On November 11, Nintendo is set to release the NES Classic Edition—a tiny version of the old 8-bit console with 30 games built in. It’s sure to be a hot commodity throughout the holiday season, but it’s not the only way to play old video games. In fact, New York City is jammed with stores that practically double as video game museums. Here are a few of our favorites:
Nintendo NY, Midtown
What it is: Nintendo’s roomy official store, with a prime Midtown location.
What you’ll find there: NES Classic Edition and other new Nintendo products, including collectibles and apparel. Also, under glass, some vintage Nintendo artifacts like the Gyromite robot and a Virtual Boy.
Video Games New York, East Village
What it is: A tiny place packed practically floor to ceiling with obscure consoles and games from the dawn of video gaming through today. The store also has a wide selection of unofficial consoles, such as the Retron, which plays old NES, Super NES and Genesis games. The prices aren’t generally bargains; but it’s fun to look through the stacks, and you’ll sometimes score a deal.
What you’ll find there: A “museum” section in the back is packed with rarities, including—last time we looked—a Vectrex. You’ll also find games from almost any console you can imagine (for example: Intellivision and Sega Master System).
8 Bit and Up, East Village
What it is: Like Video Games New York, this store has a wide selection of old games. It also has some stations set up where you can demo wares.
What you’ll find there: Last time we were there we saw a copy of Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out! as opposed to the newer version with Mr. Dream.
Game Champ, Park Slope, Astoria, Cobble Hill and elsewhere
What it is: The staff at Game Champ’s Park Slope location—the one we’ve seen in person—are very friendly, and the store stocks games from current releases all the way back to the NES.
What you’ll find there: We caught a glimpse of the Super NES version of Street Fighter II Turbo and a Genesis retro console (similar to the NES Classic in that it has games built in, but different in that the cartridge slot lets you use your old library).
Arcade Classics, Flatiron District
What it is: This company—which has a dozen showroom locations in the United States and a handful more in Canada—sells expensive arcade cabinets that promise to reproduce the old-time 1980s quarter-fueled experience a generation remembers (the way Seinfeld’s George Costanza describes the perfect amount of grease on the joystick may ring familiar to some of us).
What you’ll find there: Arcade machines designed to replicate ye olde video game experience from back in the day, packed with collections of games like Pac-Man, Space Invaders, Pong, Centipede and George’s favorite, Frogger. Ask inside for details about which games go on which machine. It’s a splurge for the eccentric video-game-loving gentry, but fun to think about.
More video game fun
We’d be remiss if we didn’t recommend a stop at Barcade, a local mini-chain of bars loaded with old arcade games…many of which cost just one quarter to play.