A visit to Underground Retrocade - West Dundee IL

Crawley

New member
Mar 25, 2013
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So I popped over to the Underground Retrocade in West Dundee IL. This has been around for a few years and I had been meaning to go over to there to check it out at some point. So finally got around to it and very glad I did.

It's mainly a video game arcade but they have five pinball tables too. Best of all you pay $15 for a day and everything is on free-to-play. I went on an odd day so pretty much had the entire place to my self.



Underground Retrocade is in a nice little town area of West Dundee in this historic section. Most of the buildings were built in the late 19th/early 20th century. So it has that quaint old town feel to it.

I almost thought it was closed when I walked up to the door since it was hard to see in. But forgot this was an arcade. Anyone who went to the 80s can recall how dark arcades were kept. This is no exception. So it sets the atmosphere right away.



There's 100+ video games populating the two floors. This is what it looks like as you come in. The majority of the games are in very good condition. I only saw a few that were a bit beat up or needed a bit more TLC.



There's a nice seating area with some tables, and a couch here if you just need to relax a bit. Also populated around the place are stools which you can pull up to your games and play them comfortably - this was particularly welcome near the end of the night.



The pinball tables have their own room. There are five tables here: Fire!, Black Knight, Space Shuttle, Blackout, Bugs Bunny Birthday Bash, Xenon. There's plenty of room for more pinball machines to go in here!

Note: I can only do 4 images per post so continuing in my next post.
 

Crawley

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Mar 25, 2013
699
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The pinball machines were in decent condition. Space Shuttle played great but one of the rollovers wasn't registering - no biggie. A GI light in the top portion of Black Knight was out so made it difficult to see up there but not a huge deal. There were some other rough edges to Black Knight but still very playable. Blackout wasn't bad either. It was the first time I've played that game. It reminded me a lot of Firepower and was just as unforgiving.



Bugs Bunny was probably the best conditioned table there. And I hadn't played that one before either. It was fun but a bit boring as there wasn't a lot to do. The table is kinda split and two and you're mainly playing in one section where there's not a whole lot to do - plus no multiball. So I got bored of it after a few games.

Xenon I didn't play all that much. I've played it before but really need to look at the rules on that one closer as I never know what to do on it. It played fine though.



The absolute best table for me was Fire!. I hadn't played this table before either and wow its so much fun! I'm guessing it's based on The Great Chicago fire from the late 1800's. Basically you have to put out the fires that spreading around the city. To do that you have to hit specific targets that are flicking with the fire icon. There's targets to the left/right of the table, and at the very top of the table too. At the same time you need to rescue people trapped in buildings which means trying to get up two ramps that are on either side of the upper playfield - tough to get up there. If that wasn't enough there's a ladder, that forms a ramp, in the top center of the table used to rescue people too. But that ramp is only up for a few seconds so there's a lot of pressure to get to it. And that's not all. the loops on either side of the table also have temporary ramps that will come down that will lock for multiball.

Its just a blast to play as you always feel like you're behind in trying to keep the fire from spreading. Plus it has this awesome, and very loud, bell which dings at the end of the ball when you have a 2x score. So if you have 5x you hear five loud dings. It made me feel so good each time that bell would start dinging after loosing a ball evaporating and ill will I had at actually losing the ball.

I spent a ton of time playing game after game of Fire! and looking forward to playing a lot more in the future.



But of course pinball wasn't all I played. I also played quite a few video games I hadn't played in years. They had this mint Xenophone game which I really loved back in the 80s. It was nice to play it without having to pump quarter after quarter in it to continue. Played Defender for the first time in a long time - and boy I suck. The controls for that game were no intuitive and I don't think I got used to it. Forgot how fun Tempest was with the knob controller. It was great to play Jr Pac Man again, probably my favorite of the Pac Man series - man that game is fast though. And even played Stratovox, an early 80's Galaxian close that I probably hadn't played since the early 80s but recalled immediately when I saw it.



There were plenty of racing games that it had kinda its own section. There were a few sit-down racers like this 2-player VR Racing - which I didn't realize was two players till I started a game. Oh well.
 

Crawley

New member
Mar 25, 2013
699
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More racing games. Turbo was actually a pretty damn good arcade racer. Simple but fun. The wheel for it was probably one of the better ones. Outrun was also a lot of fun to play again. I had forgotten that you got to select which songs/radio stations you wanted to listen to as you played. Pretty great novelty at the time - although I seem to recall the Sega Genesis version had more than 3 song selections.



