No parts? No problem, just press and play | traveling soldier

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AUSTIN – Over the past few years, arcades seem to have had a resurgence. Some of them are aimed not only at young people, but also at their parent-age counterparts. One such arcade, called Cidercade in Austin, can provide gamers of all ages with a day of fun at a fairly affordable price.

Cidercade is offering a great deal: for $10, customers get free access to all the games inside. No tokens, quarters or tickets are required, just walk in and press the start button to play.

On this outing, my friends Danielle Groeninger and her boyfriend Jordan Becker volunteered to show me the ropes in the small venue on Riverside Drive. When we arrived late on a Saturday afternoon, we had to wait a few minutes to get in as the place was at capacity. When we walked in we had problems accessing the most popular machines. So, I recommend getting there earlier in the morning or during the day to avoid most of the crowds.

Once inside, I quickly scanned the place looking for specific retro machines. Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to find an “Aliens vs. Predator”, “Tecmo Knights”, or even a decent “Star Wars” arcade cabinet. However, it didn’t take me long at all to discover the “Deadpool” pinball machine, and then later, “The Mandalorian” one. While I’ve spent time with both, I think the “Mandalorian” pinball may have been broken as the ball never seemed to last long on the table. Deadpool on the other hand felt fun and eventually Danielle and I took turns trying to boost each other’s score.

However, I introduced Danielle to a classic old-school two-player beat-em up called “Die-Hard,” which she immediately took a liking to. So much so that I saw Jordan and Danielle beat the game later in the day.

Eventually I spotted one of the Time Crisis games. At random times I passed out of hope to play but never got the chance because the line just kept growing. I had the same problem with the “Mandalorian” pinball machine. This continued to become a major inconvenience as the place got so much traffic that you had to skip some games or miss your spot to play.

After moving away, I played a retro “Star Wars” game, but it wasn’t the game I was looking for. The game puts you in the role of Luke Skywalker (I assume) on his speeder bike with simplistic graphics. It looked more like a good “Spy Hunter” deal and I quickly checked out after a few minutes.

I soon met Danielle who demanded that we play the competitive video game “Tetris”. All in all, I thought I had done well with spinning the blocks and getting the puzzle pieces into the correct slots, but she was just leaps and bounds on me.

From there, Jordan and Danielle found a “Mario Bros.” Game. At first I thought it was just the classic version for the Nintendo Entertainment System. However, this one seemed to focus more on a cooperative approach and my two friends worked together to clear levels.

Towards the end of our visit, Danielle suggested we venture outside to the huge patio with large tables and chairs that actually looked like swings. With an incredibly panoramic view of the city, we had an interesting conversation as the three of us swayed like grown children.

For adults, in addition to a full collection of games to play, Cidercade also specializes in many specialty drinks. The bar offers hard ciders, seltzers and kombuchas for the most seasoned players. A good list of drinks will inspire you to experiment, but I recommend starting with something like Dark Cide instead of jumping in like my friends. They both decided to go with The Hot One, a hard seltzer that included Carolina Reaper Pepper. Predictably, I wasn’t surprised when I heard them resume their drinks for the Crackberry cider, something much less intense and fiery.

As for food, Cidercade offers an extensive menu of pizzas and wings at affordable prices. Didn’t get a chance to try the menu on this trip, but maybe next time I will.

Overall, Cidercade offers a lot for the price of $10. While other arcades might have a better assortment of new and retro games, this one offers loads of fun for families and friends. I just have to remember to go earlier next time so I can play some of my favorite games before the queues pile up.

For more information on Cidercade, visit www.cidercadeaustin.com/.

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