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After many years of waiting and wondering what the fuck happened for the old location to close to begin with, Namco's Time Out arcade returned to Plaza Las Americas and opened it's doors last week. However, I do have many critical opinions and predictions as to why the location re-opened in the largest shopping mall in the Caribbean and why it matters to the youth entertainment industry in Puerto Rico.
In the year 2012, out of nowhere many people were wondering in awe as the classic Time Out arcade location in Plaza Las Americas closed without them knowing or being given a warning as had many venues for youth entertainment that year alone [I have been told that specific location was closed because of students picking fights, but I doubt that was the only reason]. Fastforwarding to the year 2016, a new challenger approaches with a big entrance: Dave & Busters announced their location opening in Plaza del Sol and people rejoiced. Dave & Busters is a franchise many people in the United States take for granted as they are located almost everywhere [even in non major cities], this isn't the case for the Puertorrican population that had only known about it because of Cable TV and their family members talking about the locations they have visited during vacation or when they permanently moved away as part of the economic exodus. Plaza del Sol has always been the go-to location for arcade dwellers since ever since it had opened it's doors in 1998; there have always been arcades open with heavy-hitter games. Today, however, Stop N' Play isn't taking care of the arcade location, Namco is. Because of this change, instead of renting two locales for their machines and sports games, only one locale is currently being rented. The location itself is nothing special, but because it is the main mall people choose to visit every day of every week [because they don't charge for parking and have good stores], the games are very much tolerable. Ever since D&B was announced, however, Time Out has been making a set of strong moves to fight the imminent bossfight it will face during the end of September when it's rival opens it's doors to the public. Aside from updating their machine lineup to freshen up the location, the company decided it was finally time to open the new location we have today in Plaza las Americas across the area it used to be.
People's first reactions to the arcade being unveiled was met with scorn, due to the fact that the picture advertised of the place didn't properly show the insides of the locale properly, devoted rhythm gamers went on a rampage because they thought that there was no rhythm machines for them to play. [What these people usually don't know is that they hold enough capital for the companies to be interested in catering for them to begin with, because unlike any other demographic that visits arcades these days, rhythm gamers are for the most part adults and can afford to spend money without depending on someone else's wallet]. I was able to visit the location last Tuesday and to say the least, I am not entirely disappointed with their line-up. Aside the many dated machines charging an exhorbitant amount of credits [yes, credits, this arcade uses game cards instead of tokens], there are also new lineups to freshen up a little [like, these people are charging 1$ for DDR Supernova just for 3 songs, I didn't know it was still 2008!]. There are plenty of cranes, pro and non ticket machines and action packed games for everyone to enjoy, however, none of it is enough.
The Boss Fight
I remember the first time ever I visited a Dave & Busters location back in 2009, it was the first time I had ever seen such a large entertainment venue that didn't suck to be in after a specific age [No offence, Chuck E.]. The food was amazing to behold, my mom wasn't nagging to get the fuck out and most importantly, the games were bombastick! Dave & Busters has ALL kinds of machines for ALL kinds of players, ranging from Party games to Retro machines, there is always something new and old to try out. I'd be loose about saying that D&B cares about all kinds of arcade gamers if i had only visited one location, but I have been to three of them [between the years 2009 to 2016] and they all have the constant variety roster that allow for multiple visits to try them all if they can't all be tried in a single day. Unlike Namco's Time Out and Chuck E. Cheese, D&B is the kind of place where parents don't just stand around awkwardly while their kids have silly fun, and that's why I believe that the Time Out location in Plaza del Sol is doomed to die eventually after D&B's arrival.
A big reason why many of the youth oriented entertainment venues have failed over the years is because of the kids' parents decision to not waste their time if all they will travel to a location for is for their kids to have fun while there's nothing left for them to do. Despite the last few gap years of teens tapping their lives away in tablets and phones in their bedrooms because going outside is awkward [because beaches, rivers, wildlife and colonial ruins are abysmally uninteresting, mom!!!!!!!], people have tried to step out and create venues for our youth to enjoy only to fail miserably because of what I mentioned just now. This is the syndrome Dave & Busters will be able to remove from the youth entertainment landscape and why it will succeed over everything else available right now. Considering the fact that Puerto Rico is a small place and how people behave towards new franchises entering our soil [people will travel from the other side of the motherfucking island just to try something new!!!] , it is extremely likely that the arrival of D&B will influence the quality standards of future youth entertainment venues and the dark ages of fun will end for once.
Despite all of Namco's efforts, I believe that their move to open the long requested arcade [with better lighting] is unnecessary and extremely late in terms of footing. Despite the fact that it will scratch the itch many of us have had for years, I however, hope that from this new experience new ventures will allow for our youth to have proper entertainment meant for them again so they do not waste their lives entirely in school and in their bedrooms, that maybe we will have monsters with the calibre of WonderPARK, the Montehiedra Fair and Moisty return and give our teens and kids a chance to have the same experiences my generation did along with the fair experience for adults that Dave & Busters will offer to enable these businesses to thrive where they have previously failed.