80’s Arcades’ Resurgence In Chicago

Ms. Pac-Man suffers an untimely death at the hands of a blue-clad ghost, but A.J. Matthews doesn’t seem too upset by his failure to navigate the pellet-filled maze without smacking into a homicidal spectre. Instead, Matthews turns around and admires the glowing lights and bleeps and bloops that emanate from a couple dozen arcade machines crowded into the backroom of Logan Hardware.

“It’s a generational thing, this is like coming back to a place you remember going to as a kid,” said Matthews, 28, of Old Irving Park. “This place really is a treasure in the city.”

Logan Hardware, a Logan Square-based record store which already dealt in the nostalgia of selling music on vinyl LPs, reopened in January at 2410 W. Fullerton so that customers could enjoy the arcade cabinet collection of store owner Jim Zespy. Once customers make a purchase, they can slink away to the back and shoot down space aliens in “Galaga” or zap killer robots in “Robotron: 2084.”

Meanwhile, the Emporium Arcade Bar—a clone of Brooklyn, N.Y.’s Barcade which serves up craft brews and classic gaming in equal measure—opened this week in Wicker Park with titles ranging from “Arkanoid” to “Xybots.” And in the suburbs, places like Galloping Ghost in Brookfield, which brags over 250 old school gaming machines, have popped up recently.

It might sound strange for an arcade revival to occur in a time when many own ultra-powered home game consoles or smartphones with the ability to download these games, but Zespy says going to a place like Logan Hardware to game is a completely different experience than playing the same title on an iPhone.

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