Thursday, May 3, 2018

Funspot: The Largest Arcade in the World!

Primary entrance (2nd floor).
The reason I missed last week's ads update was because I traveled to Connecticut to see family and from there I took a drive up to New Hampshire to visit Funspot for the first time in nearly 30 years. In the '80s my family vacationed in Laconia, NH about once a year and Funspot was my favorite destination, though it was closed for renovations during two vacations if I recall correctly and that really was crushing to my young self. The first time I was there was likely the very early '80s when it consisted of two rooms; one had the service counter (where I could show my report card for some free tokens), old-time crane games, and the bathrooms, and the other was one huge room of arcade and pinball games. Over time a second floor and more non-gaming activities were added, such as a bowling alley and kiddie bumper cars.

Upon arriving at about 10 AM last Friday, the time at which Funspot opens its doors, I found there were already about 20 cars in the parking lot. That was actually far busier than I had ever seen it so I opted to stick with photos rather than videos. I'm not sure if Funspot really is the largest arcade in the world but that's what it claims to be and it is currently three floors. Along with the numerous arcade games, it still has a bowling alley and bumper cars, plus a lot of ticket-oriented games, a party room, and indoor miniature golf which was located outside in the past. I took a tour before playing anything and seeing as how it had been a very long time since I was there it wasn't too surprising to find much has changed. The majority of classic arcade games and pinball are located in a single, dark room clearly aiming for a classic arcade atmosphere. The rest of the building is well lit with a few arcade and pinball games here and there among a variety of the ticket-dispensing machines, air hockey tables, and Skee-ball.

One of the two 3rd floor entrances.
The indoor miniature golf course.

I went in with $20 worth of tokens to spend; one token being equal to one quarter. They do offer a few extra coins when buying in bulk though I had a gift card that I won from Funspot's Facebook page last year which was good for 80 tokens. Unfortunately, some of the games I had hoped to play were no longer around. The pinball selection had shrunk and the Monday Night Football pinball machine I mentioned in the Data East ads post was nowhere to be seen. I also could not find the wonderful pinball-like baseball games that pitched marbles for players to slam for hits. No Golden Axe games nor Gun.Smoke either, though I suppose I would have lost in minutes anyway as that wild west game often kicked my butt. Actually, I did terrible on just about every game I played this time anyway.

The majority of the pinball games are
along the left wall in the classics room.
Three of the pinball games along the
wall in the previous photo.

The original Star Wars arcade game from Atari was still there so I gave that a spin, plus there is an upright version available to play too. Of the 25 or so arcade games I played, some were for the first time, such as Cliff Hanger, Special Criminal Investigation, Iron Horse, Us vs. Them, Computer Space, and Night Stocker. While I'm not a big Donkey Kong fan, I did play that one as I assumed it was the same one that Steve Wiebe played in the documentary The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters. In that same room is a sizable touch screen where visitors can look up historical information and the top classic game players, such as those that are in aforementioned The King of Kong film. Most arcade games at Funspot cost a single token to play but there are modern games too that cost more, like three tokens for the Daytona USA Championship that has eight units linked together. Pinball even costs two tokens per play which I wasn't expecting.

Buck Rogers - Star Wars - Mappy - 1943
Daytona USA Championship

While crowded, I noticed most of the kids were borderline obsessed with the newer ticket games, running around with huge wads of tickets that they could trade in for, well, crap mostly. Of course, the cheap crap is the stuff I enjoyed trying to win out of the aforementioned crane games when I was a kid so I understand the appeal. Small appliances are available for 10,000+ tickets I think it was and I really wouldn't be surprised if people that frequent the place for those games acquired that many. Near the end of my visit I decided to try a few of them and they do offer a lot more tickets than Skee-ball ever spit out. In fact, I got a little addicted to a flashy game where you try to time a ball drop to drop in the slot you want, otherwise the ball bounces around until it settles in a hole. That costs two tokens for a single play and I did manage to win 50 tickets on one play.

Atari's Pong (Pong Doubles is also on-site).
I was only in New Hampshire for the one day which did make me feel a bit rushed and likely added to some disappointment I felt while there. Also, having driven around 700 miles on Wednesday, another 75 or so on Thursday, and 200 more Friday morning, I was rather worn out before I even got there. After the first 2.5 hours at Funspot I left for a hilly, two-mile hike because I needed to become more tired before heading back in the evening for a couple more hours of gaming. The break was good though as I had a bit more fun during my second round. It's definitely best to bring a friend if you can so that you can compete with someone for high scores, play games that require two players such as Pong and Fire Truck, and team up in titles like Gauntlet and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

Something to expect if you visit is that not every game you might want to play will be in working order. There are a lot of games, many are old, and they're likely receiving frequent use so they are going to break regardless of how well they might be taken care of. I encountered a few that took my tokens but wouldn't start, a broken joystick, another controller that is very worn out, some buttons that either didn't work or were slow to react, and the Spy Hunter game didn't play any music! There were games unplugged as well, likely waiting for a fix. Also, that dark room may elicit feelings of a classic arcade, but if you want to skim instructions or a button's label, some can be very difficult to see in the low lighting conditions.

I hope I'm not sounding too negative because Funspot is a good time for anyone that enjoys arcade and pinball games, or collecting tickets to trade in for small prizes, not to mention there is bowling and indoor miniature golf too. On the other side of the parking lot there is a second building as well that holds up to 400 people for bingo nights. Overall, there should be something for most anyone if you can look past a few of the faults.

Onto the rest of the pictures that I could have done a much better job with. The lighting in the classic games room did make it challenging for my amateur photography skills as the marquees often got way too bright when my camera adjusted for the darkness. Aisles don't always offer a lot of room for photos either, and most of the machines are packed close together obscuring the often wonderful cabinet artwork.

Computer Space
Donkey Kong

Night Stocker
Space Invaders (with reflections in the glass)

Hercules (largest pinball machine; got
some light glare from the doorway)
Interactive touch screen (as you can see
I'm looking up the top players here)

Taito section
Four "Pac" games and some other classics.

Krull - Mad Planets - Tetris - Main Event - Smash T.V.
Operation Wolf - ST.U.N. Runner -
Space Harrier

Ticket games from the '80s.

Last up are some items from the '80s and my latest visit. The yellow cup is one of the prizes I got in the late '80s and while they still offer a yellow cup, the new version lacks the red text. Next to the cup is a deck of playing cards that I also acquired from the prize counter in the '80s. This time I went with a shot glass but some of the imprint is missing. At the token machines are clear plastic cups for guests to hold their tokens in, however, back in the '80s the token cups had a Funspot logo on them. I'm guessing they switched to the cheap cups because people (like myself) took them home when they likely weren't supposed to. Unfortunately, mine has developed a crack on it recently. I'm also including a scan of the current tickets; I don't know if I have an old ticket, I might but couldn't find it and I don't remember if the old ones had a unique design on them. I didn't keep any of the newer tokens though I noticed they are now marked with a year like regular coins. Of course, that means the scan below of a token's front and back are from one that I took home in the '80s.


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