Upstairs had more games. These were mainly fighting, beat'em-up, and sports games.

I was an expert at Karate Champ in the day, the fighting game with the two joysticks. And still got it. Made it to like the 10th or 11th fight.

I should also point out that you probably see little placards above many of the machines. Those show the current local high-score holders for the machine. It has their score + their picture on it. Very nice. I did not come close to any of those high scores posted.



The fighting games should be a lot of fun on the weekends with people playing them. Used to love playing these in college against opponents. I did play a bit of the original Mortal Kombat. I recall using Kano a lot since people didn't know how to deal with him. But man I sucked with Kano this time. The only move I could recall was his ball roll. And zero clue of what his Fatality was.



And another mint condition game. The two-monitor, 5-player, version of X-Men. Played a few rounds of this with Nightcrawler but this game really screams for multiple players.
 

Crawley

New member
Mar 25, 2013
699
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And finally I saw this cabinet near the end of the night. And its an NES cabinet where they loaded on a few NES games: Super Mario Bros, Contra, Kung Fu, Mike Tyson's Punch Out, Double Dragon, Rad Racer, Pro Wrestling.

I pulled up a stool at the end of the night and played some Mike Tyson's Punch Out. Great fun to revisit that game. I tanked once I got to The Great Tiger but looking forward to a second round with that one when I go back.

So that's it for the Underground Retrocade. I'm eyeing The Galloping Ghost arcade and The Chicago Street Pinball Arcade. Hopefully I'll get to visit those.
 

mudtoe

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Sep 21, 2012
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Nice report! I'll have to bum a ride out to the 'burbs to visit.

Definitely check out Chicago Street in Joliet; I was there a few weeks ago and had a great time. I'm told that Galloping Ghost is renovating the spot to add several more pinball machines.
 

gooche77

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Jul 30, 2012
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I forgot how huge that X-men cabinet was. Funny how it was based on that animated pilot of X-men. Worst theme song ever!
 

Crawley

New member
Mar 25, 2013
699
1
I haven't been to this arcade in awhile - it's $15 for a full day and everything is set to free play. I was also reading there was a new pinball machine there on display. So headed over to see what's changed with the pins.



Hey a Doctor Who! Very timely for the upcoming TPA release. I've never been big on the table but it's got its moments. Some of those shots are tough, particularly both sets of stand up shots (Repair + Escape), stay away. The game here was decently maintained but I look to get more acquainted with the rules when out in TPA.

You can see Dungeons and Dragons and Party Animals to the left. I've played D&D a few times before and I've warmed up a bit more to it. The neat thing about the game are the left and right lanes that feed in to the flipper. The ball will go out unless you hit the extra buttons next to the flipper to close the gap - they will automatically close for a limited amount of time if the ball goes over some rollovers in the lane. But this manual process of having to close the outlanes is a neat little trick. I didn't like it at first but have gotten better at it as I've played the table on and off at various shows. It's a nice challenge.

But this is the first time I've actually heard the sound of the machine outside of an Expo. And gawd the sound FX for this table are terrible.

Otherwise it's seems to be a decent pin.

Party Animal I only played twice and it seemed pretty terrible to me. So lets move on.



These are also all new pins at the place: Super Mario Bros, Tales from the Crypt, Star Wars, and Johnny Mnemonic

The Star Wars I've seen before at shows but never actually played it before. It looks like it should be fun but just seemed to be so-so. And not sure what they were thinking with the music for this pin. It almost sounds like the Star Wars Disco songfrom the 70s.

The Tales from the Crypt they had is in really good condition. I played that one quite a bit. I love the door knocker plunger on it. But the call outs are so taunting with trying to get in the crypt. That shot is so difficult for some reason. Really hope this makes in to TPA for the October Halloween table.

Mario I've played before but gave it a better shot. It's actually not that bad but definitely on the easier side as far as table shots go - big ramps, big capture holds.

I still don't get what to do in Johnny Mnemonic each time I played it. Can never get anything going and keep hitting that damn ramp that's off to the left. Its probably just me as I know this is a coveted table. I'll have to keep giving it a go.



But this is the real reason to go right now. The Ghostbusters that's there. It's free to play, sounds great, looks great, and plays great.

I was able to play several games in a row without anyone waiting. And usually there was only one other person playing when I looked over there.

So if you're in the area it's worth stopping by for a few hours to play some pretty decent pins and a lot of classic arcade games.
 
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