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Play it again!

Hannah Swayze • Dec 23, 2018 at 12:00 AM

Can you beat the high score?

You can try with dozens of retro ’80s arcade games at the brand new Play It Again Retro Social Arcade in Johnson City.

The new arcade is a replica of the familiar arcades of youth in the ’80s, with classic games like Pac Man, NBA Jam, Donkey Kong and more. There are more than 50 arcade game machines with 70 player positions and, including machines with multiple games to choose from, more than 500 games to choose from.

But there’s more to the arcade than games.

“When people walk through the door, we want it to be like they’re walking through a time portal,” said Derek Shropshire, marketing director for Deux Ron Inc., the company behind the new Tri-Cities business.

Inside, workers sport curly Madonna hair and the snack counter sells sodas in glass bottles. The mural son the wall are bright against neon lights lining the edge of the ceiling. Music from the late ’70s all the way to the early ’90s plays over the sound system, and lining the back hallway ’80s movie posters are plastered on the wall. 

Play It Again offered a sneak-preview for some local social media raffle winners Thursday night.

John Hughes brought his daughter Victoria, bouncing from game to game.

“It definitely takes me back,” said Hughes.

The arcade isn’t meant to only be only for games. Where tall tables now take up the center of the room will be furniture for hanging out. There are also three photo opportunities in the arcade: a corner with Spiderman perched at the top of a street light, a giant replica of the “Jaws” movie poster and a large Mattel Barbie box, perfect for Instagram.

Play It Again is not only the perfect name for a retro arcade, but incredibly fitting for the business owned by Ron Hensley. He used to have an arcade in the same building next to the AMC movie theater decades ago that closed before the Elizabethton native expanded his business to Gatlinburg.

“Back but different,” is how Hensley describes it. “The Tri-Cities doesn’t have anything quite like it.”

While the sneak preview guests seemed to enjoy the experience, Hensley said there’s more to come. By spring there should be delicious food and a full bar available.

Store hours are 4-11 p.m. Times are subject to change as the owners gauge the interest on when people want to come. Shropshire said for free-play the entire day, the cost is $12. Players who sign up for a free membership get $2 off admission every time they visit.

Play It Again Retro Social Arcade is located at 1805 N. Roan St. in Johnson City. They are on Facebook and Instagram at Play It Again Retro.

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