If you grew up anywhere between the 1950’s and 1990’s then no doubt arcades and the coin-operated games they housed would be a familiar and fond memory from the past. Although, over the years, their popularity dropped due to the introduction of new and more accessible in-home consoles and smartphones, a recent resurgence has seen demand for vintage arcade games return in force. Today, arcades can be found in many locations around Brisbane, with both older and newer versions of the games now easily accessible to all.
The rise in popularity of vintage arcades
First seen in around the 1930’s, arcade games (coin-operated video or sporting games and pinball machines) quickly became a source of fascination for society’s youth. As technology and content grew, so did their popularity, and by the 1970s and 1980s, machines playing much-loved games like Pacman, Donkey Kong, Space Invaders and Street Fighter were stationed at nearly every corner store or shopping centre. The traditional arcades at the time, which featured row upon row of the machines, were the local hangout, overflowing with students after school and on the weekends.
Over the years as smartphone technology and at-home gaming systems slowly replaced them, arcade games seemed to become a thing of the past. The machines and venues slowly disappeared.
Surprisingly, although their graphics have long since been surpassed, recent years has seen a resurgence in the popularity of the old-school arcade machines. The number of arcades in Brisbane is now steadily growing. There are now multiple locations and venues that feature arcades within them, as the new generation of gamers grow fond of their vintage style and older gamers chase down their youth with nostalgic glee.
How do modern arcades differ from the past?
Whilst many of the arcades in Brisbane feature original machines and games, many modern features differ from the past. Most notably, you don’t need coins to operate them anymore. Some venues, like 1UP, offer an all-day playing entry pass, with all games set to ‘free play’ mode.
At other arcades, there are tokens you can receive or cards that you put a certain amount of playing credit on.
Another difference is the prizes (this one we love!). Depending on how well you play your game or if you get any special bonuses while playing, you may be awarded some tickets at the end. These will roll out from your machine or be added to your game card to be redeemed later at the gift store. Gifts or treats are worth a certain amount of tickets and players can save them up to get the ultimate prize over time.
Finally, you can expect new games in addition to the old, and the machines now feature games with fancier controls. Foot pads for dance machines, light up plastic guns for shooting games and even ski pads for downhill skiing!
Arcades in Brisbane
1UP Arcade Brisbane is Australia’s largest Retro arcade, with over 200 original machines, and a dedication to arcade preservation and community. With a flat-rate all-day unlimited play entry, you can choose to play unlimited pinball at Brisbane’s biggest pinball venue, or play on hundreds of original arcade games.
Address: 230 Lytton Rd, Morningside
Contact: 0478 620 509
With two locations in Brisbane, Funhouse venues offer more than 100 games and attractions for you to explore in their arcade-style wonderland. Whether you love old-school arcade machines or the latest ticket and video games, they have you covered. They also host birthday parties which include unlimited gameplay, a private party room, and free tickets to spend of gifts at the end too!
Address: Level 3/91 Queen St, Brisbane City | Corner Mains & McCullough Roads, Sunnybank
Contact: (07) 3210 0442 | (07) 3344 6022
Situated right in the heart of the Valley’s entertainment precinct, Netherworld is a bar, diner and arcade game attraction in Brisbane. Although they do allow under 18’s with their guardian until 5pm, it is probably a place to enjoy with your friends on a nostalgic night out rather than a family occasion. With a fully-stocked bar and menu, Netherworld also houses forgotten treasures from the 70’s until present day including 15 pinball machines, 25 arcade machines, classic consoles and countless board games.
Address: 186 Brunswick St, Fortitude Valley
Contact: 0424 156 667
B. Lucky & Sons
B. Lucky & Sons is another Valley venue that focusses on providing a top notch food, bar and arcade experience. Although they also have rules about under 18’s and the times they are permitted within the venue (pre 8pm) they do host kids parties that include arcade games, food, drink, a host and even party gifts for the guests and birthday child.
Address: Shop T1/315 Brunswick St, Fortitude Valley
Contact: (07) 3123 4445
Planet Arcades is a bright, clean and family-friendly arcade with two Brisbane locations. They offer over 150 games across its venues, including shooting, driving, pinballs, basketball, Virtual Reality (VR) machines, bowling and more. They also host kids’ birthday parties.
Address: 295 Gympie Rd, Strathpine | Shop E8/1 North Lakes Drive Westfield Shopping Centre, North Lakes
Contact: (07) 3205 6733 | (07) 3048 3621
One of the most popular birthday party venues in Brisbane, Timezone not only houses lasertag, bowling and bumper cars, but a full arcade of games too. Timezone has many arcade games suitable for players of all ages. Whether you’re looking for video games, claw machines or virtual reality experiences, they have it all!
Address: Kessels Rd, Upper Mount Gravatt
Contact: (07) 3088 9122
Pincadia is a licenced venue with a passion for everything retro from the 80s. They have a large collection of pinballs, arcade machines, board games and card games for their guests to play and enjoy. They cater for the over 18s and families who are looking for somewhere comfortable to be social with like minded people who are also into retro 80s inspired games and 80s music videos. Children are allowed but must be supervised at all times.
Address: 1/14 Logan Rd, Woolloongabba
Contact: (07) 3162 2522
Pinball Haus Arcade boasts over 20 quality pinball games from the Classic 90’s Bally Williams era through to the latest Stern, Amercian Pinball and Jersey Jack machines. They often celebrate with special occasions like Pinball ‘n’ Pizza night and an Aussie classic Pinball ‘n’ Pie day. The arcade is also available for bookings for private functions, parties and special occasions. They also sell pinball machines!
Address: 36 Baxter St, Fortitude Valley
Contact: 0403 464 636
If you love a bit of old-school entertainment, you may also be interested in our list Board Game Shops and Cafes in Brisbane.