Those of you with children, how can you stand to be at Chuck E. Cheese? To be surrounded by the stench of sweaty children feet in the tubes of doom as you try to wrestle them out in order to shove cardboard pizza down their throats, the terrifying animatronic animals hypnotizing your child into begging for more money, or the high pitch scream that emits from the group shattering your eardrums. There are not many places you can turn to for arcade fun for your little one on their birthday that will allow you to keep your sanity.

What about those of you free from children, what alternatives do you have? The rise of Main Event and Dave and Busters promises adult fun, but is not the best place for those with little ones. Which is fine, you do not want to party with a bunch of five year olds, having to police your comments and drinking. The fun to be had is not as great as the arcades of the past. A lot of money is spent on alcohol, tokens, and wrist bands for the hours spent there. But is the vaule worth the money dropped?

Pinballz is the promise land of arcades with several things going for it. First off, keep it local. Why give your money to mainstream corporations that are doing well without it? What makes Austin amazing is the little gems like this. The first location is in North Austin, and they have since taken over the decrepit castle in Buda and transformed it into the magical place the ruins have been hinting at. The hours of operation seem long, but once inside it feels deceptively short. Open at least twelve hours a day, but only eleven hours on Sunday. The long hours gives the opportunity to arrive early with the kids. For later on in the evening, they are BYOB, allowing you to get sloshed while getting your gaming on. Second reason why the rock: Pinballz managed to pull together an arcade appealing to both families and groups of adults lacking in offspring.

Aside from the ability to drink a beverage of choice your there, the game selection is a rarity in the modern world. Pinballz’s greatest asset is the massive collection of pinball machines they offer, with convenient notices about how they finance. It is an interesting mix of nostalgia for all age levels as you park yourself in front of a pinball machine for ACDC, The X-Files, or South Park. Do not be mistaken by the name, they offer a variety of game choices with classic arcade staples like X-Men, the Simpsons, House of the Dead, and racing games. They have several Mario and Pac Man games to satisfy your needs, and classics for the kids with skeeball, whack an alien, and shooter games to test your sightline. The pricing on the machines are not bad, two to four tokens per game and they accept cash or cards in order to feed your new addiction. For those who like to earn something for money spent, they have the obligatory whoopee cushions and erasers to buy with tickets won from the many games that offer a paper reward. For adults scornful of basketball erasers, save up those tickets for the ultimate prize: a grill to crown the balcony outside your apartment. The last reason why they rock, where else can you find the games they have to offer? They even have a Zoltar to predict your future, but with no guarantees that it will make you Big.

The oddest game I found at Pinballz is a Sega game titled Typing of the Dead. The same premise as the House of the Dead shooter games, this entails you to pull the trigger by typing words in order to destroy the zombies shambling towards you. As the game progresses, the words to type increase in difficulty. Released in 1999, this apocalyptic game takes place in Venice. Did you think that survival depended on your wilderness skills? You are wrong and only Pinballz can train you in zombie survival.

A.J. Whitaker

A.J. Whitaker is from San Antonio who decided to make it big in Austin. Every day she curses the traffic and all the other people who had the same idea to move. When she is not passing judgment on businesses she is submitting fiction to literary journals. Follow her success and lack of it, on her personal blog