June’s E3 video and computer gaming trade show had gaming die-hards salivating over the upcoming releases of Fallout 4 and Horizon: Zero, in which robot animals are the dominant species. Shortly after, comedy sci-fi flick Pixels hit theaters to remind gamers where it all began – with centipedes, laser cannons and four unfriendly ghosts chasing a giant yellow beast.
Old-school arcade meets modern gaming at the upcoming Game on Expo at Mesa Convention Center. The mini-convention caters to console, arcade and tabletop (i.e. card and board) gamers with panels and appearances from the likes of Indie Game University president Mark Soderwall, Intellivision’s Keith Robinson and guest cosplayer Angelica Danger Dawn.
While current franchises such as Metal Gear Solid get some panel time, it’s pretty clear that vintage games rule here. The original Donkey Kong and Michael Jackson’s Moonwalker are among the ‘80s classics found inside the StarFighters Arcade/GameWorks freeplay arcade, and Nintendo PowerFest ’94 champion Mike Iarossi will head up a list of geeky all-stars participating in the con’s RetroFest multi-game showdown. For nostalgia overload, relive your childhood with Duck Hunt on NES or Atari Karts on Jaguar in the retro game “living room.” We’re pretty certain a few tears will be shed there for the long-forgotten cartridge systems of our youth.
If you go:
Game On Expo
Mesa Convention Center
263 N. Center St., Mesa
Cost: Single-day starting at $15; $35 full event ($50 VIP)
Don’t want the fun to end? For a regular dose of video gaming nostalgia without the crowds of Main Event or Dave & Buster’s, check out these three alternative gaming venues:
Endgame Restaurant and Bar
699 S. Mill Ave. #201, Tempe
Founded by ASU alumni with the help of Kickstarter pledges, this popular barcade boasts 7,000 square feet crammed with retro and modern console games, 60+ TVs playing multimedia gaming content, a full bar and live events.
The Pig’s Meow
3730 E. Indian School Rd., Phoenix
Opened last year, Steven Border’s pint-size pub is a playground for adults. Look for Jenga and Mr. Potato Head toys plus Mortal Kombat and NBA Jam on NES.
Super Savers Cinema 8
2710 W. Bell Rd., Phoenix
Part discount movie house and part arcade, Super Savers is crammed with throwbacks from Tekken and T2 to SNK vs. Capcom: SVC Chaos—most with quarter play.
Get your daily dose of culture with our curated picks of the best events and experiences in the Valley, from art and music to sports and the outdoors. Culture vultures can sign up for our Things to Do and VIP List newsletters for even more hip happenings.