Arcades in the year 2016? Incredible.
Tappers Arcade Bar is exactly what it sounds like - a bar full of arcades targeted toward gamers who want to enjoy the best of what the 80s had to offer. Arcade machines growing up were only limited by the amount of money and free time you had. Imagine, if you will, the year being 1984 and entering your favorite arcade with all games being set to free play! The only requirement? to buy an overpriced soda at minimum, and this is exactly what you have. I had the chance to spend both Friday and Saturday night enjoying most of what this place had to offer.
While the bar layout is small, it's also very efficient and uses the space rather well. Here's a nice at-the-bar view you'll encounter while sitting down to grab a drink and snack to socialize, watch one of the several large screen TVs hanging or order a pizza from a local place called Toppers (which works really well with the name Tappers, almost as if they go together, though I don't think they are affiliated with each other in any way):
The atmosphere is very inviting and will immediately trigger some sort of childhood memory from all the huge art on the walls ranging from Max Headroom, Q*Bert, Adams Family and more. You've got the main bar in the front and a few tables scattered around with seating for a group of friends. To the left you've got 4 pinball machines (which do require quarters, I'm assuming more for the maintenance involved) and alongside the walls are arcades on both sides, many being Atari-related.
The Games: I would estimate there to be roughly some 20+ cabs in play with a decent variety but mostly classic. I spent the majority of my time on Ms. Pac-Man ,Centipede, Galaga, Donkey Kong, Donkey Kong Jr and Off Road. - It was nice to try Galaga88 and a few others from Atari that I'd never had the chance to play, like Time Pilot. They change out games occasionally to keep the games lineup fresh, so that will be something to look forward to. Despite the awesome Q*Bert graphics on the wall, the machine was not to be found but hopefully one that they switch out rather soon. I read that between Sunday-Tuesday, they have console wars or nights, so that'll also be something of interest to check out when time permits as well.
The Music: It was nice having 80s music pumped through the mounted speakers they have installed around the place and thankfully not at ear searing, club-like volumes. You can still easily hold a conversation without much effort and hear the music at a nice volume without it interfering or drowning everything else out like some places tend to do. They had a Moon Walker arcade and Michael Jackson was playing at some point during the night, although I only ever caught one person on that machine.
The Food: I grabbed one of their Pizza Pretzel snacks and it was an overpriced mistake. While they didn't have any regular fountain sodas for some reason, they did have glass bottles of Root Beer. So if you're going to grab some food, just go with a Toppers pizza and enjoy it there. They have a lot of beer on tap with cool names. I'm not much of a beer person personally but did try and enjoy their Special K.
I had a real blast with Off Road though. It's a fun game playing with both friends that showed up and people you've never met. This is what the arcade scene is about! Making new friends, or, at least meeting new people and having a good time! They also have two High Score boards hanging on their wall so you have some locals to compete with like the good old days! Some of the scores seem obtainable so it'll be something that I spend the time to try and get my name onto!
All in all, we had a really good time and a heated Ms. Pac-Man competition that we were all sweating over. The place became really packed around 11pm on Saturday and you had to squeeze your way through the crowd. We found ourselves waiting on a machine at times for 3-5 minutes but was definitely to be expected. The price of admission is free but you're expected to buy at least a drink or something from their menu, which is a small price to pay. The Root Beer was $3.50 and is chump change compared to the amount of gaming available on free-play. I'm sure overall, between my friends and myself, we easily ended up spending closer to $50, so I can see this model definitely working for them.
Just a fun story to share and if you're in the Indy area anytime in the future, would recommend you stop to check it out. It was such a refreshing feeling to be surrounded by people who aren't glued to their phones and that in itself is truly a rare sight. At one point there was one guy screaming "Why do I fail at everything in life daily! Why!" because he was losing so terribly in whatever game he was playing at the moment, which was humorous. I did catch someone wearing an Atari T-Shirt and wanted to clue him into AtariIO but he was on the other side and I was quickly lured away with friends to play the games...