Video game arcades in local movie theaters
Remember the video arcade, with its wall-to-wall games, electronic cacophony and change-making machines clanking like Las Vegas jackpots?
Those colorful days have mostly gone the way of parachute pants and Judd Nelson, but there's still one place you can usually get your video fix: movie theater lobbies.
At many movie theaters, you can still shoot, race and tilt to your heart's content. You'll find games mostly in mainstream multiplexes (not so much at the art-houses) and other venues that lean toward family fare. Remember to bring more than a quarter - you'll find it won't go as far as it used to.
AMC Loews Raceway 10: 1025 Corporate Dr., Westbury, 516-745-6937
What you'll find: 10 machines. A combination of driving games and shoot-'em-ups, with an emphasis on movie tie-ins (The Fast and Furious Drift and the double-pistoled Star Trek Voyager). Fancier machines cost $1, although a couple of games offer a chance to win stuffed animals and costume jewelry for 50 cents.
Inside tip: Can't find a price anywhere on that photo booth? It's $3, which we found out only when we slipped in the first buck - and we never got it back.
Merrick Cinemas: 15 Fisher Ave., Merrick, 516-623-1177
What you'll find: Eight machines. Mostly games of chance - variations on the classic "crane" games - although there's also something called Terror Gold that's rated "Lifelike Violence Strong."
Inside tip: This smallish venue boasts a Simpsons Pinball Party, the only pinball machine we found on our search. It's right in view of the ticket booth, so don't get too rough with it.
Regal Deer Park Stadium 16 & Imax: 455 Commack Rd., Deer Park, 631-243-4584
What you'll find: Eight machines. In terms of action games, the star attractions are two Fast and Furious Drift machines, Sega's OutRun2 racing console and the two-player shooter Namco Time Crisis 4 (labeled "Animated Violence Strong").
Inside tip: Bring singles: You'll need to change them into tokens (four for $1), and we were told the concession folks can't open their registers to break big bills.
AMC Loews Nassau Metroplex 10: 3585 Hempstead Tpke., Levittown, 516-731-5400
What you'll find: 10 machines. The bonus here is two of each action game - Fast and Furious Drift, Time Crisis 3, OutRun2 - which potentially means less waiting during busy times.
Inside tip: You don't necessarily need to buy a ticket - we just walked right in. Our only complaint: With such a spacious lobby, why not add more games?
Farmingdale Multiplex Cinemas: 1001 Broadhollow Rd., Farmingdale, 631-777-8080
What you'll find: 13 machines. Even discounting the 25-cent fortunetelling box (which also doubles as a "Love Tester"), this place has the biggest selection on our list, with the usual driving, shooting and prize-type games.
Inside tip: Thanks to its somewhat rare Ghost Squad game, this venue also boasts the biggest fake firearm - a humongous, futuristic machine-gun.