Game Grid Arcade – West Valley City, Utah

UPDATE: We have moved locations and we are now inside of the Valley Fair Mall. I will post some updated pictures of the new spot as soon as I can but in case you drop by, look for us at Suite F107/F108, next the Game Den and across from Ryan’s Custom Jewelry.

I have been a little hesitant to put a review of my own arcade here since there have been many posts about it and my own personal bias. But I figure that it is worth it anyways and I will try to be as unbiased about it as I can but naturally this review will be different than my other ones since I am going to speak about it from my point of view and I can explain why certain things are set in a certain way. I have reviewed some arcades in my area who are my competitors and I give them props where it is due and personally I believe that it is great when areas have several arcades to choose from as more arcades=more games and competition is beneficial.

The Game Grid Arcade is a new arcade business that started in June 2008 at the Valley
Fair Mall in West Valley City, UT. Unlike many of the other stores at this particular mall, the entrance is placed on the outside of the mall as opposed to the inside. I choose this because I figured that people like to stay at arcades longer than 9PM (when the mall closes and all the other stores have to close) although admittedly this has not worked out too well to our advantage yet. Most weekend nights after 9PM we are dead since everyone in the area has left. There is a Red Robin Restaurant right next door to The Game Grid that also stays open past the mall’s closing hours but they have been suffering on weekend nights lately as well thanks to the construction taking place in the parking lot right in front of both stores. At the moment this is a disadvantage as much of the west parking lot is in shambles in some form or another but you can still find parking without too much trouble, especially on the south side of the mall.

My focus at The Game Grid is on video games and as such I am quite strict in this regard. This leads to what some may consider to be a disadvantage as I have only one game which could be considered redemption and that is Movie Stop. Movie Stop is an interesting skill based game where you can win games or movies by playing it. So we do have prizes in that regard but if you are a fan of ticket redemption games then you won’t find it here. My reasoning for this is simple: if you’re going to win a prize at an arcade then it should be worth it and I feel that most prizes one wins in ticket redemption are worth far less than the effort it takes to get them. Of course this doesn’t count the fun people have in playing these games but to me the primary purpose of an arcade is to have fun playing arcade video games and not leaving them as an after thought. If you are only interested in gaming however, then hopefully you will see this as an advantage.

The game selection I currently have is small but I feel that it is the best I could do with the budget restraints that I am limited to. It takes an awful lot of money to start and operate an arcade and I have never had that. My plan is to upgrade to a larger facility with more games in the future but at present time this is not possible. We have 1856 sq. ft. of space with most of that dedicated to arcade games, with some of that space set apart for PC LAN gaming (more on that later). Towards the front of the store you will find newer games such as Big Buck Safari, Blazing Angels, House of the Dead 4, Chase HQ2, The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift and our most unique game (and crown jewel of the selection) The Act. The Act is a great game that is extremely rare and is also a lot of fun. You can find my review of it on Youtube, along with reviews of some other games we have there. We also have a Tsunami motion cabinet with Mechwarrior 4 and a couple of other games that is really cool.

I think that it is important to feature some older games as well as they don’t stop being fun just because graphical capabilities in modern hardware have evolved greatly since the time that these games were released. This includes CarnEvil, T-Mek, Street Fighter II:Hyper Fighting, King of Fighters ’98, Marvel VS Capcom, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Ninja Gaiden, Namco Classics Collection (which includes original versions of Pac-Man, DigDug and Rally X along with updated versions of each game), Crystal Castles, 1942, Superman, Mars Matrix and Warlords (Cocktail version). A couple of these games do have some issues which I am working on repairing although it is taking longer than I expected.
I also have two new pinball games, Indiana Jones and Shrek and an air hockey table.

