Monday, September 29, 2014

The One Up Grand Opening, Does It Score?

What will most likely be called the Space Invader by locals finally had it's grand opening Friday night, September 26, in Sherman Oaks. The One Up, the arcade bar that residents have been waiting for since they spotted something looking like a pixelated alien on an empty building months back, finally opened. There was much fanfare as swarms of invading Los Angelenos made there way into a possible new bar run base.

We were able to grab one of the owners, Murphy Micheals, for just a second to give us some background on the new drinking destination with arcade machines in the back and an eye-catching bar. He started with his feelings about the opening. "Insane, " he said followed by, "we're at capacity within an hour of opening."

Murphy told me a short background about how he and another co-owner developed games for sixteen years and that work led his game company into film, they're called Deep Studios. His grandfather owned a bar too.

What was deep was the meaning many might not get from the setup above the bar. A mix of high-end looking furniture, cabinets and side tables, filled with nick-knacks from child-hood; a dinosaur, robot and He-Man lunchbox are above your head. What might this represent in a arcade bar? Murphy explained, "Do you remember in adolescence moving into the basement and getting all the hand-me down furniture?" Whatever adolescence Mr. Micheal's had must have been nicer than ours, because that furniture looks high-end enough to make anyone's basement pad very livable.

Murphy Micheals, one of the owners
Behind the bar are two paintings title Drinking Buddies, featuring Jack Torrance from "The Shining and "The Dude" from "The Big Lebowski", picks of Micheals. Before Micheals went  to help getting food to hungry customers and entertaining his guests he said the bar was for, "People who actually played games in the 80's and are grown up... and for everybody."

Everybody who drinks, they have a wide selection at the bar and not the worst priced beer at $6 bucks a bottle or on tap. The cocktails lack names that go with a gaming bar, you can still try them as a name doesn't make a drink.

For the foodie, this is a place to grab snacks with friends, not dinner. A big menu of small portions to share had a fellow writer and I sampling the menu. Captain Crunch Chicken Wings ($10), Chocolate Croissant Bread ($9, in an absurd giant bowl) and Deconstructed 7-Up Lime Twinkies ($8) filled us up and emptied our wallets. We couldn't taste the Cap'n, only a sweety fried skin that was lip smacking good with our chick wings.

A starry-skied arcade is in the back with pink neon written out as "I'll stop the world and melt with you", made me remember a M & M's commercial. Arcade cabinets are free to play, they don't take any quarters, the staff just asks after your game ends you let someone else have a shot. Each machine has a number of titles to try, they say on their website they have four hundred games to play.

We would have liked if each machine could stand out more, they don't have any distinguishing art and look like they belong in a dry cleaners more than this newly opened bar.

We played some unfamiliar titles, with classics like Pac-Man. Mr. Shaolin had us high kick our way through a temple, Mr. Do was a rip-off of Dig Dug, Gunsmoke was a non-stop shooter set in the old west. Kickrider was exactly as it's name sounds. A game where you ride a motorcycle and try and kick off other riders while dodging barrels. A game that doesn't teach children a thing. Kickrider is just one of those strange games you find and have to wonder what they were thinking when they made it. Then you just keep kicking people and seem to be humping the seat when not aiming the direction of your kicks. Two player Robotron was a fast one as one player controls movement and the other where you shoot laser to fend of bad guys. Kickrider and Congo Bongo, a game where you have to get past a monkey throwing coconuts at you we're our favorite titles.

Players were a bit dismayed by the lack of two-player machines. Many of the arcade units we're one player only.

Don't worry about your drink they have shelves in-between units for you to keep them safe.

The arcade can get a bit crowded when many people are up to play. A low level, used be a Tekken-unit, needs to either be raised up or get some seats near it for it to be played. None of the machines we played on past the small Tekken unit had any new arcade titles, almost all the games are from the 80's, forget anything 3D.

Passing a secret entrance that's an empty book shelf and a lounge area with a big window to see the cooking staff,  passed one birdcage seat hung from the ceiling, it's hard to see what the exact vision of The One Up is other than out there.

As I left I talked to someone having their birthday, Randy Coombs and his friend J-Ty Robinson. Coombs, when asked about The One Up went into talking about the crowd, "Like, the crowd, it's very diverse, weird gastro pub fans, video gamers that drink and hipsters looking for a place to grab a drink, " as he pointed to the line waiting to get in. He added, I don't want to drive to 82 right now, " in response to why he came.

The One Up has its game ready to play with two other major arcade bars coming out this year. Hollywood and Highland's Dave & Buster's and downtown LA's 82 both have their own idea of what arcade bar means. Will distance be a factor in having fun? Time will tell.

For right now, The One Up is worth your experience for at least one night to see if you can enter your initials on at least one game. It needs a few weeks to settle in and work out some kinks, from there it can get as big a high score as it wants.

Captain Crunch Chicken Wings ($10)

Chocolate Croissant Bread ($9)

Deconstructed 7-Up Lime Twinkies ($8)

Attack on Titan cosplay? This was a dude btw