Nerd Culture

Tempe Arcade Tilt Studio Is Now Open — Here's a Look Inside

Video game fans of the Valley, better start limbering up your wrists. There’s a new arcade making its debut with plenty of games of the fighting, shooting, and racing variety available for play.

And here’s the kicker: It's located in a spot you’re probably familiar with already.

Tilt Studio, a two-story arcade and entertainment center, opened yesterday at Arizona Mills in Tempe. The 40,000-square-foot establishment, which is part of the nationwide Tilt Studio chain, is situated in the former location of the Valley’s lone GameWorks, which closed back in January.

And just like its predecessor, Tilt Studio in Tempe is overflowing with games, particularly those of a high-tech, redemption-oriented, and carnival-style nature. Plus, it boasts more than a dozen old-school arcade titles and 20 different pinball machines.

Nancy Roggio, a spokesperson for Tilt Studio, told New Times that the location features upwards of 150 games available for play, including such recently released titles as Ghostbusters and the arcade version of Mario & Sonic at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, blockbuster favorites from the aughts as Tekken 5 and Let’s Go Jungle, and classics like Missile Command and Crossbow.

“There are plenty of newer games and the oldies but goodies in the retro area. We cover the gamut,” Roggio says. “I think it’s a much better mix than what they had [at GameWorks]. Our games will be for everyone from young children up to adults.”

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, Soul Calibur 2), racing titles (Need for Speed: Carbon, Mario Kart Arcade GP 2), and, of course, rhythm games (Guitar Hero Arcade, Dance Dance Revolution).

There’s even a hurricane simulator that blasts you with wind gusts of up to 78 miles per hour.

Fan of pinball, however, are likely to dig the fact there’s a row of 20 different machines located on the second floor, 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.

According to Roggio, the Tempe location is the only Tilt Studio in the U.S. to offer pinball, despite the fact that the coin-op contraptions played a significant role in the chain’s history over the years, stretching back to its early days.

After starting out as a single location in Dallas, Texas, in the early '70s, Tilt! began opening arcades in malls across the country, including a few in the Valley. (The company later became known as Tilt Studio.)

“[Pinball] goes way back with us. When [the chain] opened in 1972 and it was popular back then,” Roggio says. “That's kind of where the name Tilt came from. But none of the other locations have any pinball machines. Doesn't mean they won't eventually have 'em at other locations but as of right now, we're the only one that has pinball machines.”

As for Tilt Studio’s selection of old-school arcade games, Roggio says it’s due to the current retro trend in both gaming and entertainment as a whole.

“Why retro games? Because it’s coming back in the entertainment industry,” she says. “It’s hot right now, so we try to keep up with whatever the trends are going to be.”

Along with its in-house bar, Tilt Studio's retro game offerings are one of the ways in which it will try to appeal to older gamers, particularly in a market filled with high-end entertainment centers like The Main Event in Gilbert or the Valley’s three Dave & Busters, as well as such retro-oriented spots as Starfighters Arcade in Mesa or Cobra Arcade Bar in downtown Phoenix.

“I think we're going to be very successful with [marketing] towards an older crowd,” Roggio says. “We will still do birthday parties for the younger children, but we're targeting the college age and above.”

And if you’re eager to see what else Tilt Studio in Tempe offers in terms of games, here’s a rundown of most of what is available at the arcade:

Mario & Sonic at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games
Sega Super GT
Time Crisis 3
Blazing Angels
Angry Birds Arcade
King of the Big Wheel
Transformers: Human Alliance
Kick It

Grand Piano Keys
Monster Drop Chaos
Dance Masters
Luigi's Mansion Arcade
Need for Speed: Carbon
Wangan Midnight Maximum Tune 3
DDRMAX2 Dance Dance Revolution
Deal or No Deal
Guitar Hero Arcade
Easy Touchdown
Baby Panda

2 Spicy
Pac-Man Battle Royale
Silent Scope
Silent Scope 2: Dark Silhouette
Outrun SP
Mario Kart Arcade GP 2
Initial D Arcade Stage 6
Target: Terror
Let's Go Jungle
Monster Eye
Gun Blade
The Swarm

Time Freak
Primeval Hunt
Photo Studio Deluxe
Tekken 5
Wheel of Fortune
The Lost World: Jurassic Park
Mad Wave Motion Theatre
Paradise Lost
Ghost Town
SNK vs. Capcom: SVC Chaos
Soul Calibur 2
Sega Rally 3
Golden Tee Live

Old-School Arcade Games:
Missile Command
Moon Patrol
Ms. Pac-Man
Majestic Twelve

Pinball Games:
Game of Thrones
The Walking Dead
Star Trek (Starfleet Pro)
Pirates of the Caribbean
Addams Family
Eight Ball Champ
Bobby Orr Power Play
Harlem Globetrotters
Silver Ball Mania
Star Trek (Bally)
Hot Doggin
Space Invaders
Hollywood Heat

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Benjamin Leatherman is a staff writer at Phoenix New Times. He covers local nightlife, music, culture, geekery, and fringe pursuits.