A Bad Day With A Camera

Lil’ Jay’s Arcade

A fellow named Lil’ Jay has opened a new arcade here in Strathmore, as the title of the post says. The Missus and I finally got to visit and it’s wonderful, even if the selection of games is a bit sparse to begin with. They also just got their food license the previous day and their kitchen is now up and running.

Sign, Lil’ Jay’s Family Arcade, Strathmore, Alberta, 2024-02-24

Their location is unfortunately godawful. They are in an industrial building out on the highway by the Dodge dealership. If I was the parent of a ten-year-old this is not a place I would let them go on their own out of fear they’d get mowed down by one of the oversized pickups prevalent in that neighbourhood. It’s a shame they couldn’t have gotten a spot downtown across from the theatre and Hobbs Gaming as that would have been ideal. In any case, I’m not a kid and I was there for just one thing: Pinball.

Ripley’s Believe It Or Not Pinball Machine Top Glass, Lil’ Jay’s Family Arcade, Strathmore, Alberta, 2024-02-24
Pinbot Pinball Machine, Lil’ Jay’s Family Arcade,
Strathmore, Alberta, 2024-02-24
Batman Pinball Machine, Lil’ Jay’s Family Arcade,
Strathmore, Alberta, 2024-02-24
TMNT Pinball Machine, Lil’ Jay’s Family Arcade,
Strathmore, Alberta, 2024-02-24
Ripley’s Believe It Or Not Pinball Machine, Lil’ Jay’s
Family Arcade, Strathmore, Alberta, 2024-02-24

There are four classic pinball games on tap: Pinbot, Batman, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and Ripley’s Believe It or Not. They all take change and I believe Pinbot was the cheapest to play at only a quarter.

Pinball Wizard, Lil’ Jay’s Family Arcade, Strathmore, Alberta, 2024-02-24
Pinbot Closeup, Lil’ Jay’s Family
Arcade, Strathmore, Alberta,
2024-02-24
Pinbot Playfield Feature, Lil’ Jay’s
Family Arcade, Strathmore,
Alberta, 2024-02-24
Batman Playfield Feature, Lil’ Jay’s
Family Arcade, Strathmore,
Alberta, 2024-02-24

My wife is a farm kid and her parents never took her to an arcade, so this is her first time playing pinball. It tickles me that her first game ever was playing Pinbot, which is one of my all-time faves. Lil’ Jay’s machine is in excellent condition, except for a sticky right flipper. My wife did a great job playing on her first outing. Better than me, I think. It has been a long time since I played on a real pinball machine.

Batman and Pinbot Pinball
Machines, Lil’ Jay’s Family Arcade,
Strathmore, Alberta, 2024-02-24
TMNT Pinball Playfield, Lil’ Jay’s
Family Arcade, Strathmore, Alberta,
2024-02-24
Batman Pinball Flippers and
Playfield, Lil’ Jay’s Family Arcade,
Strathmore, Alberta, 2024-02-24

The Ripley’s and TMNT tables played beautifully, both were like new. Batman, not quite. It needs some TLC as the right flipper is also sticky on this one and the spring on the ball launcher is tired and needs replacing. I know what it should pull like as I played it a lot in the past and the launcher is lacking oomph now.

Hacksaw Jim Duggan, Lil’ Jay’s Family Arcade, Strathmore, Alberta, 2024-02-24
Galaxian Game Over, Lil’ Jay’s Family Arcade,
Strathmore, Alberta, 2024-02-24
Ms Pacman Game Over, Lil’ Jay’s Family Arcade,
Strathmore, Alberta, 2024-02-24

I was fascinated with arcade games as a kid, which was perhaps somewhat unfortunate as I didn’t have the funds to play them as often as I liked. I would save up for special occasions like being able to go to Illusions at Brentwood Mall in Calgary with my old junior high buddy Michael. Those are some of my best memories.

The ones above are a standalone classic WWF Wrestling game and a classic Galaga cabinet, that has been modded with a multi-game system in it. You can play Galaga on it, yes, but also Galaxian, Pac-Man, Ms Pac-Man, Dig Dug, etc. It has a hella good selection of classic arcade games you can play for a quarter. The screen is end-of-life, but I guess so I am now. What the hell, eh?

WWF Superstars, Lil’ Jay’s Family Arcade, Strathmore,
Alberta, 2024-02-24

Regarding the WWF game, it features Andre the Giant. Just seeing it will give any Princess Bride fan the feels. I passionately hate wrestling, but I’d still toss a few quarters in this game for Andre’s sake.

Sega All Stars Racing, Lil’ Jay’s Family Arcade, Strathmore, Alberta, 2024-02-24
Play ball, Lil’ Jay’s Family Arcade, Strathmore,
Alberta, 2024-02-24
He Shoots He Scores, Lil’ Jay’s Family Arcade,
Strathmore, Alberta, 2024-02-24

There is a classic Sega racing game and also some games of the carnival variety where you can roll and shoot balls into targets. I also recall seeing a VR shooting game, two billiards tables in good nick, and a premium ice hockey table. I wasn’t able to get pics of everything because a young family was present and I didn’t want any photos with identifiable minors in them. People are touchy about that these days. As to the young fellow above, he was going all gangbusters on the basketball game and winning tickets like crazy. Little Dude has mad skillz.

While the location is unfortunate, the owners have obviously put a lot of love, care, and their own money into this arcade. It’s the real deal. I’ll happily go back and do my bit to support them and I hope others in town will as well. It’s great to have a business like this in Strathmore.

Note: Images in this post were made with my Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra. It’s the camera to use when you don’t want to look like you’re using a camera.

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© 2024 Sean D. McCormick

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