• Open Noon-2:30AM Daily
  • All Ages Admitted Until 5PM
  • 21+ & I.D. Required After 5PM


Categories: Arcade News

The Classics Return: Area 51 / Maximum Force

Area 51Two action-packed shooters, one cabinet! 1995’s Area 51 was an instant hit, and remains one of the more widespread shooter titles, nearly 20 years later. With an interesting graphical mix of 3D rendered environments and digitized video sprites, the player battles in an Area 51 under siege, shooting hordes of zombified soldiers and bug-like aliens. These aliens make a highly recognizable cry when they’re taken out, a sound that’s solidly in the pantheon of arcade audio bits.

Building on the success of Area 51 and the burgeoning light gun game genre in general, Maximum Force came along in 1997, replete with a picture-perfect B-movie action theme. While Area 51 featured some hidden mini games the knowledgeable player could unlock, Maximum Force was packed with Easter eggs – there are several of them in each of the game’s three vast levels. This dual version adds even more of these secret rooms to both Area 51 and Maximum Force!

Maximum ForceBoth games are straight up, pistol wielding gun game action, and classics in their own right. When it’s time for some action packed target practice, a good arcade gamer is right at home with both of these games, neatly arranged in one explosive cabinet!

LIVE – Soul Veggies: Mega Ran X Storyville, Danimal Cannon, Mechlo – Tuesday 2/3

Mega Ran 2-3-15Ground Kontrol favorites Mega Ran and Danimal Cannon return on tour with Soul Veggies, a special collaborative project from Mega Ran and Storyville! Local chiptune hero Mechlo opens the show, for a full night of video game-inspired hip hop, chiptune and rock!

The show starts at 8pm and it’s just $5 to support these wildly talented independent artists in your favorite arcade-lounge. We’ll be serving drinks from a full bar, so it’s 21+ only.

More on the artists:

MEGA RAN – A former teacher and freestyle battle champ, Ran’s sharp and witty lyricism,
cutting edge retro-styled beats and super positive outlook have resulted in
unbelievable accomplishments since trading the chalk for the microphone.
Ran now travels the globe delivering encouraging tales and face melting
performances. More: http://megaran.com/

STORYVILLE – Inspiration, Experimentation, and Energy make Entertainment – And that’s exactly what Storyville delivers. Inspired by the brightest joys and darkest pains life has to offer, Storyville channels his ideas into music and lyricism, ready to break any boundaries that might hold down his expression. Storyville literally redefines the concept of Hip Hop with his experimental style and surprising lyrical content. He then takes this same passion and energy, and applies it to his unconventional, but captivating and exciting stage performances. More: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Storyville/31588863854?sk=timeline

SOUL VEGGIES – “It could be my most complete work ever, and I don’t say that much,” Ran says of the project’s progress. “We’re both stepping outside of our comfort zones and creating really challenging and fun music.” The album will contain much of the fun that the two have exhibited on tracks like “UknowTheName,” and the musicality of tracks like “Push” into one concise package.

“The timing was finally right,” says Storyville, aka Matthew Weiss. “We’ve been so busy, but we’ve carved out the time to dedicate to this project, and it shows.” Weiss has spent the last seven years engineering for some of the biggest names in music, including Grammy winners Arrested Development, George Clinton, and Ronnie Spector. “My career as an engineer really took off, but making this project with Ran called me back to my roots.” More: https://www.facebook.com/TheSoulVeggies/

DANIMAL CANNON – Dan Behrens is a musician, producer, composer and recording engineer that releases music under the name Danimal Cannon. He composes music for video games and commercials, and his album releases has received accolades from the rock, electronic and even classical music scenes. Danimal Cannon has performed for audiences all across the world in venues as grandiose as orchestra halls to punk rock shows in a sweaty basement. His diversity and creativity is only surpassed by the intensity of his arrangements and performances. More: http://danimalcannon.com/

MECHLO – Mechlo started impressionable enough for the main theme of Mega Man 2 to be his first legitimately favorite song. Since then he’s been using 8-bit technologies to explore sound design, textures, and rhythmic elements, along with “noisy crap to make dumb songs”. More: http://mechlo.bandcamp.com/

WHAT: LIVE: Soul Veggies: Mega Ran X Storyville, Danimal Cannon, Mechlo

WHEN: Tuesday, February 3, 8pm.

