What's old is new again

Ralph Lucius stands next to the classic pinball machines that will be played at his new business, Rocket Arcade. The pinball machines are part of 50 classic games and pinball machines at the arcade. The retro arcade, at 237 Broadway Ave. in South Haven, is set to open in the next couple of weeks.

SOUTH HAVEN — As the old saying goes, “There’s a child inside each one of us.”

Just ask Ralph Lucius. When the 53-year-old South Haven man left JohnsonRauhoff marketing agency in St. Joseph to start his own business, he looked within and chose something he had enjoyed doing all of his life – playing video games.

“Defender would be my all-time favorite,” Lucius said.

Other Defender game lovers will get the opportunity to try out the classic 1980s arcade video game when Lucius opens his new business, Rocket Arcade, in a couple of weeks.

Located at 237 Broadway Ave. in the renovated former Save-a-Lot grocery store building, the 3,700-square-foot arcade is home to a wide variety of 50 vintage video games and pinball machines dating from the 1960s to the 1990s.

To build up his inventory, Lucius scoured used video game shops throughout the Midwest.

“I went to some big suppliers and even went into a homeowner’s basement to pick up a game,” he said. “Some of these machines haven’t seen ‘arcade life’ in decades.”

To keep the games in working order, Lucius has a separate 800-square-foot room containing tools and spare parts.

“Imagine you have a job where you have a garage full of old cars and you want to keep them running eight hours a day,” Lucius said laughing.

The pinball machines and video games in Rocket Arcade may be old but they’re in good shape.

Retro arcade lovers, especially adults, will recognize games that were popular when they were younger – Pac Man, Donkey Kong, Centipede, Mortal Kombat II, Gauntlet and Legend. There’s a variety of classic pinball machines, too, including Black Knight, Whirlwind, PinBot and Embryon.

“The newest one is Terminator 2,” Lucius said.

Rocket Arcade even has a Sega F355 Ferrari Challenge racing simulation video game.

“If you take it off automatic it has a full six-speed clutch,” Lucius said.

Unlike some other arcades or gaming outlets, customers at Rocket Arcade will not have to deposit quarters into the machines. Rather, they’ll pay a flat fee of $12 to play games all day long if they choose to do so. Rocket arcade will also feature a snack bar area with tables and chairs.