A Visit To Super Bear Arcade At Big Bear Lake
by: -RoG-

When we decided to take a day trip up to the top of Big Bear Mountain during our Fourth o' July weekend, I knew there was an arcade up there from having checked out some web sites about the town near Big Bear Lake. What I didn't know is how much of an unsung treasure this place, Super Bear Arcade, really was. This wasn't your average arcade with a few measly games... no, no, no! This was more like a museum that should be recognized as a historical landmark and protected from ever being shut down. It's an arcade where time stands still. An arcade where a quarter still goes a long way and you won't find a single game asking for one or two dollars just to play it. An arcade that reminds us all that you don't need the latest amazing 3D graphics to have a great time playing video games. I've always had a fondness for that warm glow of real quality arcades along with all of the extremely colorful cabinets, so the following is a large photo collection featuring most of what fun you can experience at Super Bear Arcade, along with a few of the great sights from the drive up the mountain.

A mighty majestic mountain landscape if I've ever seen one! These are the kind of rides in the car I live for.

Part of the excitement was wondering if our car would make it to the summit before we ran out of gas.

When we finally reached Big Bear Lake, it was clear they were ready for the Fourth o' July weekend.
(technically we arrived on July 5th, but that was the plan all along)

Here's a photo I snapped of the lake while simultaneously driving the car and talking on the phone.
How's that for dangerous multitasking? We did get to go for a ride on a speedboat with one of our
friends who has a house up there, and it was a damned good time. Unfortunately, I don't have any photos
of us riding on the lake. In all honesty, I consider myself lucky to not have been thrown from the boat as we
sped along the lake, so bringing a camera along probably would've been a bad idea anyway.

This little town by Big Bear Lake has pretty much everything a vacationer needs.
Novelty shops, clothing shops, bars, a movie theater and...

Don't let the sign fool ya, they also had alligator too for those of you wanting to... eat an alligator?

Nothing like a novelty plush "Pee & Poo" set to remind you of just how aristocratic we humans can be.

Big... Hairy... Balls. I almost bought them until I remembered I was born with a set.

If Play-Doh scented cologne doesn't drive the ladies wild, I am officially giving up on humanity.

I really wanted to buy this goat head which I have dubbed "Robo-Goat", but it was just too pricey.

What's that I see beyond the Jack In The Box? No time for hamburgers Dr. Jones, it's Super Bear Arcade time!

And there it be - Super Bear Arcade!

Super Bear couldn't be happier to see you.

This demonic-looking horse from hell, however, you might want to keep your distance from.

Star Wars: Episode I + a creepy statue to ride with? NO.


Ok, yeah, now this guy I could ride with, but I feel like you should get a free snowcone with every ride.

Egads! They still make Pizzarias!? I friggin' LOVED Pizzarias chips when Keebler was still making them.
They really did taste like pizza and the chips almost had a doughy texture when you chewed 'em. These aren't
the Keebler brand, but it's still the exact same stuff. Glad to see they're still in production to some extent.

If this hobo clown wasn't so creepy, it would probably be harder for
me to keep my distance and not eat that cotton candy hair of his.

Coca-Cola sponsored racing? Hey, whatever pays the bills to get the games made.

They have plenty o' good pinball games at Super Bear Arcade, including one of my all-time favorites
The Addams Family pinball machine. If you've never played it, you're really missing out, so track one down!

There are still many more
Super Bear Arcade photos to see!

Click here to continue onward to page 2!


Reader Comments

Forum Virgin
Jul 15th, 2008, 04:21 AM
Skeeball = win. I went home with many a flimsy Chinese finger trap and plastic spider ring as a result of my mad Skeeball skills.

Also... I must have that Dracula.
Jul 15th, 2008, 04:24 AM
they've got that "not sure if there's enough neon here" game and the "skiing tokens" game at my local laser tag/arcade place, but unfortunately the oldest arcade game they've got is Gunblade NY (1996), which also gets points by being the only game they have that only needs 1 token to play. I hope someone knifed the people who made graffiti on GORF
Greasy Bacon of Villany
Jul 15th, 2008, 04:47 AM
It seems that the only arcade machines near me are either in the local movie theater or Mr Gatti's. The last time I saw an arcade in a mall, I didn't really have time to peruse, but it seemed to only cater to otaku and their insatiable bloodlust to destroy other pasty whities in DDR and derivative games. Otherwise there are hardly any cabinet games that aren't driving, guns or non-car vehicle games. And joint cabinets of Mrs. Pacman and Galaga cost 50 cents (at my college).

