Your guide to ZapCon in Mesa: Games, passes and more | Phoenix New Times

Your ultimate guide to ZapCon 9 in Mesa: Games, tournaments and more

Ready player one?
A row of pinball games at ZapCon in Mesa.
A row of pinball games at ZapCon in Mesa. Benjamin Leatherman

Local News is Vital to Our Community

When you support our community-rooted newsroom, you enable all of us to be better informed, connected, and empowered during this important election year. Give now and help us raise $5,000 by June 7.

Support local journalism

Share this:
Gamers of the Valley, start limbering up your wrists. ZapCon, the retro arcade game and pinball convention, is returning after taking last year off and promises two days of joystick-jostling action and button-mashing fun.

The main hall at the Mesa Convention Center, 263 N. Center St., will transform into the Valley’s biggest old-school arcade during the event, which takes place on Saturday and Sunday, March 9 and 10.

More than 170 old-school arcade titles and 100-plus pinball machines, all of which are from the personal stashes of local game collectors, will be set to “free play” mode during ZapCon. A lounge area will also host such classic gaming consoles as the Atari 2600, Sega Genesis and Super Nintendo. Tournaments and competitions for prizes, including Danger Dann's annual Pinball Rodeo, are also planned.

What else is in store for this year's ZapCon? If you're ready, player one, read on for our guide to the event.

When is ZapCon 2024?

This year’s ZapCon takes place on Saturday and Sunday, March 9 and 10.

Where is ZapCon 2024 being held?

The two-day event is at the Mesa Convention Center, 263 N. Center St. in Mesa.

What time is ZapCon happening?

Hours are from 10 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. on Saturday and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sunday. People who pre-register can enter at 9 a.m. both days.
click to enlarge
Arcade games bring multiple generations together.
Benjamin Leatherman

Can kids come to ZapCon?

Yes. The event is family-friendly and open to all ages. Alcoholic beverages in the lounge can only be purchased by individuals aged 21 and over.

How much is ZapCon?

Advanced general admission tickets for adults are $35 for Saturday, $25 for Sunday and $50 for both days. Passes for kids 4 to 12 are $20 for Saturday, $15 for Sunday or $30 for both days. Children 3 and under are free. Note: Prices will increase by $5 starting on March 9.

Parking at ZapCon

Parking at the Mesa Convention Center is free and there are hundreds of spaces available. The earlier you arrive, though, the closer you can park to the building.
click to enlarge
Atari's 1987 police-themed game "APB."
Benjamin Leatherman

