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Author: Art

Pac-Man’s Free Play Birthday Party – Sunday 5/22, 5pm-late

Pac-Man's Free Play Birthday PartyCelebrate 36 a-maze-ing years of Pac-Man with Ground Kontrol! The pizza-shaped pioneer changed arcade gaming forever when Namco released the original game to arcades on May 22nd 1980, and we’re throwing a party worthy of His Pie-ness!

We’ll be setting every single game at Ground Kontrol to free play, so not only will you be able to conquer the leaderboards on Pac-Man and Ms. Pac-Man, you’ll get to enjoy dozens of classics spanning decades of arcade history, no quarters necessary. We’ll also be rolling out some rarely-seen Pac-Man spin-offs and running high score challenges and tournaments throughout the night. While our yellow hero has a strict diet of pellets and power-ups, you’ll appreciate our full bar and food menu with specials and happy hour until midnight!

Dress up in your Pac-inspired finest – yellow, pink, orange or blue – and your cover’s just $5 at the door. Don’t feel like dressing up? No problem – you’ll just have to kick in a few bucks more for the birthday fund and spend $10 (still a great deal!) Enter our costume contest for another shot at prizes, and stop by the pop-up photo booth so Ashley Anderson Photography can make you look extra-awesome!

The party starts at 5pm and runs late, so join the Facebook event and stay tuned for specific times and announcements for everything that’s going on. He may be another year older, but Pac-Man’s not slowing down, so come down for a party worthy of arcade royalty!

Pac-Man’s Free Play Birthday Party · Sunday 5/22 · 5pm-late · $5 in costume (yellow, pink, orange or blue), $10 with no costume · 21+ only

Categories: Arcade News

New in the Arcade: Aliens (1990) & Aliens: Extermination (2006)

Recently on April 26, FOX celebrated the inaugural Alien Day – in anticipation of the 30th anniversary of Aliens, the opportunity to celebrate one of the most popular and influential sci-fi franchises ever on 4-26 was obviously too good to pass up! To do our part, we’ve introduced two games based on the series from two different eras of arcade gaming!

Aliens (1990, Konami)

Aliens (1990)The nightmare is just about to begin… again…

It’s the year 2179 and Lieutenant Ellen Ripley has been discovered nearly 60 years after surviving her first encounter with the Xenomorphs. Hadley’s Hope, a terraforming and research colony on planet LV-426, has gone silent. Now you must take on the role of Ellen Ripley or Corporal Dwayne Hicks to investigate the colony, eliminate the alien invasion, and rescue anyone that’s left!

Drop in to LV-426 armed only with a M56 Smartgun and your wits, as you search the colony for signs of life. Hold the fire button down for a continuous stream of bullets, and use the second fire button to crouch and shoot (crucial for those pesky facehuggers, and Xenomorphs coming at you from the ground). Look out for upgraded weapons like flamethrowers and enemy-seeking rocket launchers, especially helpful when you’re surrounded by bugs. Pressing both attack buttons will throw a bomb (if you have any left!), but the real heavy-duty hardware is the power loader: Take your level 6 rating and use the mechanized suit to smash through enemies and bay doors without breaking a sweat! Each level has some variety, too – you’ll crawl through ducts (pay attention to your tracker so you don’t get ambushed), ride freight elevators, and face boss characters in a pseudo-3D perspective similar to the base levels in Contra.

Easily one of the greatest and most influential sci-fi action movies of all time, the impact of Aliens took a while to reach arcades. While the film was released in 1986, the arcade version would not be released until 1990. The golden age of arcade gaming had already come and gone, so even a seemingly sure thing like adapting the action-packed hit for eager gamers didn’t happen right away. Fortunately, the late 80s saw the rise of a new genre of video game – the side scrolling beat ‘em and shoot ‘em up. Games like Final Fight (Capcom) and Double Dragon (Technōs Japan/Taito) revolutionized the simple-yet-addictive concept of “walk left and right and defeat waves of enemies”, but Konami took the shooting prowess they displayed in games like Gradius and Lifeforce, combined it with the relentless military action from Contra and Super Contra, and delivered an Aliens experience worth waiting for!

