Button mashing at the FunSpot

That’s not as dirty as it sounds.

The FunSpot bills itself as the world’s largest arcade, and was featured in the arcade game documentary The King of Kong. I’ve wanted to visit for years, but it’s just far enough into New Hampshire that a day trip makes for an unpleasant eleven hour round trip. To put it less diplomatically, it’s in the ass end of nowhere. BFE. East Ja-bip.

Hell, even the lovely couple we met at Novares Res beer bar in Portland a day later, who live nearby in Meredith, looked at us like we’d just said we liked to eat live snakes when we said that we’d spent the day there. They were trying to escape.

While were there, our GPS tried to kill us by sending us up a one-lane gravel road (no problem, all wheel drive, and I’ve driven all over Scotland) and then up a rutted mountain death hole with a cheeky sign warning that the road “is not maintained by the state or the town.” It looked like someone had attacked it with a steam shovel. I gingerly made a K turn in the pitch black with three foot drop-offs on either side–thankfully there was a bulge in the road a few yards back that I turned into–and we drove all the way back into town before asking a local how to get there without taking “Mrs. Todd’s Shortcut.” (that’s a wonderful Stephen King story that I mentioned last week. You haven’t read it yet?)

We also watched one of the adolescent menfolk try to woo a woman working at a drive-thru grill by smoking out his F-150’s tires until her parking lot resembled a haunted house production at your local high school (overzealous use of dry ice machine).

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We were in the boonies, and mind you, we’d just driven through Louisiana bayou country a few months back and saw nothing like this. Must be something in the mountain air…

The FunSpot is next to a mini-golf course and a water park and has a bowling alley and skee-ball lanes, so it is a lot like Lucky Leo’s and other Jersey Shore arcades where you need something to do when it rains. We bought a bucket of tokens and Firecracker went off to ply her skills at Skee while I hunted every arcade game cabinet I’d played as a child in the ’80s and had never been able to find again.

Oddly, there was no Donkey Kong. There was a sign mentioning the high scoreage, but they don’t play up their fame in The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters, probably because the film pokes fun at arcade game junkies, especially Billy Mitchell, the mulleted, black jeaned maestro of the joystick:

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My friend Milky wanted me to look for Mitchell’s toadie Brian Kuhn, but he was nowhere to be found. He had better things to do. And so did I, like playing RADICAL RADIAL!!! This terrible game was one of the few they had at Chestnut Grove lodge and resort, where we went for summer vacation a few times as a kid. My mom had to get away, and here she could sit by the pool or the lake while we cavorted with counselors and fished for monster bass stocked in the lake and flirted with the other hormone-crazed teens. And when it rained, we played Radical Radial, Night Driver, Joust, and Gyruss (3 warps to Uranus! bwahahaha).

No one had ever heard of Radical Radial, and I’ve only seen it again here. It could even be the same cabinet:

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You play this tire who jumps around avoiding road obstacles and shooting lasers, as only the raddest of radials can do.

They also had the most disturbing arcade game of all time, Chiller, where you shoot at victims in a torture chamber to unlock treasures. No, I’m not kidding:

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They also had a sit-down version of the vector Star Wars game which I played until I destroyed the Death Star, a bunch of weird ripoffs of other popular games, and some fun ones I remembered, like Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, Elevator Action, Tutankhamen, Congo Bongo, Dragon’s Lair, the awful Cliff Hanger which took Hayao Miayazaki’s delightful Castle of Cagliostro animated film and cut it into a terrible game, Joust 2, and a game I’m actually pretty good at, Road Blasters:

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They didn’t have Tempest, my favorite of the oldies, as it was in for repair. No Donkey Kong, either. I’m not sure I’d recommend a long pilgrimage here but if you’re ever in the area, lost on Dana Hill road by Squam Lake (where On Golden Pond was filmed) and it’s too rainy to go trout fishing, go get a fistful of tokens and recall your misspent youth at the FunSpot.

 

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