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News List  Game Galaxy Arcade and Retro Gamer power-

Game Galaxy Arcade and Retro Gamer power-

Zaps, flaps, booms and blats are audible shortly after you enter Madison Square Mall's southwest entrance.

The sounds are emanating from Game Galaxy Arcade. The emporium houses about 75 games, including nouveau stuff like "Dance Dance Revolution" and "Guilty Gear" – but the real draw are old-school machines such as "Donkey Kong," "Pac-Man" and "Galaga" and classic pinball titles, including "Monday Night Football," "Rollergames," "Nightmare on Elm Street" and "Badcats."

So why in the Xbox/Wii/PlayStation era would anyone want to hit up an arcade?

"It's a better atmosphere, in my opinion," Patrick Burdick, 22, says. The UAH student has been playing "Dance Dance Revolution" between today's Differential Equations II and Intro to Particle Physics classes.

"You get to meet a whole bunch of people, see an outside environment, rather than being cooped up in your house all day."

Steven Ross, 40, is co-owner of Game Galaxy. The venture shares it's Madison Square space with its sister business Retro Gamer, a seller of used yesteryear gaming consoles, such as the landmark Nintendo Entertainment System, which now go for $40 while many games run $1-$15. The NES originally retailed for about $100 to $125 in 1985. Atari 2600 consoles also sell for $40 (including your pick of five games), and additional cartridges, such as "Pitfall," are only $2 a pop.

"A lot of people are going back to, 'This is what I grew up with.' Nostalgia," Ross says. He's wearing a Silver Surfer T-shirt.

Game Galaxy, which also maintains an Antioch, Tenn. location, opened its Huntsville operation in mid-2012. Retro Gamer has been around for about six years. Instead of using quarters or tokens for its machines, Game Galaxy maintains a time-based business model where customers can play as many games as they'd like during that period. The price points are $4 for 30 minutes, $6 for an hour or $10 for an entire day, with wristbands given to paying customers. Ross says about one in five customers opt for the daylong option.

"We get everything from the age of five-years-old all the way up to 55," Ross says. "The reason we get the older crowd is because we have pinball. That's what they grew up. And we have a lot of grandmothers come in and bring kids in and play the shoot games, like 'Virtual Cop 3,' and have a good time. We get a lot of people in their 30s and 40s who come over after work to play the 'Pac-Man,' the "Donkey Kong,' the "Mortal Kombat.'"

The free-play format reduces coin-op issues, but occasionally the arcade games' monitors or power supplies go bad, necessitating a visit from the Antioch store's techs. Across from Game Galaxy, in the former location of American Café, Ross and company have accumulated a stash of about 30 less-commonplace vintage arcade games, such as "Dragon's Lair 2," "Tempest," "Asteroids," "Journey," "Star Wars" and "Rampage."

Ross says Game Galaxy eventually plans to make this auxiliary arcade available on a monthly basis. This is to avoid daily stress on these machines, whose replacement parts are more difficult to acquire. Right now, the space basically looks like a deserted fern ban that's been commandeered by the daydreams of a 12-year-old boy from 1983, but Ross' boutique concept has potential.

Back at Game Galaxy/Retro Gamer, a wall behind the counter is dotted with some sweet video-game geek memorabilia. There's a "Super Mario" phone, "Pac-Man" lunchbox and even an Odyssey console, used to play the archaic and seminal video game, "Pong."

Nearby, past a shelf overflowing with joysticks and controllers, Bryan Wynn, a 26-year-old Alabama A&M communications and marketing student, is perusing NES cartridges including "Battletoads" and "Double Dragon 3."

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