A token machine stands outside a dark arcade room hosting rows and rows of machines. Customers exchange their quarters for tokens and step into a room filled with classic arcade and pinball games dating back to 1976. The cost of these machines ranges anywhere from one to four tokens.
Robot City Games and Arcade, located in Downtown Binghamton, began as a small video game store with little success. After setting up tables for trading card games, more customers began showing up to play each other in card tournaments. Rising popularity gave the store’s owners the idea of opening an arcade alongside the game store, so they bought the other half of the building and started filling a room with old game machines they used to play.
“We started as just another hole in the wall,” said Sean Dibble, the store’s manager. “Now we have the biggest arcade in the state.”
In this arcade, you’ll find classic video games like “Mario Bros.,” “Ms. Pac-Man,” “Galaga,” “Asteroids” and many more. A grand total of 126 arcade machines occupy the room; the entire right wall of the room is lined with pinball machines, which range from ’80s originals to newer remastered versions.
“I love that each one is different and has its own quirks,” Dibble said. “The tilt, speed of the ball, tightness of the springs — they are all unique.”
Some notable arcade games include “Crater Raider,” a 1984 shooter game whose curved screen lends a 3D effect, and “Space Encounters,” the last game created with a black-and-white display.
The game store is also expansive on its own; hundreds of video games and consoles, both old and new, fill the aisles. It sells a diverse range of rare games that are hard to find elsewhere. From the oldest computer games such as Atari, Sega and Nintendo to contemporary consoles like PlayStation and Xbox, Robot City has it all. According to Dibble, everything in the store has been either sold or traded to them by local collectors over Robot City’s 10 years of existence.
“We have a little bit of everything,” said Dibble.
Dibble expressed he likes to keep everything in the store looking new, so he occasionally cleans each displayed console by hand, with cotton swabs and a toothbrush. The arcade machines also require constant tweaks and fixes, and you can often see Dibble in the back of the arcade trying to get the monitors to display properly.
Robot City is approaching its 10th anniversary and plans to do something special for this occasion in October or November, so be on the lookout for events.
Robot City Games and Arcade is located on 126 Clinton St. and is open seven days a week. For more information, visit www.robotcitygames.com or facebook.com/robotcitygames.