A 29-year-old woman from Levittown is reviving retro arcade gaming at this Bay Shore mall.
Melissa Cerquin officially opened High Score Pinball Arcade this past weekend, bringing back pinball machines (and more) to Westfield South Shore.
The arcade is located inside the mall, between Journey’s and Forever 21.
Inside there are 42 pinball machines and five arcade cabinets in the space — some of the games date back to the 1960s and 1970s, while others are more recent or practically brand-new.
Baseball-themed games, Evel Knievel pinball machines, Shack Attack — are among the iconic gaming machines Cerquin has so far.
Cerquin and her boyfriend, Mike Burd, both have a love for pinball machines and classic electro-mechanical games.
Burd operates the Video Game Trading Post, located in Levittown and Massapequa, which buys, sells, and trades old-school video games.
Cerquin used to work with Burd and recalls being behind the counter troubleshooting customer’s old gaming systems and “bringing them back to life.”
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All the pinball and arcade cabinets High Score Pinball Arcade provides are from Burd’s personal collection, which had been kept in an empty storage room.
When leaky pipes threatened to damage the machines, Cerquin had the idea of making them available for people to play.
That’s when High Score Pinball Arcade was born.
“People need to see these,” she said. “These are amazing works for art, just like physics and art put together — each one is unique with different rules, different everything, they are trying to outdo each other I feel.”
Upon walking into the arcade, Cerquin said many people feel nostalgic and are instantly brought back to the FYE Arcade that operated in the mall during the 90s.
It has been 14 years since an arcade operated in the shopping center, and Cerquin said she is happy to bring old-school gaming back to the community.
Prices for admission are not set in stone, the owner said, but for right now it’s $15 for an hour and 45-minute session.
If someone comes halfway through a session, the price is cut in half to $7.50. From Monday-Thursday, there’s a $5 per 30 minute promotion going on.
“The last thing on my mind is how much do we charge people,” she said. “We just try to work with everyone, sometimes it’s just a case by case basis — I just want everyone to have a chance to be here.”
What Cerquin loves most about the arcade is being able to bring people back to a simpler time, away from life’s stresses, she said.
“The way I see it, having things available for people to disconnect a little bit and be around their kids, their family, their friends, being excited about something, so many lights and moving things, a game that isn’t a screen,” she said. “Some of these machines just bring you back.”
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The arcade will operate in the mall for three months, and if it proves viable as a business at the end of the timeframe, she said Westfield will have them sign a permanent lease.
In the future, the owner hopes to add even more pinball and arcade cabinets for people of all ages to enjoy, as well as host Super Mario Bros. and other gaming tournaments, parties, after-hour events, introduce pinball leagues, and more.
High Score Pinball Arcade is woman-owned and women-run, which to Cerquin is important in the male-dominated gaming industry.
“It’s definitely something I’ve been increasingly more aware of as a first-generation Peruvian, my family is just seeing what I’ve created,” she said. “I want to show people that this is woman-run and run by a minority, and I’m very proud of that.”
High Score Pinball Arcade is open Monday through Thursday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., Friday and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
For more information or updates from the arcade, follow them on Facebook.
Scroll down for more photos.
Top: Interior of a pinball machine located inside High Score Pinball Arcade.