Yesterday I went to Ground Kontrol’s all ages free play party for spring breakers. I have rarely been to Ground Kontrol as a quarter per play seems silly given the amount of games I have at home, but a mere $5 cover to access all the arcade has to offer for a few hours sold me. I was excited to see many familiar games that I had first experienced at home. Getting my hands on them here proved to me that Ground Kontrol’s arcade offers me something new. The unique artwork, controller setups, and fellow players who joined in turned each game into a more personal experience.
To get on a game it had to be unoccupied and I had to walk up to it. Then I had to figure out which button got me started and try get a handle on the controls before I ended up at the game over screen.
The colorful cabinets did just as much to draw my attention as the active video screens.
What I could never experience at home is the quirks of each of games’ cabinet. Marble Madness is a game I played where the marble follows the spin of the track ball.
Moves I had mastered in Street Fighter just weren’t going off when I attempted them on the cabinet’s controls and in X-Men, Wolverine hardly seemed to listen to my pleading with the attack button.
Smash TV’s dual stick controls now seemed pretty awkward on two stiff joysticks placed six inches apart.
Paperboy, which I already thought of as a hard game, was taken to another level with the handle bar controller.
Some time on each cabinet allowed me to immerse myself in the game. Playing them in the arcade has given me a greater appreciation for the systems that bring the games to life.
The layout felt spot on for an arcade. Everywhere you turn you are faced with a new game to play. I was happy to see games not available in my home collection. They called out to me more than the familiar ones.
Attack of the Martians offered the chance to blow up UFOs!
The horror themed pinball corner was really fun. I made a lot of attempts to impress the Mistress of the Dark on Scared Stiff.
I wish I could have gotten more chances to play Mario Kart, but it was pretty popular.
Ground Kontrol is defiantly a good way to kill time if you enjoy gaming. I also found it to create new connections and understanding of how I experience video games. Home may seem the ideal place to play in, but the arcade has something more to offer.
Ground Kontrol is located in the Old Town Chinatown neighborhood of Portland, OR.