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Gameroom Showcase: Holcomb’s Basement Arcade

Holcomb's Basement Arcade

For many people, the thought of “getting away from it all” is an alluring idea, if not a dream. Plenty of folks each year pay an exorbitant sum to escape reality and spend their time at a lodge or resort secluded from the stress and activity of day-to-day living. For those of us fortunate enough to have a home gameroom, our games provide all the escape we need.  For Todd Holcomb, his private getaway proves to be an amalgamation of both. 

When looking around Todd’s gameroom, appropriately dubbed “Holcomb’s Arcade”, you get the feel that you’ve stumbled upon the greatest arcade in a 5-star ski resort.  Living in Minnesota, a log cabin theme certainly is appropriate, but the step back in time is only a few stair-steps away in Todd’s basement.  The unique ambiance is one thing, but the nostalgia of a time long gone is what really sets this space apart.

Growing up in the 80’s, I spent a lot of time in the arcades with my friends, and I think it kept us out of a lot of trouble. MAME rekindled my interest in arcade games, but I soon discovered that I couldn’t play my favorite game, Spy Hunter, very well with a joystick.  (My collection) started with Spy Hunter and blossomed from there. Unlike the arcades, I can’t get kicked out of my own basement.

Lining the walls of the arcade are over a dozen well preserved, and much loved classic arcade games and pinball machines. The Spy Hunter and MAME cabinets still hold a spot on the roster, but added to the collection are such classics as Galaga, Ms. Pac Man, Star Wars, Gauntlet, and Donkey Kong. Classic pinball machines dot the landscape with strong titles like Indiana Jones, Terminator 2, and Jurassic Park holding their own. However, the big draw of family and guests alike is the row of linked Daytona USA machines.

I originally bought one Daytona USA twin cab, but couldn’t get any playing time on it with all of my kids.  The dealer told me he’d give me a good deal on a second twin cabinet.  Getting those twin cabinets down the stairs into my basement (which is a lookout) was quite a challenge, and my older neighbor was flat on his back clutching his chest afterwards!  His heart damage was worth it as I haven’t come across a better racing game yet and it’s the most-played game in the arcade.

 

If the games alone aren’t enough to provide an outlet to relax and enjoy your surroundings, then perhaps Holcomb’s Tavern can help! Wooden stools matching the log cabin décor pull up to a bar that offers a variety of beer on tap along with a large flat-screen TV to watch your favorite game.  Neon lights and mirrored shelving only add to the ambiance of this game-playing pit stop.

Todd’s pristine game collection and enviable bar would be sufficient to most gameroom enthusiasts, but many times it’s the unique decorative touches that personalize a gameroom and make it complete. Aside from the custom arcade and tavern signs, collections of classic games and gaming platforms are prominently displayed along the walls.

Although many people would be perfectly happy with this collection as-is, Todd’s not finished yet:

The next step is converting Ms. Pac into a Ms. Pac / Galaga 20th Reunion so I can get rid of Galaga and have room for one more game or pin.  There may be a bartop game in the future too.  Otherwise, there’s always a game that needs some sort of maintenance!

Classic game related, I also recently programmed an Atari 2600 Adventure-type game called Evil Magician Returns using an Atari basic programming language called batari.  I’ve released a boxed version and sold almost 40 copies so far!

While Todd enjoys sharing his games with others, it’s really his family’s enjoyment that he finds most important.

Many games have passed through my basement, and I’ve narrowed the games down to the ones that my four kids and I like the most.  Since we do the vast majority of gaming, keeping a game just because my wife or friends play it occasionally isn’t worth it.

Ultimately, we gameroom junkies build our own getaways for the same reason – personal enjoyment. While our reasoning behind it all may be different – nostalgia, restoration, preservation, etc – we all just want to have a good time and enjoy ourselves.  I know I can speak for myself and probably all that read this article and say that I have enjoyed taking a peek into your amazing gameroom. Thanks for sharing!

Preston Burt

The co-host of the Gameroom Junkies Podcast, Preston is a writer and designer living outside Atlanta, GA. He has an affinity for VHS tapes, and an obsession with arcade games and pinball machines. He is a contributing writer for GeekDad, Paste and RETRO Magazines, and a founder of the Southern-Fried Gameroom Expo.

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