We all spend hours lamenting the death of proper arcades in the United States. The dark, quarter-munching game halls have mostly been boarded up and forgotten or replaced by giant bowling alley/redemption machine/food and drink establishments like Dave & Busters, GameWorks, and now Brunswick Zone. Brunswick Zones have been around for a while, operating mainly as large, fancy bowling alleys. Occassionally they’d throw in a bar and maybe a few arcade machines and pool tables. But that was before Brunswick Zone…XL!

So Brunswick Zone XL takes the old model and turns it into a ginormous family fun center, which sounds like hell on earth to me. Complete with restaurants, bowling, video games, laser tag, private rooms, and party rooms, XL is the place to go if you want to fight through hoards of screaming children so you can earn some tickets on a neon-lit redemption machine. There’s a new one that just opened down the road from my place, so while driving past I decided to pop in and check it out.

The bowling alley is set up as two sets of lanes side-by-side, rather than one long row of lanes, and while the result is certainly space efficient, it doesn’t have the same vibe as standard bowling alleys. So rather than feeling like I might spot Walter and The Dude knocking down pins, it felt more like walking into a large room that happened to have bowling lanes. Granted, the place was just built last month, but the sterility of the bowling area with its bright colors and flourescent lighting was quite a shock.

But what I really came in for was to check out the arcade. After reading about Hilden’s experiences at the revamped arcades in the Mall of America, I was hoping for something comparable just minutes from my home. Unfortunately, I was met with a handful of redemption machines, kiddie ball-toss games, and only a few “get-in-and-ride” arcade titles. Hell, this place didn’t even have a Namco machine! What the hell?

Tucked in the corner of the arcade was a laser tag room. I know next to nothing about how these things operate, but the line was fairly long with people waiting to get inside and blind eachother with shots to the retinas. Good times.

Here we see a long hallway of doors leading to private event rooms, presumably for little Timmy’s birthday party. I’m dreading this stage in my son’s life.

Just to the left of the event rooms is Brunzonni’s Cafe, where you and your children can grab snacks and drinks. Brunzonni’s, eh? Must have been an obscure clan of Italians.

And finally, at the end of the day, mom and dad can hit the quiet, dimly-lit Fireside Grill for a vat of booze to calm their nerves. As the late Phil Hartman once said: Ah…sweet liquor eases the pain.

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One Response to Brunswick Zone XL

  1. Hilden says:

    This place makes me sad.

    I should mention that the MOA arcades are still shit, overall. They’ve just gotten a few more games I’m actually interested in lately. I’m sure that will change when they figure out nobody is putting in quarters.

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