Last weekend, I returned to my hometown for a class reunion. A year ago, I learned of a new bar/arcade that opened up in the downtown Warehouse District. Unfortunately, I didn’t get the chance to visit it before moving out of state. That changed last weekend as I had a bit of free time Saturday and decided to head downtown to the 8 Bit Beercade, located at the corner of Water Street and State Street in beautiful downtown Peoria, IL.
I’ve been to bar/arcade joints in Denver, Colorado and Des Moines, Iowa so I was excited to see how the one located in my hometown stacked up. Fortunately, my phone was fully charged this time so I was able to get a few pictures. I think there was only one wall of games that I didn’t get a picture of and I forgot to take a picture of the bar and outdoor patio. Speaking of the bar, the 8 Bit Beercade has a huge selection of craft beers. There are 6 on tap (the selection rotates) and although I didn’t count, I would guess another 100+ available in can or bottle form. Being the hipster that I am, I ordered the usual Miller Lite and got down to same gaming.
They layout is a little quirky as it’s basically three different rooms instead of one large open space. Upon entering the door, the main room where the bar is located is to the right along with a number of booths and tables. There are two walls here with games on them. I forgot to take a picture of one of the walls. It had a Ms Pac-Man cabaret, a WWE Wrestle Fest or Wrestle Mania, Zaxxon and at least one other game, perhaps two. Here’s a shot of the other wall of games along with the 8 Bit Beercade sign outside. A nice selection of games including Gauntlet – Dark Legacy, Mortal Kombat, Pac-Man, The Simpsons and Double Dragon. The L-shaped bar is to the right of and opposite this wall of games. You can see the corner of it in the upper right hand corner.
There is a opening to the right of Double Dragon that leads to a hallway. Once in the hall, there’s a room of games straight ahead and another to the left. To the right are restrooms and further down the hall, a doorway to the outdoor patio. As a bonus, the outdoor patio has a window to get drinks from so you don’t have to constantly run inside for a “refill”. We’re going to head to the room straight ahead because I’ve spotted Dig Dug and need to get a game in. Besides Dig Dug, the list of games in this room includes Bags, Mortal Kombat 3, Golden Tee 2005, Burgertime, NFL Blitz, Rush’N Attack, NBA Maximum Hangtime, Spider-Man, Dungeons & Dragons Tower Of Doom, Rampage – World Tour and 3 others that I can’t remember and can’t make the name out from the pictures.
After a few games of Dig Dug, Burgertime, NFL Blitz, Rampage and Golden Tee 2005, I headed to the final room containing games in the 8 Bit Beercade. Among the games in this room, Shinobi, World Class Bowling, Sharpshooter, Vindicators, U.N. Squadron, Neo-Geo (with what appeared to be a 161 game cartridge in it), Lethal Enforcers, Moon Patrol, Arch Rivals, Centipede, Galaxian, Ivan Stewart Super Off Road and a Multi-game Midway cabinet. More on the Multi-game Midway cabinet in a minute…
The Midway cabinet had 12 games on it: Defender, Sinistar, Root Beer Tapper, Joust, Rampage, Satan’s Hollow, Robotron, Wizard of Wor, Defender II, Splat!, Bubbles and Timber. That’s a decent selection of games but the cabinet made it unappealing to play. I believe it’s the machine built by Big Electronic Games a few years back and sold at Target stores. The monitor was tiny, I’m guessing a 14″. The cabinet was even smaller than a cabaret. The button layout was confusing and unattractive. The joysticks were crap. Yeah, I wasn’t impressed. Not the fault of 8 Bit Beercade by any means but Big Electronic Games should be ashamed of themselves for making this piece of crap. Multi-games for this type of establishment are a great way of putting more games in while saving space. Unfortunately, this is not one of the better multi-game cabinets I have seen. I’ve seen better ones built in garages.
Overall, 8 Bit Beercade is a great place to kill a couple of hours and drink a few beers. I would guess that it can get a little cramped in the game rooms on a busy Friday or Saturday night. I would have preferred more older games such as Donkey Kong, Galaga, Tron, Mario Brothers, Track & Field, Frogger, etc. but to each his own. Hell, if they had Track & Field a few of us may have skipped the reunion! They also didn’t have any pinball machines, which I understand. They take up a great deal of space and are expensive! The owner filled it with the games he wanted and felt would draw a crowd. They are opening a second location in Bloomington, Illinois later this year so I’ll have another place to visit when I get back that way. It’s a great addition to downtown Peoria.
Finally, the one thing that makes 8 Bit Beercade unique from the other bar/arcades I’ve been to is the fact that the games are free to play. Yes, entirely FREE! No quarters, no tokens. Stop by, have a beer and get your game on! You’ll have a good time!