What's funny is that the Mr. Gatti's closed shop on one side of the street and opened on the other side with a bigger overall store, bigger game room, but most of the same damn games it had nearly 15 years ago when I first went to the particular Gatti's location, but hardly any new or additional games except a DDR knock-off with some sort of USB thumb drive capability. Not sure what the game was called and I'm probably not going to Gatti's anytime soon.
Jul 15th, 2008, 09:46 AM
That place looked ace. I'd be there all day if I went. I used to play the pinnies (pinball) Top Speed, Adams Family (good call, great set up)and my favourite - Dr Who. Hands down the best pinball game ever made. EVER!
40 pound box of rape?
Jul 15th, 2008, 10:35 AM
There's actually a spiffy arcade in a mall near me called "Sparkles". It's tucked away behind a store, but I swear that the neon lighting in that place would cause an epileptics head to explode
Retardedly Handsome
Jul 15th, 2008, 10:58 AM
Wow what a glorious place. I can't read the one pin but im pretty sure it says "women want me, Fish fear me". some good stuff. I think I'm going to devote the rest of my summer to finding a place like that on the east coast.

I'm sure a little internet research at work and then use my vacation time, I can actually make it my job for like 5 weeks. I need to play tron, I'm also going to replace all of the handlebar grips on Paperboy.
Pickleman's Uncle
Jul 15th, 2008, 11:16 AM
Those games are all played with your hands. THEY'RE FOR BABIES.
Jul 15th, 2008, 11:29 AM
I don't normally gush about an article, but this was a freaking awsome article. Not only does that arcade have both great Tron games, it has Berzerk! All it needs is Wizard of Wor, Wrestlefest, and Crime Fighters and it would be my dream arcade.

That said, this article also made me feel a little sad, because I remember a time when arcades with the beautiful selection that this one has were all over the place, and now they are not. Even the chain arcades that were part of a package of things, like Chuck-E-Cheese or Putt Putt were awsome then. The "arcades" these days, (Dave and Busters, Gameworks, and the others of similar vein) just do not compare.
What Video Games?
Jul 15th, 2008, 11:56 AM
I think I'm going to cry. That place to me would be like heaven.

But on a lamer note, I have played Target: Terror. Imagine Area 51 minus the aliens...and more terrorists. Plus it takes like, five minutes to load a stage.
Exploding In...3...2...1
Jul 15th, 2008, 12:21 PM
By the way, the "cyclops werewolf" was a LION LIGER cyclops werewolf!
Jul 15th, 2008, 01:16 PM
I found a place like this in Clearwater Florida called "The Arcade Museum" or something like that. There, you paid a flat per-hour fee and could play unlimited all day long. Of course, the ticket machines cost extra.
frappez le cochon rouge
Jul 15th, 2008, 02:27 PM
They have a sit down version of road blasters here at the Lawton Airport, and, I kid you not, it is the only arcade item at the Lawton Airport.
Forum Virgin
Jul 15th, 2008, 02:50 PM
That arcade is amazing. I haven't had that much fun in an arcade since I figured out exactly when to let a quarter go and win the jackpot in the Sonic the Hedgehog ticket game.
Roid Rager
Jul 15th, 2008, 04:09 PM
RoG, Please take me to the top of Bear moutain to reach the Nirvana that is Super Bear Arcade. "Drag five of my friends"? Hell, I'll go for free and help pay for the gas. Serously...I live in Riverside, CA and could really use some of that good ol' time feeling that comes from playing a full cabinet of X-Men (I call dibs on Nightcrawler). Really nice place. On a other note, any place can be registered as a potential historical landmark in the US if it is older than 50 yrs and is of historical value. THis place appears to be both. So if you have the energy (and I don't). You can register the place with the National Historic Landmarks program.
Turrican't. :(
Jul 15th, 2008, 06:44 PM
Inside the Vatican looked rather thin for a VHS box.
Jul 15th, 2008, 07:04 PM
"including one of my all-time favorites
The Addams Family pinball machine"

That is also one of my favourites, together with "twilight zone", "pinbot", "Circus Voltaire" and "Elvira and the party monsters" 8)

