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Arts and Entertainment

Photos: Pasadena Gets A New All-You-Can-Play Retro Video Game Arcade

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While retro arcades have been making a comeback in Los Angeles with guests tossing quarters into their machines, a new Pasadena shop has a different business model—charging guests an hourly or daily fee for unlimited play.

Neon Retro Arcade, which is located on 28 S. Raymond Avenue, is nestled in between restaurants and coffee shops like Copa Vida. The owners, married couple Mia Mazadiego, 34, and Mark Guenther, 33, plan on opening Neon Retro Arcade to the public later this month.

Instead of customers having to scrounge for quarters to slip into their arcade game slots, Neon Retro Arcade has a different system in place. They plan on charging guests to play by the hour or the day and have the machines all set to free-play mode. For $15, you could get to play 1.5 hours, $20 for 2 hours, and $30 for an all-day pass with in-and-out privileges. Children under five could go in for free as long as they're accompanied by a parent.

"Some of my favorite memories as a kid were going to a birthday party where someone rented out the whole arcade and all the games were set to free-play," Guenther tells LAist. "That was such a treat to go and you could play any game you wanted."

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It's not a bar like other gaming joints like EightyTwo and The One Up, but the owners might consider applying for a liquor license in the future.

Alongside their nostalgic arcade games—from the likes of Pac-Man to Donkey Kong and Missile Commander—and pinball machines, what sets them apart is that they also have an area in the back of their store with two flat-screen TVs that will be used for different video game consoles, from more recent ones like Wii and PS4 to throwback ones like Nintendo and SNES. Comfy couches and tables and chairs surround the TVs. They plan on letting guests check out the games and consoles to hook up to the TVs, and also encourage people to bring in their own consoles and games as well.

Neon Retro Arcade smells freshly of paint with accent walls of neon green and teal surrounding the place. The historic building was built in the late 1800s, and the couple has kept some of the original parts of it like its brick wall. At the front of the store is a neon light glowing with the words, "Press Play." The games that line the walls come from Guenther's personal collection he's amassed over the last five years. He's painstakingly restored about 80 percent of the video games as a labor of love. Guenther says he plans on having about 40 machines in his store at a time, and will rotate new ones in and old ones out about every month or so.

In the future, the couple is hoping to partner up with local restaurants to get food delivered to the store if folks want to order food. They plan on hosting gaming tournaments and encourage people to play socially.

"Now, even if you're playing online, it's just not the same atmosphere," Guenther says. "Playing with someone, playing next to them so you can trash-talk, [you get to] meet new people and play games with them that way. We're trying to recreate that atmosphere."

Neon Retro Arcade is located at 28 S. Raymond Ave, Pasadena. They are planning on opening sometime in January. When they open, their hours will be Sunday to Thursday from noon to 10 p.m., and Friday through Saturday from noon to midnight.

UPDATE 1/19, 12:15 p.m.: Neon Retro Arcade will be holding their grand opening on Jan. 30 from 7 p.m. to midnight.