Lemoncade5754 West Glendale Avenue, Glendale
The interior of Lemoncade is alive with color, music, and activity. Graffiti and street art cover practically every inch of the walls, hip-hop plays nonstop from the sound system, and there are b-boy sessions and live podcasts happening on the regular. Adding to this lively milieu are a clutch of arcade and pinball games, the latter of which are on loan from a local collector. He even lent them a Star Wars machine autographed by Return of the Jedi actor Tim Rose.
Hours: Monday-Thursday, 2-10 p.m.; Friday-Sunday, noon-midnight. 623-300-4598.
Electric Bat Arcade25 West Southern Avenue, Tempe
Rachel Bess has a yen for pinball and all things spooky and macabre. Her Electric Bat Arcade, which is attached to Yucca Tap Room, has a mix of both. Covers of classic horror pulp magazines, creepy art prints, and even a portrait of Edgar Allan Poe hang from the blood-red walls, while horror-themed pinball games like Creature from the Black Lagoon, Bram Stoker’s Dracula, The Walking Dead, and Attack from Mars are among its collection of 12 machines. Don’t let this keep you from stopping by for a few rounds or one of the tournaments that Bess regularly presents, as she’s plenty friendly.
There’s also a bit of a rock ‘n’ roll vibe to the place: Games inspired by bands (Iron Maiden, KISS, Metallica) are available for play and various photos of musicians like Freddie Mercury and Debbie Harry playing pinball are on display above the token machine.
Hours: Daily, 6 a.m.-2 a.m. 480-967-4777.
Tilt Studio5000 Arizona Mills Circle, #669, Tempe
Perched above Tilt Studio's colorful hullabaloo of ultra-modern arcade and redemption games is an array of 21 pins on its second floor. If you’re interested in getting your hands on the newer Stern titles (such as The Munsters, The Beatles, or Iron Maiden: Legacy of the Beast), Tilt will usually have ’em before any other arcade in town. But if retro is more your speed, they’ve got those kid of machines, too, not to mention an in-house bar/restaurant and plenty of room to get your game on. And the weekly tournaments on Tuesday nights, which are run by top-ranked female pinball player Tracy Lindbergh, are very popular.
“There's a lot of space, so it makes it easy to gather a large group of people and there's enough machines to handle 70 or 80 people,” Lindbergh says. “There's food there, there's drinks there, and there's enough pins and enough space to hold a really good tournament. So it's a great place overall.”
Hours: Monday-Thursday, 11 a.m.-10 p.m.; Friday-Saturday, 10 a.m.-11 p.m.; Sunday, 11 a.m.-8 p.m. 480-648-1222.
StarFighters Arcade4840 East Jasmine Street, #102, Mesa
StarFighters soars above all other local pinball joints. It boasts the largest selection of machines (45) in the Valley, many of which are located along two rows stretching from the front of the main room to the back. There’s a mix of old-school favorites (Xenon, Space Shuttle, Black Hole) and more modern-day titles (Ghostbusters, AC/DC, Star Wars). Each game is kept in perfect working order by co-owners Steve Thomas and Mike Lovato and their staff.
Granted, StarFighters Arcade is only open weekends but top player Tracy Lindbergh says that’s one of the reasons everything’s shipshape. “People always say, 'I wish they were open more,' but I think the limited hours help them keep their machines running beautifully,” she says. “If they’re being played every day of the week, everything could be a mess. Things break when people play them a lot.” There’s also an admission fee ($10 each day or $35 each month) but every game is set to “free play” mode.
Hours: Friday-Saturday, 7-11 p.m.; Sunday, 3-7 p.m. 602-513-9532.