• Open Noon-Late Daily
  • All Ages Admitted Until 4:30PM
  • 21+ & I.D. Required After 5PM

Author: Anthony Dandrea

Co-Owner of Ground Kontrol Classic Arcade

Pre-Order Your Pinbrawl IX T-Shirt Today!

Portland Pinbrawl IX T-Shirt Pre-Orders Open!

Pinbrawl IX

PREVIEW ONLY – Final art subject to change

Each year we produce a commemorative shirt for Pinbrawl, and we’re really excited to unveil this year’s design! Local artist Vo Minh McBurney (also responsible for last year’s Pinbrawl VIII design and our contest-winning “Arcade Meltdown” design) and colorist Lee Zeman stepped it up yet again and delivered one of our favorite designs yet, featuring Willy from White Water riding Paragon’s chimera off of a waterfall by a floating volcano – truly mystical!

The t-shirts will be printed on high-quality stock by our friends at Mad Pakyderms, but they’ll only be produced in limited quantities! If you want one, you’ll need to secure yours by pre-ordering it using the form below by 12pm PST on Saturday 4/15!

Portland Pinbrawl IX t-shirts will be available at Ground Kontrol during the tournament. We’ll also ship mail orders beginning that day!

Whether you’re the pinball hero we need or you just want to look the part, you need this limited-edition shirt. Order now!

UPDATE 4/15: Pinbrawl IX t-shirt pre-orders are now CLOSED. Thanks everyone!

Now Available: New Year’s Eve 2016 VIP Wristbands – While They Last!

NYE VIP WristbandsUPDATE 12/29: VIP Wristbands are now SOLD OUT! If you purchased one, you’ll receive a follow-up message soon. Thank you to everyone that purchased one! 

Our NYE party is already a killer deal, but sometimes you just need a little bit of VIP treatment. Get a VIP wristband and skip the line at the door, so you can get right to gaming! Not only that, your VIP cover includes two drink tickets worth $5 each at the bar, in addition to the champagne toast at midnight!

Even if you miss this ultimate power-up, we still want to see you on New Year’s Eve. Standard cover is just $15 at the door for free play on our entire lineup of games all night plus a champagne toast at midnight!

NYE VIP wristbands are on sale NOW, and once again, quantities are VERY limited. To secure yours now, purchase it using the form below!

THE FINE PRINT: All sales final. Must be 21 years or older with valid ID for entry. VIP Wristband allows bearer priority entry to Ground Kontrol, but does not apply to bar service or access to games. Ground Kontrol reserves the right to refuse entry to anyone. Entry to Ground Kontrol is limited by legal capacity and Ground Kontrol’s policies. Please be respectful of Ground Kontrol staff and your fellow customers, and have a great night!

Purchase Your NYE VIP Wristband!

VIP wristbands are $40 each, and include:

  • Priority admission to Ground Kontrol’s New Year’s Eve Free Play Party – Saturday 12/31, 5pm-close
  • 2 drink tickets worth $5 each at the bar
  • Champagne toast at midnight

Ground Kontrol Classic Apartments – Modern Living, Classic Entertainment

Welcome home, ‪Portland‬!

Since we opened in 1999, Ground Kontrol Classic Arcade has remained dedicated to preserving classic arcade gaming and culture while updating it for the present era. Over the years, we’ve established ourselves as the standard for what an arcade-slash-lounge should be, earning a loyal customer base and fans around the world. We’ve innovated with events and features never before seen in an arcade, and we’ve watched other arcades attempt to replicate our unique approach. They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, and we hope to influence a positive new trend for Portland and beyond with our latest concept: Ground Kontrol Classic Apartments.

Portland has seen an influx of new residents, with its population growing to nearly 2.4 million. New buildings are being constructed constantly, it seems, trying to attract residents and businesses with a popular mix of modern apartments anchored by first-floor retail and restaurant spaces. The face of Portland is changing rapidly, and businesses are trying to keep up with higher rent costs and a competitive real estate market. Sometimes, sadly, we lose a beloved bar or shop as a result.

Recently, after months of speculation, Ground Kontrol announced our plans to expand and more than double our space. Many of you expressed relief that we weren’t closing, and instead were actually growing. This is still true, and we’re working hard to debut our new space later this year. With it, though, will come another brand-new innovation: Modern living and classic arcade gaming, all in one.

Each unit in Ground Kontrol Classic Apartments has a bold, open feel with all of the comforts you expect in an urban home, with a curated selection of arcade hits from the 70s, 80s and beyond. The sounds of Galaga, Ms. Pac-Man, Asteroids and more provide the soundtrack to your day-to-day, as Ground Kontrol’s customers visit to play a game or enjoy a pint at the full-service bar that easily converts to a more traditional dining area (advance notice and approval required).

