Let’s go to the DeKalb Star Worlds Arcade!
Any self-respecting retroist will tell you that when looking for real estate you have only three things you need to consider: Arcade, Arcade, Arcade. When I was living on the West Coast I had access to some wonderful video games at the Santa Cruz Boardwalk and I spent many a weekend reliving the glory days of my youth in their classic game corner. When I moved to the great center of our nation, I was worried that I would have difficulty finding a similar experience, but I found out quickly I could not be more wrong.
After settling into my new home and getting MAME fatigue, I decided to do a little research. After a short amount of searching, I found the answer to my video game dreams, Star Worlds Arcade. Located in the beautiful city of DeKalb, this Arcade is just under an hour away. To the car!
DeKalb is a bit of a hike through some nice farm country, but the further I got away from Suburbandom the more I was worried. Can farm country have a decent arcade? I was worried for nothing. As you approach the city, the strip malls and fast food joints start popping like gangbusters. I was in my element.
Now, where is this place? I had the address, but I was unfamiliar with where I was. I was just about to stop and ask directions. No need, as I crossed the train tracks I spotted the sign on a non-nondescript brick building.
The arcade is smaller than I thought it would be and a lot less flashy than what I expected, but who cares. Did you see that website? Classic games are ahead. Upon entering the arcade, you are struck by two things, the smell of fresh-popped popcorn and the fact that every square foot of this building is crammed with classic games. I pulled out a $10 and was given 60 tokens by Pac Man Pat. Tokens? Pac Man Pat? I have died and gone to retroist heaven.
The games are in great condition and there are a few rare ones here, including Domino Man and a perfectly functioning pinball hybrid Baby Pac-Man. I was 12 years old again, jumping from game to game like a demon. Is that Pinbot? Burger Time? You name it, and they have it, and almost all the games are just one token.
I mentioned that the place is crammed with games. It is also decorated with great classic video game memorabilia on every surface (even the bathroom). I could describe it all in great detail, but I will let the pictures speak for themselves.
I am not sure where the afternoon went, but before I knew it, I was out of tokens and my stomach was grumbling. I got 5 more tokens and made a last pass through the arcade and played some Pinbot. It was with a heavy heart that I left the arcade that day. I promised I would be back (I have) and introduced myself to Pat. He was nice enough to slide me this bad boy for my next trip.
Star Worlds is doing a bang-up job of keeping a piece of history alive. But like all small businesses, they need your help. So if you require a great retro experience, drop in and play for a while. Just don’t touch the high score on Burger Time. That belongs to me!
Visit the Star Worlds Arcade:
1234 East Lincoln Highway, DeKalb, IL 60115 (815)787-4599