Where I went: Tokens Taproom at 282 Central Avenue in Dover, tokenstaproom.com, 603-343-2879
What it is: Tokens Taproom is an arcade straight out of the 1980s, with two rooms filled to the brim with favorites such as Streetfighter, Centipede, Mortal Kombat, Time Crisis, Donkey Kong, pinball and many more classic hits from the arcade era. Tokens also has a bar with a variety of food and drink options. It is open from 4 p.m. until midnight Monday through Thursday; from 4 p.m. until 1 a.m. on Friday; from 11:30 a.m. until 1 a.m. on Saturday, and from 4 to 11 p.m. on Sundays. Minors are allowed to visit under supervision of a legal guardian on Saturdays from 11:30 a.m. until 3 p.m.
What I did: A couple of weeks ago, a friend of mine told me about a place in Dover that was a unique combination of bar and old-school arcade straight out of the 1980s. Having missed the golden age of arcade heaven but always having had a profound interest in all things classic video games, I was all about checking this place out. I rounded up some of my friends, and we headed to Dover. We entered the taproom and made our way through the bustling entryway to order ourselves a couple of drinks before cashing in our dollars for tokens.
I started my adventure by heading straight to Street Fighter, where my friends and I switched off in a semi-unregulated and very disorganized impromptu tournament before, after a couple of rounds, we decided to move on. Following Street Fighter, I made my way to my all-time favorite machine, Time Crisis, a game that I had fallen in love with after various trips to movie theaters growing up where they were set up to help kill time before each flick. Embarrassingly, I only lasted a couple of minutes before accidentally shooting an explosive barrel and losing my last life.
Frustrated, I went to get another drink before my friend Chris invited me to play The House of the Dead with him. It did not go well. So I took to a game that I knew I would excel at. With fiery determination in my eye, I approached Duck Hunt, a game that I played on my older brother’s Sega growing up. Ducks and disks flew through the air, one after one exploding into oblivion, direct hit after direct hit. I was on fire and in arcade heaven as I had finally found a game that I could succeed at. As the final round concluded, I was asked to shoot my initials into the record boards and I am proud to say that I am forever memorialized as being the fifth-best Duck Hunt player to ever wield the orange revolver — at that one particular machine, and only until someone knocks me off the leaderboard.
With the night coming to a close and tokens still rolling around in our cups, we spent the last remaining coins on a Simpsons game and pinball.
Who else would enjoy this: Tokens Taproom is a place to relive the glory days of arcade gaming. With so few located around the United States, it is rare to find a place so dedicated to replicating the authentic arcade experience. The thing to keep in mind is that Tokens Taproom is also a bar. This means that, except for certain hours, it is limited to those 21 and older. This also means that toward the later hours of the night the rooms can get very crowded and very loud, and waiting for your favorite game might take a while. That being said, one thing that I found to be incredibly nice about Tokens was the bang for your buck. Five dollars’ worth of tokens lasted me the entire night, and in no way was I being frugal with my coins. Most machines run on a single token, which means guests can stretch their money to very easily last a couple of hours. Overall, Tokens Taproom lived up to my expectations. There was so much variety between games and plenty to do while waiting for the next machine to open up. I will certainly be returning in the near future to make sure my name still stands at the No. 5 spot on the Duck Hunt leaderboard.