Cobra Arcade Bar Is
The Newest Addition To The Downtown Nightlife Scene Delivers Videogame-Themed Booze, Classic Titles and Affordable Gaming
By Ryan Scott
Modern Times Magazine
Jan. 16, 2016 — Because people need something to do while they are drinking and because videogames are and have been popular for quite sometime now, “barcades” (bars that are also arcades) are the latest nightlife trend popping up in major metropolitan areas around the country. And Phoenix is home to the latest itineration of this fad, Cobra Arcade Bar.
Any reasonable person might ask what differentiates these new arcade bars from more established, if not hip, businesses like Dave & Buster’s. Well, there are some very good answers to that question, not the least of which is that Cobra Arcade Bar is completely focused on vintage arcade games such as Galaga, Contra and yes, even Simpsons Bowling.
Cobra recently had its official opening after what can only be described as a wildly successful soft launch that was intended for family and friends, but ended up hosting packed houses thanks to word of mouth. The hype resulted in opening weekend lines that stretched clear to the other side of the building, which is located right next to FilmBar at 801 N. Second St., #100, Phoenix.
"It was very cool to see Phoenix respond that way,” said co-owner Nico Paredes, who owns the bar along with his friend and long time partner Ariel Bracamonte. "We had the most amazing opening weekend. It was great."
In fairness, all of the games in the bar were set to free play for the opening weekend so that was likely factored into the bar’s mass appeal. However, Cobra Arcade Bar’s normal prices are quite affordable, so patrons won’t have to break the bank even after the free play ends.
"One credit. One token. Always,” Paredes said. He went on to explain that the bar has its own tokens and token machine. In classic arcade style, one quarter will equal one token and every game in the bar will never cost more than one token to play. In fact, Paredes says that if it is a particularly challenging game, they may even give two credits for one token.
The bar currently has 40 arcade games, but Bracamonte has amassed a collection of more than 100 games that will be rotated in and out of the bar’s lineup, so there will be new games to play on a fairly regular basis.
Unlike mega-chains like Dave & Buster’s, Cobra Arcade Bar can provide an entertaining night for anyone with $10 or so to spend. Grab a beer and get a few dollars in tokens, and you’re good to go for an hour or two of fun.
Also, the atmosphere at Cobra is very different from other popular gaming establishments. The drink menu is simple and every cocktail is video game inspired, such as the Princess Peach, which consists of prickly pear vodka, stone fruit, orange bitters and lemon. The patrons that ordered this particular beverage on opening weekend appeared to be quite pleased with their decision.
Though Cobra does not serve food, the owners are working with local food trucks to have them set up in the parking lot, that way visitors can head right outside and grab some tasty food from local vendors.
The music is a mix of everything that you would expect to be on a video game nerd’s iPod, from Daft Punk to Earth Wind and Fire and everything inbetween. Also, the bar commissioned work from local Phoenix artists to adorn both the exterior and interior, which helps to give it much more of a unique feel as opposed to something very cookie cutter.
Fittingly, the large TV screens positioned on either side of the bar were playing Ghostbusters II and the Sonic The Hedgehog cartoon respectively on a constant loop.
Oh, and of course, the back room and front gaming area are absolutely stacked with game cabinets, yet there is still plenty of space for people to maneuver around one another and for friends to spectate whilst a gang of four tackles Turtles In Time.
“This has been several years in the making. It started as my addiction to hunting for vintage arcade games with the idea of possibly opening a bar. After searching every inch of the United States, we have compiled a rad selection of games and the bar, well, that happened,” Bracamonte said.
There was a lot of hype surrounding the opening of Cobra Arcade Bar and hype can be a dangerous thing. It can get hopes or expectations up a little too high and the risk is there that the actual product may not be able on those hopes. However, in the case of Cobra Arcade Bar, it certainly appears that bar delivered in spades and will become an absolute fixture in the evolving downtown landscape in no time.
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