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Ground Kontrol: To Funland

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I have recently returned from a much needed retreat. We trekked halfway across the continent of North America to visit the fabled land of Portland, Oregon. Its good to be home, but at the same time I wish I did not have to leave so quickly. I got the chance to visit two arcades on my trip, some nice places to game that are severely lacking where I live! Close to where I stayed is a fairly big tourist town near the beach, and there’s a pizza place that has a big arcade attached to it. Sounds just like the pizza place on the corner we all grew up with doesn’t it? The difference is that this one had a lot of cabinets, with a lot of newer games! The second one is the already well known location in downtown Portland, Ground Kontrol.

Funland

http://www.funlandseaside.com/

The first arcade is called Funland, and its attached to a Fultano’s Pizza. They claim to have been around since the 1929, which would likely make them one of the oldest, continuously operating arcades in the entire United States, probably high in the running for North America as a whole. This makes this arcade a bit of a relic, but there is a distinct lack of video games actually from the 80s or earlier here. The earliest game I saw was a Galaga/Ms. Pac Man combo cocktail. Other than that the oldest game was Street Fighter II. This place is the definition of the modern arcade, gone are the money changing machines where you pop a bill in and get a bunch of quarters in return. Instead you load your money onto a card, and then swipe the card through a reader at every machine.

There are a lot of machines to enjoy in Funland, with multiple rooms to peruse and explore. The back room is where all the fun lies. Pinheads might feel a bit left out as there are only four tables at this place, and they’re all newer Stern games. I did enjoy the Tron table though. There are plenty of light gun and racing games here at this location, and there are a lot of cabinets hailing from the mid-late 90s to enjoy and get nostalgic over.

The problem during my visit is that many machines were out of order, even some that were turned on said “Out of Order” on the card scanner. They have 3 full Daytona USA units on the floor, but every one of them was out of order! There was a Sega Super GT next to it, and even that one only had one half of the machine turned on and in working order. The big attraction here was getting to play these brand spanking new arcade games, Time Crisis 5 and the 2 Star Wars Battle Pods they had here are so new that they haven’t had time to get all arcade sticky!

Ground Kontrol

http://groundkontrol.com/

Those looking for a nostalgic arcade trip will highly enjoy Ground Kontrol. You’ll pop quarters into machines all night here, both arcade machines and pinball tables! There are some newer Stern tables here as well, but the selection is dominated by classics from Williams, Bally, along with a handful of other companies like Sega. The arcade games include many classics that you’ll just have to pop a few quarters in, even a fully stocked Playchoice-10 is available. I visited this location with our very own member, Nupoile! He even brought his wife along for the ride.

Keep in mind that there are adults consuming alcohol at this location, and there is some stickiness as a result. That’s about the only downside to the experience I had there. I was going to play Nightcrawler in X-men and having a big puddle of sticky goop right next to my joystick was not the best. Smash TV’s movement stick was almost dead as well, but that was the only technical issue I experienced there. Everything else worked well and there was plenty of choice on both the lower floor, and upstairs.

Downstairs is all arcade, all day. There’s a bar down there as well. We’re all here for arcade first so we’re going to leave our glass in the convenient cupholders attached to nearly every machine in the entire building, right? There is plenty from the old school here, but not much from the new. More old school arcade cabinets are found upstairs, but they’re not quite the star of the show there. Expect to hear some people trying to form full 6 player X-men groups, along with teams of Simpsons and Turtles in Time players! Four player Blitz is a must have, and both arcades delivered that fix. Nothing beats elbow dropping your opponent after throwing him to the ground.

Upstairs is as close as you can get to the Heavenly Gates if you’re a pinhead. Classic pinball tables line the walls on the second floor, with a couple of newer Stern’s poking their head in as well. There were plenty of excellent games on the floor. A few favorites here include Scared Stiff (two multiballs on my first blind play!), The Addams Family, Theater of Magic, South Park and Tales of the Arabian Nights. Of course like any good arcade their selection of games on the floor changes from time to time as well.

Ground Kontrol is a must visit location if you find yourself in the Portland, Oregon area. If you’re a fan of arcade video and pinball games you find a nice corner to relax in here, and plenty of beer to quench your thirst. Unlike most bars and restaurants I visited in the area this one had few beers on tap in comparison, but more in line with what I’m used to. Everywhere seemed to have at least two dozen beers on tap, while Ground Kontrol was getting by with six, the red ale I tried was quite delicious.

Why Did I Play This? Episode 11: Capcom Fighter Power Stick

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When it comes to retro arcade sticks there are a few which everybody knows about, the NES Advantage, Super Advantage, Sega’s Genesis Stick & Saturn Stick, and then the Capcom Fighter Power Stick. But, it has been 20 years since this bulky controller has released so does it hold up?

You’ll just have to stay tuned and find out!

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