Old-School Games: a Nickel at a Time


Nickel-A-Play is a great place to spend some inexpensive but quality time with friends or family. With more than 20 free-to-play games, including “Ms. Pacman” and “Galaga,” it is possible to spend an entire night in this old-school arcade for very little money.

Still, it might require a bit of discipline to keep the budget down: All the games that award tickets require paying nickels in addition to the cost of admission, which are redeemable for prizes in a Chuck E. Cheese or Dave & Buster’s style. While most of the games only take one or two nickels, a few cost as much as eight. Someone can easily spend as much as $10 or $15 in a couple hours, in addition to the $3.50 admission price for persons over the age of four.

Nickel-A-Play has a family-friendly atmosphere, with a small area designated for birthday parties. It also has an outgoing staff who might be willing to let you take one of the prizes home even if your ticket count doesn’t quite reach the cost.

Although there are some eye-catching prizes offered behind the counter, it is more affordable to play the games that are less popular, rather than the games that pump out the most tickets—the prizes can be quite expensive. After a full night of playing, and winning two jackpots, the best prize available was a decently-sized scented candle. In order to win any of the really big prizes, it would be necessary to save up tickets and come multiple nights.

The game selection is extensive, with everything from Skeeball to “Flamin’ Finger,” a touch screen game that generates a random maze that must be finished as the clock ticks down faster and faster. However, it was frustrating when what seemed like every other game either said, “Out of tickets” or “I’m sick, the doctor has been called.”

There were also fewer skill-based games than luck-based when it came to the ticket-giving games. Although, if luck-based games don’t sound as fun as the ones that require skill, there are still plenty of games to choose from. It would be easy to fill a whole night of fun with them, especially when there are so many skill games that don’t dispense tickets.

Nickel-A-Play saw quite a bit of foot traffic on a Saturday night, but not so much that it detracted from the fun. The wait for a game was never more than a minute or two, and most of the time there was no official line, so waiting for a game was as simple as playing another game until it became available.

If old-school arcades are something you love, or even only kind of like, Nickel-A-Play is a beloved throwback. Although the upkeep could be a little more thorough, there are so many games that it isn’t so bothersome. Not to mention the variety of classic games can keep almost anyone occupied for hours.


15201 E. Mississippi Ave.

(303) 306-6035


Sun–Thurs: 11 a.m.–10 p.m.

Fri: 11 a.m.–midnight

Sat: 10 a.m.–midnight


—Hunter Call

photo courtesy blueskiesdaily.com

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