Everything old is new again at Game On Retro Arcade in the Smith Haven Mall in Lake Grove.
"These are all ’80s and ’90s original arcade machines. They’re all original hardware," says owner Tristan Whitworth, 37, who opened his latest Long Island business last month.
Whitworth already has Game On retro video game stores buzzing in Miller Place, Smithtown and Patchogue.
"The idea of this new arcade is to be a thank you to everyone that’s supported our stores and the community of Long Island," says Whitworth. He aims for the business to "bring back camaraderie, socialization, laughing and having fun together," he adds, "and not just via FaceTime or on the internet. This is a fun place to hang out with friends."
The retail complex looks forward to the arcade bringing "fun and amusement for shoppers of all ages," says Ann M. Schultz, director of marketing and business development at Smith Haven Mall.
The arcade, located near the food court, features about 100 games, including Donkey Kong, dot-gobbling Ms. Pac-Man and the space-y Tempest. Look for Double Dragon, a classic from the "beat ’em up" genre, plus NBA Jam.
Pinball wizards can flipper out on vintage games. On tap: Black Hole, known for its two play fields, and Escape from the Lost World, whose title speaks for itself (yes, dinosaurs roam).
The games are retro, but the pay structure isn’t, so don’t worry about hoarding quarters. A pay-and-play structure is the name of the game. Currently the price is $30 a day or $20 an hour and is being fine-tuned, says the owner.
Whitworth has been purchasing arcades – the term for a full-size game – for his new business since 2020 from sellers, museums and private collectors. Each addition was a fun blast from the past. Growing up in Shoreham, Whitworth was an avid arcade gamer.
For adults, Game On Retro Arcade will bring a dose of nostalgia. For kids, it will be the thrill of discovery. "It’s passing on our gaming history to our children," says Whitworth, who has three children.
Medford resident Peter Grass, 42, who works for a packaging company and collects vintage arcade games, attended the grand opening with his kids and his father.
"I was like a kid in a candy store," he said, adding that he’s a regular at Whitworth’s video game stores.
Once inside the arcade, Grass made a beeline for Berzerk, a maze game. "I saw that Tristan had the high score and was trying to bump him off. I also played X-Men with my kids."
Plans for the arcade include reserving two hours on the first Tuesday of every month for autism-friendly play.
Anyone who’s played arcade games knows bragging rights come with the territory. The arcade’s games are equipped to save high scores and there’s a big chalkboard that will serve the same purpose.
"Those are two of my favorite things," says Whitworth.
Game On Retro Arcade, Smith Haven Mall, 313 Smith Haven Mall, Lake Grove
NEW VIDEO GAME STORE
Tristan Whitworth also opened his newest Game On video game store, in Patchogue, in January.
The store offers places for kids and adults to explore games and equipment primarily from before the early 2000s and to share their community interest in gaming nostalgia. "Our store is about playing the games as they were meant to be played on the original hardware," says Whitworth. "The most magical thing is when these kids eight to 10 years old are coming in to buy retro games they see on YouTube or that their parents told them about."
Like the first two stores, the Patchogue locale sells items related to Atari (such as Donkey Kong), Nintendo Entertainment Systems (such as Mario Duck Hunt), Sega Genesis systems (such as the 1992 Sonic the Hedgehog game) and PlayStation (such as Spyro the Dragon). It also has an arcade area in the front offering free play of old favorites such as Pac-Man and Asteroids.
Whitworth had been getting requests to open a South Shore location for a while, he says. "The biggest thing was finding someone who was passionate enough to run the store," Whitworth says.
That’s where Robert Maurus, the store manager, came in. He’s been a customer at the Miller Place store for years, visiting most weekends from his home in East Patchogue with his son Gavin, now age 4, to pick out Mario, Ninja Turtles and wrestling video games to play with him. "The colors, the sounds, the overall games are easier for him to play," Maurus says.
The two men became friendly and decided to work together. "We made it happen," Maurus says.
-- Beth Whitehouse