If you’re like me, you grew up in a world where life was much simpler… where your biggest problems revolved around things like trying to get Mario to defeat Bowser and save the princess. Your hard-earned dollars earned from mowing the lawn for a measly $5 were blown by playing Skeeball at the local arcade. Well, lucky for us children of the ’80s, Tulsa has its own ’80s Retropub, where you can descend back into the depths of ’80s music, movies, games, and nostalgia.
The Max Retropub has graced the Blue Dome District with its presence since 2010. With dozens of arcade games that you haven’t seen for 20 years, this place is sure to amaze even those who weren’t born circa the ’80s. A couple of my favorite games at Max are Street Fighter II (I hadn’t played that since about 1990 at the Farm Shopping Center Mazzio’s), and of course, Pac Man. And of course, the Max has Skeeball, but you’d better keep your fingers crossed that the machines will work.
When the Max first opened, everyone went to check out the game collection. These days, now that most folks are familiar with what they have and know that several of the machines are perpetually broken, it seems to have become more of just a hangout/bar spot. The bar is usually fairly full, even on weeknights. The drink menu is truly impressive, with each libation named after a person or ideology from the ’80s.They also offer several yummy snack items, including Miss Piggy (pork sliders), Marshall Fried Mushrooms, Arriba Nachos, Jessica Simpson wings, and more.
In case you’re looking for weeknight specials, the Max will not disappoint. Monday night is ’80s movie night, featuring free popcorn and $2 domestic beers. Tuesday is Free Play Tuesday, offering free tokens all day (the perfect activity for any true arcade nerd!). Wednesday is Retro Trivia, with live event trivia and $1 small hot dogs. Thursday is Tourney Night. Each player pays a $5 entry fee, and the winner takes all. Each tourney night, the Max has a bracket-style tournament on a different game.
While The Max is typically male-dominated (turns out guys are the main demographic that loves old arcade games!), I truly appreciate The Max’s attempt to reach the females children of the ’80s through their bathroom stall art. The stalls are adorned with magazine ads from the ’80s, complete with messages truly meant only for bathroom situations. It’s worth a trip to the ladies’ room just to see the mural (only if you’re a lady!).
The Max will simply make your heart happy — taking you back to a time when life was simpler — when Michael Jackson was still doing The Thriller and when you didn’t know Pee Wee Herman was a bad guy. While we can’t make the ’80s come back, we can visit the Max and enjoy a blast from the past every once in a while.