Nfld. & Labrador

Welcome to Funderdome: Some games from Avalon Mall arcade find new home

It's game over for the Avalon Mall's Starcade, but some of its arcade games are getting a new home in Mount Pearl.

G-Force Funderdome targets older customers with games that can't be replicated at home or on phones

G-Force Funderdome co-owner Walter Matina says the addition to the indoor go-kart track in Mount Pearl will target slightly older kids with retro video games and pinball machines. (Paula Gale/CBC)

It's game over for the Avalon Mall's Starcade, but some of its games are getting a new home.

It was announced last week that the St. John's arcade — the only one in the city — would be closing Jan. 28 after a quarter-century.

The G-Force Funderdome, which houses Newfoundland's first indoor go-kart track, will be bringing in some of the coin-collecting amusements to its new arcade, which opened Friday in Mount Pearl.

'We're looking at licensing our VIP lounge, which would give us after-hours — after 8 o'clock, 9 o'clock p.m. we would be adults-only.' - Walter Matina

Walter Matina, one of the Funderdome's owners, calls it a family entertainment centre.

"We have an indoor arcade, a retro arcade," he said.

"A lot of the games from Starcade have moved over to our arcade … we brought in a lot of new games, a lot of pinball machines, a lot of the old retro games like Pac-Man and Donkey Kong."

The Starcade is not very busy during school hours, when most of its customers are otherwise occupied. (Geoff Bartlett/CBC)

Matina said they are targeting older customers with the retro games, and are planning an area for adults.

"We're looking at licensing our VIP lounge, which would give us after-hours — after eight o'clock, nine o'clock p.m. we would be adults-only," he said.

"Where you can come in and have a drink, play some miniature golf in February, which we'll be opening up, play some video games and enjoy some go-karts and entertainment."

Decline of the arcade

Ryan Hale, the studio head of St. John's video game developer Other Ocean, said the news of Starcade's closure is sad but not surprising.

"There's been a longtime decline of traditional arcades across the country and probably across the world," he said. 

"You can play games on your phone. It's not quite the same experience but it doesn't make the games in the arcade as special anymore."

But he's optimistic about the Funderdome venture, because of its plans to provide an experience that can't be easily replicated on mobile or personal gaming devices.

"People don't have access to traditional pinball machines at home," he said.

"But even going into the future, there's going to be VR [virtual reality] as well … it has to be something special, something that you go [to] that you can't necessarily get at home or that doesn't translate well to a mobile device."