Categories: Arcade News

New in the Arcade: Killer Queen, the world’s first 10-player arcade game!

Killer Queen

We’re extremely excited to announce, for a limited time, a sneak preview of the soon-to-be-released independent arcade game Killer Queen at Ground Kontrol!

The only 10-player arcade game in the world, Killer Queen challenges two teams of up to 5 players to take control of worker bees and their Queen working to defeat the opposing team in one of three ways: Filling your hive with pollen, riding the snail to your base, or killing the Queen (of course!)

The retro-style 2D game play (described as a cross between Joust and Starcraft) feels like a familiar arcade classic updated for modern gaming. Matches are fast and frenetic, with you and your teammates juggling multiple goals and strategies to defeat the opponent’s Queen while defending your own.

Like any great arcade game, it’s very easy to jump in and start playing, with only one joystick and one button per player. Once you get hooked, you’ll see deeper layers within the strategy. Do you go for a speed boost or become a warrior and directly attack the Queen? Collect pollen and hope you’ll fill the hive before the other team? Or dare to ride the snail slowly to your base, relying on teammates to defend your epically sluggish trip toward victory?

We’re one of a few locations worldwide and the ONLY location on the west coast featuring Killer Queen, and we’re collecting as much feedback as we can to pass on to developers Joshua DeBonis and Nikita Mikros, who continue to refine it.

The cabinet is impressively designed, too – two linked cabinets with orange and blue color schemes representing their respective teams, a control panel with built-in cup holders, and lighting accents throughout the cabinet (with a glowing base!) We think it looks perfect in our retro-futuristic space.

Raw Thrills Entertainment has optioned Killer Queen for a commercial release to arcades worldwide, but only after testing it in local venues like Ground Kontrol who are willing to take a chance on an untested title.

Ground Kontrol is proud to cultivate the future of arcade gaming and we hope that you’ll take this rare opportunity to play Killer Queen before it reaches the masses. Invite your friends and let us know what you think!

Find out more about the game and its development at killerqueenarcade.com.


Electrocade – Ground Kontrol’s First Free-Play Party

For “Ten Years After”, co-owner and former manager Anthony Dandrea revisits key moments from Ground Kontrol’s 10-year history under its current ownership.

electrocade logo

It’s summer 2003, and not much has changed at Ground Kontrol in the barely two months since we took the reins. Most of the arcade floor is still devoted to selling records, VHS and cassette tapes, and bootleg CDs. There has been some progress, though: We’ve torn down Kneel’s old stage and are making plans to build a more customer-friendly one for hosting music events of our own.

For now, though, playing music in the arcade usually means throwing some CDs into a 5-disc changer. Sometimes I play records on a turntable I’ve set up behind the counter, drawing from my DJ collection to give the arcade a retro-electronic ‘soundtrack.’

One night I play a new, somewhat obscure release: “Lifestyles of the Laptop Café” by The Other People Place, an alias for one member of Detroit electro producers Drexciya. It catches the attention of a short, stocky dude who had wandered in earlier. “Yo, man, what track is that?” he says, more or less, and I show him the record sleeve. This dude is Joe Ward, aka DJ Jammotron, and so begins a long and productive musical partnership, and even longer friendship.

We get to talking about our shared love of vintage games and electronic music, especially classic electro and techno. Joe suggests that we host a live and DJed electro-funk music party with the games set to free play, all for a nominal door charge. This would be Ground Kontrol’s first “free-play party.”


Ground Kontrol: Ten Years After

In “Ten Years After”, co-owner and former manager Anthony Dandrea revisits key moments in Ground Kontrol’s 10-year history under its current ownership. The series starts with a trip back to its beginnings as “Ground Kontrol Retrocade…”

Ground Kontrol may have opened its doors in 1999, but it took a change in ownership– and direction– to transform what was once a “retrocade” into the classic arcade & bar we know now. That change happened ten years ago today, on March 22nd, 2003, when the current owners of Ground Kontrol got the keys and first opened the doors to their own arcade….

In 2003, Ground Kontrol “Retrocade” was a very different place. Located at 610 SW 12th Avenue, it was more store than arcade. A long counter, tall display racks, and one wall were devoted to selling vintage home computers and video game systems, “import” CDs (actually CD-R bootlegs of live performances) and used VHS copies of cheesy ’80s movies. The previous owners envisioned it as a shrine to a very specific era– the early ’80s, when Reagan was president, the cold war raged, and the Atari 2600 was king– and its displays and signage announced this loud and clear.

