Pinball Wizard

If you feel like the seventh graders hanging out in the Square are enjoying themselves more than you are, then
By Jennifer P. Jordan

If you feel like the seventh graders hanging out in the Square are enjoying themselves more than you are, then it’s time to revert to middle-school style fun. Arcades provide a perfect—well, perfectly adequate—getaway from the struggling Harvard party scene. Recreate the days of braces, stirrup-pants, and LA Lights with a marathon session of Skee Ball, and forget all about final exams and that awkward conversation with the cute girl from section. After all, who needs a girlfriend when you’ve got Ms. PacMan?

Good Times

Name: Good Time Emporium

Address: 30 Assembly Square Dr., Somerville, MA

Directions: Take the Red Line to Downtown Crossing and the Orange Line to Sullivan Station. Good Time is within walking distance.

This warehouse-like space has it all—over a hundred games, go-carts, bumper cars, laser tag, a little roller coaster, billiards, batting cages, even a miniature bowling alley. Though it’s easy to get lost in the maze of video games and crowds of children, eventually you’ll discover the virtually deserted row of old school games. Be like Fred Savage from The Wizard on PacMan, Ms. PacMan, Atari Millipede, and Tetris.

Across the street from a Loews Cinema, Good Time Emporium could be the perfect end to a movie date, particularly if you’re an ace on that gopher-hitting thing. But ladies, be sure to keep your guy with you at all times to avoid the creepy stalkers lurking inside the race-car games. Some men followed FM around for a scary half hour.

For those especially good at the games, there’s a trove of exciting prizes, including a basketball bearing Larry Bird’s autograph.

Family Fun

Name: Boston Bowl Family Fun Center

Address: 820 Morrisey Blvd., Boston, MA

Directions: Take the Red Line to JFK U-Mass. Then take the Phillips Family Courtesy Shuttle, which runs every half hour, to the arcade.

Though you might be the only person here who doesn’t still have a bedtime, Boston Bowl Family Fun Center offers arcade favorites for hours of semi-embarrassed enjoyment. You can give the kid playing air hockey a non-imaginary opponent, or chat up the employee nicknamed “Weird Girl,” who likes to don a long blonde wig and bright blue cape before work. Sometimes during.

When you get bored of socializing, jump onto one of the many interactive virtual reality games or spend hours on the row of TV-themed pinball machines (including FM’s personal favorite, a South Park game where you get to kill Kenny). The maroon and mustard yellow color scheme screams ’70s, and the games confirm the vintage factor–both PacMan and Skee Ball were closed for repairs. But never fear: the blaring techno and seizure-inducing flashing lights coming from Dance Dance Revolution, the only machine you’ll have to wait for, will provide sufficient distraction.


Name: Acton Bowladrome Arcade

Address: 275 Main Street, Acton, MA

Directions: Take the 75 bus to Belmont Center, and take the commuter rail to Acton. The Bowladrome is within walking distance.

This arcade draws kids, soccer moms, couples on dates, and goth teens with multiple piercings. The décor’s as colorful as the crowd, with bright pink walls and rainbow polka-dotted blue carpets.

Bring a date and race in one of the many stock car games, and then gift that lucky person with one of the Pokemon-themed prizes using the tickets that are the spoils of your victory. Or, if you suck at the games, just buy the tickets from a machine specially designed for the arcade-challenged. If you came alone, that’s okay too—just chat up the cute Good Will Hunting brooding behind the prize counter.

Or sip a $5 beer while you wait to jump on Dance Dance Revolution, where kids work up such a sweat that the machine has to be wiped down every few hours.