COVER: $5, 21+ only.

Tecmo Super Bowl: The Big Game – Sunday February 1

Tecmo Super Bowl

UPDATE: We’ll be screening the big game in our lounge starting at 3:30pm! The bar doesn’t open until 5pm, but don’t worry about missing any of the game if you’re at the arcade with family or friends.

This is it: Our Tecmo Super Bowl series concludes with the final tournament! We’re pushing this one back a bit since we know it’s an important day, but don’t worry: You DON’T have to miss the conclusion of the big game to have a happy hour beer and compete in the tourney!

As an added bonus, we’ll be featuring the updated 2015 roster in this version of Tecmo Super Bowl: That’s right, you can recreate the big game in 8-bit glory!

Before Madden called the shots and NFL Blitz drew lines on the field, there was Tecmo Super Bowl, the classic 8-bit answer to console gridiron action. It was a simpler time for the NFL, and for sports games in general. However, the appeal of Tecmo Super Bowl endures, and the charm of the classic teams represented here are downright vintage at this point.

Signups begin at 5pm, and the first kickoff is at 6, every other week. The tournament will take place using an original NES, single elimination bracket, best of three games.

Enjoy food and drink specials, a great football atmosphere, and fierce competition in one of the all-time classic football games! You’ve been playing Tecmo Super Bowl for years, and now it’s time to take those skills to the big leagues – to Ground Kontrol. See you at gametime!

WHAT: Tecmo Super Brawl – GK’s Tecmo Super Bowl tournament

WHEN: Sunday, February 1. Signups at 6pm, kickoff at 7pm. Plus, Ground Kontrol serves beer, wine, cider and well cocktails at happy hour prices ’til midnight!

WHERE: Ground Kontrol, 511 NW Couch St, Portland Oregon

Raiders of the Lost Arcade: Defender

35440103Hop in your high-powered, weaponized spaceship and explore an unknown planet, fighting scores of alien foes and rescuing stranded astronauts. It may not sound like a revolutionary concept now, but in 1980, Defender was a landmark title for Williams Entertainment and the video game industry as a whole!

Not only was Defender the first original video game produced by Williams, it was now-legend Eugene Jarvis’ first video game creation. Jarvis had previously worked on pinball programming, and was chosen to head development of this title with a lot of creative freedom.

Defender is a side-scrolling shooter with a “wrap-around” level design, a neat trick for increasing the size of the game world with limited resources, as you can fly to the left or right off-screen and enter new areas of the level. Defender’s controls were fairly advanced for the time, with a joystick to move left/right and up/down, a button to control the thrust of your ship, a standard fire and a “smart bomb” attack, an unpredictable “hyperspace” warp, and last but not least… reverse! Once you take stock of the control panel, you must begin protecting your human allies from alien abduction. If they’re abducted by a ship and you don’t recover them in time (be careful not to let them fall to their doom!), they’ll return as deadly mutants and attack your ship. When you rescue a human, drop him off on the surface for bonus points, and keep firing at enemies. Not only are you tasked with protecting the humans, you need to wipe out the aliens to advance to the next level. Check the “scanner” at the top of the screen to track enemies. Move quickly and strategically – sometimes reverse is your best friend, especially against marauding mutants – and save your smart bombs for special occasions!