It was clear early on that the GK 1.0 business model left a lot of room for improvement. A second location on Hawthorne Avenue had come and gone, a victim of high rents and low income. Processing the used movies, music and home videogames consumed a lot of time and energy, while people wanted “newer” systems like the NES and Super Nintendo. And, there were far too few people in the arcade most of the time, especially at night. We began to tinker with the formula.

Next Up: Electrocade – Ground Kontrol’s First Free-Play Party

Categories: Arcade News

Portland Retro Gaming Expo – September 29th-30th, 2012

If you’re in the Portland area and are into classic console gaming you’ve probably heard of the annual Portland Retro Gaming Expo (PRGE for short.) Ground Kontrol has proudly sponsored the expo since it began in 2006, and it’s grown in size and attendance each year. Recently, arcade games and pinball machines began appearing at the show, with Ground Kontrol contributing several titles from our secret underground vault.

This year, we’re partnering with PRGE to create a truly epic arcade presence dubbed The Mega-Cade: over a hundred arcade video games and pinball machines set to free play. To make room, PRGE has moved the expo to the Oregon Convention Center where there’s plenty of space to host more vendor booths, more panels, and over 20,000 square feet for the Mega-Cade.

These new features have excitement running high, and PRGE expects tickets to sell quickly. We recommend you pre-order tickets online to lock in your entry. Pre-ordering also gets you into the show an hour before general admission, giving you a valuable first chance to score rare vintage console games and systems, or just have the Mega-Cade’s lineup of rare and classic arcade games to yourself!

Retro Gaming Expo is quickly becoming the Pacific Northwest’s premier classic gaming show. Whether you buy advance tickets, contribute games to the Mega-Cade, or volunteer your skills, we hope to see you there!

WHAT: Portland Retro Gaming Expo 2012

WHEN: September 29th-30th

WHERE: Oregon Convention Center

MORE: PRGE Website

Coming To The Pearl: Ground Kontrol’s “8-Bit Bistro”

PORTLAND, OR.– Ground Kontrol Classic Arcade has long been known as one of the more popular  haunts in Portland’s Old Town neighborhood. But now they’re making a play for the high-rise crowd in an unexpected way: by opening a bistro in the Pearl. Ground Kontrol Chef Emeritus Kyle Harasyn explains.

“Downtown fans already know about Ground Kontrol’s excellent food menu. Convincing Pearl residents to make the long journey into Old Town has been a challenge, though. I can understand…I mean, that’s four or five blocks at least, and no valet parking to speak of. Then you have the Park Blocks creating an almost impassable divide and, well…no wonder they hardly ever make it.

“We really want to reach this new audience, though, and we think we’ve found a way: Bring the Ground Kontrol menu to the Pearl, and tailor it to their sensibilities. We’re calling it ‘8-bit cuisine in a 5-star format.'” READ MORE  >

Categories: Arcade News, Bar News

Ground Kontrol Now Serving Mixed Drinks

Pop quiz: Of all the ways we could upgrade Ground Kontrol’s already awesome pile of fun, what’s the one thing you’ve requested more than any other? “Booze, booze, booze!” Well, okay, that’s three things, but we’re excited that the certification, stocking, and training are complete, and we can finally grant your wish:

Ground Kontrol is now officially a full-service bar. If you’re 21 years of age or older, you and your friends can now enjoy mixed drinks and libations in addition to our usual selection of fine beer, wine and cider.

What’ll it be? Whiskey and Whitewater? Rum and Robotron? The possibilities are endless!

Categories: Arcade News

Mink Staccato’s Ten Commandments of Pinball

Scott McKinnon aka Mink Staccato. Photo by ChrisRyanPhoto.comThose of you following our blog know that Scott McKinnon AKA “Mink Staccato”, local pinball expert and good friend, passed away in the spring of this year. Scott was always looking for ways to raise awareness and interest in his favorite pastime, and went so far as to teach an informal “Pinball 101” course that introduced newcomers to the game and helped intermediate players hone their techniques.

A few years ago, when Scott worked downtown, he would frequent Ground Kontrol on weekday afternoons. At that time he and I discussed the idea of rounding up another group of students and leading them through a course at Ground Kontrol. The course didn’t come to pass, unfortunately, but while going through some old papers recently, I found the “lesson plan” that he had prepared.

Here, then, are Scott’s “Ten Commandments of Pinball.” Besides being a fitting addition to his legacy, they’re also great advice for anyone who wants to improve their skills and increase their enjoyment of the great game of pinball.