Arcade games at ZapCon

More than 170 arcade titles will be set up at ZapCon 9, including cocktail and cockpit versions of games like “Spy Hunter” and “Star Wars.” Here’s the complete selection.
  • “APB”
  • “Aero Fighters”
  • “Air Attack”
  • “Aliens Armageddon”
  • “America's Army”
  • “Area 51 Site 4”
  • “Arkanoid”
  • “Arkanoid II Revenge of Doh”
  • “Armor Attack”
  • “Asteroids”
  • “Astro Blaster”
  • “Astro Invader”
  • “Atari Football”
  • “Badlands”
  • “Beastorizer”
  • “Big Buck Hunter”
  • “Black Tiger”
  • “Blasteroids”
  • “Blue Shark”
  • “Boot Hill”
  • “Bosconian”
  • “Boxing Bugs”
  • “Budweiser Tapper”
  • “Bump N Jump”
  • “Carneveil”
  • “Centipede”
  • “Championship Sprint”
  • “Cho Chabudia”
  • “Class of '82 Ms Pac/Galaga”
click to enlarge
The 1984 arcade game, "Cloak & Dagger," which was loosely connected to the film of the same name.
Benjamin Leatherman
  • “Cloak & Dagger”
  • “Computer Space”
  • “Congo Bongo”
  • “Cosmic Avenger”
  • “Cosmic Chasm”
  • “Cotton Boomerang”
  • “Crack Down”
  • “Crazy Kong”
  • “Crusin Exotica”
  • “Crusin Exotica”
  • “Defender”
  • “Demolition Derby/Death Race”
  • “Dig Dug”
  • “Donkey Kong Jr.”
  • “Donkey Kong”
  • “Double Dragon”
  • “Dragon's Lair 2”
  • “Dungeons & Dragons: Tower of Doom”
  • “Dungeons Dragons: Shadow Over Mystara”
  • “Elevator Action”
  • “Excite Bike”
  • “Exidy Cheyenne”
  • “Exidy Chiller”
  • “Fix it Felix”
  • “Frogger”
  • “Frogs”
  • “Gaeshi”
  • “Galaga/Ms Pac 20th Anniversary”
  • “Galaga 88”
  • “Galaga”
  • “Galaxian”
  • “Gauntlet II”
  • “Gauntlet”
  • “Golden Axe”
  • “Goonies”
  • “Gorf”
  • “Gottlieb Qbert Qubes”
  • “Gravitar”
  • “Guided Missile”
  • “Gyruss”
  • “Hang On”
  • “Hyper Sports”
  • “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom”
click to enlarge
Yes, they made a sequel to "Joust."
Benjamin Leatherman
  • “Joust”
  • “Joust 2”
  • “Jr. Pac-Man”
  • “Jungle King”
  • “Kangaroo”
  • “Karate Champ”
  • “Kick Man”
  • “Konami Aliens”
  • “Lethal Enforcers”
  • “Let’s Go Bowling/Centipede/Missile Command” medley cabaret
  • “MK 3 Ultimate”
  • “Mach Storm Battle Pod”
  • “Macross”
  • “Make Trax”
  • “Mappy”
  • “Marble Madness”
  • “Mario Bros.”
  • “Marvel vs Capcom 2”
  • “Metal Slug 2”
  • “Missile Command”
  • “Monaco GP”
  • “Mortal Kombat”
  • “Mortal Kombat 2”
  • “Mr Driller 2”
  • “Mr. Do!”
  • “Mr. Do's Wild Ride”
  • “Ms. Pac-Man”
  • “NBA Jam TE”
  • “NBA Jam”
  • “Need for Speed GT”
  • “Neo Geo”
  • “Ninja Assault”
  • “Ninja Gaiden”
  • “Off Road Thunder”
  • “Omega Race”
  • “Outrun 2 HD”
  • “Pac-Man”
  • “Panic Park”
  • “Paperboy”
  • “Pengo”
  • “Phoenix”
  • “Pleiades”
  • “Point Blank”
  • “Pole Position II”
click to enlarge
Polybius, a mysterious arcade game that may or may not have been created by the CIA back in the '80s as a part of a mind-control experiment.
Benjamin Leatherman
  • “Polybius”
  • “Pyros”
  • “Q*Bert”
  • “QB-3”
  • “QIX”
  • “R-Type”
  • “Radiant Silvergun”
  • “Rampage”
  • “Rampart”
  • “Rastan”
  • “Revolt”
  • “Revolution X”
  • “Rival Schools”
  • “Road Runner”
  • “Robotron”
  • “Rolling Thunder”
  • “Rush N Attack”
  • “SF Rush the Rock Alcatraz”
  • “Sea Wolf”
  • “Side Arms”
  • “Simpsons”
  • “Sinistar”
  • “Sky Diver”
  • “Solar Fox”
  • “Space Duel”
  • “Space Firebird”
  • “Space Gun”
  • “Space Invaders Deluxe”
  • “Space Paranoids”
  • “Sports Shooting USA”
  • “Spy Hunter”
  • “Star Castle”
  • “Star Warrior”
  • “Star Wars”
  • “Star Wars Battle Pod”
  • “Starfighter”
  • “Stargate”
  • “Street Fighter 2 Championship Edition”
  • “Stunt Cycle”
  • “Sub Hunter”
  • “Target of Terror”
  • “Tempest”
  • “Tetris”
  • “The Punisher”
  • “Time Soldiers”
  • “Top Secret”
  • “Top Gunner”
  • “Tora Tora Tora”
  • “Track & Field”/“Hypersports”
  • “Triangle Wars”
  • “Tunnel Hunt”
  • “Tutankham”
  • “VR Eggs”
  • Vs. “Super Mario Bros.”/“Duck Hunt”
  • “Victory”
  • “Video Pinball”
  • “Xybots”
  • “Zaxxon”
  • “ZooKeeper”

click to enlarge
Game on.
Benjamin Leatherman

Pinball games at ZapCon

Here’s a list of the pinball games at this year’s ZapCon.