Like the movie, the action in Aliens is relentless. Konami took some liberties with the franchise introducing new and unexpected types of Xenomorphs, and it’s not clear why Ripley’s hair is blonde, but overall the atmosphere of the film is reproduced well with plenty of recognizable sights and sounds. It won’t be easy to find and defeat the alien Queen, and you won’t get a rescue party, but at least you can continue…

Aliens: Extermination (2006, Global VR)

Aliens: ExterminationReturn to LV-426 to eradicate the last of the Xenomorphs! You’re a Colonial Marine tasked with cleanup of the remnants of Hadley’s Hope, the failed Weyland-Yutani colony. However, it looks like acid-bleeding aliens aren’t your only problem: Weyland-Yutani’s defense systems have been doing a little bit of work of their own…

In Aliens: Extermination you only need to know one thing: where they are! Aim your gun at oncoming enemies in this fast-paced first-person action game, and pull the trigger to eliminate enemies before they overwhelm you. Keep an eye on the ammo indicator either on-screen or on your gun, as your fire rate will drop dramatically when you need to reload (by shooting spinning ammo power-ups). Toss a grenade by hitting the glowing red button on the side of your weapon, and if you’re lucky enough to find a napalm container, hold down the yellow button near the front of the weapon to unleash a stream of fire and burn the bugs! In case you’ve forgotten, you’ll quickly be reminded that Xenomorphs are avid climbers, and they’ll come at you from all angles. Watch for plenty of secret items hidden in destructible objects, but be wary of friendly fire – hit an ally, and you’ll be penalized! (Why did you have to stand right next to that Alien, anyway?!?)

Global VR’s 2006 arcade game has impressive presentation, especially for Aliens fans. Not only do you get high-quality graphics and sound, but the cabinet really completes the immersive experience. The mounted rifles shake when you’re firing, and the LED ammo indicator on the gun actually gives you a live update of how many bullets you’ve got left before things get dicey. Aiming and firing is extremely accurate and responsive, which is always appreciated in the light-gun genre where games tend to favor cheap hits and iffy detection over a more refined challenge. In short: You’re gonna get hit, a lot, but it’s mostly going to be your fault!

Take on the galaxy’s greatest threat, but don’t do it alone! Aliens: Extermination supports 2 players for maximum efficiency, and you’ll want as much firepower as possible to face waves of aliens, Weyland-Yutani’s synthetic forces, and the Queen herself. Even if you make it to your dropship, it’s not over yet…

Clash of the Classics: Trigger Zone VS Legendary Wings

Clash of the Classics - April 2016This month’s Clash of the Classics is a shoot ’em up winner takes all, with our multi-game Trigger Zone taking on our latest Raiders title, Legendary Wings!

It may seem a little unfair to pit three shooters against one, but these two cabinets are on level ground when it comes to real estate. Since they take up the same amount of space in our arcade, we’ve got to make a tough decision somehow, so it’s down to this: Whichever cabinet is played more stays, and the loser retires to storage!

Trigger Zone (Capcom – 1987, Psikyo – 1997 + 2000)

Our custom multi-game cabinet Trigger Zone has been on the floor for nearly 11 years now, featuring a lineup of shooters including the all-time Capcom classic 1943 and two games from Psikyo: Strikers 1945 and Dragon Blaze. While we don’t operate many multi-game cabinets at Ground Kontrol, they’re sometimes the best way to feature a lot of games without taking up a lot of space. Trigger Zone employs the multi-JAMMA interface (developed by Ground Kontrol co-owner Clay Cowgill) to let you switch between multiple arcade PCBs connected to a single display and set of controls. Translation: Press the “game select” button on the control panel and when you see the game you’d like to play, insert your coin(s) and press Start!

19431943 is, of course, the 1987 sequel to the highly influential military shooter 1942. Set in World War II, you pilot a U.S. military P-38 Lightning fighter plane against the Japanese forces across 16 stages, leading to a final battle against the Japanese battleship Yamato. The controls are simple: steer your aircraft with the joystick, use one attack button to fire your machineguns, and the other attack button for a special evasive loop maneuver, or lightning attacks that consume fuel. There’s a bit of variety in the stages, with most featuring air-to-sea battles with big boss aircraft carriers or battleships, and the others exclusively air-based affairs that pit you against a giant bomber at the end. It’s easy to see why 1943 (and its precursor) were so popular in the arcades, with multiple console ports and updates of each game bringing the action to later generations. The action is fast-paced without reaching the “bullet hell” levels of difficulty that came later for the shooter genre, and the precise controls mean it’s almost certainly your fault when your energy bar is depleted and it’s time to continue. Hey, no one said defending freedom would be easy!

