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YESTERcades of Somerville

Reviewed by Melissa Minners


                This past weekend, I visited a place that is every gamer’s dream…a place where one hourly fee allows you to play as many video games as you can as you can for as long as your wallet allows.  And not just any video games, but pinball and arcade games from the “Golden Age of Gaming.”  That place, my friends, is YESTERcades.

                A Yestercades has been in business for some time in Red Bank, New Jersey, but I visited the new branch that opened in Somerville, New Jersey just this past April.  Walk in and you are greeted by friendly staff who helpfully explain the YESTERcades experience to any and all newcomers.  Here’s how it works: Each person who enters gets a wristband which is removed from you when you leave.  From that printed wristband, the staff can figure out just how long you’ve been playing in the arcade.  The opening fee is $8.75 for an hour of playtime, but you can stay playing as long as you want.  According to the brochure, you are only charged in fifteen minute increments.

                Walk past the reception area and you are greeted with rows and rows of arcade games, pinball machines and more.  On one wall we have a bunch of couches where gamers can sit and play video games on their favorite consoles – consoles like the Xbox 360, the Wii, the original Nintendo, Sega Genesis, Atari 2600 and even Colecovision.  I decided to forego the couches and made a beeline for the arcade games.

                I was in my video gaming glee!  YESTERcades has loads of arcade games from my youth.  I played Donkey Kong, Centipede, Time Crisis, Terminator 2, Galaga, Galaxian, Super Mario Brothers, Tekken 3, Dig Dug, Pacman, Ms. Pacman, Baby Pacman  – a video game/pinball machine that is truly hard to find, Revolution X: Aerosmith and Tempest, a game that I haven’t played in years…haven’t found to play in years…but always loved.    I got into the top ten on the board – nice to see I still have what it takes!  And there were so many more games that I didn’t get to like Burger Time, Popeye, Mortal Kombat, Duck Hunt, Frogger, Millipede, Defender, Asteroids, World Class Bowling, TRON, Double Dragon, Gauntlet, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Missile Command and more.   I played every pinball machine I could – and there were about ten machines lined up on one of the walls, including an old favorite called Pin-bot.

                In addition to the video game consoles, arcade games and pinball machines, YESTERcades has skeetball, air hockey tables, foozball and a regulation size pool table.  And to top it all off, YESTERcades pumps nostalgic music through the speakers from the 80s and early 90s and they even air the videos from the music you loved gaming to on a large screen television in the back of the game room.

                This arcade brought me back – back to a time when I played Tempest and Phoenix (the only game missing that I really would have loved to play again) in the local greeting cards store.  When I used to spend an hour in Al’s magazine and soda shop playing Dig Dug and Ms. Pacman.  When I played Jungle King, Donkey Kong, Asteroids and Missile Command in the now defunct Interboro 4 movie theater on East Tremont in the Bronx.  When my brother and I spent hours playing Star Wars and Pin-bot in the Allerton Bowling Alley.   When my dad used to take us to the Whitestone Arcade were we played video game after video game until my dad ran out of dough.

                The difference with playing these games at YESTERcades – I paid one rate.  Had I been forced to pop quarter after quarter in the multitude of machines available to play, I would have run out of money long before I ran out of gaming experience.  At YESTERcades I can continue to play as long as I want.  I paid the bill for two of us to spend hours playing games.  The bill?  Only about $21.00!  Not bad…think about how many quarters I might have spent in that amount of time!  Woah!

                If you love gaming, especially playing the video games of yesteryear like I do, then there is no other place that I can think of going to and getting your money’s worth than YESTERcades in Sommerville, NJ…except maybe the original YESTERcades in Red Bank, NJ.  What a great experience!  I can’t wait to go back!


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