On US Route 3, just a short drive north of the Weirs Beach Boardwalk, Funspot was founded by Bob Lawton in 1952. Funspot has been in its current location since 1964 and, in 2008, the Guinness Book of Records named Funspot the ‘World’s Largest Arcade’. In addition to all of its arcade systems, Funspot is home to a nine hole miniature golf course, a ten lane bowling alley, a tavern, and a restaurant. Most importantly, the third floor houses the ‘American Classic Arcade Museum’ and is a true 8-bit retro gamers dream come true.
Funspot is a good two hour drive from my home, but what better to do on a sunny, but cold January day in New Hampshire? Although I play my Atari game systems as much as I can, it had been a long time since I had been to an arcade with so many 8-bit systems. As I entered the third floor of Funspot, I was amazed at their collection of systems. It didn’t take me long to exchange some dollars for a cup full of tokens. The biggest question was where to start?
I ended up starting with an old favorite…Space Invaders. For not playing the arcade version for so many years, I was pretty happy with how I did. In two or three hours, I managed to play the following games: Berzerk, Centipede, Crossbow, Defender, Donkey Kong, Missile Command, Pac-Man Plus, Jr. Pac-Man, Space Invaders, Super Cobra, Zaxxon, and many others. It was a total blast and, on some games I did well, but others were a real challenge. You get so used to playing with your joysticks at home, that some of these games are a real adjustment. I was completely useless on Defender and just could not manage the hand-eye coordination required for the arcade version.
What was really fun was to see how well many of these games translate to the Atari 2600 and, especially, the 7800. When I write about games, I always take a look at photos and videos of real arcade systems, but nothing beats being able to play the real thing!
If you are reading this blog, then you enjoy retro gaming. If you happen to travel to or live in New England, you owe it to yourself to add a visit to Funspot to your itinerary. For twenty dollars or less, you can have an afternoon of fun that will be hard to match anywhere else. Funspot has so many 8-bit arcade games, that the best thing to do is to refer you to their website, so that you can read the list for yourself.
Oh, and as a final note…Funspot founder Bob Lawton will be featured this Wednesday evening (January 9th) on American Restoration.