Strikers 1945The World War II theme continues – sort of – in Psikyo’s Strikers 1945. Set after the conclusion of World War II, Strikers 1945 sees a new global threat, CANY, appearing with high-tech weaponry and evil intentions. You select one of six planes to set out on eight missions, beginning in more conventional locales in Europe and ending with three stages that take the battle to outer space and the (spoiler alert) alien base! Released in 1997, a full 10 years after 1943, Strikers 1945 definitely offers more intense action and deeper (and stranger) gameplay. In addition to avoiding waves of bullets and attacking enemies, you have to keep an eye out for gold bars that cycle through shiny-to-dull, and grab ’em while they’re shiny to maximize your points. Instead of automatically exploding when you collide with an enemy ship, you power down, provided you’ve collected at least one power-up. Those extra layers of strategy makes Strikers 1945 an attractive challenge for players that have conquered more conventional games like 1943!

Dragon BlazeAnother Psikyo classic, Dragon Blaze, abandons the usual military setting for an anime-inspired blend of fantasy and sci-fi. Choose one of four dragon-riding human warriors on a quest to defeat the Demon King. Each warrior-and-dragon combo offers unique capabilities, so you’ll want to try each to figure out which one works best for you. Like Strikers 1945, Dragon Blaze isn’t satisfied with an old-fashioned “just shoot everything and don’t get shot yourself” approach, instead featuring an interesting scoring system that rewards the risky behavior of dismounting your dragon and sending him (or her!) like a battering ram towards your enemies. Fortunately, your player doesn’t fall to the ground when this happens, and you can actually gain more valuable coin drops by carefully employing this technique.  The most difficult game of this trio, Dragon Blaze demands great skill, but offers an entertaining theme and unique endings to reward dedicated players!

Legendary Wings (Capcom, 1986)

Legendary WingsReleased the year before 1943, Legendary Wings features a strange setting that mixes art inspired by Greek mythology with futuristic touches. It’s a more moderately-paced shooter with one major difference from the games in Trigger Zone: Some horizontal shooting! While vertical shooting tends to be more popular, Legendary Wings switches mid-stage multiple times to horizontal sequences, giving you a chance to see how your winged warrior fares on foot. In the vertical portions, you fire ahead of yourself and collect powerups while bombing ground-based enemies (and special targets to reveal power-ups and secret passages). Be wary of the giant faces on the ground, as you can be sucked into their mouths and enter a horizontal stage where you traverse simple sets of platforms and ladders while fighting a variety of enemies. These stages also offer some secrets as well, namely the ability to shoot through most of the walls to advance. Many gamers will likely recognize Legendary Wings from its NES port, as the arcade game is rarely seen. Legendary Wings never took off like Capcom’s other shooters, but it still stands up as a really interesting title that deserves a second look, especially by hardcore shooter fans!

Do you prefer a cabinet that packs three shooters with a lot of variety, or are you committed to classic gaming strictly in its original form? Take a shot and play Trigger Zone, Legendary Wings or both as much as you possibly can and help us decide which game should remain in service and which one will be (temporarily) decommissioned! Clash of the Classics ends Wednesday 4/20!

Categories: Bar News, Events

Ninkasi Ground Control Release Party – Tuesday 4/12, 7-10pm

Ninkasi Ground Control Release Party - Tuesday 4/12Last year, Ninkasi Brewing introduced the first beer of the Ninkasi Space Program – a delicious imperial stout brewed with yeast sent to space and back! We were proud to host a release party for Ground Control Imperial Stout last spring, and we’re even more proud to be the FIRST Portland bar to serve the 2016 release!

Join us on Tuesday April 12 for the Ground Control Kontrol Release Party and be among the first in in the Pacific Northwest to enjoy a glass of this delicious bourbon barrel-aged imperial stout, brewed with Oregon hazelnuts, star anise and cocoa nibs, fermented with ale yeast that boldly went beyond Earth’s atmosphere to create a truly out-of-this-world taste.

In addition to the super-limited Ground Control, we’ll be serving another special Ninkasi brew or two, and each Ninkasi purchase will come with free game coins to power your missions to destroy the Death Star in Star Wars or explore the final frontier in Star Trek: The Next Generation pinball!

