For me, it’s a deep-seated longing to interact with tangible evidence of my childhood. For others, it’s a novelty, passion or hobby. For those reasons, classic gaming, whether you indulge in it for nostalgia or intrigue, is a pretty popular fad these days. Plus, it’s simplistic fun. So, when PLAYER 2 opened its doors on Downtown Green Bay’s Washington Avenue, I just had to blog about this hip establishment that blends a trendy 19th century ambiance and retro eighties appeal seamlessly.
Of the cool highlights, I’d like to mention that this place is fairly large, having two stories. Their beer choices are stellar, if not a bit pricy, with giant LCD screens listing the alcoholic beverages. They also feature some fun pinball machines with iconic themes. Seriously, the names of the machines drew me towards them.
So, here’s my nostalgic gameplay experience at PLAYER 2
It’s an early evening during late July in the land of the Green Pay Packers. What a loathsome feeling the last portion of that statement brings. This year, there’s no training camp crowds, no family night, and whether fans will be in attendance for games is anyone’s guess. C’mon NFL, Lambeau field has a sellout streak since 1982.
Alas, while the main draw to Titletown seems to be unravelling, there are attractions that sends my heart a flutter. (I went a little overboard…but what’s wrong with a little 19th century prose?) Mainly, a brand new arcade bar, in the heart of Green Bay’s downtown, begs a visit. And tonight, I’ll do just that!
As we walk in, I’m delighted and disheartened in the same breath. The interior of this place is stunning. There’s brick walls accompanied by cartoonish murals of pop culture characters. A mammoth TV suspended high above, featuring the Nintendo classic Duck Hunt, can entertain a large gathering. Along a back wall, antiquated ski ball games are flanked by a wide array of pinball machines. And, to top it off right, a sleek stylish bar begs a visit.
I say I’m disheartened only because of my first impression, as uneducated as this one is. I don’t see the classic staples that make visiting an arcade fun. You know, arcade classics like Pac-Man, Donkey Kong, Frogger and the like.
But it only takes a simple question at the bar to send my spirits soaring. After asking if there are more arcade games, a young bartender informs me that this place has a second level. And, after ordering a couple pints of beer that are a bit too pricy for my budget, buying some tokens and climbing the staircase to the second level, I’m more than satisfied.
This place has iconic games I had forgotten about. For example, NBA Jam lies in wait for anyone wanting to play some classic two on two arcade B-ball. The game had been registered deep in the archives of my memory, waiting for a retrieval cue. When sight of the game sends those brain cells into action, I actually remember where I was, and who I was with, the first time I set eyes on that game. I remember the graphics blew us away. Today, it’s an outdated video game that’s still fun to play.
After being pulverized by barrels in Donkey Kong, smooshed by an eighteen wheeler while playing Frogger and being stabbed in the heart a hundred times in a fighting game, my beleaguered mind begs for the solace of a pinball machine. So, we head down stairs.
Here, we discover fun games. The sights and sounds of these pinball games inspire a fun filled experience. It takes a little skill, a little luck and only twenty five cents. Seriously, five dollars in quarters will suffice for about an hour or so. I guess it depends on what games you’re playing and how long you play them, but twenty game plays lasts a while. That many coins will sustain you through a pint of beer at least.
And while I’m on the topic of beer and game play, I should mention, no matter where you go in this bar, there’s someplace to set your drink next to your chosen machine. Whether it be a ledge or a cupholder, PLAYER 2 ensures you can sip and play at any game.
Also, there is a kitchen here. Their burgers are named after the cliches of the gaming world. However, the prices exceed what I’m willing to pay. Twelve bucks for a burger is not going to set well with my finances. After everything else purchased and accounted for this night, I want to eat more than ramen this upcoming week.
Just when I think I’ve had enough, Heidi and I find the perfect cherry to top off this outing. I’ve never seen this before, but it ends up being the highlight of the night. Tucked away on the first floor near the restrooms, a four player table top Pac-Man game entertains me like few games have entertained before. Your goal is to take on your date, buddies, companions, or whoever you brought with you, and outwit them Pac-Man style. Heidi maintained a slight edge throughout our battles. But it was a lot of fun.
To sum this place up in a Paragraph; PLAYER 2, with a trendy motif topped with an attractive skylight, makes good on the promises its name insinuates. The classic arcade games found with in its brick walls incur nostalgic bliss, tech fun, bonding opportunities and a chance at memories; whether rekindled or freshly made. Their beer choices are stellar. There’s also a kitchen offering burgers titled after Iconic video classics. I will visit this fun downtown nook again.