Maybe you think the days of arcade games are long gone, but in Brookfield that certainly isn’t the case.
Do you remember playing your first upright cabinet video game – in a restaurant, motel lobby or arcade parlor? It may be here at the new Galloping Ghost Arcade, 9415 Ogden Ave. in Brookfield.
The Galloping Ghost opened at 11:59 p.m. on Aug. 13. A Friday the 13th. “We stayed open for 48 hours straight after that,” said co-owner Doc Mack. “Sixty people waited outside for the door to open. We worked on getting as many games running as possible, right up until we turned the key to open the front door.”
“When the gamers came in on opening night, we had 120 games ready,” recalled co-owner Gerry Cantu. “One big guy got emotional and just stood in one spot, looking all around with awe and misty-eyed.”
Today the Galloping Ghost has 189 games running, with more in the future. The “Ghost” name has been used by the partners since 1994. The logo – a ghost carrying a lit bomb and riding a stick horse with an arrow body – was adapted from a World War II bomber plane.
“The oldest game we have here running is ‘Sea Devil,’ made in 1970. It’s the only electro-mechanical game here,” explained Mack. “The newest games we’ve set up are ‘Crazy Taxi High Roller’ and ‘Super Street Fighter 4.'”
The cost for a full day’s gaming is $15, part of the whole business plan from the beginning. The annoying task of buying tokens or inserting coins for every play has been completely eliminated. All the games can be played again and again, or, if you like, you can play each one – even alphabetically, from Aero Fighter to World Series.
As for the Ghost Arcade’s competition, there is little. “Funspot Arcade has 331 games, but we’ll catch up,” said Mack. “But we just surpassed the Pinball Hall of Fame in Las Vegas. We’re the number one arcade in Illinois, and number two in U.S.A.”
As most great ideas do, the Ghost started out small and humbly. “Long ago, we went around trying to fix other arcade games for people, but they didn’t want us to. So finally we decided to get a lot of games together and open the Galloping Ghost,” Mack said.
Some noteworthy gamers here have been Mortal Kombat (1 and 2) actors Daniel Pesina and Phillip Ahn. “We’ve had a few gaming world’s records established here, too – by Matt Rocco on ‘Halley’s Comet,’ and Anthony Paparo on ‘Splatterhouse,'” he grinned, proudly.
Gamers of all ages come to play, ranging from Cantu’s own 3-year-old daughter, who loves “Pacman,” to a grandfather at age 79, who thinks “Galaga” is the greatest.
“One kid came in one day, and asked how much it was to get in, and I told him $15,” said Cantu. “He came back four days later with a can full of quarters, dimes, and nickels. He told me, ‘I had to clean my room four times to get this money.'”
A recent first-time visitor, Aman Poyman, of LaGrange Park, was engrossed in “Castlevania,” but had time to say, “I was just driving by on Ogden, and I saw this arcade, and my eyes lit up. I’m going to be here a lot more from now on.”
Mack has his all-time favorite game here, “Space Invaders,” which was also the first game Cantu ever played. Mack’s first game was the classic “Pong.”
Currently in the process of being completed is the arcade’s own special game, “Dark Presence,” with some scenes shot in Brookfield, then digitized. It will debut at the Ghost, then set out on its own U.S. tour.
Check out the Ghost’s own private console gaming rooms, with 42-inch LCD TVs; wide, comfy leather couches; and all 10 gaming systems. There’s a theater-like snack bar, but you can’t buy gum here. This is a gum-free arcade. But they do have Ghost T-shirts for sale.
Find your favorite game here, and may all your scores be the highest!