Ninkasi’s Ground Control imperial stout and the free giveaways won’t last long, so don’t miss this chance. The galaxy’s best beers paired with the galaxy’s best arcade? Take one small sip for man Tuesday April 12th at 7pm!

Ninkasi Ground Control Release Party · Tuesday 4/12 · 7-10pm · NO COVER · 21+ only

Portland Pinbrawl VIII – Special Hours & Information – Sunday 4/17

Just a few things you should know about our hours on Sunday 4/17 during Portland Pinbrawl:

  • We’ll be closed to spectators until 3pm. If you’re not playing in the tournament, we may not be able to admit you entry until then!
  • Ground Kontrol will be 21+ all day – no minors will be admitted. Sorry, but in order to serve from our bar during the tournament, we have to be 21+ only.
  • Only Portland Pinbrawl tournament players will be admitted upstairs into the pinball mezzanine during the tournament. If you need your pinball fix, you’ll have to wait until the tournament’s over (generally not until later in the evening)!

If you’re not playing in the tournament, we appreciate your understanding on these few tweaks we have to make in order to host the biggest & best pinball tournament in Portland!

Thanks everyone!

Pre-Order Your Portland Pinbrawl VIII Shirt Today!

Portland Pinbrawl VIII T-Shirt Pre-Orders Open!

Portland Pinbrawl VIII T-Shirt by Vo Minh McBurney

Portland Pinbrawl VIII Shirt Preview

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! Illustrated by local artist Vo Minh McBurney (also responsible for our contest-winning “Arcade Meltdown” design) with lettering by GK’s own Charles Olson, our Portland Pinbrawl VIII shirt features the prelude to a truly epic pinbrawl with the merciless Black Knight looming over our warriors.

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.

Portland Pinbrawl VIII t-shirts will be available at Ground Kontrol on Sunday April 17 during the tournament. We’ll also ship mailorders 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 4/1: Pinbrawl VIII t-shirt pre-orders are now CLOSED. Thanks everyone!

Bonus Round Free Play – Tuesday 3/29, 5-7:30pm + 11pm-close

web-slideTwo extra chances at Free Play this month? Make it so! We’re hosting two rounds of Bonus Round Free Play on Tuesday March 29 – one earlier in the evening, and one late!

First, from 5-7:30pm, stop by post-work for unlimited game play on over 90 video games and pinball tables spanning decades of arcade history for an extra-awesome discount at the door! It’s just $2 to play as much as you possibly can until 7:30. Explore the final frontier in Star Trek: The Next Generation pinball, grab some friends and defeat Shredder and Krang in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Turtles in Time, or take on our latest title, Legendary Wings!

Enjoy happy hour at the bar from 5-7pm as well, with 8 excellent choices on tap, more options in bottles and cans, and a full selection of spirits so you can get your favorite drink. Ground Kontrol will close at 7:30pm for a private rental, so don’t be late!

After Ground Kontrol re-opens our doors at 11pm, every single game in our arcade will be set to play for free, with NO cover at the door!

This is a rare opportunity to enjoy the best arcade and pinball selection in the Pacific Northwest with no quarters – or cover – necessary!

Arcade classics from Asteroids to X-Men and pinball favorites from Addams Family to World Cup Soccer await. We expect a great turnout, so get here early and make the most of your bonus round!

Bonus Round Free Play · Tuesday 3/29 · 5-7:30pm + 11pm-close · $2 from 5-7:30pm, FREE from 11pm-close · 21+ only

Raiders of the Lost Arcade: Legendary Wings

Legendary WingsWith a fascinating theme that blends ancient mythology and futuristic sci-fi, Legendary Wings is an excellent and underrated Capcom shooter. Two players can simultaneously enjoy Legendary Wings, and like most shoot ’em ups it allows you to join a single-player game at any time. The game begins with vertical shooting reminiscent of Capcom’s own 1942 series, featuring targets both in the air and on land. Your character is a winged warrior armed with a laser rifle and bombs, constantly flying through the air. Fire at enemies approaching you while dropping bombs on ground-based foes. Eventually you’ll encounter a giant face on the surface of the planet, which sucks you in to a mysterious base inside of the massive enemy where you’ll switch to a side-scrolling perspective similar to Contra or Rolling Thunder. These two gameplay modes switch throughout, keeping things interesting.

