A History of the Amarillo Arcades

A History of the Amarillo Arcades

Ah man, the good old days, huh? Life was much simpler in Amarillo back in the day. Also, it used to be even more fun. I’m not saying there isn’t fun in the city these days, but there were things we used to do as kids that are hard to find these days.

One of them was going to an old fashioned arcade. You know, the place where you’d go with a few rolls of quarters and sit there for hours playing the coolest video games and pinball machines around.

One by one, they began to close their doors. How come? I mean the main factor was the convenience of playing video games at home. You would pay a certain amount of dollars once and you could play the game forever. You don’t need housing anymore, you don’t have to leave the house anymore. It was really sad.

Now, I will say that Amarillo has a few more places to go here to play those video games, and we’ll talk about them here soon. I do want to take a minute though and remember the arcades that left us behind here, because we’ve had some good ones.


This had to be one of the most popular places in Amarillo near Hastings. It was a gathering place for so many and they always had the best games. You could lose yourself for hours there. I read a story on Reddit from about six years ago where the user recalled a memory that so many of us have.

They took $20 in quarters at the arcade and posted to the Konami Aliens game. The user said their only goal was to beat the game with the $20. They made it to the last level of the game and had a lot of kids around them at this point. They choked and ran out of quarters before they could beat the game. To add insult to injury, another kid took over the game when it was done and beat the game herself.


So many people have memories of this wonderful little arcade. It was located inside the old Western Plaza Mall and each game there cost, you guessed it, only a nickel. It was the cheapest arcade in town and people were shocked when they found out it was so cheap.

The reason it only cost a nickel per game? Rumor has it that the place was owned by the people who owned Wonderland, and the games there were either games that hadn’t been released yet or needed some tweaking. Basically, the Buffalo Nickel was a testing ground for the arcades you find at Wonderland. Brilliant idea.


Similar to a Chuck E Cheese or Mr. Gatti’s, Pistol Pete’s was the place to go if you wanted pizza and video games all in one place. The thing that set them apart from everyone else was that they had an indoor carousel for all indoor games.

It wasn’t something you could find at any other arcade and it served as a good stress reliever if you were fried from trying to beat a video game.

Now, it seems arcades aren’t made the same these days. The bigger the game, the better. The louder the game, the better. These games certainly don’t cost a quarter anymore. You pay at least $1 per game, it seems with these bigger games.


Here you’ll find those huge games I’m talking about. Virtual reality, massive screens, even built-in areas to sit and enhance the experience. I’m not saying these games aren’t fun, they really are.

But if you’re looking for the old school days where you can sit in the game for hours making a run at beating him, you’re going to need a few hundred bucks just to do that. I enjoy these places, but it’s really hard to get that nostalgic feeling.


If it’s nostalgia you’re after, look no further than Lit Arcade Bar. They have all the old school favorites I grew up playing, they’re still only a quarter a game, and they’re filled with pinball machines and even pool tables for those times when you need a break.

Yes, did I tell you that you can get beer and other adult beverages here? This is a huge advantage when playing these games. It makes them even more fun, even though I know I probably won’t beat any of the games unless I remember how to from childhood. Lit is a 21+ venue, so keep that in mind before you consider introducing the kids to the old-school arcade.

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Gallery credit: Angela Underwood