Scene Review: Arcade Odyssey
Back in the late ’80s, and certainly during the early ’90s, I was already hard at work nurturing my burgeoning love of video games. Much of my earliest exposure came from a Sega Master System that I received for Christmas one year (an NES soon followed). Like many of you out there, I played the living heck out of both those machines and reveled in 8-bit glory for years on end. So great was my joy, in fact, that I would not have traded in either of those bad boys for all the Batmobiles in Gotham. In retrospect, I was a foolish child and should not have been left to barter for anything on my own, but I digress.
Despite how much I enjoyed gaming at home, there was something very special about the experience of going to an arcade in those years. As far as eight-year-old me was concerned, the standalone units showcased within the walls of most of these places were marvels from another world. Visiting an arcade, however, was more than just about gaming. It was a social exercise. For those who had the good fortune to do so, there were few things better than being able to call up a few of your friends to run wild within a labyrinth of glowing monitors and bleeping cabinets. For a very long time, going to play at an arcade was the zenith of a successful night out.
Eventually, time passed and technology caught up with this beloved institution. Like radio before it, the arcade fell victim to the advent of greater powers. Bombarded by many other competing interests and the convenience of enjoying arcade quality games at home, the once incomparable experience became little more than a fond memory. And while the social aspect would not be easily replicated, there were plenty of emerging venues and interests left to fill that void. After a while, the word “arcade” meant little else than a room full of elderly gamblers.
Imagine my surprise then when I stumbled across Arcade Odyssey a scant few months ago. Nestled in an unassuming parking lot just within the borders of West Kendall, Arcade Odyssey is easily missed by those not purposely looking for it. Once you do venture in, however, the familiar sounds of yesteryear welcome you warmly and you will be glad of it.
Arcade Odyssey is broken up into two different areas. The main floor, in which you find yourself upon entering, houses the majority of the arcade’s machines. This area is partitioned by three aisles, each one decked by games ranging from the standard fare, like Street Fighter III: 3rd Strike and Time Crisis 3, to esoteric titles like Techromancer and Fighting Mania. The games on display include samples from every conceivable genre, from fighters to shooters to interactive movies; I could quite literally go into describing dozens of gems scattered about the place. That, however, would be overly indulgent and make for a terribly long review. Still, for those of you that must know what is available within, feel free to mosey on over to Arcade Odyssey’s very own web page for a full listing of titles currently on rotation. Rest assured, however, that there are games available for almost every area of interest. Yes, even you people that enjoy friendship-ending bouts of extreme air hockey will find something to love.
The second room, a smaller partition located in the rear of the space, is home to a bevy of pinball machines and PCs running all manner of tournament style games. If you venture a little further in still, you will manage to find a couple of arcade cabinets in this area, along with the restrooms. Here you will also find the register and a concession stand that boasts an impressive number of Japanese treats. It is a central hub that serves as your main access point to staff members but, in my experience, it still proved to be a little difficult to track someone down when I need them.
On a personal level, I absolutely loved the concept of the place. It catered to many of my gaming wants and was such a nostalgic indulgence that I could have easily spent an entire day wandering from cabinet to cabinet. In practice, however, there was a certain oddness about the whole affair that mitigated some of that enjoyment. I couldn’t quite put my finger on it but, if I had to describe it, I’d say there was a kind of seediness about the location. It wasn’t quite on the level of a casino or anything, but there was definitely something that gave me pause and detracted from what I would hope is meant to be an inviting and child-friendly location. Still, given the healthy crowd inside, it’s entirely possible that these are just ravings of an aging gamer and not an indication that the place was built over the remains of a Native American burial ground or anything. That said, if you you have even a passing interest in arcade gaming or simply want to try something different for a night, you owe it to yourself to give Arcade Odyssey a visit. Tell ’em TuffGnarl.com sent ya!
12045 SW 117th Ave.
Miami, Fl. 33186
M-Tr – 12:00pm to 12:00am
F – Sat. – 12:00pm to 2:00am
Sunday – 12:00pm to 10:00pm