Location: Salem Willows Arcade, Salem Willows, Massachusetts, USA.
Date: 18 June 2005

Report by Doug Mahar

I will be reporting on three locations along the north shore of Massachusetts and the seacoast region of New Hampshire, just north of Boston. The first stop I made was an arcade just 15 miles north of Boston at the Salem Willows Arcade.

When you walk through the doors at Salem Willows Arcade you take a step back in time. Not only do they have all the latest games but they also keep an impressive collection of vintage pinball, video and oddball arcade games on hand. The Willows park is located just outside the haunted and historic downtown area of Salem, Massachusetts, known best for the witchcraft trials of 1692.

The area outside the arcade is clean, well maintained and offers plenty of free parking. There are a number of places to get a bite to eat right along the promenade and there are a number of picnic tables in the nicely shaded park area. The arcade itself is separate from another "casino" next door which features redemption games and skee-ball. That is a nice touch, keeping the noisy ticket spewing, quarter-eating machines separate from the arcade allows for a more enjoyable game of pinball, one that you can actually hear.

The facility is clean and well laid out, with a very well rounded collection.

When you first walk in there is a pristine 1960 Williams "Official Baseball" pitch and bat to greet you. Keep walking and you'll see a couple of the old reel movie viewers, you'll pass by one of my favorite video games of all time, Midway's Sea Wolf, walk along the row of modern and classic 80's video games such as Asteroids, Space Invaders, Budweiser Tapper, Galaga and more. Then you'll come to the wall of pinball. In years past they have had one or two EM's out on the floor, but this time they were in back getting serviced. All the machines rest on rubber pads so they don't slide on the painted concrete floor.

The current line-up at the Willows Arcade is: Monopoly, Funhouse, Sopranos, Creature from the Black Lagoon, Addams Family, Cyclone, South Park, Ripley's Believe it or Not, The Simpsons Pinball Party, Twilight Zone, and sandwiched between some video games along the adjacent wall were Star Wars Episode One, and a Revenge from Mars.

In the back room I also spotted an Attack from Mars undergoing service work.

I spent most of my time on the Sopranos since it was the first time I had seen it. Although I didn't win any games by score, it was liberally handing out match credits. I matched about 30% of the time. The Funhouse is probably the worst of the bunch with a non-functioning Rudy, bubbling mylar and overall wear from the years of play. Overall the
games are maintained quite well, and even the oldest machine in the line-up, the Cyclone had life left in it.

Salem Willows Arcade is only open in the summer, so plan your trip accordingly. They seem to do a lot of maintenance work over the winter months, so the earlier you get there in the summer, the better.

Next stop, Salisbury Beach!


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