  • “Apollo 13”
  • “Arabian Nights”
  • “Arzach” (homebrew game)
  • “Avengers” (premium)
  • “Bad Cats”
  • “Beat the Clock”
  • “Big Guns”
  • “Blackout”
  • “Blackwater 100”
  • “Buck Rogers”
  • “Caribbean Cruise”
  • “Centaur”
  • “Champion Pub”
  • “Cleopatra”
  • “Creature from the Black Lagoon”
  • “Deadpool”
  • “Demolition Man”
  • “Disco Fever”
  • “Dr. Dude”
  • “Dr. Who”
  • “Dracula”
  • “Eight Ball Deluxe”
  • “Elton John PE”
  • “Escape from the Lost World”
  • “F-14 Tomcat”
  • “Fan-Tas-Tic”
  • “Fathom”
  • “Firepower”
  • “Flintstones”
  • “Foo Fighters pro”
  • “Frankenstien”
  • “Funhouse”
  • “Getaway”
  • “Ghostbusters”
  • “Godfather LE”
  • “Godzilla Premium”
  • Gottlieb “Funland”
  • Gottlieb “Surf'n Safari”
  • Gottlieb's “Buckaroo” (1965) or “Bank-A-Ball” (1965)
  • “Halloween”
  • “Harlem Globetrotters”
  • “High Speed”
  • “Highspeed”
  • “Houdini”
  • “Jaws Premium”
  • “Jaws Pro”
  • “Jaws”
  • “Jokerz! Pinball”
  • “Judge Dredd”
  • “Jurassic Park”
  • “Labyrinth”
  • “Laser War”
  • “Metallica”
  • “Middle Earth”
  • “Motordome”
  • “Mr. &. Mrs Pacman”
  • “NASCAR”
  • “NBA Fastbreak”
  • “Partyzone”
  • “Pinball Champ”
  • “Pinball Magic”
  • “Pinbot”
  • “Pool Sharks”
  • “Rick & Morty”
  • “Riverboat Gambler”
  • “Road Kings”
  • “Robocop”
  • “Rollercoaster Tycoon”
  • “Simpsons Pinball Party”
  • “Sky Jump”
  • “Solar Fire”
  • “Space Odyssey”
  • “Spectrum”
  • “Spooky’s Ultraman”
  • “Star Trek Pro”
  • “Star Wars Episode 1”
  • “Stargate”
  • “Stars”
  • Stern “Harley-Davidson”
  • Stern “Spider-Man”
  • “Stranger Things”
  • “Super Orbit”
  • “Super Score”
  • “Tales From The Crypt”
  • “Terminator 2”
  • “The Shadow”
  • “Theater of Magic”
  • “Time Machine”
  • “Tron”
  • “Twilight Zone”
  • “Volcano”
  • “The Walking Dead”
  • “Whirlwind”
  • “White Water”
  • “World Cup Soccer”
click to enlarge
Pinball players having a ball at ZapCon.
Benjamin Leatherman

Tournaments and competitions at ZapCon 2024

Tournaments and competitions will take place throughout the weekend and will offer prizes ranging from cash to gaming items and swag. There will be pinball tournaments for men and women, as well as one sanctioned by the International Flipper Pinball Association for both genders.

Additional tourneys will include Danger Dann's Pinball Rodeo, StarFighter Arcade’s 14 and under pinball tournament and Electric Bat’s “stall ball” tournament. There will be a bronze-age vintage arcade game competition, a “Killer Queen” tournament and the GameSmash console battle in the lounge area. Complete details about each tournament are available here.

Food and drinks at ZapCon

Local food trucks will be parked outside the main building throughout the weekend. Here’s the lineup and schedule.

11 a.m.-2 p.m.: The Panini People, Pokys Cocina
4-7 p.m.: Chicken Addiction Food Truck, Mi Amore Wood Fired Pizza, Mama T's

11 a.m.-2 p.m.: Carne Asada: The Art of Grilling, Rosie's Kitchen
4 to 7 p.m.: All Cooped Up in AZ, Big Mama's Events

Vending machines will be available throughout the Mesa Convention Center. A lounge will also be set up in the Mesa Room with a full bar and you’ll have to be 21 or older to imbibe.
click to enlarge
A future Jedi Knight in training.
Benjamin Leatherman

ZapCon schedule for Saturday

9 a.m. — Doors open for ZapCon contributors, volunteers and preregistrants.

10 a.m. — Doors officially open to the public. Qualifying rounds for the kids' and IFPA tournaments start and registration for the women’s tournament begins.

10:30 a.m. — The first qualifying round from the women’s pinball tournament gets going.

11 a.m. — Bronze-age vintage arcade tournament

2 p.m. — Tetris tournament

3 p.m. — StarFighters Arcade's 14-and-up pinball tournament

4 p.m. — The women’s pinball tournament’s second qualifying round and the kids’ tournament finals

7:30 p.m. — Finals of the women's tournament.

11:30 p.m. — The IFPA tournament qualifying ends and doors close.

ZapCon schedule for Sunday

9 a.m. — Doors open for ZapCon contributors and pre-registrants. The finals for the IFPA “B” and Classics tournaments take place.

10 a.m. — Doors officially open to the public.

11 a.m. — Bronze-age vintage arcade tournament continues

Noon — "Killer Queen" tournament

4:30 p.m. — Firebird Pinball’s “Best of Show” awards

6 p.m. — Doors

What should I bring to ZapCon?

Comfortable shoes, nerdy clothing, a fully charged cell phone, a taste for nostalgia and a case of "Pac-Man" fever.

What shouldn't I bring?

Quarters, duh. Also, if you tend to "rage quit" after getting frustrated with challenging games, leave that at home, too. Again, many of the machines at ZapCon are vintage or even antiques, and their owners would prefer it if you didn't slam your fists onto their property after you lose. You'll want to go easy on the joysticks and buttons, too. 
Can you help us continue to share our stories? Since the beginning, Phoenix New Times has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix — and we'd like to keep it that way. Our members allow us to continue offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food, and culture with no paywalls.