 12th St.
Sunday – Tuesday: 11 a.m. to 12 a.m.
Wednesday – Friday: 11 a.m. to 1 a.m.
Saturday: 11 a.m. to 2 a.m.
(954) 923 – 5505
When you think of an arcade, Dave & Buster’s is likely one of the first places that come to mind—and for good reason. The massive arcade-and-restaurant has many exclusive games and prizes that will keep dedicated players coming back for more. Visitors can look forward to teaming up in one of the arcade’s many cooperative light gun shooters, going head-to-head in racers like Mario Kart, or seeing app store hits like Crossy Road and Candy Crush work on way bigger screens than usual. Many games on the floor give out tickets to players, and the more skilled or luckier you are, the more tickets you’ll earn by the end. These tickets can be redeemed at the ticket counter and can net you anything from a plush pillow to an entire modern gaming console. The games cost chips to play, and prices start at $15 dollars for rechargeable power cards with 75 chips. Dave & Buster’s is the poster child for modern arcades, and lives up to its reputation.
12055 Pines Blvd.
Sunday – Saturday: 10 a.m. to 2 a.m.
Round 1 has a little something for everyone. The arcade is varied, with sports, rhythm and ticket redemption games being especially well represented. More niche games like Japanese 2-D fighters and shoot-‘em-ups are also present in both the upstairs and downstairs arcades, and their inclusion will please any arcade aficionado. Crane machines are particularly plentiful throughout the complex. Most of them are the classic three-pronged claw droppers, but some like the target point games are quirky departures from the norm. These crane games provide plushies and model statues that collectors will want to pick up.
Round 1 also has sports enthusiasts covered with its very own bowling venue, and the Spo-Cha complex on the second floor offers basketball, roller skating, tennis and many more activities. The first floor runs on a game card system where arcade machines cost credits to play and the more you pay, the more credits your card receives. Prices range from $6 for 24 credits to $110 for 777 credits. This arcade is a crowd-pleaser where gamers and non-gamers alike can join in on the fun.
Flynn’s Arcade & More
5869 Margate Blvd.
Tuesday – Thursday: 5 p.m. to 12 a.m.
Friday: 5 p.m. to 2 a.m.
Saturday: 1 p.m. to 2 a.m.
A typical arcade is a loud and hectic place. Flynn’s Arcade & More breaks convention by offering a chill, laid-back atmosphere that makes it easy for any gamer to drop in and play. The venue holds over 50 arcade machines, with side-scrollers, 2D fighters and 8-bit mainstays like Space Invaders and Centipede making up the majority of the roster. Arcade games from the 80s and 90s are the focal point of this spot, which will make any lover of the classics feel right at home. Flynn’s also has a wider space near the back of building where people can gather to assemble model kits, play tabletop games and meet up for monthly events. This area has setups for gaming consoles like the PlayStation 5 and Nintendo Switch as well, providing a modern alternative to all of the retro. Paying $15 gives you access to all of the games for the entire day, but you can also pay $10 to have access for an hour. For those who don’t want to chase high scores or win prizes, fewer places are more welcoming than Flynn’s Arcade & More.
VR Player 1
1939 Hollywood Blvd.
Monday – Thursday: 3 p.m. to 12 a.m.
Friday: 3 p.m. to 5 p.m.
Saturday: 6:30 p.m. to 1 a.m.
Sunday: 12 p.m. to 12 a.m.
While some arcades on this list look to the past for inspiration, VR Player 1 turns to the emerging future of video games to create an experience all its own. Forgoing the usual screens and joysticks, this arcade uses virtual reality headsets to put you at the center of every game. There are six VR setups on the floor, but do not let the low number of attractions fool you; each of the six setups has numerous game modes to choose from. Popular games like Superhot and Beat Saber, as well as a dedicated roller coaster simulator, are just some of the many attractions on offer, and one visit might not be enough to see them all. The rear of the venue is dedicated to its VR laser tag section, where up to six players can squad up for face off. Prices range from the $30 bronze package, which lets you play two VR games and one round of laser tag, to the diamond package, which makes every game unlimited for 80 minutes. The immersion of VR and its staggering number of options makes this spot stand out from the crowd. For gamers looking for something different, VR player 1 is an absolute must-see.
Gamers try out Arcade Odyssey’s many cabinets and pinball games (Rafael Hernandez/Caplin News)
12045 SW 117th Ave.
Monday – Friday: 2 p.m. to 12 a.m.
Friday: 2 p.m. to 2 a.m.
Sunday: 12 p.m. to 10 p.m.
Arcade Odyssey is a rarity in our modern age, feeling more like a place pulled from the 90s than anything from the 2020s. This spot boasts an impressive collection of arcade machines and provides a gaming experience that you simply cannot find anywhere else in South Florida. From fighting games like Street Fighter and Guilty Gear, to classics like Pac-Man and Donkey Kong, to even obscure imports like Eight Man, this retro gaming haven is filled to the brim with authentic cabinets of every genre and era. Taking its cues from the golden age of arcades, Arcade Odyssey operates under a physical token system that lets you pay for however much you want to play. $1 will net you three tokens, and with most of the machines on the floor costing only one or two tokens per play, a visit here is as affordable as it is fun.
Every aspect of this venue comes together to create an undeniably old-school vibe, and owner Rick Medina says that vibe was exactly what he was trying to capture. For Medina, opening Arcade Odyssey was a passion project and an effort to bring back something that no longer existed in South Florida: a pure arcade experience. Arcade Odyssey wears its reverence for video games on its sleeve and confidently holds onto what made these bright, boisterous spaces special in the first place. Gamers both casual and hardcore will no doubt find something to love through its doors.