Visitors to Lucky Strike on the 16th Street Mall no longer need to pick up a bowling ball to rack up points. They just need to be able to use a joystick.
This week the longtime Denver Pavilions tenant is expanding with the grand opening of FTW, an adult-focused arcade that blends classic and new games with a chef-curated gastropub and bar. The third location of this Lucky Strike-owned concept covers nearly 15,000 feet and aims to draw players with nearly 200 different attractions.
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Parts of FTW — short for “For the Win,” for pre-internet age readers — will be familiar to anyone who’s stepped into a Dave & Busters in the past ten years. There are the classic diversions — Skeeball, Pac-Man, Time Crisis, air hockey, rhythm games — as well as new, big-ticket machines populated by Nintendo, Sega and Pixar characters. When patrons are done racking up tickets, tracked electronically through magnetic cards, they can trade them in for candy, toys and electronics at the arcade’s prize corner.
But FTW does have some oddities tucked into its 15,000 square feet. Chief among them is Killer Queen, a sprawling strategy-platformer game with room for ten players at its controls. Killer Queen’s old-school graphics belie its complex, fast-paced gameplay, which puts players in the roles of workers, soldiers and the queen of a hive, and challenges them to fight and harvest their way to victory. The title came from a field game invented by developers Nikita Mikros and Josh DeBonis, which involved participants running around and hitting each other with actual foam swords. According to Killer Queen’s website, FTW’s machine is one of 22 in existence, and one of just two in Colorado.
If players respond positively, according FTW spokesman Aaron Motsenbocker says, the arcade may bring in more games by lesser-known creators. “As always, it depends on how they perform, but they’re always trying to explore and promote more independent offerings,” he says.
In addition to games, FTW includes a new restaurant space that opens onto the arcade floor on one side and Lucky Strike’s lanes on the other. The menu, designed by chef Francisco E. Quintana, swings toward upscale bar fare, with both pub-chow favorites like wings and spinach and artichoke dip, and such hipster-gastro plates as ahi tuna poke flatbread and pan-roasted Brussels sprouts. And for those players who associate arcades with packs of nominally supervised children hopped up on soda and the Vegas-like thrill of harvesting tickets, there's good news: After 10 p.m., FTW is 21+.
Want to see FTW for yourself? The first 25 people to e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org will get free admission for themselves and a guest to attend the grand-opening party on Wednesday, January 11, from 7 to 10 p.m.