Featuring higher-res graphics than other games of its era, Defender also featured memorable audio effects with sizzling laser sounds and great explosions along with a stark, stylized space landscape and gameplay that really does feel like the intended combination of previous arcade hits Asteroids and Space Invaders. Defender is a very challenging game, but like Eugene Jarvis’ later creation Robotron, it masters that “just one more quarter” feeling that keeps you coming back for more, despite the difficulty. Upon its release, Defender drew crowds and more than a few coins, reportedly outperforming Pac-Man in 1981. Credited as the first horizontally-scrolling side-shooter, Defender’s impact was not only felt financially at Williams, it rippled through the entire video game world, leading to a popular sequel called Stargate and inspiring games like Choplifter. Jarvis would of course go on to create even more classic games (like Smash TV) and currently heads Raw Thrills Entertainment, one of the few companies producing successful modern arcade games.

Whether you’re a hardcore fan that’s eagerly awaited the return of this classic or you’re a new recruit who’s never played the game, you owe it to yourself to take on the alien forces of Defender at Ground Kontrol!

Killer Queen Arcade Tournament – Tuesday 1/20

Killer Queen Arcade TournamentIt’s finally time: Bring your best to Ground Kontrol for our first tournament on the world’s only ten-player arcade game, Killer Queen!

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 game is gaining a steady following in the handful of locations across the USA lucky enough to feature one, and we’re excited to bring the Portland Killer Queen community together and introduce some new players to one of the best arcade games we’ve ever played.

The tournament will be a double-elimination, best-of-five format, “Chicago style”. You can sign-up on-site from 5-7pm, or sign-up in advance online: http://goo.gl/4Ml9hy

Special thanks to Killer Queen Mercury Squad of Chicago for their help and advice. Is a Chicago-Portland tournament in our future?

This tournament is powered by Brackelope: Tournament Builder.

WHAT: Killer Queen Arcade Tournament
WHEN: Tuesday 1/20. Sign-up from 5-7pm, first game 7pm.
COVER: Free to enter, $50 Ground Kontrol credit to top team, $25 to 2nd and $10 to 3rd. 21+ only, please bring ID!

Indie Game Night: SUPERFRIENDS Edition – Thursday 1/29

Super Pole RidersHOKRABARIBARIBALLThis month, we’re featuring selections from SPORTSFRIENDS! Come down and play some of the best fast-action multiplayer games with us, free in our lounge!
SPORTSFRIENDS is “a tight-knit compendium of award-winning local multiplayer games for living rooms, parties, and even backyards”, released by Die Gute Fabrik & Friends.

Featured games:

Super Pole Riders: Bennett Foddy’s Super Pole Riders is a unique physics-based blend of pole-vaulting and polo. Ride your pole, hit the goal!

Hokra: Ramiro Corbetta’s Hokra is a minimalist 2v2 game that’s equally competitive and cooperative, distilling the sports game genre down to its essentials.

BaraBariBall: Noah Sasso’s BaraBariBall is a fighting game based around aerial combat. Dunk the ball and protect your own goal!

We live in a golden age of independent game development and Portland needs a central event to showcase these games! Many games are being made to allow several people in the same room to face each other in a fun, friendly, inviting, and community driven way. Ground Kontrol Classic Arcade and musician/games writer Matt Hunter have taken up the call!

Each last Thursday of the month, Matt will host an event with the help of Ground Kontrol Classic Arcade which will showcase independently developed multiplayer games for folks to play for FREE with other patrons. Games include 2-4 player death-match, experimental, and high score races from developers from all over the world as well as local developers. We plan on hosting game-themed nights, tournaments, developer spotlights, and much more! A gaming community is far too important to let go stagnant and this is the hub we need to unify everyone who loves games of all kinds.

Above all else, we want a fun experience for those who are familiar with games as well as those who are interested in a welcoming introduction. The games we will be showing will be basic to learn but tough to master. Only the highest quality concepts get featured. We have the tough job of researching the best indie games out there and playing these games for hours to filter out what could work – and what doesn’t!

Come join us! It’s free and a great place to try out some new games while testing your mettle against other players!

