Navigate Left
  • Newly elected Seth Hernandez, 2024- 25 Sudent Body President


    Fresh faces to lead 2024-25 Student Government Cabinet

  • New Law Legalizes Air Fresheners and Fuzzy Dice for Illinois Drivers


    New Law Legalizes Air Fresheners and Fuzzy Dice for Illinois Drivers

  • ECC Plans to Unveil New Mascot


    ECC Plans to Unveil New Mascot

  • Estudiante accediendo al sitio web el 20 de marzo de 2024.


    Students face challenges amidst ‘A Better FAFSA Process’

  • Angela Tovar and Shayndel Valles at the ACP Spring Conference in San Diego.


    The Observer wins national awards at ACP Spring Conference

  • Matthew Bishop and Alberto Mantovano

    Human Interest

    A Very Deep Goodbye for Matthew Bishop

  • The hours for the Financial Aid and Scholarships Office at ECC in Building B.


    What is FAFSA? Financial Aid Overview

  • The Financial Aid & Scholarships Office and TRIO Office at ECC in Building B.


    New FAFSA form available for 2024-2025 school year

  • Student Life Coordinator Gaea Atta Moy works from her office at ECC.


    New Law Guarantees Paid Time Off for All Illinois Residents

  • ECC hosts early voting for Kane County residents March 5-6 outside of Building B.


    Early Voting Underway

Navigate Right
The Student News Site of Elgin Community College


The Student News Site of Elgin Community College


The Student News Site of Elgin Community College


Coach Bill Angelo
ECC Baseball Coach Nears 30th Season

Bill Angelo is entering his 27th season as ECC’s baseball head coach. He has had nearly 820 wins since...

Coach Bill Angelo
ECC Baseball Coach Nears 30th Season

Bill Angelo is entering his 27th season as ECC’s baseball head coach. He has had nearly 820 wins since...

“It’s like stepping into a time machine:” How the Underground Retrocade is keeping nostalgia alive

Jordan Triplett
Some of the many pinball machines available to play at the Underground Retrocade on Nov 15, 2023.

Have you ever wanted to take a time machine and travel back to the past? Play some classic 90’s and 80’s arcade machines with your pals? Listen to the hit songs of the bygone era on a classic jukebox? Or maybe even just go on a trip down memory lane? Well, they haven’t invented a time machine yet but there’s a place where you can do all those things and more.  

 The Underground Retrocade (UR), located at 121 West Main Street, West Dundee, is an arcade created and owned by Scott Lambert that specializes in “transport[ing] players back to their original arcade experience.” With over 200+ retro arcade games and 5000+ throwback songs on their jukebox, it’s safe to say that the UR is succeeding in its mission.  

Opening back in June of 2012, Lambert wanted to create an arcade where customers could just simply walk in and play all the arcade games from their past. 

I wanted to have an arcade to go to and share this with the people.” Lambert says, “There wasn’t any place you could go when you could just walk in and play games.”  

The reason for the unique name “Underground Retrocade” came from the original location of the arcade itself. 

“When we set the first location up, it was actually in a basement. So, it was going to be underground.” Lambert says.  

And although Lambert has purchased hundreds upon hundreds of games that span many genres, he still remembers where his love for games all started.  

“I can remember playing electrotechnical games when we would go camping.” Lambert says, “It went from a hobby to an obsession, and now it’s my main source of income. Now it’s kind of an all-encompassing thing.”  

Usually, when people think of arcades, they may think of inserting tokens into a machine or swiping a card to play a game. But the UR isn’t like your usual arcade. All you have to do is pay 20$ upfront and you’re allowed access to all the arcade machines your heart desires.  

“It allows us to make sure people can play a game as much as they want and really get into the depths of the game and really get to know it,” Lambert says.  

Not only does the UR allow unlimited access to numerous classic arcade games, but they also have a “background ambiance” that makes you feel as though you just woke up in the early ‘90s; they have posters and decorations plastered everywhere of nostalgic gaming icons to give that old-school aesthetic and have a jukebox on the second floor which has over 5000 throwback songs in its catalog. 

“We brought the jukebox out for play so that the people on the second floor could pick the kind of pick their own music,” Lambert says. “We wanted to give some of that freedom to the players to pick their own [music].”  

 When looking online at the Underground Retrocade website, you’ll see the typical rules such as no eating or drinking near the arcade machines, but you’ll also see a unique rule: “Each child under age nine must be accompanied by a paid adult with a 1:1 ratio.”   

“We want to make sure children under the age of nine have the kind of support we’ve found they need to learn and enjoy these games. We wouldn’t want the parents to miss out on the opportunity to experience that playing together with the child,” Lambert said in response to this rule. 

Even with the rule that requires supervision, that doesn’t stop eight-year-old Ronaldo Morales from having fun at the UR.  

Morales, having grown up much after the boom of arcade machines in the ’80s and ’90s, still experiences much joy and happiness at the UR as he is allowed to play and enjoy a variety of classic games. 

“I just like the old-fashioned games,” Morales said.  

Although he might be growing up in a world filled with 4K and HD video game graphics, Morales can still appreciate the simpler forms of nostalgic entertainment that came into this world before him.  

When asked what his favorite game was at the UR, Morales said that the pinball machine was at the top because he had never played something like that before.

“I really just drove by there a lot and always wanted to check it out.” Said Roselyn Eleyna Sanchez, a first-year student here at ECC and Morales’s older sister. “When I got my license the first day, I went there.” 

With Sanchez being 18 years old, she too did not grow up during the arcade boom of the ‘90s. But, just like her younger brother Morales, this does not stop Sanchez from having a good time at the UR. 

“I know that I did not grow up on those video games, but I think it’s so cool that I still get to experience games from older times,” Sanchez said. “It’s like stepping into a time machine.”  

With a variety of arcade game genres that can be found at the UR such as fighting, shooters, puzzles, racing, etc, it’s quite surprising that when asked about her favorite game, Sanchez had a rather unique response.

“I love the jukebox; I know it’s not a game, but I feel like it really puts everything all together.” Sanchez said, “Listening to your favorite jams while playing is cool to me.”  

It’s clear to see that no matter if you grew up games playing during the arcade craze in the ’80s and ’90s, came up playing home video game consoles during the 2000s, or even were born playing games on your phone in the 2010s, The Underground Retrocade is a place where people from all generations can come together and show their love and appreciation for all these classic arcade machines 

 To see the operating hours or for more general information, visit the Underground Retrocade website. 

View Comments (1)
More to Discover

Comments (1)

All Observer Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  • G

    Greg TriplettNov 21, 2023 at 10:32 am

    Another great story, I grew up in the “arcade area” so this story brings back a lot of great times, friends just hanging out good clean fun.