Good article btw.
Forum Virgin
Jul 15th, 2008, 08:16 PM
The guy who stocks our snack machine at work started stocking it with Pizzaria's pizza chips, I love them in, fact I'm eating them right now. The bag alone gives you a nice pizzeria feeling.
Haven't I met me before?
Jul 15th, 2008, 09:24 PM
I've went to Big Bear with my parents for the 4th of July every year since I was about 10. I still try to make it every 4th now that my parents have moved there permanently. About ten years ago, there used to be another arcade just around the corner from Super Bear. It was poorly lit, with wooden floors (bare plywood, no fancy hardwood), and the attendant sat in a cage giving you quarters for your cash (and making no attempt to hide his contempt for the customers). They had one or two pool tables, but no skee-ball. When I was younger, that one felt more 'grown-up' than the brightly lit Sugar Bear, so I usually spent more money there, but always tried to visit both.

I didn't make it to the Super Bear on my trip this year, but maybe when I visit for Thanksgiving I should check it out again.
Haven't I met me before?
Jul 15th, 2008, 09:31 PM
"I've went"??? Yeah, my English are good.
Jul 15th, 2008, 10:45 PM
You know, I have yet to come across an arcade that DOESN'T have those stupid games where you shoot quarters, or drop them or other such nonsense.

Oh, and Creepy-critters:
That's my mall. Yep, I live damn well near right beside the place. Another thing you've got to know about Sparkles is that it has this fabled Addams Family pinball game inside! ROCK ON NOVA SCOTIA!
Cast "Summon Boat"
Jul 15th, 2008, 11:24 PM
Not all bears are as friendly as the one in the title art.


When will humanity learn that it's wrong to imprison wild animals... inside a country as crappy as Ukraine? WHEN!?
Jul 16th, 2008, 01:20 AM
What, is Super Bear, like, the lost member of the Legion of Super Pets that somehow didn't get folded up in the first Crisis? =3
Jul 16th, 2008, 01:35 AM
Heck, dibs on Dazzler for the X-Men game. I was bouncing up and down excited the first time I actually made it all the way through the game and got my name to the top score. I insisted my father check and see if I was still there when he went up to the mall next, but I think they powered down the machines at night, which, of course, put all the scores to default. I know I did it, though, and that made my day *laughs*
Forum Virgin
Jul 16th, 2008, 03:42 AM
The only games missing were Punch Out and Superman. But maybe they were left out on purpose, because if they put them in, the level of awesomeness in the place would be so huge that it would explode and leave a huge crater on Earth visible by the naked eye from outer space
Forum Virgin
Jul 16th, 2008, 03:55 AM
Great article RoG!!! You brought back some memories. I remember seeing the Discs of Tron game at a mall one time but i never had a chance to play it. Back in 2003 there was a video game exhibit that came to San Antonio called Videotopia. It was about the history of video games and at the end of the exhibit was an arcade that had a plethora of cabinet games old and new. I finally got to play Discs of Tron there and enjoyed every minute of it. Keep up the good work, looking forward to the halloween season!!!
Jul 16th, 2008, 04:13 PM
You shoudl've gone to MAGIC MOUNTAIN
Jul 16th, 2008, 04:52 PM
there is a place pretty similar to this in the northern chicago suburbs called nickel city... added bonus: everything costs a nickel... or 2 nickels... or some amount of nickels.

oh arcades... how fun you are.
Bustin makes me feel good
Jul 16th, 2008, 09:10 PM
Shit, I don't think there are ANY publicly playable arcade games within at least 25-30 miles from me. All the good places closed years ago.
Jul 16th, 2008, 10:56 PM
Rog found Eden!
Freelance Product Tester
Jul 17th, 2008, 06:30 PM
There aren't enough arcades in Houston. The arcade I live closest to is a Tilt at Memorial City Mall. A sheer majority of the games are ones that give out tickets, and the only games that I ever play there are MvC2 and Soul Calibur II.
Jul 17th, 2008, 10:04 PM
excellent. it's nice to see SNK's Super Spy existing in an MVS Cab nowadays. i even have the music from the soundtrack in my iPod.
Forum Virgin
Jul 18th, 2008, 02:45 PM
I've actually been to this arcade twice, one last summer and once just this last winter. To me it just seemed... run down. Lots of the games were either shut off or had broken screens/controls. Tron was one of these

