• Jason

2019 ARCADE TOUR STOP 5: Swillburger / The Playhouse - Rochester, New York (July 2019)

Updated: Aug 26, 2021

It’s not often goes to three different arcades in one weekend, not even me, but that’s exactly what happened this weekend. My son and I Googled for a place to grab a burger after his final lacrosse tournament game of the day. In the search I stumbled across a burger joint called Swillburger that looked promising. The food looked good in the pictures, it had a full bar and an arcade...Sold.


So off we went a mere seven minutes from our hotel. When we arrived at our destination we were surprised to find that Swillburger (which for some reason is also called The Playhouse...maybe one is the name of the restaurant and the other the name of the bar) is located in a neat-looking old church.


Walking into the location, it has the vibe of a Dave & Busters that fell into a Hot Tub Time Machine set to the 1990s or early 2000s and somehow lost the terrible redemption games along the way. The bar was super hip. The decor was really cool and the old church building was very interesting. Tunes from the era cranked over the speakers. It has a very young crowd and while I was there fairly early I could see it filling up as the night went on. By the time I left the place was Hot AF.


The burgers definitely lived up to the hype. I ordered a double with cheese, my son had a grilled cheese and an Oreo shake. All of those items were great. We both shared “Garbage Tots” which I suspect is an acquired taste (tots covered with mustard, macaroni salad, chili, onions and more).


Everyone I saw was walking around with some fruity drink in a huge wine glass with fruit, so I asked the bartender what it was and she said that it was an Aperol Spritz, which supposedly was one of the bar’s signature drinks that The New York Times once called the “most overrated drink in America.” With billing like that, how can you not try one (or more). BTW that actually is true...https://www.nytimes.com/2019/05/09/dining/drinks/aperol-spritz.html lol. I thought that it pretty good.


The video games at The Playhouse were truly incredible. They had the biggest and best of the new games from Raw Thrills, the new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, linked Cruis’n Blasts (super fun), the new Atari Mechanical Pong (which I have never seen before in person), 4-player Vs. PAC-Man, Guitar Hero, huge Jurassic Park and The Walking Dead shooters and more.


The location’s classic game collection was solid as well. They had all of the usual suspects, like Donkey Kong, Frogger, Pac-Man, Space Invaders Deluxe, Kangaroo, Street Fighter, a 4-player Simpsons, a 4-player Turtles, 4-player NBA Jam (Boom Shaka Lacka), NFL Blitz, Double Dragon, WWF Superstars, Off Road etc... My son and I played several games of Tapper for only $0.25 each, but unfortunately the graphics were pretty glitchy.


They also had every non-video arcade game under the sun, Super Chexx, an amazing Shuffleboard Table, Skee-Ball and a brand new Knicks themed Pop a Shot Hoops.


Last but certainly not least was the pins. So many pins. Most of the games leaned towards newer titles rather than classics and probably as a result of the heavy traffic at the location they weren’t quite as clean as the pins at some places, but they all played pretty well.


My son and I ended up playing a bunch of Stern’s Big Buck Hunter pin. I had never played one before and I needed to put a score into Pindigo for it. A couple of good score free replays and end of game number matches later and we ended up playing a TON of Big Buck. I actually really liked it.


We also played Stern’s Deadpool Pro, which I really like too. Some people call Deadpool clunky, but I actually like the fact that the layout is different than most modern pins. If one ever came up for sale locally used I’d have a hard time not picking it up.


I put up some horrible scores on Chicago Gaming’s Attack From Mars Remake as well. I won’t talk about those scores. The remakes always eat me up. At least they had one with the awesome huge Color DMD.


Here’s the rest of the Swillburger / The Playhouse pinball lineup, courtesy of Pinball Map...


* AC/DC (LUCI) (Stern, 2013)

* Attack From Mars (Remake) (Special Edition) (Chicago Gaming, 2017)

* Austin Powers (Stern, 2001)

* Batman: The Dark Knight (Stern, 2008)

* Big Buck Hunter Pro (Stern, 2009)

* Deadpool (Pro) (Stern, 2018)

* Family Guy (Stern, 2006)

* Game of Thrones (Premium) (Stern, 2015)

* Guardians of the Galaxy (Pro) (Stern, 2017)

* Kiss (Stern, 2015)

* Metallica (Pro) (Stern, 2013)

* Mustang (Pro) (Stern, 2014)

* The Rolling Stones (Stern, 2011)

* SlugFest (Williams, 1991)

* Star Wars (Premium) (Stern, 2017)

* Transformers (Pro) (Stern, 2011)

* World Cup Soccer (Bally, 1994)


The Summer Arcade Tour is off to a great start. I just drove six hours home from Rochester and I’m cooked so I’m cutting the review off here. Swillburger / The Playhouse is loud, crowded and hot but it is a really cool place with good food and drinks and some pretty awesome games. Definitely worth a trip. Here’s s link to its website for anyone who’s interested: http://www.theplayhouseroc.com



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