In regards to the PC LAN, this is my way of replacing redemption. It’s understandable that not every arcade can do this or even wants to as it’s quite different and more complicated that running an arcade but it fits into my theme of gaming. We currently have seven PCs linked together and admittedly our software selection is rather small although I have been trying to get as many games as I can afford to. Call of Duty 4 came with the gfx cards we are using (nVidia 8800GS) and we have also added Unreal Tournament III, Sins of a Solar Empire, Halo 2, Oblivion, Fallout 3, World of Warcraft and some lesser known games like Nexuiz, Scorched 3D, Blow Everything Up and others. The PCs haven’t been perfect as we’ve had to get around some bumps in the road with updates and such but at the present time all 7 have been functioning properly and we hope to add an 8th system soon.

One thing I strive to do is keep the games clean. We clean the controls with sanitization wipes every day and we clean the overlay glass often. We also strive to keep the games fixed although there are a couple of issues that are taking some time to resolve due to waiting on parts or in the case of one of the Tokyo Drift chairs, we can get the bolts off to fix it as they were already stripped. In the case that something isn’t fixed we put a paper on the game with a message describing what the problem is.

In addition to the pictures above you can check out my Youtube account which has several reviews of each game to watch.

UPDATE 4/2/2010 – I just realized how outdated this review is, so let me get you up to speed. As I mentioned at the top of the post we have moved locations into the mall. Our game line-up is pretty much the same but I am looking to spice up our line-up a little. I recently repaired King of Fighters 98 so it has a clear monitor image; The Act has a trackball for the moment while I try and find a suitable replacement for the knob which broke; Warlords is fixed and running once again and I no longer have T-Mek or the Tsunami motion game as they took up too much space. As promised, I will be posting pictures of the place, those should be up by tomorrow.

5 Comments on “Game Grid Arcade – West Valley City, Utah”

  1. Wow.

    That arcade looks pretty fantastic, too bad I live in Washington DC.

    I want to say this, I really respect you on your policy that you only have real games (that Movie Stop game sounds interesting though). In DC, all we have is Dave and Busters, and the atmosphere is just way too loud (though most arcades are, but there are tons of kids around which greatly add to the noise level), and there is a major lack of real games. But you have decided to make an arcade that can proudly call itself an arcade, and I really respect that. if you were in this area (or if I was in West Valley City Utah) then I would probably be a daily customer of yours.

  2. Derek Says:

    Looks and sounds like you’re off to a great start. I spoke to you this evening about working with you to get together some Street Fighter 4 Tournaments and events. I’ll see what interest I can drum up in the community online and locally. Hopefully we’ll be able to put something together. Street Fighter has always been a huge draw to the arcades and, in my opinion, SF4 may bring a lot of fans (old and new) back into the arcades in greater numbers.

    In the meantime, best of luck to you!


  3. Shaggy Says:

    Thanks Derek, it was good talking to you.

    Like I mentioned, I really would have liked to have picked up SFIV but Capcom didn’t do operators any favors there – I know of several operators who are left with a big bill to still try and pay although maybe with enough competitions they can pay those things off. We do try to hold competitions every Sat. but lately we haven’t had any interest in those so something different like SFIV might do the trick. Back in the summer we did a King of Fighters 98 comp. that went down pretty well.

  4. Cameron Minch Says:

    I am an avid Street fighter 4 player. And I know of at least 20 players addicted more than I am. The only problem is there isn’t a spot in UTAH Who has it in an arcade. If I were an Arcade owner I would buy or make the set up. You would make a Killing!! It’s the hottest game out right now especially the follow up of Super street fighter 4 coming out on ps3 and xb0x 360 later this month…

    • Shaggy Says:

      At least I know that there is interest in it – if I can find a good deal on HD cabinets and two kits then perhaps I can get something setup, but that is also part of the problem – needing to buy two which makes it that much harder (i.e. expensive) to get this going.

      But I hear you – knowing that people will come in and play the arcade version even though they have it at home is heartening to hear as I only would go through with trying to get a setup if I know that it’s worth my time/money.

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