There’s a new arcade in town and it is coming for The Alley’s crown. Round1 is a new arcade and bowling spot that opened July 18 and occupies nearly 44,000 square feet inside the lower level of Town East Square. One might think that opening up a new entertainment store square in the middle of a pandemic might not be the best idea, but evidently, Round1 corporate disagrees.
Upon entering the new facility, I immediately noticed the flashing lights and almost too loud music. It definitely had the classic arcade buzz to it. Coming from someone who doesn’t necessarily love arcades or video games in general, I was skeptical of whether or not Wichita really needed another one of these. Given that we already have a number of local bowling alleys and arcades that are very successful, the store’s potential success was definitely in question for me.
Round1 locations are known to have a wider selection of games, specifically, crane games in which you can win collectible stuffed animals and such. Unlike its competitors, Round1 does not charge a fee to enter the building. Instead, games are accessed using game cards that you can purchase from a kiosk or the counter. Each game costs between one and three dollars, in the form of game credits. I got ninety credits for twenty dollars, which was more than enough to try out what I wanted.
Their hours are from 10 a.m. to 11 p.m., but this is soon changing. The venue plans to extend their hours to be from 10 a.m. to 2 a.m. From the hours of 10 p.m. to midnight, only 18 and up can enter. Beyond midnight, you must be 21 to enter. Seeing as I am still a minor, I attended when the opened at 10 a.m.
Masks are required to enter the facility, per the city-wide mandate. They do not provide masks, so make sure to bring yours.
After arriving at the arcade I did not really know where to start. Feeling a bit awkward being the only person in the place at the time, I decided to go for one of the smaller claw machines to ease myself in. I was not at all surprised to see the familiar colorful carpet and dated staff uniforms awaiting me as I approached the machine.
After talking to one of their employees for a bit I decided to give it a go. I won this really cute blue, stuffed shark on my first try. Then I decided to try a slightly more difficult version of the same game, because why mess with success? I won another adorable stuffed animal. So at this point, I was feeling pretty good about myself.
I walked around the place, which was a lot bigger than what I had imagined 44,000 square feet to look like. There were eight bowling lanes, one of which was occupied by a family of four that had arrived shortly after me.
The seating area was spacious and really comfortable. Of course, they stuck with the practically uniform ’80s theme that seems to accompany all bowling alleys.
Directly next to it was a small food counter. They offer the standard food court options, such as pizza, wings, burgers, and my personal favorite dessert option: churros.
I made my way back to the game floor and that is when stuff got interesting.
Fresh from my small victory buzz I decided to try one of the larger, specialty claw machines that they’re known for.
After what I will graciously call four attempts, it was really closer to ten, and no giant stuffed animal, I was a tad disappointed. However, considering the sub-par structural integrity of the claw compared to how heavy those toys are, I am surprised anyone wins at all.
The staff was really nice and gave me some ideas on which games to play and their personal favorites. One employee even gave me some special pointers on how to “cheat the system” of an especially difficult game. I still lost, but at least I can say I played to the best of my ability.
I saw people of all ages come in. The classic grandparents with the slightly poorly behaved toddler, the regulars who come in and know exactly what they want, and the small group of middle school kids who are overly shy but eventually ease themselves in.
I had a fun time just going by myself, so I would say that they deliver on the fun factor. Overall, I would definitely recommend Round1 to anyone looking for the classic arcade/bowling alley experience with a twist.