In the unique world of Legendary Wings, a supercomputer that has helped humanity towards enlightenment since ancient times suddenly goes rogue, and it’s up to our characters to stop it. This computer, named “Dark”, is reached after five long levels of gameplay and acts as the final boss of Legendary Wings. While the story isn’t particularly meaty (or necessary), it’s a strange concept and world that leaves a lasting impression. Curiously, a bit of censorship changed the player avatars for the US release. In the original Japanese release, player 1 is “Michelle Heart”, a female warrior in a pink bikini, and player 2 is Kevin Walker, a shirtless male warrior. US players first saw Michelle replaced by another male character, and both heroes rendered nameless. In an alternate US version, the original characters remain, but Michelle’s bikini is inexplicably green. Michelle has even appeared in obscure cameos in Capcom games, like Marvel vs. Capcom, Namco x Capcom and SNK’s Card Fighters. Most people will likely recognize Legendary Wings from its excellent NES port that faithfully recreated the arcade experience with less impressive graphics.

Anyone who enjoys a good “schmup” will get a kick out of Legendary Wings, with the variety offered by the shifting vertical and horizontal perspectives and the interestingly realized world that looks like none other. A game that stands up nicely next to better-known classics like the aforementioned 1942, Legendary Wings deserves a place in any classic gamer’s repertoire!

All Ages Free Play Party – Wednesday 3/23, 11am-4:50pm

All Ages Free Play Party - 3/23

Ground Kontrol’s All Ages Free Play Party offers gamers of any generation a chance to experience our entire selection of arcade games and pinball!
Here at Ground Kontrol, it’s important for us to preserve the classic arcade experience for all ages. Even if you didn’t grow up with them, classic arcade games like Ms. Pac-Man or Galaga are still a lot of fun! Since we’re a bar at night and most younger gamers go to school during the day, our twice-monthly free play parties typically exclude those under 21. During Spring Break, we’re taking the opportunity to throw another All Ages Free Play Party!
Come down to Ground Kontrol on Wednesday 3/23 and play over 90 arcade games and pinball tables, all set to play with no quarters necessary. We’ll also have our entire food menu on offer, so you can take a break for a fully-loaded basket of Killer Nachos, or reward yourself after conquering The Simpsons arcade game with an ice-cream sundae with your choice of toppings. Be sure to gather some friends and try the world’s only 10-player arcade game, Killer Queen Arcade, sure to become your new favorite multiplayer arcade experience!
The doors open at 11am, a full hour early, and we welcome all ages until 4:50pm. The entry fee is just $5 at the door, so you’ll be able to pack in a ton of gaming value for a single Lincoln!

All Ages Free Play Party · Wednesday 3/23 · 11am-4:50pm · $5 · ALL AGES

Categories: Arcade News, Events

Portland Is The Reason: The Thermals DJ Set + New LP Listening Party – Thursday 3/24, 8-11pm

Portland Is The Reason: The Thermals Release PartyGround Kontrol Classic Arcade and Live Again are proud to present Portland Is The Reason, a new event dedicated to local musicians and the music that inspires them!

For every edition of “Portland Is The Reason”, we’ll invite a band to take over Ground Kontrol’s DJ booth and spin the music they listen to – whether it’s nostalgic classics or current favorites, it’s their opportunity to share what they’re into and what influences their creativity. We’ll also be raising funds for Live Again, a local nonprofit dedicated to suicide prevention and awareness, with a portion of proceeds from sales benefitting their mission.

Our kickoff night features long-running Portland band The Thermals, who have been putting out high-energy, self-reflective punk-rock albums since 2003, developing a dedicated following reaching far beyond the Pacific Northwest. Members Hutch Harris, Kathy Foster and Westin Glass will be on hand for DJ sets drawing from the bands they admire, followed by the premiere of their brand-new album, We Disappear, out March 25th onSaddle Creek Records!

Grab a drink and play your favorite games while being among the first to hear the new album from The Thermals, all for a good cause. Portland Is The Reason we’re here, and without you, it won’t be the same!

The Thermals – http://www.thethermals.com/

Saddle Creek – http://saddle-creek.com/

Live Again – http://www.liveagain.org/

Portland Is The Reason: The Thermals DJ Set + Listening Party · Thursday March 24 · 8-11pm · 21+ · FREE


Live Again’s vision is to create a culture where communities are able to have healthy conversations that will lead to greatly decreased suicides. For more: http://www.liveagain.org/