Two days ago, it was discovered that Round1 would be offering Dance Dance Revolution A20 at most of their locations and WACCA at all of their locations. Naturally, two new rhythm games are exciting enough already—but Round1 didn’t stop there.
In a weirdly unprofessional and totally garbled May 14th tweet, Round1 USA stated, “Mind blown experience!! [Mind blown emoji] Pong arcade game came in real world. [Heart eyes emoji] Visit #round1usatoday.” Lying just below that load of gibberish was this image:
Yes, the “Arcade” variant of Calinfer’s electromechanical Pong Table is now available at select Round1 locations. Though it’s not specified which locations have received the machine, I’d say this news more than warrants a call to your local store. (Assuming one of their roughly 30 facilities is “local” to you.)
I’ve spoken highly of the Pong Table in the past, and I maintain that position today. This product, in my own previous words, might as well be “the next air hockey.” It’s that sort of timeless, physical experience—seen also in basketball machines, pool, and dome sports—that is consistently crucial to the arcade environment. So I am absolutely stoked to see it at some Round1 stores.
As long the machines aren't set to the dreaded ticket redemption mode, I think they'll be a good time to be had. (And I certainly hope the tables aren't sitting right in the middle of all that empty noise, either.)
Beyond inherent appeal, though, it’s hugely exciting to see indie hardware finally being embraced by a major amusement chains. Whereas Dave & Buster’s has historically ignored any independently manufactured title, Round1 is leading the charge by taking a chance on Calinfer’s debut tabletop experience.
Of course, while the Pong Table isn’t a video game and is, in fact, distributed by Chinese coin-op giant UNIS, the machine is still indie at its very core. This isn’t a big-budget Raw Thrills or Sega game. Atari Pong Table was developed in a garage and brought to light through a crowfunding campaign, for goodness’s sake.
And even if Pong Table won’t be at every Round1 location, it will be available at some. An indie concept will finally see widespread play—and that’s a big deal. Maybe strong earnings will pave the piece a path to every location in the future. And maybe—just maybe—strong earnings will prove to other chains that Pong Table and other indie offerings are worth purchasing.
Considering the company’s longstanding support of niche, Japan-exclusive video games, I’m surprised it took Round1 this long to pick up an indie machine. But I’m also not complaining, because more players have now been afforded this experience. (Don’t tell anybody, but I’m still rooting for Killer Queen at Round1.)
So if you’ve got a Round1 near you—a statement primarily relevant to Californians—I highly recommend dropping by your local store and seeing if you’ve been blessed with the almighty Pong Table. My nearest location is…well, two-and-a-half hours away, so unfortunately, that’s not a trip I’ll be making any time soon.
Another recommendation for the more involved out there: If you love what you play of Pong Table, push more indie games at Round1 facilities. Speak to the local store managers, sound off on their social media posts, and generally bug them until something happens. Because—to reiterate—this is a big deal.
Until next time, I’m out. See ya ‘round, ya sweaty nerds.