Located on Milwaukee’s Brady Street, Up-Down, which I believe is Algonquin for, “The Good Land”, is two floors of nostalgia-driven excellence. By complete chance, I had the opportunity to visit during its debut weekend. Looking for something different to do during a bachelor party weekend, I consulted a rideshare specialist. My Uber driver, ever the soothsayer, thought the newly opened beercade would be an excellent choice.
We arrived at about 5pm on Saturday, its first official day open to the plebs. A large bar full of taps and friendly tapsters greeted us. A cacophony of bops, buzzers, and bells almost drowned out the neighborly bartender’s banter and sage advice. While I sipped the carefully poured lager, he imparted wisdom no scroll holds, that it’s always better to buy your game tokens from the bar. Essentially, this is the Konami code for Up-Down. Official game coins can be retrieved from the machines that frame the entrance, but they are not programmed for sales or special events. Only the keepers of the bar offer such loot. On this day, tokens were 2-for-1.
Each game costs one token to play. There are plenty of opportunities to spend those golden treasure discs. There are no tickets or trophies to be had though, only a wistful affection for the past and a slight buzz from yeast-fermented malt carry you through your adventure. An assortment of joystick lead sports arcades, shooters, and pinball machines fill both floors of Up-Down. If you’ve come without riches, you can try your hand at the free-to-play oversized Jenga or Mario Kart brought to life via projection screen.
The piece de resistance is, of course, the legendary bubble hockey console. Simple in design and gameplay, but able to tear apart even the most closely held alliances. Epic battles were fought between the red and blue squadrons on this day, but no love was lost. Tears may have been shed.
Despite my bubble hockey loser’s lament, I still had a fantastic time. With Milwaukee being a popular bachelor and bachelorette party destination for Midwesterners, Up-Down is primed for success. It’s an inexpensive and fun alternative to the usual bachelor party tomfoolery.