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

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

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).

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/

Portland Pinbrawl VIII

Portland Pinbrawl VIII

Ground Kontrol’s 8th Annual

Pinball Tournament!

Portland Pinbrawl VIII

Sponsored by Portland Mercury & Pabst Blue Ribbon!

On Sunday, April 17th 2016, 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!

PORTLAND PINBRAWL VIII IS SOLD OUT! Tournament registration filled up in record time (less than 3 hours)! Miss out? Don’t worry, we’ve started a standby list to get as many of you in as cancellations etc. occur! Fill out our Google Form to join the standby list.

ONLINE REGISTRATION OPENS FRIDAY 3/11 @ NOON PST: Portland Pinbrawl is capped at 128 players and it usually fills up well before the day of the tournament. For more details, click here!

Portland Pinbrawl VIII takes place Sunday, April 17th. 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 on registration, t-shirt ordering and more!



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!

Additional prizes from the following sponsors:



Players can pre-register online, or register on-site the day of the tournament.


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 17th 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. 


Online 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.


Online registrations will be accepted from 12:00pm PST Friday March 11th until 12:00pm PST Saturday, April 16th 2016 or until we reach the maximum number of registrants.

UPDATE: Registration for Portland Pinbrawl VIII is SOLD OUT! Miss out? Join the standby list and we’ll get in touch if a spot opens up for you!

Ready to register?

Online registration will open Sunday March 8th at 12:00pm PST. Set a reminder and bookmark the ticket page below! (Don’t wait to register in person – Pinbrawl WILL sell out!)



Portland Pinbrawl VIII Shirt Preview

Pre-order your Portland Pinbrawl VIII shirt by March 31!



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

List current as of 3/30/16

  • AC⚡DC
    Addams Family
    Attack From Mars
    Bram Stokers Dracula
    Champion Pub
    Doctor Who
    Indiana Jones (The Pinball Adventure)
    Judge Dredd
    Lord Of The Rings
    No Good Gofers
    Pirates Of The Caribbean
    Scared Stiff
    Simpsons Pinball Party
    Star Trek TNG 2
    Star Wars
    Star Wars Episode 1
    Terminator 2
    The Shadow
    The Walking Dead
    Theatre Of Magic
    Twilight Zone
    White Water


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


Need a place to stay? Try our partner hotels!

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 “Ground Kontrol VIP” rate, which grants you 10% off rooms with private baths.

JUPITER HOTEL – 800 E Burnside St, Portland, OR – (503) 230-9200

To book your room at the discounted rate:

Go to: jupiterhotel.com
Click: the BIG red “Book Now” box in the upper right hand corner
Enter: Pinbrawl into the promo code slot **this code case sensitive**
Enter: your dates
Book your room! ​


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 VIII can be sent to: pinbrawl@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