Whether Gary Vincent (President of the American Classic Arcade Museum at Funspot, in Laconia, New Hampshire) knew it at the time or not, the establishment of the ACAM in 1999 would eventually lead to a wave of retro arcades within the following 16 years. Other major retro-arcades that have opened in the following years include the Galloping Ghost in Brookfield, Illinois, the Pinball Hall of Fame in Las Vegas, and YESTERcades in Red Bank, New Jersey (not to mention the countless barcades that have popped up in countless cities). Another place worth adding to this checklist is The Pinball Wizard Arcade, located in the sleepy, charming town of Pelham, NH.
As the name implies, Pinball Wizard Arcade has an emphasis on pins dating from the 1970s up through the present day. All the major manufacturers of pinball machines are represented here: Williams, Gottlieb, Stern, Bally and others have their games for play here. You’ll find everything from pop culture tie-ins (KISS, Creature from the Black Lagoon, Superman) to legendary staples of pinball’s ‘70s heyday (Gorgar, Xenon, Atlantis) to titles from pinball’s mid ‘80s-late ‘90s renaissance era (FunHouse, High Speed, Who Dunnit). They’ve even got the unique video/pinball hybrid Baby Pac-Man and Hercules, a mammoth of a pinball machine that uses cue balls in place of silver balls!
Fear not, video game fans, as there is a healthy line-up of video coin-ops to play, too. The expected staples are here, but you also get rarities like Black Widow (a neat Atari vector game that operates sort of like Robotron: 2084) and Arabian. Fans of ‘90s fighting games will get their fill too, with several of the Mortal Kombat and Street Fighter games, as well as various others. There’s also a rare cabaret version of Pac-Man that’ll interest fellow carriers of Pac-Man Fever.
There are also your standard redemption games, but thankfully, this is one place where you won’t have to wade through an ocean of ticket-spewing games to find one pinball or video game. Pool sharks can also get their cue action on with one of the four pool tables available.
Oh, and did I mention the sweet Pac-Man/Ms. Pac-Man décor adorning the wall above the restrooms?
Originally opened in the winter of 2011, the Pinball Wizard Arcade has grown to include a party room for birthdays and other occasions and tournaments. Sarah St. John, the owner of the arcade, is usually on the floor checking games or behind the front desk. The staff is knowledgeable, friendly, and willing to help with any problems.
As a bonus, here’s a very lengthy walkthrough and review from John’s Arcade Game Reviews and Tech, originally uploaded January 2, 2015. A friendly warning: Your lips will drool over the massive amount of games available and also likely have a major nostalgia rush.
So the next time you find yourself in New Hampshire but can’t make it to Funspot, make the trek to the Pinball Wizard Arcade. Be sure to grab some lunch next door from Suppa’s Pizza and Subs while you’re at it.
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