You can almost hear The Who singing “Pinball Wizard” as you step into Quazar’s Arcade in Victoria’s Trounce Alley. With about 40 games on the floor at any one time, and an additional 40-plus being restored, Quazar’s is a hub for rare pinball games like Alien and Indiana Jones and rare arcade games, including an original Space Invaders.
“As far as we know, we have the largest selection of dedicated pinball and arcade games in Western Canada,” says Steve Webb, who launched Quazar’s in late 2018 with his brother Brian Webb and Justin Lafreniere. “We’re not a barcade [serving alcohol],” he says. “We’re an arcade in the classical 80s sense.”
“It’s a huge social experience,” says Lafreniere. “You have arcade machines that can be played by four people or pinball machines where families can compete over racking up the biggest number.”
“Seeing kids playing these games with their mothers and fathers and watching their eyes light up is really fun,” adds Webb.
And some customers love the opportunity for a digital holiday. “You’ve got to put your phone down,” says customer Justin Metcalfe. “I think many people have been in the digital world so long they want to escape.”
While the surge of digital pushed pinball machines from favour, some savvy collectors snapped them up for peanuts. Now, an arcade renaissance is driving up the price of these machines as new ones hit the market and collectors sell for top dollar.
Many of Quazar’s machines were purchased from a collector on Vancouver Island. “When we saw her collection it was mind blowing,” says Lafreniere.
Also mind blowing was an Instagram congratulations to Quazar’s from actor Jeff Goldblum of Independence Day and Jurassic Park fame, who Lefreniere has met a few times. The Quazar’s boys are now hoping Goldblum will visit in person. And yes, they do have a Jurassic Park pinball game for if and when that day comes.
This article is from the February/March 2019 issue of Douglas.