Ground Kontrol serves a full bar and food menu nightly, and is 21+ only after 5pm.

WHAT: Indie Game Night
WHEN: Every Last Thursday, 7pm-late
COVER: FREE, 21+ only.

No Pun Intendo: Stand-Up Showcase – Thursday 1/15

No Pun IntendoStand-Up Comics & Stand-Up Games! Every Third Thursday, No Pun Intendo brings fantastic comedians to our lounge! Plus – video game competitions between teams of audience members with fabulous prizes!

Each month, we feature fantastic comics from Portland & beyond.

This month, we’re featuring:

Ben Harkins
Andie Main
JoAnn Schinderle
Jon Washington
Kristine Levine

Hosted by Portland’s Funniest Person 2014, Steven Wilber!

Just $3 at the door to support local comedy at your favorite arcade-slash-bar! Show starts at 9pm. It’s 21+, so bring your I.D.!

We’d like to thank our sponsor The Devastator – The Comedy Magazine For Humans – featuring writers and artists from Adult Swim, The Onion, The Daily Show and Marvel Comics. You can get an issue at your comic book shop of choice, Amazon or direct from http://devastatorquarterly.com.

WHAT: No Pun Intendo – Stand-Up Showcase

WHEN: Thursday, January 15. Starts at 9pm.

COVER: Just $3 to support live comedy! 21+ only.

Portland Pinbrawl 2015

Portland Pinbrawl 2015

Ground Kontrol’s 7th Annual

Pinball Tournament!

Portland Pinbrawl '15

Sponsored by Portland Mercury!

On Sunday, April 19th 2015, 128 of the best pinball players from Portland and beyond will once again gather at Ground Kontrol Classic Arcade for Portland’s biggest pinball tournament!

PRE-REGISTRATION WILL BE AVAILABLE SOON! Portland Pinbrawl is capped at 128 players and it usually fills up well before the day of the tournament.

Portland Pinbrawl 2015 takes place Sunday, April 19th. On-site registration (if any slots are available) begins at 10:00am. Tournament begins at 11:00am and ends “when it’s over!”


Join our email newsletter below to be updated when pre-registration is announced!


Ground Kontrol Classic Arcade

511 NW Couch St. Portland, OR 97209

(503) 796-9364

For directions, click here.


Ground Kontrol Classic Arcade is the premier arcade in the Northwest, featuring 26 of the most exciting pinball games and nearly 90 classic video arcade games in a two-level game room.


Cash prizes will be awarded to top finishers, with an extra-special grand prize to be announced!


Players can pre-register online, or register on-site the day of the tournament. Pre-registration is strongly suggested and will be available soon. 


There is a $20 entry fee per participant. Registration is capped at 128 players. One entry per person is allowed, and no re-entries are allowed after elimination. On-site registration will begin at 10:00am Sunday, April 19th and will close at 10:45am or once we reach the maximum number of registrants. Cash is the only accepted form of payment for on-site registration. An ATM will be available on-site, but we recommend you come prepared with cash. 


Pre-registration guarantees you a spot in the tournament bracket without the hassle of waiting in line. As an added bonus, pre-registrants will receive priority for first-round byes. All remaining first-round byes will be randomly assigned to players with same day registration.


Pre-registrations will be accepted until 12:00pm PST Saturday, April 18th 2015 or until we reach the maximum number of registrants. Pre-registration will be announced soon.



As a reminder, all players and spectators must be 21+ years old with a valid ID (valid state driver’s license with photo; valid DMV ID card with photo, name, DOB & physical description; valid passport or valid U.S. military ID card.)

Any player or spectator that does not have valid ID will not be permitted entry.


The tournament will be limited to 128 participants, and spectator entry will be limited by Ground Kontrol’s maximum capacity of 130 persons. Registered participants are guaranteed entry to Ground Kontrol, provided they are 21+ with valid ID. Spectators will not be permitted between the hours of 10:00am and 3:00pm. After 3:00pm, spectators are encouraged to come down and watch the final matches! Admission to the pinball mezzanine will be limited to tournament participants, and play on the pinball machines will be limited to tournament games only.


