A straight guy, a bisexual guy, and a gay guy walk into a barcade at 10:00 in the morning, and it is no joke: 16-Bit barcade looks to be the next big thing in Columbus, Ohio. We ventured there to get a preview of the almost-complete barcade and had a chat with its owner, Troy Allen, to get an idea of what the public can expect.
Troy confirmed that all games will be free to play as long as you’re a paying customer, or in this case a drinking customer. He said he has caught some flack for making games free to play, with concerns about game hogging and the cost of keeping up the machines, but he stated that coin slots are “the first thing to break” and that “people don’t realize the mark-up on alcohol. The cost of keeping up the machines won’t be an issue. As far as game hogging, having been to other barcades, I’ve seen that this is a very respectable crowd and that won’t be an issue.”
16-Bit will be 21 and over as it is “first and foremost a bar,” Troy stated, also noting they don’t serve food but allow outside food from the next door Dirty Frank’s, or one of the nearby pizza places and also plan on having various food trucks and a taco Tuesday. There are tables near the front of the bar where patrons will be able to comfortably enjoy food and drinks, near TVs on display.
“Our core demographic is around 40 years old, people that grew up on these kinds of games.” Most of the games currently on display are old-school arcade games. Troy did mention he was looking into getting Street Fighter IV to have a more modern game that has a competitive following.
The drink prices are reasonable, considering all of your gameplay is included. We didn’t get to sample any of the drinks (it was 10am), but they sounded delicious. The cocktails menu features twists on old favorites, named after classic movies or their stars. Next to all the machines you’ll find wooden drink stands, perfectly sized to hold a couple of drinks.
Current drink prices:
$6 16oz draft beer
$5 bottles and cans
1/2 price happy hour
The aesthetics are quite welcoming: the glow of the machines, 16-bit signs, and light bulbs that hang down from the ceiling give the bar an almost steampunk feel. Overall it seems really friendly and inviting, and even has the house rules hanging above the bar, just to make things clear to new patrons.
16-Bit plans to have themed days throughout the week including Mortal Monday, which will feature Mortal Kombat tournaments, and Wayback Wednesday, when classic movies will be played (The Goonies was mentioned!). No mention of live streams or consoles being there, but there are plans in works for making the upstairs a living room-type area, which opens up possibilities for more than just arcade games.
What games are there?
Currently there are around 32 games on the floor, not counting the pinball machines, and there are around 25 other machines in the back to swap out if machines go down or need to be fixed. When we previewed it, the following games were on the floor:
Donkey Kong Jr.
Double Dragon II
Street Fighter II Champion Edition
Street Fighter II Turbo
Tapper (The original Budweiser version in mint condition)
Time Crisis II
TMNT the Arcade Game
Vs. Super Mario Bros
There is one machine that actually takes quarters — called Ice Cold Beer — in which you have two joysticks that control two sides of a metal pole with a pinball on it. The pinball is leaning against a wall with many holes in it, only 10 of them numbered. The goal is to get the pinball to the numbered holes in order; get it all the way to 10 and you can buy a beer for a penny. The three of us tried and the highest we could get is 2, so good luck!
While we can’t say when the bar opens, we can say to keep checking 16-Bit’s Facebook page for more information on that in the very near future. Once the bar opens we will be sure to check it out and give you our full impressions, but as of right now, consider us pumped!