Updated: Aug 26, 2021
The second arcade stop in State College, Pennsylvania almost didn’t happen. Champs is a local sports bar that has had a couple of locations near Penn State for decades. I’ve been to one in the past and I don’t remember it having pinball. We’ll, Champs Downtown certainly does now.
My family and I were exploring downtown State College and we found ourselves a couple hundred feet from Champs Downtown at around 3:00 PM. We went inside and much to my chagrin the downstairs portion that had the pinball machines didn’t open until 7:30. Miss. Fortunately, we ended up going out to dinner five minutes from there later in the day. My wife and boys went back to the hotel and I stopped back at Champs to check it out.
As I mentioned, the downstairs of Champs Downtown is an Arcade / Bar that has pool tables, foosball, Golden Tee, several arcade games and of course pinball. Specifically there was 11 pins at this location. Now that I’ve been to so many arcades, I’m sort of chasing the pinball dragon. I try to play games that I haven’t played at all or much before. At this place, that meant playing Data East Royal Rumble, Gottlieb Stargate and another one of my guilty pleasure pins Stern’s Monopoly.
I love the the Monopoly pinball machine. I have fond memories of playing the board game with my boys when they were little. It’s a Pat Lawlor design. I feel like I like it much more than most people. Again if I found a Monopoly for sale near me, I’d buy it in a second.
The pinball machines at Champs were literally getting no play from anyone. That was great for me, but not so much for the location. I pumped a bunch of quarters into the pins at $0.50/game. I managed to play some solidly mediocre pinball, other than winning a couple of Replays on Monopoly. The pins that I played all worked well. The Twilight Zone was stuck on ball search so it was down. The Stargate seemed a little dark when I was playing it. I don’t know if that’s normal for that game or if some of the GI was out. I suspect that it was the latter.
Most of the patrons of Champs were playing billiards. A few were playing vids like a linked Mario Cart. The place had a large variety of beers and ciders on tap. The crowd, unsurprisingly was mostly college aged people. The bartender who I dealt with was very friendly. The upstairs of Champs is a full service restaurant with typical sports bar food.
This concludes the Penn State portion of the trip. State College isn’t really known for its pinball but we managed to find a couple of solid locations. Next up, we hit some really heavy hitter pinball locations. I can’t wait to share. Keep an eye out for an update in the near future. Thanks for reading everyone!