The full list of tournament rules will be available online soon and will be available for viewing at the registration desk the day of the tournament.


The tournament will be a random bracket placement head to head best two of three double elimination tournament.


This list reflects Ground Kontrol Classic Arcade’s pinball lineup as of January 6th 2015. Games on this list are subject to change at any time and are not guaranteed to be included in tournament play.

On The Floor

    • Addams Family, The
    • Attack From Mars
    • Bram Stoker’s Dracula
    • Champion Pub
    • Cirqus Voltaire
    • Creature from the Black Lagoon
    • Doctor Who
    • Haunted House
    • Indiana Jones: The Pinball Adventure
    • Judge Dredd
    • Lord Of The Rings
    • Pirates of the Caribbean
    • Scared Stiff
    • Simpsons Pinball Party
    • Sopranos, The
    • South Park
    • Spider-Man
    • Star Trek: TNG
    • Star Wars Episode 1
    • Tales Of The Arabian Nights
    • T2: Judgment Day
    • Theatre of Magic
    • Twilight Zone
    • Walking Dead
    • White Water
    • World Cup Soccer


We plan to feature at least one side tournament, to be announced!


Need a place to stay? We recommend these nearby hotels who have graciously offered room discounts to Portland Pinbrawl players!

JUPITER HOTEL – 800 East Burnside Street, Portland, OR – (503) 230-9200

From the Jupiter Hotel:

The Jupiter Hotel is located in the heart of the city and offers a uniquely Portland experience.  Our mid-century hotel with a modern twist offers complimentary wireless internet, complimentary Water Ave Coffee every morning to our guests, unique wall art murals in each room and full chalkboard doors to unleash your inner artists.  The Doug Fir Restaurant and Lounge is on property and is considered one of the tastiest places in Portland for breakfast and happy hours.  We look forward to having you!

To book your room at the special discounted rate:

Go to:  res.jupiterhotel.com

Enter : GEEK into the promo code slot

Book your room!

ACE HOTEL – 1022 SW Stark St, Portland, OR – (503) 228-2277

To book your room at the discounted rate, contact Ace Hotel at (503) 228-2277 and ask for the “Pinbrawl” rate, which grants you 15% off your choice of room (excludes shared bathroom guest rooms).


From I-5 North: After entering Oregon…

  1. Take exit 302A toward Rose Quarter/City Center
  2. Turn right at N Broadway
  3. Turn left at NW Broadway
  4. Turn left at NW Couch St

From I-5 South: After entering Oregon…

  1. Take exit 299B on the left for I-405 W toward US-26 W/City Center/Beaverton
  2. Merge onto I-405 N
  3. Take exit 2B for Everett St toward I-405 N/Seattle
  4. Merge onto NW 14th Ave
  5. Turn right at NW Everett St
  6. Turn right at NW Broadway
  7. Take the 2nd left onto NW Couch St

Directions provided by Google Maps. To route your own trip, click here.


Street parking and paid parking lots are available. Street parking is metered from the hours of 1pm-7pm on Sundays. If you plan to drive to Ground Kontrol, we recommend you park in the paid lot next to Ground Kontrol or the paid lot on NW Couch Street between 4th and 5th Avenue. Rates vary, but are typically around $6 for all-day parking on Sundays.


Ground Kontrol is located near several public transit lines, including bus and light rail. For schedule and route information, visit TriMet’s website or call (503) 238-RIDE. If you need a cab, call Radio Cab at (503) 227-1212.


All questions regarding Portland Pinbrawl 2015 can be sent to: pinbrawl15@groundkontrol.com. Please allow 24-48 hours for a response.


