Obstacle courses, shuffleboard and three other ways to get in on the city’s retro-gaming nightlife
The latest trend in Toronto nightlife: retro bars for nostalgia-crazed gaming. Here, we break down the city's best options
The mega-mansion where the foosball never stops
The Addisons Residence on Wellington resembles Steve Sanders’ house on Beverly Hills, 90210, with loungy rec rooms, a jungle’s worth of palm fronds and even a fake family grinning in photos on the wall. Next summer, the leafy, 5,000-square-foot back patio will feature private cabanas, life-size Connect Four, Ping-Pong and beer pong. On the gaming menu: foosball, table shuffleboard, bubble hockey, Street Fighter II, NBA Jam, board games and tons of flat-screen TVs permanently tuned to Toronto sports. 456 Wellington St. W., meettheaddisons.to.
The city’s sweetest vintage arcade terminals
Twilight Zone Pinball: Junction City Music Hall has one of the most complex machines ever designed, with a built-in gum ball dispenser, magnetic flippers and a working analog clock.
Global Arcade Classics: There are 80 vintage games packed into Nightowl’s multi-game terminal, including Joust, Paperboy and three versions of Space Invaders.
Street Fighter: The main attraction at the Little Portugal basement rec room Unlovable is a cabinet featuring 700 titles—several incarnations of Street Fighter among them.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Get Well, the barcade-pizzeria hybrid on Dundas, is a destination for TMNT, a four-person game where the turtles have to rescue Splinter and April O’Neil.
Pac-Man: Nothing beats a classic Atari terminal. Kitch, the cavernous Junction Triangle bar, has two of them, where players can while away hours on Frogger, Donkey Kong and Pac-Man.
Pro Pool: There’s no room for a real billiards table at 3030 Dundas West, but the owners have eight pinball versions, including the 1970s-era Pro Pool and the more modern Cue Ball Wizard.
The hippest place to play senior sports
Track and Field Bar has transformed AARP-approved lawn sports into a hipster craze. We break down the gaming menu.
A tabletop adaptation of marbles in which two or four players try to flick pucks into a hole by bouncing them off an opponent’s pieces.
A low-intensity version of skee-ball, where players use a cue to slide discs down a lane and onto a scoring triangle. Very popular among cruise ship passengers.
The European equivalent of curling, in which players try to toss or bowl their balls closest to a smaller sphere called the pallino.
The prettiest, most puzzling escape rooms
ESCAPE FROM THE TIME TRAVEL LAB AT REAL ESCAPE
A Back to the Future caper where players have to break out of a mad scientist’s lab. Each team gets an hour to complete the task.
Design: Good. The room looks like a real lab, packed with beakers, potions and tendrils of liquid nitrogen. There’s also a troupe of white-coated assistants who’ll help you when you get stuck.
Difficulty: Hard. The game emphasizes intricate logic puzzles, code solving and lots of techy twists. Only six per cent of players make it out in the allotted time.
76 Stafford St., realescapegame.ca.
ESCAPE FROM THE TOWER AT CASA LOMA
During World War II, Casa Loma was a secret espionage centre for sonar study. The hour-long game uses the castle’s real history as the basis for a 1940s spy game.
Design: Excellent. The twisting hallways make an opulent backdrop for the plot, which involves a family mystery, encrypted U-boat co-ordinates and actors in fedoras.
Difficulty: Medium. Players find clues by reading historical documents and using deductive reasoning. Around 15 per cent of participants get out.
1 Austin Terr., escapecasaloma.com.
CHARLOTTE AT CAPTIVE ROOMS
Players solve a decades-old cold case: the murder of two young girls, apparently at the hand of their psychotic father. Teams have 45 minutes to escape.
Design: Excellent. The owners transformed a real Victorian attic into the grisly murder scene, trolling antique shops and garage sales for vintage dolls and furniture.
Difficulty: Medium. The puzzles themselves are fairly straightforward, but players have to contend with two goals: solving the mystery and getting out of the room. Fifteen per cent succeed.
43 Elm St., captiverooms.com.
BILLIARD MURDER ROOMAT ESCAPE ZONE
Small teams are locked in a cramped pool hall and tasked with solving the mystery of a famous billiards player’s death. They have 45 minutes to complete the mission.
Design: Good. The space looks like a rec room, and the central set piece is a real pool table littered with codes and clues.
Difficulty: Easy. This is the ideal starter game for kids or first-timers—the puzzles are linear code-crackers, the story is satisfying, and 40 per cent make it out with time to spare.
388 Spadina Ave., escapezonetoronto.com.
The best places to shoot, smash and slide
FOR KNIFE THROWING
What’s cooler than tossing axes? Hurling tomahawks, knives and barbecue skewers during Shawn Zirger’s martial arts workshops (they’re a popular bridal shower destination). 927 Dupont St., zirgeracademyjkd.com.
The city’s most cathartic new arrival is the Rage Room at Battle Sports. Guests don coveralls and a paintball mask, pick a weapon—golf club, baseball bat, crowbar, shovel—and hulk out on dishes, chairs, garden gnomes and printers. 26 Ashwarren Rd., battlesports.ca.
FOR OBSTACLE COURSING
This crazy jungle gym has ring swings, rope ramps, giant peg boards and grown-up monkey bars. Guests can also dip into the cryosauna, a nitrogen vapour bath set at minus 150 degrees that purports to mend the muscle damage you’ll sustain on the ropes. 444 Dufferin St., pursuitocr.com.
The Dock Ellis
In addition to 10 TVs screening Leafs and Raptors games, the hipster sports bar features a rec room with shuffleboard, darts, foosball and pool tables. 1280 Dundas St. W., thedockellis.com.
This black-light arena is part ’9os rave, part Hunger Games, with neon bunkers and a barrage of foam-tipped flying arrows. Also available: cutthroat black-light dodgeball. 3791 Victoria Park Ave., archerycircuit.com.