The other day I drove past the the place that used to be my favorite arcade growing up in the early 80's, the Galleon of Games on Route 40 in Ellicott City, MD. The Galleon closed long ago and is now an awesome BBQ joint, but it sent me down the internet rabbit hole looking for any info on my old haunt. There's no information online on it, or on the other two arcades that were nearby. The "Dark Times" thread touches on this, but I thought it might be neat to hear specifically what our favorite arcades were like (and even see some pics, if they exist.)
As I said above, I was lucky in that I had three arcades nearby (Two were close enough to ride my bike, which was straight out of Stranger Things.).
There was the aforementioned Galleon of Games. (Wish I could find a photo as I'd love to make a t-shirt of that giant pirate ship that was on the sign!) It was roughly a 30x40 store front on the left end of a three or four store strip mall. As you entered, there was a single row of pins lined up along the wall to your left and video games lining the front and back walls. The right wall was the attendant counter. There were also video games against the central pillars. I remember playing Blackout, Alien Poker, Black Knight. James Bond, and Quicksilver but there were definitely others. It was the first place I ever played Battlezone and Scramble. I seem to remember playing Seawitch facing in the other direction, so there may have been two rows of pins at some point.
The other bikable arcade was in the Chatham Mall. I think it was called Funtime. It was located one store deep inside one of the Mall's two entrances. All of the left wall and half of the back wall had pins, and the rest of the walls had video games lining them. They had Firepower, Stellar Wars, Playboy, Rolling Stones, and Joker Poker (one of the only Gottliebs my young self really enjoyed). They seemed to have the better run of vids as I remember Robotron, Defender, Zaxxon, Satan's Hollow and Tron among the collection. It was the only place I ever saw Digger, which was one inexplicably one of my favs.
The third Arcade required a trip to the Columbia Mall. It was at the end of a hallway on the second floor. I can't remember the original name, but it eventually turned into a Champions. They had quite a few pins ringing the back and right wall and vids on the left and front. My first time playing Eightball Deluxe was there, along with Timewarp, Future Spa, Space Invader, Totem, Hulk, Spiderman and others. Interestingly, the pins here all had their legs removed and rested on a built in "bench" that ran the length of the walls. I was too green a player then to object, but it must have been tough to put any english on those beauties.
So those are my formative arcades. I wish I had some photos, but alas those places are lost, like tears in the rain. It was over four decades ago, but I remember all three of them regularly rotating in new games. Whether it was through cooperation, marketplace competition or maybe even common ownership, there never seemed to be duplicate games between the three arcades. What a time be alive! lol.
I'd love to hear about some of pinside' other arcade memories...