See you there! Let’s make this great! – Portland Pinbrawl Organizers, Ground Kontrol Owners & Staff

Ms. Pac-Party – Happy Birthday, Ms. Pac-Man! Tuesday 1/13

Ms. Pac-PartyCelebrate gaming’s first lady at Ground Kontrol’s Ms. Pac-Party, a special free play event!

Although it’s impolite to ask her age, Ms. Pac-Man was introduced in 1982 as a Midway-produced sequel to the original Namco smash hit. Arcade gamers quickly fell in love with the improved game play, and a new hit was born. In fact, Ms. Pac-Man is still one of the most popular arcade games ever, 33 years later!

Ground Kontrol’s going to pay tribute to the quarter-collecting queen with free play on all games, a Ms. Pac-Man-themed photo booth, food and drink specials and a lady-centric soundtrack provided by DJs Listen Lady and Merrick Monroe!

In order to get the best deal at the door, you gotta show your spirit and dress up in your Ms. Pac-inspired finest. Throw on some red lipstick, anything yellow, and a red hat or a bow and you’ll get in for just $5! Can’t be bothered to come in costume? That’s fine, you’ll just need to treat the birthday gal to some extra gifts and pay the full $10 cover!

We’ll also be featuring a Ms. Pac-Man high score challenge and some other giveaways, too. Prizes and more details will be added as they are confirmed. Bring your friends and toast to one of the most influential figures in arcade gaming!

Special thanks to Dawn van Buuren (event producer) and Ashley Anderson Photography!

WHAT: Ms. Pac-Party – Free Play Event for Ms. Pac-Man’s Birthday!

WHEN: Tuesday, January 13th. Doors at 5pm.

COVER: Only $5 if you show up in Ms. Pac-costume: Red lipstick, anything yellow, and a red hat, hair or bow. If you’re not in costume, it’s $10! 21+ only w/ ID.

Clash of the Classics: Robotron 2084 VS. Lady Bug!

Clash of the ClassicsOne of the most difficult and addictive games of all-time faces a challenging month at Ground Kontrol: This month during “Clash of the Classics”, the 1982 Williams action game Robotron: 2084 takes on the Pac-Man inspired maze game from 1981, Lady Bug!

Many have tried to master Robotron: 2084, but few succeed in beating even a few levels. Created by Eugene Jarvis (Defender, Smash TV) and Larry Demar (Stargate, Blaster), Robotron’s world is one where humans have all but been eradicated by evil robots. You’re humanity’s last hope, fighting seemingly endless waves of enemies while trying to rescue innocent humans before they’re turned into mindless “progs”. The twin-joystick gameplay was not only revolutionary at the time, but it returned in Smash TV and created an entirely new genre of “twin-stick shooters”, recently seen in the hugely popular Geometry Wars series. With a game so legendary and influential, how could we even consider removing it from the arcade floor? The truth is, we’ve put it off for a long time, but the time has come to ask Robotron fans old and new to step up and show us if they want this game to remain fully operational!

Recently introduced as part of our “Raiders of the Lost Arcade” series, Lady Bug is one of the better Pac-Man inspired maze games. At first glance, you think you’re just sending the titular ladybug protagonist through static mazes. You’ll quickly discover you can change the shape of the mazes by passing through special rotating walls, creating new paths and blocking off old ones on-the-fly. You’re also unable to attack enemies, so it’s a hectic game of evasion as you try to keep baddies from getting too close while you avoid deadly skulls (and maybe send your pursuers to their doom with strategic misdirection). Can this unique game from Mr. Do! publisher Universal Games overrun Robotron? It’s up to you to tell Lady Bug to stick around or fly away home!

Once again, your quarters tip the scales: Choose your favorite game to support, or play them both as much as possible over the next week. Spread the word and invite your friends, too – we want to create new fans for both games and let the people have their say! On Thursday, January 8th, we’ll announce the winner and give a fond farewell to the runner-up. The second Clash of the Classics is ON!