Regina’s Wonderland Arcade a Journey into the not-so-distant past: Photo Essay

Queen City arcade a monument to the once mighty video arcade empire

Along with car phones and compact discs, video game arcades have long since lumbered off into the sunset to die a modern day dinosaur’s death.

While remnants of these once mighty machines can still be found in rogue billiard halls and pubs, the arcades themselves – the seizure-inducing institutions that so many of us grew up in – are more or less extinct.

There is, however, at least one more bastion of joysticks and Jr. Pac Mac out there.

Wonderland Entertainment Centre, located on Broad Street in Regina, looks every bit like the arcades of yesteryear, from the gaudy pinballs right down to the rotating hot dogs.

According to a blog article in the Edmonton Journal, Wonderland has been owned by the same family for over 30 years. It’s an interactive history lesson for those of us who relate more to blasting cyborgs and space frogs than to decrepit agrarian technologies that pre-date World War II.

And the best part about Wonderland? Pre-paying for the games by the hour at the amazingly low rate of $4 an hour ($3 before 6 p.m. on weekdays).

This is, by anyone’s standards, a total bargain. Back in the day $4 wouldn’t have lasted me more than 20 minutes. Then again, if you are really, really good and can make one game last the entire hour, it’s not really much to write home about.

However, after not having played games such as Terminator 2, Marvel vs. Capcom and Dynamite Cop in over a decade, I am thrilled to find out that I suck and am totally getting my money’s worth.

The arcade also takes on private parties – in a matter of minutes I have finished planning for my stag, wedding and subsequent divorce parties at Wonderland.

Still though, I can’t help but feel slightly out of place.

Wonderland seems like somewhere you would go with a date. Or a gang.

Having arrived following an out-of-town business meeting, I am wearing a tie and dress shoes, and am abysmally alone. Several pre-teens snicker at me as I attempt to navigate the upper echelons of Bust-A-Move.

Bastards. At least I can drive for reals.

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