Thursday, July 28, 2011

Barcadia in Houston, Texas

Well, this post probably won't be of much interest to anyone living outside the Houston area but my gaming pursuits lately keep leaving me with thoughts of "meh - that's not really post-worthy" and as a result I go a month or so at a time without posting anything. Well I'm not goin out like that!  Post or die!

Mrs. MP and I were eating lunch at the 59 Diner last weekend before heading out on a little birthday road trip to Austin to play some vids and pins at Pinballz when it occurred to me that it was a perfect time to check out Barcadia, the still relatively new bar in midtown that serves up not only alkeehawlic beverages but some classic arcade games and giant-sized Jenga as well. I had my usual hesitation about checking out a downtown bar and the associated risk of potentially being surrounded by a douchey/hipster crowd, but trepidation be damned I was ready for some games and some afternoon beer - after all I was on vacation!

Parking was limited along the curb but there was a big dirt lot across the street with plenty of space, although strangely there was some loose barb wire on the ground in the lot. Not sure what that was about but we didn't run over it so OK.

First thing I noticed when I walked in was that the place was pretty small. It was fairly early in the afternoon so there weren't many people and only a couple of people were playing the games, but it didn't seem like it would take too many people to get unbearably crowded in there. Anyway, I moseyed on up to the bar and ordered a brewski to kick things off.

I saw a few guys commenting online that the bartenders were jerks but the guy that was there when I went was quite friendly. Everyone was pierced and tatted but cool. I think some people just like to bitch on sites like Yelp and Tripadvisor.

So now - the games!  The good news is that they had a pretty good collection of 15 old classics and 2 different multicade machines, the bad news is almost half of them had significant mechanical problems that interfered with their play  The games included:
  Asteroids Deluxe (I didn't play this one because people were on it but appeared to work fine)
  Defender (the Reverse button was broken - ever tried Defender without being able to turn around?  It's aggravating)
  Dig Dug (the up direction on the joystick worked about 10% of the time - also aggravating)
  Frogger (out of order)
  Galaga (graphics were messed up and everything was in red - weird)
  Ghosts n' Goblins (Worked great!  Still hard as hell but that's normal for G&G)
  Mario Brothers (I didn't play this one)
  Mortal Kombat (I didn't play this one)
  Ms. Pac-Man (I didn't play it but looked to work OK)
  Multicade (I assume this worked but multicades have lost some of their appeal for me since I have one at home)
  Paperboy (Am I the only person in the world that hates this game?  I think I am. I didn't play it)
  Phoenix (Worked fine and is still a fun classic. Spent most of my playtime on this one.)
  Popeye (Never cared much for Popeye so I didn't play this one)
  Star Wars (Worked part of the time but sometimes the tie fighters would distort and flatten out which made them a lot harder to shoot)
  Street Fighter II (didn't play SFII - although it is one of my all-time favorites)
  Track & Field (worked but one of the run buttons on the P1 side was broken so it was a little shaky)
  Williams Retrocade (meh another retrocade - would be fun to play with friends over beer though)
  Skee-Ball (not a vid but classic fun anyway - 1 of the 3 machines worked fine).

So I was a little disappointed that several of the machines were buggy, but they were all in pretty good shape cosmetically and if they would just put a little more work into them it would be a nice mix of old games with the multicades for flavor. Also, I heard that you had to pay for the games but when I went everything was on free play - they had outfitted the machines with buttons on the front that you pushed to insert credits. So I didn't feel cheated since the games were free anyway and the beer selection was pretty decent for a small joint.

The only problem with the whole 'drink beer while you play games' deal is the same exact issue I have with it at Joystix - there's just nowhere to put your beer while you play!  You have to leave it on a table or the bar which isn't exactly nearby.

So, in a nutshell, I thought it was a decent little joint and I definitely like the idea of a bar with retro arcade games, but they really need to work on their games to get them all working right for me to consider returning. Even then I don't really see myself making the drive downtown with Barcadia as the target destination, but if I was already downtown with friends I wouldn't mind stopping in sometime so I'm officially adding it to the Arcade Journal.

[Updated 4/12/2012]
A while back I heard through the arcade grapevine that the reason Barcadia's arcade games weren't working is that the owner stiffed the arcade repairman who was working on them and so word spread and so no one in the Houston area would work on his games. I don't know for sure if that is true, but now I heard through the ol' grapevine again that Barcadia has officially CLOSED. And word is that the owner skipped out on the landlord and didn't even tell his employees that he was shutting down. They just showed up for work and found the place cleaned out. Class act - this Barcadia. Headquartered in Dallas. Ah. 

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Fallguy40 said...

I see opportunity in this. All we gotta do is create a beer mount for these machines and then just watch the dough start rolling in.

MadPlanet said...

Yeah they need to outfit them with cupholders. They actually did that on a lot of machines at Pinballz in Austin. And then they also put out these portable cupholders mounted to stands - like mic stands. Don't know why these arcades that allow drinking don't do that, it protects the games too since you won't have knuckleheads setting their beer bottles on the arcade games and spilling them sometimes.

Fallguy40 said...

The lack of beer holders and knuckleheads spilling their drinks are probably why half those games weren't working properly in the first place.

MadPlanet said...

yep. And THAT is exactly why I won't ever buy a game from Joystix. Fun place to play but too much drunken game abuse.