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Arcade Review: Cobra Arcade and Bar

Sunday 5th June 2016 by Matthew Morrell

American Arcades are Reborn!

If anyone’s ever had that moment while being harassed by some troll online in the comfort in their own home and said to themselves, “Where the hell are all the adults who play video games?”

Cobra Arcade and Bar in downtown Phoenix, Arizona is that place.

To verify this claim, this field reporter spent his Saturday trekking over 700 miles into hell’s front porch, Phoenix, Arizona. Temperatures reached a soul crushing 114 degrees. Expectations for whether or not this little pub was worth it began to climb.

Located just a stone’s throw away from the Phoenix Convention Center, this bar immediately exceeded those expectations. It is exactly what you’ve been looking for: a haven for gamers who grew up in the classic arcade era. Of course, if you’re at least over twenty-one they’ll let you in regardless of your recollection of the eighties and nineties. That being said, the nostalgia factor is strong in this most beautiful of bars.

She's not looking down on you, she's wondering, "What took you so damn long to come home?"
She’s not looking down on you, she’s wondering, “What took you so damn long to come home?”

Beautiful is by no means an over exaggeration (Nor was this field reporter paid to be this flowery). Even before you enter, a gorgeous black and white mural, wooden patio deck, and the delicious scent of the food-truck-of-the-week welcomes you in. Your senses aren’t lying, you’re home now.

Inside, situated underneath what looks like the engines of the Rebel Blockade Runner from Star Wars, you’ll find bartenders frantically running orders. Two huge flat-screens will play whatever happens to suit the night best; Heavy Metal, Planet of the Apes ‘68… you name it. Crammed in the corner is a live DJ spinning a perfect mix of eclectic, and kinetic tracks to mash buttons to.

Even on the busiest of nights (Saturday post Arizona Comic-Con), everyone is greeted, served, and given the time of day by friendly staff. Their in house cocktails are second to none (try an Invader). Or if you want a plain brew, they’ve got plenty to choose from along with a rotating list of ciders and beers. Take your pick from a respectable wine list too. Or, if you just really need the caffeine, Cobra’s got you covered.

What Cobra real boils down to however is that it’s far beyond a bar that just happens to have arcade games. It is without question equal parts bar as it is arcade. Among the handful of people this writer spoke with, the only criticism that could be given was a lack of racing games, and only one shooter to speak of (None other than the OG CarnEvile). But, that’s hardly a factor if you’re busy sinking quarters into TMNT: Turtles in Time, The Simpsons, or an intense two on two game of NBA Freaking Jam.

They even had Space Harrier. You heard me. Space. Harrier.

Well worth the loss of many a quarter #humblebrag
Well worth the loss of many a quarter #humblebrag

Seriously, feast your eyes upon the official list here and tell me, are you not entertained?

Clearly a rhetorical question.
Clearly a rhetorical question.

What was even better than the astounding selection of games, was once again, Cobra cares about their cabinets and the gamers who use them. From open to close while present, this report found NONE of the games Out of Order. None of them. Street Fighter II had a weird joystick issue going on at one point. Within mere moments, an In-House Tech had surgically opened the cabinet, healed it back to good, and players were kicking ass until last call. When the token machine ran out of tokens, a heartbeat had passed before it was refilled again.

So if you’re asking yourself, is it worth to escape the comfort of the ole’ homestead console or PC and venture outside? Deep down in your heart of hearts, you’re craving a friendly environment, delicious drinks, and an expertly curated collection of game cabinets. Cobra Arcade and Bar is the second home you’ve be searching for.

Cash in a sick day or two.

Go there now.

  • Matthew B. Morrell