I did have some fun with Skeeball, and Hercules Pinball, even though since it was a regular sized ball getting falls was a lot easier. The Air hockey was messed up too :-/
Forum Virgin
Jul 19th, 2008, 05:12 PM
-RoG-, you should write some kind of text on video games. As a young historian from generation Y, I am a little too young to have experienced these arcade games growing up. I really think in 10-20 years time people will look back on the beginnings of video games and want to understand their growth from the perspective of someone who lived through it. I love reading your articles on video games, its like a mini-history lesson on the subject.
I hate this hacker crap!
Jul 20th, 2008, 12:16 PM
Wow, that's actually pretty awesome. All the arcades in my city have been shut down (to my knowledge) but a 20 minute drive can get me to one. And it has the mammoth X-Men machine too.
Official forum judge
Jul 20th, 2008, 01:39 PM
This comic store I go to used to have that X-Men machine, but it's gone now cause they needed the extra space Nice article.
Forum Virgin
Jul 23rd, 2008, 02:51 AM
I'm only through page three of this, and I've already got a massive hard-on due to seeing such classic gaming cabinets. Please -RoG- don't let me get flaccid here...
Forum Virgin
Jul 23rd, 2008, 02:58 AM

Dude, that arcade rocks! I wish the one I used to frequent in my youthful days didn't close (it's now a sports bar - ugh!).

*cues up Forever MAME*
Forum Virgin
Jul 23rd, 2008, 08:29 PM
The thing that makes me want to cry the most is the thought that probably 90% of these games were available in my boring small-town mall arcade when I was a kid...I will never forget going there and having my dad literally get these little metal stools that they had for little kids to stand on so I could play the games. TRON, the Discs of TRON cabinet, the air hockey table, 4-player TMNT, so much pinball...

Man, you never realize what you had until it's gone. As sucky as that mall was...actually, it wasn't sucky. It was awesome. I'd trade all the GAPs and Bed Bath and Beyond's and Targets to get just one day at the Susquehanna Valley Mall in 1984.
frappez le cochon rouge
Jul 24th, 2008, 02:04 PM
Forum Virgin
Jul 28th, 2008, 07:26 AM
Man that place looks great. I hate to revisit the arcades of my youth to find the classics games replaced with penny slot/shelf machines and grab a toy thingies. But it's always great when you find somewhere that managed to keep hold of some of the old classics in good condition, they're only going to get more rare from now so you gotta pump the coins in when you get a chance
Jul 28th, 2008, 08:59 PM
Great Article! Seeing that disks of Tron Cab was outrageous fortune- Almost worth the drive just to catch that!
Vigilante All-Star
Jul 29th, 2008, 12:50 AM
Would've been cool if they also had Baby Pac-Man...the one where it's half actual pac man game and half pinball. I saw a Discs of Tron cabinet ONE TIME in my life, and that was at some water park a long (15+ years) time ago...I never played it though...Street Fighter 2 had JUST come out and had a far stronger hold on me. what the hell did it play like?
Aug 7th, 2008, 01:09 AM
Damn thats awesome, usually people are too fucking stupid to keep their old machines in working order and open to the public, cheers to super bear, I wanna go!
Official Punching Bag
Aug 14th, 2008, 08:22 AM
Old machines are what retro dreams are made of. That and 8-Bit pixels.
teacup of sunshine
Oct 13th, 2008, 09:49 PM
I havePlay Doh cologne, and I love it. The boyfriend doesn't find it as delightful as I do.

I tried the Crayon and regretted it. It smells like dust and wax, they got that part right...but not like crayon.
Jan 12th, 2009, 11:50 PM
I cannot believe I've not seen this article until now, god damn I wish I had a decent arcade even remotely close to where I live.
Forum Virgin
Jun 1st, 2009, 02:44 AM
I just came across this article myself, brings back alot of memories. There was an arcade next town over called Hangar 18 that had alot of the current (at the time) games... I even remember a tabletop Crystal Castles game there. I got to play Hercules at an arcade/video store nearby years ago that also had Darkstalkers and the X-Men arcade game (it's now a cowboy gear outfitters place, after having been a pawn shop, also). The only arcade near me now is a Tilt that has pretty much the same stuff that was listed above, plus a bunch of light gun games like House of the Dead and CarnEvil.
4 Eyes, No Brain.
Jul 12th, 2009, 03:10 PM
When I die I want to be flown over to the U.S. and buried there. I call Colossus on 6 player X Men.

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