10 Best Arcades in Metro Phoenix

10 Best Arcades in Metro PhoenixEXPAND
Benjamin Leatherman

Dave & Busters
Everything seems bigger at any of the three Dave & Busters locations in the Valley: its ginormous floor space, its selection of high-end and high-tech games (including a towering, interactive edition of Connect Four and a ginormous version of that vexing merchandiser Stacker), and its drinks mixed up at multiple bars (top-shelf cocktails with heavy pour are in abundance). And then are the pimp prizes available for those patrons who can score a sufficient amount of tickets, including gaming systems, cocktail ware, and even home appliances. Helpfully, there are paper buckets available to tote your winnings, which, along with all its swanky and flashy games, give D&B a casino-like feel. Besides, where else can you go on an undersea roller coaster simulator like Typhoon or fight a knight with a virtual sword before getting in 12 frames of gutterball action via the upstairs bowling alley?

10 Best Arcades in Metro Phoenix
Benjamin Leatherman

Tilt Studio
This two-story arcade and entertainment center at Arizona Mills in Tempe features close to 150 games available for play, particularly those of a high-tech, redemption-oriented, and carnival-style nature. And that mix includes rail shooters aplenty (such as The Lost World: Jurassic Park, Transformers: Human Alliance, and Monster Eye), as well as any number of fighting games (SNK vs. Capcom: SVC Chaos, SoulCalibur 2), racing titles (Need for Speed: Carbon, Mario Kart Arcade GP 2), and, of course, rhythm games (Guitar Hero Arcade, Dance Dance Revolution).

There are also more than a dozen old-school arcade titles up on its second floor, including Battlezone, Thunderblade, Crossbow, Rampart, and Majestic Twelve. Fans of pinball, however, are likely to dig the row of 20 different machines located nearby, all of which help put the “tilt” in Tilt Studio. The lineup features both new and old favorites alike, some which date back to the ‘70s (better known as the heyday of pinball), including Hot Doggin, Silver Ball Mania, and Bobby Orr Power Play.

10 Best Arcades in Metro PhoenixEXPAND
Benjamin Leatherman

Cobra Arcade Bar
The games at this popular arcade bar are always changing, owing to the fact that co-owner Ariel Bracamonte has a personal collection of more than 100 different titles at his disposal. And while there’s only room for 40-ish games, what’s there at any particular moment is definitely choice. For instance, Sega’s always fun Star Wars trilogy cabinet, finds like Battletoads or the ultra-rare Simpsons Bowling, an original Mario Bros., and even the kooky shooter Carnevil. And that’s just in the back room alone. Out front, there are pristine versions of Heavy Barrell, Mortal Kombat II, Konami’s four-player X-Men, and Double Dragon. Like we said, Bracamonte regularly switches things in and out to keep things fresh and Cobra's clientele happy. It shouldn't be too hard, seeing as everyone's pretty stoked about the place already.

10 Best Arcades in Metro PhoenixEXPAND
Benjamin Leatherman

Golfland-Sunspash
A longtime favorite for generations of local families and joystick Jedi, the iconic King Ben's Castle that dominates Golfland-Sunspash has housed arcade games since the early 1980s. And while you can still strive for a high score on such Reagan-era classics as Q-Bert, Ms. Pac-Man, and Donkey Kong for only 25 cents a play, the Mesa waterpark and miniature golf haven is known for the wealth of ultra-modern fighting, driving, and beat-matching games that attracts a slew of teenagers and fill its first floor, along with numerous redemption games.

You can also find a few rare Japanese imports scattered around the joint, including Arcana Heart 2 and Guilty Gears XX. And if the kiddos ever want to have their birthday party up on the second floor of the castle, be sure to fulfill their wishes, since it will give you access to the collection of old-school games that are only available during private functions. Just don’t try sneaking up there like you’re Solid Snake, since they’ve plenty of motion detectors and alarms when not in use. 

10 Best Arcades in Metro PhoenixEXPAND
Benjamin Leatherman

Castles 'n' Coasters
One of the reasons that Castles 'n' Coasters ranks pretty high on our list is because of the magnificent two-story arcade located within its Taj Mahal-inspired palace. It offers one of the most diverse selections of any other amusement destination in the Valley, hands down. Where do we start? Probably on the first floor, where teenyboppers flock to spend their disposable incomes trying to win huge stuffed animals on redemption games or attempting to best their friends on any number of high-end titles like Doodle Jump, Fruit Ninja FX, or that crazy Batman driving game that’s been popular the last few years.

The older crowd, however, heads up the stairs to the balcony, where classics from the past 30 years of gaming history take up almost every inch of wall space. There's a collection of blockbuster Bally/Williams machines adjacent to one another, including Defender, Robotron 2084, and Sinistar. Fans of the epic Mortal Kombat series will dig the fact that the original hit and its three sequels are all arranged side by side. You'll even spy such vintage rarities as 1985's Arm Wrestling by Nintendo, back when the company made quarter-based games. Heck, you can even blow away a vector version of the Death Star via the original Star Wars made by Atari.

10 Best Arcades in Metro PhoenixEXPAND
Benjamin Leatherman

StarFighters Arcade
Stepping through the front door of StarFighters is like falling through a warp zone into to the heyday of arcades. Pretty much everything at this 4,000-square-foot Mesa establishment is of throwback nature, from the array of circa 1980s plastic toys and vintage phone booth (remember those?) displayed in the foyer to the neon Pac Man on the wall and the retro jukebox blaring classic rock hits. And, of course, there's its voluminous selection of more than 100 joystick classics waiting inside, which were personally curated by the spot’s co-owners (and hardcore game collectors) Steve Thomas and Mike Lovato.

In many ways, StarFighters is a museum and shrine to arcade history. There are rather Paleolithic contraptions like Boot Hill or Space Invaders, old-school vector graphics games like Red Baron and Space Duel, and such legendary titles as Super Mario Bros. and Galaga, Centipede, and Spy Hunter. A host of rarities and gems are also afoot, including Sea Wolf, Crossbow, S.T.U.N. Runner, and even a oldDragon’s Lair that’s autographed by Don Bluth, the renowned animator who helped design it. True, the place is only open on the weekends and involves a bit of a drive out to the far reaches of Mesa to get there. Both hassles are totally worth it, however, considering the quality and quantity of StarFighters’ collection. 


Use Current Location

Related Locations

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The Grid

525 S. Gilbert Rd.
Mesa, AZ 85204

480-621-8088

thegridmesa.com

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Tilt Studio

5000 S. Arizona Mills Circle
Tempe, AZ 85282

480-648-1222

tiltstudio.com

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Castles -n- Coasters

9445 N. Metro Parkway E.
Phoenix, AZ 85051

602-997-7575

www.castlesncoasters.com

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StarFighters Arcade
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Golfland Family Entertainment Center

155 W. Hampton Ave.
Mesa, AZ 85210

480-834-8319

www.golfland.com

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Cobra Arcade Bar

801 N. 2nd St.
Phoenix, AZ 85004

cobraarcadebar.com

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Dave & Buster's
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Dave & Buster's

21001 N. Tatum Blvd., Ste. 44-1400
Phoenix, AZ 85050

480-538-8956

www.daveandbusters.com

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Captain Cutaneum's Arcade '85

660 N. Gilbert Rd.
Gilbert, AZ 85234

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Pizza Mart

1329 E. Main St.
Mesa, AZ 85203

480-962-4233


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