Houston & Peach

Take a step back in time at this old school, one-of-a-kind Middle Georgia arcade

Arcade owner talks about old-school games

Purple Panda Arcade recently opened in Warner Robins, Ga., bringing back and era when young people gathered together in public to play video games before home consoles brought that to an end.
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Purple Panda Arcade recently opened in Warner Robins, Ga., bringing back and era when young people gathered together in public to play video games before home consoles brought that to an end.

At a new business in Warner Robins people can take a step back in time, as well as into the future.

Kevin Huggler opened Purple Panda Arcade about a month ago at the corner of North Houston and Elberta roads. Arcades were once fixtures in shopping malls, but vanished years ago as home gaming consoles became more sophisticated.

Classic and new arcade consoles can still be found in places like bowling alleys and bars. Reboot Retrocade and Bar on Cherry Street in Macon has many old-school arcade games. Huggler says his is the only stand-alone arcade in Middle Georgia. He said he knows of only a few in the country.

He believes there’s a hunger to return to those games with simple concepts and graphics.

“For a lot of adults it’s a nostalgia feeling of playing games you haven’t seen in years and decades,” Huggler said amid a din of beeps, buzzes and rapid button tapping Sunday. “For kids it’s kind of like a visit to the past for them, where it all started.”

Huggler first began thinking about opening a business for virtual reality games, but he decided to also delve into the past and bring back some classic arcade games. Now he’s getting more business from the arcade games than he is the VR games, although he said those are starting to catch on.

He has some vintage original arcade consoles, including Mortal Kombat, Tekken 5 and X-Men. He also has consoles called Pandora’s Box where players can choose from hundreds of classic games.

Jonathan Pounds of Warner Robins was making his first trip to the arcade Sunday with his son, Gabriel, a video game aficionado.

“His knowledge of old school games is pretty high for an 8-year-old,” Pounds said. “He’s always going to Wikipedia and looking up the history of games.”

They were playing Crystal Castles, an Atari game released in 1983. Pounds remembered playing the game at Shakey’s Pizza in Warner Robins when he was in high school.

“This is so hard,” Gabriel said. “This is like a harder version of Break Out.”

Customers like the fact that Huggler charges a $10 flat fee that allows unlimited play all day long, rather than constantly feeding quarters into the the machines.

“I wanted to make it affordable,” Huggler said.

Jonathan Noles was there with his 3-year-old son, Jonathan Jr. Noles was a fan of fighting games and was playing Alien vs. Predator, one of the last games he remembered playing at the mall arcade.

“I could spend all day in here,” he said.

The arcade is in Houston Crossing shopping center, next to Sun Beauty Supply.

Wayne Crenshaw has worked as a journalist since 1990 and has been a reporter for The Telegraph since 2002. He holds a bachelor’s degree in print journalism from Georgia College and is a resident of Warner Robins.
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