Pinball wizards, Frogger fanatics flock here
WEIRS BEACH, N.H. - For his 24th birthday, Jamie Lyon and some friends were up early for the nearly 150-mile drive from Northampton to the Weirs.
When he crested a point on sweeping Route 3 and saw Lake Winnipesaukee, he knew he was almost there. "I've been coming here since I was 5," he said. "My father used to take me here." Upon arrival, Lyon made a beeline for one of his primary destinations: Funspot.
Since 1952, Funspot has been a landmark in the region, first on Lakeside Avenue in Tarlson's Arcade Building when it was called the Weirs Sports Center. Back then a round of nine-hole miniature golf set you back 35 cents. In 1964 Funspot, with its 500 games, moved to the site it currently occupies atop a hill in town.
Funspot, which is open every day except Christmas, offers year-round entertainment for locals and over the decades has saved many a rainy vacation day for tourists. There are games galore on three floors: air hockey, big ball and candlepin bowling, bumper cars, Daytona racing, video poker, nine-hole mini-golf with windmill, and indoor golf simulators.
"I could tell you I'm here because of my 12-year-old grandson," said Mike Mackiewicz of Lakeville, as he played pinball while his son played golf and his grandson manned a video game. "But I like the games too."
The arcade pretty much traces the history of electronic gaming. Besides its more contemporary offerings, visitors will find Bally pinball machines sporting portraits of pop culture icons from the glam band Kiss to Superman and old-school video games like Eagle and Galaxian with joysticks and buttons.
Be sure to see the classic game room and American Classic Arcade Museum on the third floor. Travel back in time through pinball and video games from 1973 to 1986.
Here you'll find old favorites like dot-gobbling Pac-Man, which was inspired by a slice of pizza and was first called Puck Man by its Japanese inventor before debuting in North America as Pac-Man in 1980. Remember Stocker, in which a stock car driver is chased by police? It was featured in the 1986 Paul Newman movie "The Color of Money." And don't forget Donkey Kong, Space Invaders, Mario Bros., Tempest, Tetris, and Centipede. Photos of Hall of Fame gamers show top scores in such vintage games as Frogger (589,350) and Donkey Kong (985,600).
Funspot is also for serious gamers, drawing top players for its annual International Classic Video and Pinball Tournament, and also hosting events like family mini-golf tournaments and indoor triathlons in golf, games, and bowling.
"The older I got, the more I appreciated pinball," said Lyon, who is getting married in August. "My friends want to have a bachelor party for me, but I keep telling them let's come here instead."
Marty Basch can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.