Retro pinball arcade pings into Kennesaw

The 1979 "Genie," featuring a jinn theme and a widebody machine design, sits between the 1980 "Frontier" (left) and the 1980 "Mystic" (right), Kennesaw, Georgia, Saturday, Feb. 17, 2017. (Photo by Rebekah Fuchko)

KENNESAW, Ga. — Portal Pinball Arcade in Kennesaw opened its doors to the community on Dec. 16, 2017, and swiftly took the lead for the largest public pinball machine collection in metro Atlanta.

Currently hosting 24 pinball machines ranging from 1972 to 2017, the arcade’s retro atmosphere transports players back a few decades. Owners, and spouses, Bryan and Amanda Broyles also provide 12 different arcade-style games.

Portal Pinball Arcade owners Amanda Broyles and Bryan Broyles pose in the entrance of the arcade, ready to greet incoming gamers, Kennesaw, Georgia, Saturday, Feb. 17, 2017. (Photo by Rebekah Fuchko)

Bryan Broyles started refurbishing old pinball machines in his basement, but eventually got into the gameplay which led him to play in tournaments across the country. Broyles said that, in recent years, he began to notice a steadily growing interest in pinball, and the opening of arcades around the country, while Atlanta remained a “desert island.”

“Amanda and I were like ‘this is ridiculous,’ we got all these games in the basement and we bring them out to tournaments and share as many as we can with people, but there is a market — people want to play again,” Broyles said. “We’re just trying to bring pinball to people who haven’t seen it in a long time and to those who have never seen it before.”

Many patrons find their way over to the 1981 classic “Frogger,” where it’s nestled cozily in the center of the room, Kennesaw, Georgia, Saturday, Feb. 17, 2017. (Photo by Rebekah Fuchko)

Broyles said they added the arcade games after they opened and although they don’t usually appeal to pinball fanatics, they are a popular choice for many. “The Simpsons Arcade Game” is one of the more popular arcade game choices, but there are also a few classics including “Frogger” and “Donkey Kong.” Among the pinball machines, Broyles said “Bram Stokers Dracula” is popular as well as “Genie,” but that a lot of people are drawn to the newer “licensed-themed” games.

The arcade charges $8 for an hour of play or offers all-day play for $15 in lieu of coin-play — a feature attractive to those both old and new to arcade and pinball games. Dallas resident, Jesse Weaver, said that he tries to get to the arcade at least once a week.

“It’s great — Bryan and Amanda are great people and they’ve done a lot for the pinball community in Georgia,” Weaver said. “I think it’s the only place in Atlanta that has that many machines and the way they do it with the all-day play is a great value.”

Multiple players enjoy the retro pinball machines (left). The newer pinball machines are closer to the entrance (right), and the arcade games are in the center of the room, Kennesaw, Georgia, Saturday, Feb. 17, 2017. (Photo by Rebekah Fuchko)

Broyles said he wants to share pinball and his collection with the next generation to help people realize the history and lineage behind the “original video games” and that, just like any game, there are different rules and objectives for each one.

“You’ve got people who collect them like trophies and they don’t want people to touch them, but if you don’t share this stuff then it could die off,” Broyles said. “I want to try to help people get better —  to get better control of the ball that you need because once you can do that and have control of the game, then it’s actually fun,”

Portal Pinball Arcade, named after the final mode of the “TRON: Legacy” game, is closed Mondays, but a full list of games and their hours can be found on their website.

The arcade hosts a free in-house tournament every second Saturday of the month and keeps their Facebook and Twitter pages consistently updated with upcoming events and specials.

Portal Pinball is located at 3600 Cherokee St #102 Kennesaw, Georgia 30144.